Jottings

A Multitude
of Sticks

by | 8 April 2022

A small example
shows us the character of
one who can be greatly
used by the Lord

I was recently looking at the Greek word for “multitude” in the New Testament, plēthos (Strong’s #4128). For the most part it is used in a pretty straightforward way. But, not after Paul’s ship had grounded on Malta:

When Paul had gathered a bundle [Greek, “multitude”] of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
— Acts 28:3

Almost all English versions translate this as “bundle.” Paul, however, did not gather merely a “bundle” of sticks, but a “multitude” of sticks! The Holy Spirit specifically uses plēthos here, rather than the expected word, “bundle” (cf. Matt. 13:30), to show us how diligent Paul was—not only in great matters such as preaching the gospel, raising up churches, caring for the saints, and writing so much of the New Testament, but even in such a small matter as gathering up sticks!

After such an arduous sea journey, the shipwreck, and swimming to shore this great apostle was, no doubt, exhausted. Even so, he was still concerned about keeping his fellow passengers warm.

And by this small example the Holy Spirit is showing us the character of one who can be used by the Lord in such a great way.

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— 13 April 2022 —