ToBeLikeHim.com Return to Acts Series
The Book of Acts Series
Acts, Chapter 20
Acts 20 (New American Standard Bible)
Key events in Chapter 20
- Paul in
He travels through
- Luke rejoins Paul in
- Paul 7 days in
The Late Night Sermon
- All but Paul Sail for Assos
where they pick up Paul.
- Together, they sail to Mitylene,
Chios, Samos, and
- At Miletus, Paul summons the elders of the
the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted
them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to
is something Paul is anxious to explain to the disciples, so he calls them
together and exhorts them before he leaves
From 1st Timothy
18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20 NASV)
From 2nd Timothy
12But Tychicus I have sent to
2When he had gone through those
districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to
he had gone through these parts and had given them much encouragement, he
Luke reminds us that Paul went into these areas in order to encourage the believers and strengthen their faith. Paul was not one to come into a city, preach and then move on, leaving the people who had responded to his message to struggle on alone. He came to teach them the truth, because he knew the truth would set them free. So he traveled about, and, as Luke says, "gave them much encouragement."
he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of
Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the
Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus
and Trophimus of
wanted to sail directly from
As Luke continues with his story, he mentions the
men who were accompanying Paul as he traveled from city to city. These were the men who accompanied
It should also be pointed out that these were men that Paul was making an investment in as disciples, future pastors and church leaders. They were selected to travel with him to represent the churches in their towns, but they were “with Paul” and he certainly would have been using their time together wisely, training them and teaching them from the scriptures. To spend any time with Paul was to attend seminary with the master evangelist of that time.
illustrates how time with Paul would be spent in the next section, which
covers an incident in
7On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. 8There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. 9And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. 10But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life is in him." 11When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. 12They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.
are several very interesting aspects of this story. In his writings, Luke
presents many of the first records of church activity and he begins this
story with another. This is the first mention he makes of the worship of the
believers on the first day of the week - Sunday. Early in the Christian era,
the church moved the day of worship, shifting it from Saturday (Sabbath) to
Sunday, the first day of the week and the day of our Lord's resurrection. As
Luke indicates, the church in
tells us that Paul had intended to leave
One of those attending was a young man, Eutychus, who had taken a seat on a window sill in the room. He may have not been (probably wasn't) the first person to nod off during a sermon, but he certainly was the first recorded person in Acts to do this. At any rate, Eutychus lost his battle against falling asleep. The Greek word Luke uses for sleep here is the one from which we derive "hypnosis." One might say that he fell into a deep state of hypnosis as Paul droned on. In the second half of verse 9, Luke reports the outcome of his sleeping while situated in such a precarious position (seated in the window sill):
…and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.
I am told that this has always been a comforting passage to any pastor. Even Paul had people go to sleep on him. Someone has said that the art of preaching is speaking in other people's sleep.
Falling from a third floor window to the ground is certainly a long tumble, probably between 25 and thirty feet and Dr. Luke reports that those there found him dead. We should remember that it is a medical doctor writing this story and understand that he certainly was in trouble, even if he were simply knocked out and momentarily not breathing.
Luke continues, telling us that Paul went down and fell on him and while embracing him, he realized that the boy was not dead. He quickly informed the concerned crowd of this fact:
10But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, "Do not be troubled, for his life is in him."
Evidently the communion service (the sharing of bread) had been interrupted by this young man's fall and Paul was not finished with his message.
11When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. 12They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.
Now Luke continues the story:
13But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land.
Luke has reported earlier that Paul had wanted to
14And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. 15Sailing from there, we arrived the
following day opposite Chios; and the next day we crossed over to Samos; and
the day following we came to
The journey from Essos
had planned to be at
18And when they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
came, and Paul met them with a great message about their ministry which
occupies the rest of Acts chapter 20. In Paul's message, he defends his
ministry and challenges the church in
In Paul's message he shares perhaps the most intimate view to be found anywhere in the Scriptures of the heart of this great apostle, of the reason behind his labors, and of his concern for those with whom he ministers.
His message was delivered to the elders:
his letter to the church in
As indicated above, he begins his message with a defense of his own ministry, a ministry that had been under attack for many months (several years) by pagans and the Jews. He speaks to the elders, not in a spirit of boasting, but to make certain they understand the challenges he has faced "serving the Lord with humility and tears and the plots that came upon me through the plots of the Jews". He shares because he knows these are things they must also face.
20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is what he did whenever he came into these cities. He carried the gospel message of “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” to any who would listen and devoted whatever time was needed at whatever place was opened to him
Paul was devoted to teaching the whole truth, regardless of whatever problem the Truth might bring his way. He was faithful in his delivery, not only in the public arena of synagogue and marketplace, but also from house to house (house church to house church). No group was too small or too insignificant to be worthy of Paul’s attention. The ministry was that important to him.
His ministry was practical, easily reduced to two concepts:
1 – Repentance toward God.
2 – Belief in (faith toward) our Lord Jesus Christ
Paul fully understood the basis for the Christian message of life – Repent and Believe
Repentance is looking at the way we have been living – at our past – our old life and changing our mind. Repentance means that we stop thinking and acting and living the way we did in the past.
Then we step out in faith. We trust the living Lord who is in us to operate through us as we live the new life through Him.
In fact, the way of the Christian life is one of constant repentance and belief. That is the way we are intended to walk through the rest of our post salvation life, since walking is more than a single step. With each new step, as we grow in our faith, we will see new challenges and new reasons for repentance and even more need for faith that God will complete his work in us and belief in the power of Christ Jesus to accomplish the work in us.
Then, on the next occasion that comes, we go through the same procedure over again - we repent, and then believe - repent and believe - repent and believe - and we are walking!
Now Paul gives another characteristic of his ministry among them:
22"And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
has no doubts that his ministry is costly. He knows that he will face dangers,
trials, hardships and affliction wherever he goes. He plainly states to the
Paul reminds the Elders that he wishes for nothing for himself. What he wants is to have God exalted and Christ manifested. Paul says, "I do not count my life of any account (value) as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the Gospel of the Grace of God.” It is interesting that he uses the words of a runner. He wants to finish the course. The runner does not establish the course. However, he does run it with a desire to finish the course. That is how Paul sees his ministry and he reminds the Elders that it is a ministry received from the Lord Jesus. Then he reminds them it is the gospel of the grace of God – The good news of the Grace of God.
The Good News of the Grace of God:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whomsoever believed in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
That is the good news of the grace of God. We are not our own. We were bought with a price.
25"And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26"Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
At this point, Paul wants to make certain that he understands that his ministry with them is completed. He tells the Elders that he did not shrink (at all) from declaring to them the whole purpose of God.
He has given them the Truth. It was presented as truth and he considers himself innocent of their blood in that what he offered (from place to place, house to house with devotion to whatever time or effort was required) was theirs to accept or turn away from. In Paul’s mind They had heard it and knew what God had to say to them. They should have understood the provision for his working, the power of the Holy Spirit that was available to them, how to live in a way that would please God and fulfill their destiny. In Paul’s mind, everything was now up to the Elders (and the other believers). The decision was theirs and the challenge was to move out upon the truth. In Paul’s mind, there was nothing more he could do for them.
28"Be on guard for yourselves
and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to
There are three considerations Paul shares with the elders to guide and govern them in their ministry.
1 - The first is to be on
guard for themselves and for the flock - Paul sees the need for caution and so he
provides warnings concerning the responsibilities these Elders have to the
2 - The second responsibility is to shepherd the flock. The primary responsibility of a shepherd is to care for and feed the flock. It is the same for a Pastor. The responsibility for a pastor is to teach the Scriptures, to feed the flock. If the pastor is not doing that, the pastor is failing. Very simply put, it is the truth that changes people. If the Word as given in the scriptures is not being taught then people are not being fed. They are not growing and will soon grow sick and whither away. So the primary job of pastors is to set the whole counsel of God before the people.
Paul's mind, the elders have an important ministry. In their ministry, they
are to feed the
3 - Paul cautions the elders to watch out for perils and to be alert. He warns them about two sources of danger to the church. The first is from outside and the second from within.
First, he tells them that savage wolves will come in among them to devour the flock. Such people are an obvious serious threat. Their attack is open and violent and the elders must be aware and prepared to protect the church from their attack, which is intended to destroy life and security.
The second attack Paul warns against will come from within the group of elders and leaders. Paul warns that from among themselves, some will arise and attempt to teach distorted doctrines for their own purpose. They will divide and separate the church into small groups or cliques gathered around specific leaders instead of uniting the church as one body for the Lord.
And so Paul tells the elders to be on the alert and to serve the church in the spirit which he himself has exemplified:
31"Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33"I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. 34"You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Paul suggests that the elders follow his three year example.
The elders are to minister in four ways:
1 - The first way of ministering is by admonishing with tears, or by "speaking the truth in love" (Eph 4:15).
Pastor Ray Stedman told a story about a church that had changed pastors, dismissing one to take on another.
Someone asked why they had gotten rid of the old one. A spokesman said, "Because he kept telling the people they were going to hell." The questioner asked, "What does the new man say?" "Oh, he keeps telling them they're going to hell, too." "Well, what is the difference?" he was asked. He said, "The difference is that when the first one said it, he sounded as if he were glad of it. But when the second one says it, he lets you know that is breaking his heart." That is the difference the apostle is talking about -- admonishing with tears, not with harshness, not with judgment, but with concern and care and love, speaking the truth in love.
2 - The second way is to use the Word.
32And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Paul reminds the elders that they have the word, to build up not only themselves, but also the church. God's word is intended to provide an inheritance to the saints (those who are sanctified) in Christ Jesus. An inheritance is all that is provided. It is a wonderful gift, prepared for and presented to Christ's church by the Lord himself. The word is able to lead us to the inheritance and to provide for us if we use it.
3 - "Be selfless in your ministry,"
33"I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. 34"You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.
Paul reminds the elders that he has completed his ministry in a spirit of selflessness. He was never seeking anything form others for himself, instead he worked (as a tent maker) to support both his ministry and the work of others. In saying this, he reminds the elders to work, not seeking glory, benefit or gain for themselves, but for the benefit of others.
4 - He reminds the elders to remember that the Lord Jesus has said, "It is better to give than to receive" and that they should labor so that that they might be able to give (help the weak) and in doing that, receive the better reward."
35"In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
The last paragraph describes Paul's beautiful farewell service of parting:
36When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again And they were accompanying him to the ship.
was probably wrong in his belief that he would not see the elders again. In his
first letter to Timothy (1st Timothy), Paul indicates he paid
another visit to
Copyright © 2010, by ToBeLikeHim Ministries