Acts 20


“When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.” Acts 20:1-6

Through Macedonia And Greece

In the previous chapter, we left the apostle Paul in Ephesus and we saw that many people gathered around to hear what he was saying. But many of them who were in attendance didn’t even know why they were there in the first place. And so after all the trouble had calmed down the city official sent everyone home.

Luke begins this chapter by telling us that after encouraging the Ephesian brethren, Paul went on to Macedonia. Where he built up the churches before he went on to Greece where he stayed for some three months. Then, he planned to sail to Syria, until the Jews plotted to kill him.

And so when Paul found out about the plot against his life, he headed north back into Macedonia instead. But Luke also tells us that Paul was carrying a large contribution to Jerusalem to help the needy saints. And he took along several men with him who more than likely served as witnesses to the proper handling of the money.

Notice that when it comes to giving, the early church gave with a purpose. They didn’t just give for the sake of giving, they gave to further the cause of Christ and to bring glory to God through their giving. Giving was part of their worship and our giving should be to produce glory for God while we are still alive.

One commentator suggests it’s important to look at who these people are with Paul.

He says ‘you may observe that the Macedonian congregations were represented by Sopater, Aristarchus, and Secundus. The Galatian congregations were represented by Gaius of Derbe and Timothy of Lystra. The ones in Asia were represented by Tychicus and Trophimus. And according to 2 Corinthians 8:6ff, the Corinthian’s contribution was entrusted to Titus and two other brethren who were sent by Paul to Corinth to receive it.’

What’s so important about that? It’s interesting because it seems that they went around collecting the funds with the goal of meeting at a predetermined location, which would have been Troas.

The point is, they didn’t have banks like we have today where they can just wire or transfer some funds from one account into another account. They had to travel from congregation to congregation to collect the funds.

But people gave and the funds were collected for a reason, there were given to some saints in need at Jerusalem. These men who were sent on behalf of their home congregations would have seen the gratitude in the eyes of those at Jerusalem as they gave on behalf of their congregation.

But the encouragement doesn’t stop there, can you imagine when they return to their home congregations? I would imagine that they would give a full report about how everyone in Jerusalem was doing and how their offerings blessed so many other people.

When we see the offering that we give every week through those eyes, then truly we can see, how much of a blessing it is to give. That’s exactly how Paul saw giving, ‘it’s more blessed give than to receive’, Acts 20:35.

Note that Luke uses the word ‘we’ a couple of times here and he does this simply to let Theophilus that Luke himself re-joined Paul at Philippi and they both sailed for Troas after the Passover.

Eutychus Raised From The Dead At Troas

“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.” Acts 20:7-12

When Luke tells us that Paul and his company stayed seven days in Troas, this actually helps us a lot in our understanding of the custom of worship in New Testament times. Luke says, ‘they came together on the first day of the week to break bread’.

Some groups come together to worship on Saturdays, but that’s not what is happening here, this was happening on the first day of the week, Sunday.

Even though they were busy doing other things for the Lord throughout the week, they knew that everything else takes a back seat to remembering the Lord’s death.

Think about it? Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on a Sunday, the first day of the week, Mark 16:9. And very early on, Jesus’ disciples began meeting together on the Lord’s Day which was one week later, another Sunday, John 20:6.

The church was established on what day? Sunday, Acts 2:1. The congregation in Troas were meeting on the first day of the week which is a Sunday, Acts 20:7. There was a regular contribution to the church treasury when? ‘Every first day of the week’, 1 Corinthians 16:2.

For the first several centuries of the church’s existence, the written testimony is uniform that Christians met for worship on Sunday. Although Sunday was a workday in the ancient world, the disciples set it apart for worship and it became known as ‘the Lord’s day,’ as John would tell us in Revelation 1:10.

One commentator says, ‘all Christians were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Saviour arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship.’

Back in the Book of Leviticus Moses records ‘from the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord,’ Leviticus 23:15-16

When God said, ‘remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’, Exodus 20:8, the Jews understood that He meant every Sabbath.

Paul records ‘when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!’ 1 Corinthians 11:20-22

In other words, the reason these early Christians assembled was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We know they assembled not only to break bread every first day of the week but as Paul tells them to give every first day of the week.

Luke tells us that when the church assembled in a third-story room, Paul’s lesson continued until midnight. And it was there we find a young man who needed more than a cup of coffee to stay awake. A young man, named Eutychus, who was sitting in a window listening, went to sleep and fell out of the window.

They went down straight away to see the young man and after he was pronounced dead, Paul took him up in his arms and announced that his life was still in him. The Power of God was being used through the apostle Paul who brought him back to life.

And to me, this text is almost unbelievable, not the miracle, but what they did next. Luke says that after the miraculous restoration of this young man’s life, the Christians again assembled in their upper room to eat a meal together. It’s as though raising someone back to life was the most normal event in a person’s life.

And so the talking lasted until daybreak, which tells us just how highly the brethren thought of the apostle Paul. And they, along with the young man who was raised just hours before, walked with Paul as he departed.

Can we be sure that Eutychus was dead in the first place? We need to remember that if anyone knows whether a person is alive or dead more than anyone else, it’s a doctor. And Luke the writer of Acts, who is present with Paul at this moment in time, is a doctor, Colossians 4:14.

And it’s him who tells us that Eutychus was 100% ‘dead’ in verse 9. When Paul addressed the situation, he did not say, ‘his life is ‘still’ in him,’ or ‘his life is ‘yet’ in him,’ he simply said, ‘his life is in him’. Luke later comments that Eutychus was brought ‘alive’ in verse 12.

One usage of this term is to describe ‘dead persons who return to life become alive again.’ If the young man had merely been injured, why would Luke stress that he was ‘brought alive’? To merely mention that he was brought alive again to the assembly would have been entirely sufficient.

After all, weren’t they ‘all’ alive who returned to the upper room? What was so special about this young man? What was so special was the fact that ‘he had been dead!’ And now he’s alive. No wonder Luke tells us that everyone was comforted.

The resurrection of Eutychus brought ‘comfort’ to the saints in Troas for two reasons. First of all, it let them know that their religion was genuine. They understood that only God can affect a resurrection.

The miracle of raising Lazarus from the grave was performed so that the people around would come to the belief that Jesus was the Christ. And when the people believe that fact, then they would trust that the message which Christ came with was true and genuinely from God Himself, John 11:40-42.

And that’s the second reason why the resurrection of Eutychus brought ‘comfort’ to the saints in Troas. It brought them comfort because it showed them that the grave is not the end of human existence. The Creator is able to bring life out of death. In other words, death is not the end but in many ways, it’s just the beginning.

Now we can understand why the saints in Troas were comforted. We were all just as dead in our sins spiritually as Eutychus was dead physically. And just like Paul brought Eutychus back to life physically, Jesus Christ has brought you back to life spiritually, Ephesians 2:1-5.

Paul’s Farewell To The Ephesian Elders

“We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost.” Acts 20:13-16

Luke tells us that after the resurrection of Eutychus the rest of the apostle’s company travelled by ship to Assos, while Paul went on foot.

And then Paul joined them in the ship at Assos and went on with them to Mitylene, then by Chios, a brief stop at Samoa, staying for a time at Trogyllium and had a more extended stay at Miletus.

Remember that Paul intended to sail by Ephesus in the hope of reaching Jerusalem before Pentecost. But while he was in Miletus, he called for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him there.

“From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:17-21

when Luke tells us that the elders from Ephesus arrived to meet Paul, he reminded them of the struggles he faced while in he was in Asia. Paul had served the Lord with a humble attitude, even to the point of being moved to tears at times and surviving more than one Jewish plot against his life.

And despite all that heartache and tears he continued faithfully to declare the truth to them, both publicly in the synagogue and the school of Tyrannus and teaching in one house, then another.

Notice also that his preaching had extended to the Jews as well as the Greeks. His preaching included the need for repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” Acts 20:22-27

Paul, after reminding them of his time working among them, goes on and tells the elders that he was compelled to go on to Jerusalem, despite the knowledge of what awaited him there.

It’s one thing not knowing what lies ahead of us but it’s another knowing exactly what lies ahead. It’s during those difficult times of uncertainty of what lies ahead that things like worry and anxiety creep into our lives. But that’s where genuine faith in God helps us through those difficult uncertain times.

Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit had testified to Paul, through the voices of prophets and other inspired men, concerning his impending arrest and the other trials he would confront in Jerusalem. In other words, Paul knew exactly what was going to happen in his life, he knew what lay around the corner.

Now most of us usually run away from difficult times and we try to avoid those times at any cost. And so instead of embracing those times when they come and seeing them as an opportunity to grow in our faith, we avoid them instead, James 1:2-4.

Paul’s greatest concern was not for his own personal safety, Paul’s greatest concern was with completing the special ministry Jesus had given him or preaching the kingdom, which is the same thing.

And make no mistake about it, Paul knew exactly what lay ahead of him. He did not expect to ever see the faces of those elders again. That’s why he called upon them to faithfully witness the content of his preaching among those at Ephesus.

And he knew because he had preached the whole truth, he knew within himself that he was free from any responsibility for those who might have remained in their sin.

In other words, his job was finished in Ephesus and he knows he is not responsible for those who didn’t respond to the good news. Paul didn’t see his mission with Christ as a problem, he saw it as a challenge.

Yes, there were times when he was beaten up and flogged, yes there were times when he was tired, thirsty, and hungry. But his real challenge was to simply trust His God with that genuine faith.

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28-31

Before Paul leaves the Ephesian elders, he warns them because he did not anticipate seeing them again. He charged those elders, who had been selected on the basis of the qualifications listed by the Holy Spirit, to watch out for their own spiritual wellbeing, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 / Titus 1:6-9.

But he also reminds them that they were commanded to watch out for every sheep in God’s flock at Ephesus. Why? Because they had been given oversight, or made bishops, over the flock which was purchased with Jesus’ blood.

Paul urged the elders to remember his own watchful service of three years as he had been warning them day and night, even with tears in his eyes.

False teachers are still a real problem in the world today and I believe all of us must be able to identify them and watch out for them, 2 Timothy 4:2-4 / 1 John 4:1-6. Paul warned the Ephesians elders to watch out for false teachers but he wasn’t finished with them just yet.

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:32-38

After kneeling with them in prayer, Paul with more tears in his eyes left their company but before he left Paul recommended that the shepherds trust God and His Word, which would help them grow stronger and inherit eternal life.

He reminded them that he worked with his own hands to support himself and did not covet anyone’s money. He also urged them to labour to support themselves and help the weak, while reminding them that Jesus said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’.

Although we have no record of Jesus saying these words, this doesn’t mean He didn’t say them, especially since Paul spent time with Him in Arabia, Galatians 1:17.

When we think of giving, we often just think about giving money but giving money isn’t going help the man who has just lost his wife in a train crash, giving him time and a shoulder to cry on will.

Giving money isn’t going to help the women whose husband has just walked out on her for someone else, giving time and understanding will.

Giving money isn’t going to help the child who’s just failed one of their exams at school, encouraging them to keep going will.

It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned to trust that God will meet all our needs.

It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned to put other people first.

It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned that giving really does bring happiness into someone else’s life.

It’s more blessed to give than to receive because genuine faith has learned that when we give, we’re giving on behalf of God, Proverbs 21:25-26.

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