Acts Chapter Twenty


Read Acts 20:1-6

v1. And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.”


            “AFTER THE UPROAR WAS CEASED”, we remember that Demetrius, the silversmith, had generated an uproar in the city of Ephesus because Paul’s preaching and conversion was hurting his trade.  He and others of that city made silver images and other things used to honor or worship their goddess Diana.  He leaves for Troas, then goes on to Macedonia; a part of Paul’s third missionary journey that Luke tells us very little about.


v.2And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,”


            We know from other writings that Paul spent some time in Troas (II Corinthians 2:12f); met Titus in Macedonia (II Corinthians 2:13 and following chapters) and visited Illyricum (Romans 15:19f).  He finally reaches Greece, and probably Corinth, following his custom of visiting and strengthening the congregations of the church along the way.


v.3And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.”


            Paul spent three months with the brethren in Corinth and when he had followed up on their problems with the Lord’s Supper, immorality and the other things that they needed to be taught, he leaves planning to sail to Syria.  We’re told that during this time he also wrote the epistles of Romans and Galatians.  The Jews are still plotting against him so he returns through Macedonia instead of sailing across to Asia Minor and making his way along to Syria and Antioch.


v.4And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.”


            There are now seven preachers in Paul’s group that are named, there were probably others as well and Luke rejoins Paul at Philippi.  This is the only time that Sopater or Secundus are mentioned but Aristarchus has been mentioned before and was with Paul as a fellow prisoner in Rome.  Gaius is from Derbe, Timothy from Lystra, so they probably knew each other before following Paul.  Tychicus is mentioned four times during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome and Trophimus was with Paul in Jerusalem and is mentioned in II Timothy 4:20.


v.5-6These going before tarried for us at Troas. 6And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.”


            Some of the group went ahead of Paul to Troas; none of the commentators agree regarding how many, the scripture just doesn’t tell us.  They sailed from Philippi, actually Neapolis the seaport for Philippi, after the Passover or Feast of the Unleavened Bread.  Remember our studies in the gospels; the Passover was one day the Feast of the Unleavened Bread was for the seven days directly following (Leviticus 23:5-6).  It took them five days to sail from Macedonia to the island of Samos and then on to Troas.  When they arrived they stayed seven days.


Read Acts 20:7-12


v.77And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”


            This is the first time we have stated directly that the first century Christians met upon the first day of the week specifically for worship.  We have Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian church to make their contribution or collections upon the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1) implying that they met at that time and we also know that Paul gave the same instructions to the Galatians (I Corinthians 16:1).  In addition, we have here stated specifically that they met to “break bread”, this phrase in the Greek, the same as Acts 2:42, means that they met to partake of the Lord’s Supper, not for a common meal.  Paul preached to them, taught them, other translations say discoursed, planning to leave the next day and the service continued until midnight.


v.8  And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.”


            Luke tells us that there were many lights in the room, or upper chamber, where they are meeting.  Verse nine tells us that it was the “THIRD LOFT” or a third floor.  Since all light was generated by fire at this point in man’s history and the room was filled with people it was probably rather warm; a situation that would readily create the situation that follows.


v.9And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.”


            This reminds me a little of a situation that my brother, who is or was a sleep walker, got into in a gospel meeting one time.  He didn’t fall out of a window but rather got up and started toward the pulpit during the sermon.

            The window, of course, had no glass in it, was probably just an opening in the wall and as he fell into deeper and deeper sleep he fell out and was “TAKEN UP DEAD”.  Luke, the physician, states specifically that he was “TAKEN UP DEAD” so there should be no speculation; the young man, or lad, was killed by the fall.


v.10And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.”


            When this occurred Paul stops his preaching and went down to ground level to see about the young man, as I expect everyone else in the audience did as well.  We’re told that Paul “FELL ON HIM”, and embraced him.  Probably something very similar to that found in I Kings 17:21 when Elijah raised the poor widow’s son and in II Kings 4:34 when Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman.  We’re told in both examples that the prophets prayed; we can be fairly sure that Paul did as also.  He assures those gathered that the young man, though dead, is returning to life and that he will live again.


v.11When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.”


            After the incident with the young man, Paul returns to the upper chamber and though it is after midnight breaks bread.  Some have speculated that this refers to the Lord’s Supper but most commentators and Brother Leo Boles among them believe Paul took nourishment for the coming journey.  Luke says that they stayed, talked and visited until daylight and time to leave for the ship.


v.12  And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.”


            The young man that Paul had raised from the dead was brought into the upper chamber again where they were gathered in a normal condition and they disciples were comforted by that fact.


Read Acts 20:13-16


v.13And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.”


            Luke and the others had gone to the ship but Paul took a land route from Troas to Assos where the ship was to stop and pick him up.  Because of the ruggedness of the seacoast it is actually further by ship from Troas to Assos than it is by land, 20 miles by land vs. 30 miles by water.


v.14  And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.”


            Everything goes according to plan; the ship picks up Paul at Assos and continues down the coast to the city of Mitylene.  Mitylene was the capital of the island of Lesbos and about another 30 miles or about a day’s sail.


v.15And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.”


            Luke, here as he had done in the past, is giving us a geography lesson in the eastern Agean Sea and the west coast of what is today Turkey.  If you ever have the privilege of taking a Mediterrean cruise you will probably learn much more about these islands and locations.  Chios is an island about 5 miles off shore, the island of Samos is next, but not the same island with that name that is between Troas and Philippi.  Next comes Trogyllium and then the seaport of Miletus which is about 30 miles from Ephesus.


v.16For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.”


            Paul is on a tight schedule.  After leaving Philippi he basically has 43 days to get to Jerusalem to be there for the feast of Pentecost.  He has a long way to go and the transportation of the day is nothing like what we enjoy today.  He doesn’t want to stop at Ephesus; he probably knew that if he did he wouldn’t be able to get away.


Read Acts 20:17-38


v.17  And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.”


            Paul does not want to spend the time to go to Ephesus but at the same time he wants to meet with representatives of the Ephesian church so he sends for the elders to meet him at Miletus.


v.18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,”


            Paul has a very important message for the elders of the church at Ephesus, a message that church elders would also do well to heed today.  So he wants them to understand and to heed his words.  He spent about four years in the province of Asia, most of it in the city of Ephesus, they know him well; know his character, know his work and he reminds them of this.


v.19Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:”


            They knew how that Paul had put serving the Lord above all other considerations in his life.  In spite of the tears, in spite of the temptations and the troubles brought about by his Jewish enemies he was humble and faithful to God and to Jesus Christ.  This is a legacy that any of us would be proud to be able to claim.  Paul and tears were not strangers.  He wrote to the Corinthians “WITH MANY TEARS” (II Corinthians 2:4) and to the church at Philippi “EVEN WEEPING” Philippians 3:18 because of his concern for their souls.


v.20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,”


            Amid all this trial and trouble Paul had held back absolutely nothing that these people needed to hear.  I would be delighted if all gospel preachers could say the same thing today and be accurate in their assessment of their work.  There were no pet subjects.  There were no subjects that had to be avoided because someone in the congregation had that sin in their lives would be offended by the truth of God’s word.  There was no subject that Paul had to check with the elders and get their approval first in order to preach God’s Word.  Paul taught both publicly, in the synagogues and other places set aside and in addition went from house to house teaching and preaching as well.


v.21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”


            In his preaching to all people, Paul preached just what Jesus wanted preached:


And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47


            He preached the same repentance and remission of sins that Peter preached on Pentecost (Acts 2:38); and that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ, just as he preached to the Jews at Corinth (Acts 18:5)


v.22-23And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.”


            Paul was driven to go to Jerusalem for the current Pentecost feast, not by the Holy Spirit but rather his own spirit; the writer in Acts 19:21 calls it being “PURPOSED IN SPIRIT”.  He has his mind set and there will be no changing it.

            He doesn’t know what kind of reception he will get in Jerusalem.  He doesn’t know what kind of trouble is waiting for him there.  The only thing that he knows for sure is that the Holy Spirit has testified to him that “BONDS AND AFFLICTIONS”, troubles and trials, persecutions even, wait for him in every city.  As he tells the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 3:3) it has been appointed or ordained that Paul would have these problems.


v.24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”


            Paul has completely given his life to Christ.  These problems don’t move him; he doesn’t even hold his physical life to be dear to him and these trials and troubles he counts as blessings:


Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” II Corinthians 12:10


The good news or gospel of Jesus Christ has been given by the grace of God and by the grace of God Paul is going to continue to preach and teach at every opportunity he is given, anywhere he happens to be.


v.25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.”


            Paul knows that this will probably be his last trip to this part of the world.  We don’t know much, if anything, about the movement or travels of Paul between his sessions in prison in Rome.  Secular history doesn’t tell us and while there is some information in the traditions recorded by writers of later years, there isn’t much.


v.26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.”


            Paul will stand on his record; he is pure from the blood of all men.  What does he mean by this statement?  The prophet Ezekiel recorded:


Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”  Ezekiel 3:19


Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.” Ezekiel 3:21


            Paul had taught these people everything that they needed to know in order to receive redemption of their sins from God.  He had also taught them everything that they needed to know in order to live a Christian life after becoming a child of God.  He had left nothing out that they needed.  Then we have the sentence that we are very familiar with in the churches of Christ.


v.27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”


            Paul had not withheld anything from these people that they needed to know to assure their own salvation.  What does the “WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD” mean?  It means everything that God had revealed to him; every piece of God’s wisdom and instruction, every thing concerning Christ, everything concerning the kingdom of God, everything concerning man’s relationship with God.


v.28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”


            Now Paul gives these elders a warning about things that are to come.  First of all they should take heed to themselves, be concerned about their own personal situation.  Just as he told Timothy later:


I Timothy 4:16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”


Secondly they were to take heed to the flock of God, the people over which the Holy Spirit had given them responsibility.  They have the same responsibility that the apostle Peter details for us:


I Peter 5:2-4Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”


Then he reminds them that these are very special people that the Holy Spirit has given them responsibility to oversee.  They are those that have been redeemed, bought, purchased:


But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” I Peter 1:19


v.29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.”


            He tells them something that we have mentioned here several times over the past weeks and months; Satan never rests.  There will not be a time when faithful brethren will be left along for very long.  False teachers, those that Jesus described as “RAVENING WOLVES” (Matthew 7:15) would come among them.  Just as Peter describes:


2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”


            A situation that is as applicable to today as it was the day these words were spoken.


v.30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”


            From among their “OWN SELVES”, the very men that Paul is speaking to at this occasion, from among the elders and overseers of the Lord’s church, men would arise creating havoc among God’s people.  Paul writes Timothy later about two men of this nature:


I Timothy 1:20Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”


And today we experience the same problems.  Fortunately, not here at this congregation, but a vast majority of the problems in the Lord’s church today are because of preachers who are false teachers and elders who either will not stand up and do the job they have been given by God to do or that have joined ranks with the false teachers they’re supposed to oppose and stop.


v.31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”


            So he says, watch and remember; he has spent three years day and night teaching, admonishing, warning and encouraging them to do right.


v.32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”


            As he prepares to leave them Paul can do no better than to commend them to God.  He has preached the gospel to them, he has instructed them in what they need to do to live the Christian life, he has warned them about false teachers and false prophets that will come among them; he can do no more.  He leaves them to the grace and mercy of God who indeed has an inheritance for us:


…an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:4-5


v.33I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.”


            Paul did not preach for money, the love of money, and had no personal or worldly considerations.  He had only a simple and straightforward desire to cause men to come to God and have opportunity to share God’s grace.  Scholars tell us that one of the accusations made against Paul was that he used the collection for the saints in Jerusalem for his own purposes.  We can readily see how a wagging tongue could get something like that started; but such was not the case.


v.34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.”


            He continues by reminding them that he labored not only to provide for his own needs but also the needs of those who traveled with him.  You will remember that in Corinth he practiced his trade of tent making:


Acts 18:3And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”


Apparently he had done the same at other places:


I Thessalonians 2:9For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”


v.35  I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


            Not only did Paul tell them how to live the Christian life but he showed them by example that they should work with their hands to support themselves and others who needed their support.  Here he quotes the words of Jesus Christ to remind them of a saying that probably was as well known in that day as it is today.  We have no scripture reference for this quote but then the Apostle John tells us:


John 21:25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”


v.36-38And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, 38Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”


            We have a picture here of a sad and fond farewell.  First of all they prayed, perhaps praying for safe travel and, I’m sure, praying for Paul’s well being and his work.  They send him on his way with the Christian salutation of that day, much the same as we would today with a hug or a handshake.  Their greatest sorrow was that they probably would never see Paul again as he had told them back in verse 25.