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From the editor: An Old Disciple (Acts 21.16)

J Grant

There are names which are well known to any reader of the Scriptures. Others are vaguely familiar, although we may have difficulty recalling where they are found, and some are relatively unknown. For the most of us, the name of the "old disciple" falls into the last mentioned category. He was a man, living in Jerusalem, who had come originally from Cyprus, and Mnason was his name.

The adjective "old" applied to him does not indicate that he was old in years, although he could not have been young, but that he was a disciple of long standing. It may be that he was amongst the great number who were saved at Pentecost and during the days that followed. He may even have become a follower of the Lord Jesus during His three and a half years of public ministry. Of one thing we can be sure: he was a proven disciple who had continued steadfastly for many years.

The one mention of his name in Scripture is when the apostle Paul was journeying to Jerusalem at the conclusion of the third missionary journey. We read of that occasion, "And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing with them a certain Mnason, a Cyprian, an old disciple, with whom we were to lodge" (JND).

Let this be an encouragement to all "old disciples". It may be that not a few readers consider themselves as falling into that category. And yet the similarities with Mnason may not end there. He was not a public man, he did not seek the limelight, but over many years he had continued quietly to be a disciple. His name is not quoted elsewhere; no greetings for him or from him are to be found in the letters of the New Testament. No great exploits of faith are recorded of him, nothing is known of his family, but after many years he was still a disciple. The reader may feel a certain affinity with Mnason. You, too, have continued consistently in the Christian faith, have been faithful to the Lord and to the local assembly, and have endeavoured to serve Him with all your might. It has not been given to you to move widely in the service of the Master, but quietly in your own area you have helped to maintain a testimony for the Lord. Be encouraged by Mnason.

Note, first, his consistency. Since he was saved there had been times of persecution. The sad sin of Ananias and Sapphira had no doubt caused great grief, there had been complaints about the distribution of relief to widows, and there had been problems amongst the saints which had been settled at the Jerusalem Council. Even if he was not at Jerusalem at those times, he would have learned of what had taken place. Yet through it all Mnason had continued to follow. We are thankful to saints who have followed his example in this respect and not been thrown off course by the storms which at times beset Christian life.

But observe, second, that the prominence of others had not caused the fires of jealousy to burn in his breast. Philip was known as an evangelist, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas had, many years before, been chosen to be responsible for the daily provision for the widows. None of that had moved him to envy.

Observe, third, his willingness to serve quietly when the occasion arose. The provision of hospitality can be demanding on the host, but this disciple did not flinch. Remember that he was providing lodging for those who would be regarded as rebels by the Jewish authorities and he may well have been endangering his household.

But how telling it is that he is still a "disciple". Over the years he had learned much, but he was still a learner, still a disciple. He had not come to a stage where he thought that he knew all that there was to be known. He understood that there was more to learn, and his desire was to keep learning more.

Old disciples, take heart! You have enjoyed the sunshine of Christian life and you have weathered the storms. You may not be prominent, but you have sought to honour the Lord. There is still work to be done and there is still a role to be filled. Mnason is remembered because he offered hospitality. That the Lord would not forget. Remember, every small unobtrusive act of discipleship He remembers and will reward. Keep going on and do not think that the Lord treats lightly the fact that you are "an old disciple".


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