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.
This chapter continues right in context with events from the previous chapter.
After the mob situation in Ephesus had dissipated. Paul called together the disciples to say his goodbyes and depart for Macedonia.
The NIV Commentary notes that Titus brought encouraging news from the church at Corinth while Paul was in Macedonia, and he sent him back to Corinth with his second letter. This seems to accord with the contents from that second letter.
2 Corinthians 7:5–7 “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.”
Acts 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,
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.
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.
Acts 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.
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.
As Paul traveled through the cities in Macedonia, he encouraged the believers that he encountered on his way. Eventually, he arrived in Greece and decided to stay there for three months. He planned to sail into Syria, but found out that some of his Jewish enemies were planning evil against him; so he decided to go back through Macedonia. Paul wasn’t traveling alone; he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica, Gaius of Derbe, Timothy (who was from Lystra), and Tychicus and Trophimus (who was from Ephesus cf 21:29) of Asia.
It seems that Luke was also traveling with Paul since he states that the group of men that made up the traveling party left first and were waiting for “us” at Troas. He probably joined the traveling party when they sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
In chapter 16 it is noted that this crossing took only two days, so commentators conclude that they must have encountered difficult conditions since this crossing took five days. They stayed in Troas for seven days.
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.
The first day of the week is a reference to Sunday, and indicates that this was the preferred day for the early church to gather for worship and communion. Paul took advantage of his opportunity to preach to the disciples there and preached until midnight since he planned to leave the next day.
Acts 20:8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.
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.
Acts 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
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.
Acts 20:12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
Luke notes that there were gathered together in an upper chamber that was well lit. One young man, named Eutychus, chose a window seat, and he fell into a deep sleep. I am sure the heat from the candles/lamps, the late hour, and the long teaching all contributed to the boy falling asleep. Suddenly, he fell from the third story window and was “taken up dead.” Paul threw himself on top of the boy and put his arms around him. He then told the people not to be so concerned because he was alive. Paul then joined them for a meal and continued talking with them until dawn; then he left. Luke notes that everyone was quite relieved to see that the young boy was OK.
There are those who do not believe the boy actually died. Because it is the physician Luke recording this account, I believe he would have made that clear. He states that the boy was “taken up dead.” So, personally, I believe this was a miracle.
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.
Acts 20:14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.
Acts 20:15 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.
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.
For some reason, Paul wanted his companions to go on to Assos by ship and wait for him since he wanted to travel there alone by land (approx. 20 miles away). After joining his companions in Assos, they headed to Mitylene (on the island of Lebos in the Agean Sea). The next two days found the group at Chios (about 5 miles from the mainland) and Samos (another island in the Agean Sea about 42 miles SW of Smyrna) respectively. The next day found them in Miletus (about 36 miles south of Ephesus). Paul had not planned on stopping in Ephesus because he hoped to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost.
Acts 20:17 ¶ And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
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,
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:
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,
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
After arriving in Miletus, Paul sent word for the elders of the church at Ephesus to come and meet with him; and they did. We know from the following verses that the Holy Spirit had warned him that he would encounter trouble in Jerusalem, and he wanted to leave them with some parting words of testimony. Ray Stedman notes that Paul is aware that more and more men are speaking out against him and his ministry, and he wants to make one more defense of his ministry to the believers in Ephesus.
Paul reminded the elders how he had served them humbly and caringly even while suffering persecution from the Jewish leaders in the city. He reminded them that he had shared with them everything he knew that would profit them spiritually. He had shared both publicly and from house to house. He had shared the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus without regard to ethnicity.
Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
Acts 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
Acts 20:24 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.
Paul wanted them to know that he felt a strong leading in his spirit to go to Jerusalem, even though he wasn’t sure how he would be received there. He revealed that the Holy Spirit had continued to warn him that his future held imprisonment and persecution.
Paul wanted these friends to know that he was more concerned about finishing his ministry to the Lord with joy than he was about his safety. It is clear that Paul connected his joy to being able to share “the gospel of the grace of God” and lead others to salvation.
Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown….”
1 Thessalonians 2:19–20 “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”
Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
Acts 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
Paul now reveals that he does not expect to see these men again. However, he has a clear conscience regarding his ministry to them knowing that he could have done no more that he had. He had declared to them “all the counsel of God.” He didn’t just share the parts that were his favorites or seeker friendly or easily understood; he shared it all.
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.
Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts 20:30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul now warns these church leaders to carefully consider their responsibilities as shepherds of God’s flock. Jesus referred to His followers as sheep in one of my favorite sections of scripture.
John 10:27–30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.”
The Holy Spirit had gifted these men as pastor/teachers, and Paul reminds them that they were accountable for leading and feeding the sheep, and the only way to preserve the health of the church is to teach the word of God in truth and lead accordingly. They should always keep in mind that salvation is only possible because God had chosen to shed His own blood in sacrifice for man’s sin.
Paul warned these elders that there would be evil men who would seek to infiltrate the church seeking to cause harm and destruction. Jesus proclaimed this very same warning.
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Paul even warned them to expect that some present would even cause division among the body of believers in an effort to promote self. In doing so, they would manipulate the word of God to suit their own purposes without regard to the truth. (Paul must have recognized that some of the men had strong egos that would be susceptible to such temptation.)
Paul had ministered to the believers in Ephesus for three years and passionately warned them against those that would seek to destroy the church.
Acts 20:32 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.
I like the CJB translation of this verse: “And now I entrust you to the care of the Lord and to the message of his love and kindness, for it can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who have been set apart for God.”
Paul is emphasizing that it is through the grace of God and the truth of His word that the believer can find strength and be confident of his/her future as part of God’s family.
Acts 20:33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
Acts 20:35 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.
Paul continues to strengthen the defense of his ministry by reminding these men that he had not sought to take advantage of his ministry in Ephesus for financial or personal profit. In fact, he had worked (as a tentmaker) to provide for his own needs as well as for the needs of his co-workers. He had set an example of working hard to provide for those who were in need in light of the words of the Lord Jesus who taught that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
I could not find that exact quote, but I could certainly find the principle.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over….”
I am reminded that the Savior had personally instructed Paul.
Galatians 1:11–12 “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Peter acknowledged that Paul had been given “given wisdom” directly from God.
2 Peter 3:15 “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you….”
John is also careful to remind us that the scripture could not possibly contain everything that Jesus said and did.
John 21:25 “And 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.”
Acts 20:36 ¶ And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
Acts 20:37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,
Acts 20:38 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.
Having unburdened his heart, Paul knelt down to pray with all that were gathered there. They all began weeping and showing their love to Paul since they never expected to see him again. Then they all went to the ship to see him off.