"Every Sabbath Paul used to speak in the synagogue trying to persuade both Jews and Greeks. By the time Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was completely absorbed in preaching the message, showing the Jews as clearly as he could that Jesus is Christ..." Acts 18:4,5
When we read in Acts, and especially in his epistles, we can begin to think of Paul as “a man obsessed,” and in this last sentence we get to see what that obsession actually looked like. My translation read: “Paul was completely absorbed in preaching”; the NIV says, “Paul devoted himself exclusively”; the ESV says, “Paul was occupied with the word”; and the King James reads, “Paul was pressed in the spirit.” That last is actually closest to the Greek meaning. Paul was συνείχετο – his “shoulders were bent in or contracted upon his chest”; he was, we're told, “held together” with the Word.
When you imagine that physical posture – something upon your shoulders, holding you together – what image does it draw up? For me, it’s a yoke. It’s Jesus saying across the years to Paul, across the centuries to us: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! Put on my yoke and learn from me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) And, indeed, if you were to let your eyes wander a few sentences ahead in Acts 18, you would land upon these words:
"Then one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. 'Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and let no one silence you, for I myself am with you...'" Acts 18:9,10a
This seeming obsession of Paul’s, this compulsion to preach Jesus that just won’t quit, is actually born out of his shared experience, his wondrous sense of always co-laboring in everything, with Jesus Himself. And it’s absolutely beautiful, if you ask me.