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The Book of ACTS

Chapter 20

THEME: Third missionary journey of Paul ends

After Paul's wild experience in Ephesus, he continues on to Macedonia, to Philippi, back to Troas, and to Miletus. The elders of the church in Ephesus meet him in Miletus and they have a tender reunion and a touching farewell.

Paul Goes Into Macedonia (Acts 20:1-4)

Acts 20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. (KJV)

Embraced them . . . and said goodbye. And as the manner of those countries was in meeting and parting with friends, he kissed them. And this was the kiss of peace, or the holy kiss (Rom.`16:16; 1 Cor.16:20; 2 Cor.13:12).

Departed for to go into Macedonia . . . yielding to the fury of Demetrius; not so much for his own safety, as for the good of the church, that it might not be further persecuted for his sake; and that elsewhere it might by his ministry be built up.

Acts 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, (KJV)

Paul revisited Athens and Corinth.

Acts 20:3 And 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. (KJV)

The Jews laid wait for him . . . some say that their laying in wait might be to rob him of the collections which he carried with him for the saints at Jerusalem; but most likely it was rather to take his life, for they hated his zeal and diligence in the Gospel.

He purposed to return . . . he would not tempt God by running into dangers, though his cause was never so good. Through Macedonia . . . the same way that he had come to Corinth.

Acts 20:4 And 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. (KJV)

The men named here are all believers who had come to Christ under the ministry of Paul. He has quite a group now. These men have all become missionaries.
We need to remember that when Paul went through Greece and Macedonia, he visited all the churches that he had started there. He would have stopped at Athens and Corinth, at Thessalonica and Berea and Philippi. So now, he retraced his steps and visited all the churches that were in Europe, or at least in the European section of his third journey.

Paul At Troas (Acts 20:5-12)

You may remember that Troas was the springboard from which Paul leaped into Europe on his second missionary journey. Now he comes back to Troas on his last missionary journey.

Acts 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas. (KJV)

The "us" indicates that Luke stays with Paul while the others go ahead of them to Troas. This is quite a group of men, missionaries, who worked with Paul. These men had traveled with Paul before. When Paul would have a ministry in a place like Corinth, most likely these men would radiate out and have a ministry in the countryside and the small towns. We read in the Paul's letter to the Colossians about the fact that the Word of God had sounded out in that day to the whole world. That sounds unbelievable, but it was true. The "whole world" (Rom.1:8) means the Roman world because that was the world of that day. We do see that there were other people working with the apostles. Acts traces the work of Peter and Paul as the dominant ones . . . Peter as the Apostle to the Jews and Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Book of Acts gives us a very limited account of the total missionary work that was going on.

Acts 20:6 And 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. (KJV)

It is interesting that the trip that took them five days to make can now be made by tourists in about fifty minutes. How different transportation is today! Transportation is more efficient, but our ministry is NOT nearly as effective.

Acts 20:7 And 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. (KJV)

There are a couple things to consider about this verse.

  • #1. It was upon the first day of the week that they came together. Where we have a record of the day on which the early church met, it was always the first day of the week. Paul tells the Corinthians that they are to bring their gifts on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2). Here it says that "when the disciples came together to break bread" it was "upon the first day of the week." This means that they celebrated the Lord's Supper on Sunday. It was on this day that Paul preached to them. The early church met on the first day of the week . . . NOT the Sabbath. That was important because it was the day when Jesus was raised from the dead. Under the old covenant the seventh day was the important day, the Sabbath Day. On the Sabbath Day Jesus was dead, inside the tomb. On the first day of the week He came forth. We meet on that day because we are now joined to a living Christ.
  • #2. Another interesting thing about this verse is that Paul was going to leave them the next day; so he preaches until midnight. How many congregations today would sit and listen to a preacher until midnight? But here, this is Paul's last visit and the people love him. He is getting ready to leave and he will not be back. Paul spoke until midnight.

Acts 20:8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. (KJV)

The place was well lighted. That early Church didn't stay up until midnight whooping it up . . . they were still up at midnight listening to the Word of God and praising Him!

Acts 20:9 And 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. (KJV)

Maybe midnight was a little too long for the apostle Paul to preach, because look what happened here. Eutychus, "he sunk down with sleep." He was sound asleep, probably snoring. He fell from the third loft . . . it is no longer a laughing matter, for he was taken up dead. IF this had been the end, it would have been a tragedy. But see what happens.

Acts 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. (KJV)

And Paul went down, and fell on him . . . as did Elijah on the widow of Zarephath's dead son (1 K.17:21), and Elisha on the Shunammite's son (2 K.4:34).

His life is in him . . . Paul told them he was alive. It seems that he had been really dead, but that the apostle's prayer (which is to be understood, though it is not quoted here) God had restored the young man to life, as with Christ concerning Jairus's daughter (Luke 8:52-54).

Acts 20:11 When 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. (KJV)

When he therefore was come up again . . . into the upper room, where he was before, and where the disciples were gathered together . . . and had broken bread and eaten . . . the Lord's supper, and also ate for his bodily refreshment . . . and talked a long while . . . about the ordinance and the doctrines of the Gospel . . . even till break of day . . . Paul just did not know when to leave off. He finally departed . . . without any rest or sleep; he forgot his cloak, books, and parchments here (2 Tim.4:13).

Acts 20:12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. (KJV)

There would without a doubt be confusion over the man falling to his death. Eutychus is restored to life by the power of God through Paul. This was a miracle. Life was restored to him as Paul spoke.

Not a little comforted . . . means they were thrilled that this young man had been raised from the dead and was back in their midst.

Paul At Miletus (Acts 20:13-38)

Acts 20:13 And 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. (KJV)

They are traveling again. Luke and others of the group sailed to Assos but Paul traveled on foot. Why did Paul do that? I am sure it was so that he could witness along the way. I think as he walked, there were many places along the way where he would stop to tell people about Jesus.

Acts 20:14-15 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. 15 And 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. (KJV)

The met in Assos, went by ship to Mitylene, then on to Chios; a noted island between Lesbos and Samos in the Aegean Sea. The next day they came to Samos; in Ionia; for there are several other islands of this name, and stayed at Trogyllium, not far from Samos. Miletus was a sea town of Ionia.

Acts 20:16 For 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. (KJV)

Paul now hurries, for he wants to be in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost . . . but he does NOT want to miss Ephesus. He stops at Miletus, which is the port of Ephesus.

Acts 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (KJV)

The distance was about 30 miles. If he had missed the ship, it would have defeated his purpose of attending the feast at Jerusalem; but if the elders should get down too late, they would suffer only the inconvenience of the walk.

A map will show you that Ephesus was actually a little inland. The river there filled the harbor at Ephesus. Today the city of Ephesus is actually inland about two or three miles from the water's edge. A great part of the city is as much as five miles inland. Miletus is right down on the coast. Paul sent for the elders of Ephesus to come to Miletus to meet him there.

Acts 20:18 And 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, (KJV)

And when they were come to him . . . when the elders or pastors of the church at Ephesus were come to the apostle at Miletus . . . he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day I came into Asia . . . to Ephesus the chief city in it:

After what manner I have been with you at all seasons . . . what was his conduct, conversation and constant manner of life; which the apostle takes notice of, not to commend himself, or to obtain applause of men; but either in vindication of himself, against those that were ready to charge and censure him; or to recommend the doctrine which he taught; and chiefly for the imitation of these elders, he had sent for, and convened in this place; and he appeals to themselves, as eyewitnesses of what he was going to say.

Acts 20:19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: (KJV)

Serving the Lord with all humility of mind . . . meaning, in preaching the Gospel, being conscious of his own weakness and insufficiency for such service. He in NO way was puffed up with pride with the extraordinary gifts bestowed upon him; for he ascribed all his success to the power, grace and Spirit of God. He treated NO man with contempt nor ever lorded it over them that he was better than they were. Even though he had a just right to be maintained by the people; he worked hard with his own hands, for his own and the necessities of others.

And with many tears . . . at the obstinacy and unbelief of so many; at the distresses and afflictions of others, both bodily and spiritual.

And temptations which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews . . . who were hardened against his ministry and would NOT believe the Gospel preached by him, but spoke evil of it, and lay in wait to take away his life. These Paul calls temptations, because they were trials of his faith and patience.

Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, (KJV)

I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you . . . useful in order to gain eternal life, shunning no labor or danger; hiding nothing out of fear or hope of advantage.

Taught you publicly . . . in the public synagogues and schools . . . and from house to house . . . privately (Acts 2:46).

Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV)

Paul was a faithful witness for Jesus Christ. We must give him that! He could say that he had given them the Word of God, the total Word of God. Paul taught it all and did it right! He gave them the full counsel of God. He was faithful even in the face of opposition by the religious rulers of the Jews.

The sermon that follows is one of the most tender, affectionate and eloquent, anywhere. It describes the apostle Paul's manner of life while with them; showing his deep concern for their welfare, is full of tender and kind warning, states that the main purpose of his soul was to live to the glory of God, even when knowing that he may be persecuted or killed. It is a most affectionate and solemn farewell. No one can read it without being convinced that it came from a heart full of love and kindness; and that it shows one great aim and object . . . the promotion of the glory of God, in the face of danger and of death.

Paul had NO arrogance, NO pride, NO desire to "lord it over anyone." Success in the work of God tends to produce lowliness and humbleness of mind; and the greatest endowments are usually connected with the most simple and childlike humility . . . NOT like some of today's evangelists and Word-Faith preachers who are out to get a name for themselves and a hefty bank account from the Name of Christ! Woe be unto them! (Mat.23).

Acts 20:22-24 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But 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. (KJV)

Here is where a great many teachers of the Bible differ. Some Bible teachers think that Paul made a mistake in going to Jerusalem. They think that he should not have gone. BUT, what Paul says here is very clear. I think that he was entirely in the will of God in going to Jerusalem.

What Paul is really saying is: "I am going to Jerusalem. I am bound in the spirit because everywhere I have gone, the Holy Spirit has shown me that bonds and affliction await me in Jerusalem."

This is different from Acts 16:6 when he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach in Asia. God put up roadblocks that directed him to Europe. There is no roadblock here. Rather, the Holy Spirit is revealing to Paul just what he will be walking into when he reaches Jerusalem. Paul makes it clear that he realizes he will suffer if he goes to Jerusalem. What he says is: "I don't count my life dear. I'm willing to lay down my life for Jesus." He wanted to bring the Gift of salvation (Rom.5:15,18; 6:23; Eph.2:8) to those in Jerusalem by his own hands. Paul later wrote: 2 Tim.4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (KJV)

Acts 20:25-27 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (KJV)

Paul knew that he would not see these people again in this life. Paul also knew that he had honestly given them the entire counsel of God.

Acts 20:28 Take 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. (KJV)

WHAT is the business of the officers of the church? They are NOT to run the church, but they are to see that the church is FED with the TRUE Word of God. This is NOT so in SO many of today's modern churches! BEWARE my friend!

Acts 20:29-30 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (KJV)

I see this happening everywhere! Satan wants to get into a church where the Bible has been taught. He will start with slight, subtle falsehoods, deceiving the naive, Biblically ignorant flock! Satan is not your friend; he is your enemy. He wants to stop the teaching of God's Word. 2 Peter 2:1 But 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. (KJV)

Acts 20:31-32 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32 And 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. (KJV)

Paul lovingly praises them, entrusts them, gives them over to God and to the Word of His grace. That is what we can do whenever we leave our people.

Acts 20:33-34 I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. (KJV)

Paul was not greedy, like SO many of these preachers today. He worked to support himself and those who were with him. Paul was satisfied with whatever he had, wherever he was, as long as he could do God's work. We all should examine our attitudes toward wealth and comfort. If we focus more on what we do not have, rather than on what we do have, it is high time to re-examine our priorities and put God and His work back in first place.

Acts 20:35-38 I have shewed 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. 36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, 38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship. (KJV)

This is a very tender meeting between Paul and the elders of the church in Ephesus. These men loved Paul and he loved them. It is difficult for them to let him go, knowing that they will not see him again in this life. They say a last and I'm sure, tearful good bye.

Book of Acts

Ch.1 . . Ch.2 . . Ch.3 . . Ch.4 . . Ch.5 . . Ch.6 . . Ch.7 . . Ch.8 . . Ch.9 . . Ch.10 . . Ch.11 . . Ch.12 . . Ch.13 . . Ch.14 . . Ch.15 . . Ch.16 . . Ch.17 . . Ch.18 . . Ch.19 . . Ch.20 . . Ch.21 . . Ch.22 . . Ch.23 . . Ch.24 . . Ch.25 . . Ch.26 . . Ch.27 . . Ch.28

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