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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 20

 

 

Verses 1-38


Third Missionary Journey (continued)

1-6. Paul in Macedonia and Greece. St. Paul waited at Ephesus until the return of Timothy and Erastus, and left Ephesus shortly after Pentecost, 55 a.d. (1 Corinthians 16:8-12). We learn from Romans 15:19 that he spent some time in Macedonia, and extended his missionary labours (which were marked by signal miracles) as far as Illyricum. From Macedonia he wrote the second Corinthian Epistle, and (according to a widely held opinion) the Epistle to the Galatians. In Corinth he spent the three winter months of 55, 56 a.d., and there he wrote the Epistle to the Romans.

3. The plot was to kill Paul on board the Jewish pilgrim ship in which he had taken his passage.

4, 5. The men mentioned here were delegates bearing the contributions of St. Paul's Gentile churches to the afflicted mother church of Jerusalem. Gaius] to be distinguished from Gaius the Macedonian of Acts 19:29, and the Gaius of 3 Jn. He was a neighbour, and, perhaps, a friend of Timothy, and had probably been converted, like Timothy, during St. Paul's first missionary journey. Tychicus] He was with St. Paul at Rome during his first imprisonment, and was the bearer of Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21-22) and Colossians (Colossians 4:7-8). He is mentioned again 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12. Trophimus] a Gentile convert of Ephesus, whom St. Paul was accused of introducing into the Temple at Jerusalem (21 :28f). He is mentioned again 2 Timothy 4:12. These] i.e. probably Tychicus and Trophimus only, not the whole party.

6. We] St. Paul found St. Luke at Philippi, where he had left him in charge of the Church (c.16), and, after celebrating the Passover with the local Christians, took him with him to Troas.

7-12. Troas.

7. The first clear reference to the keeping of the Lord's Day, with which may be compared 1 Corinthians 16:2. The expression 'Lord's Day' first occurs Revelation 1:10. The disciples] RV 'we,' indicating the presence of St. Luke. To break bread] i.e. to celebrate the Lord's Supper. This was now clearly the stated Christian service on the Lord's Day. As the Jewish days began at sunset, probably the Christians assembled on Saturday evening, as we should call it: see further on Acts 2:46, Acts 2:47.

10. His life is in him] It has been argued both here and at Matthew 9:24 that the death was only apparent; but St. Luke, who was a medical man, and was present, says expressly that Eutychus was dead. We have here, therefore, probably a miracle of resurrection.

11. Broken bread] RV 'broken the bread,' viz. of the Eucharist. And eaten] probably of the agapé, which here apparently followed the Communion: see Acts 2:46, Acts 2:47.

13. Assos] A Greek (Æolic) colony on the S. coast of the Troad. By walking thither St. Paul avoided the tedious voyage round Cape Lectum.

14. Mitylene] the capital of the isle of Lesbos.

15. Chios] A large island forming part of the province of Asia. Trogyl-lium] is opposite Samos. Miletus] the most famous and important of the Ionian colonies. It was a seaport situated on the Carian coast.

18-35. St Paul's Speech to the Elders of Ephesus. He reminds them of his ministry among them (Acts 20:18-21). And now that the Spirit draws him to Jerusalem, to face the unknown future, he entrusts the Ephesian church to the charge of the elders to guard her against the heresies and enemies which he foresees (Acts 20:22-31). He concludes by recommending them in touching words to the protection of the Almighty (Acts 20:32-35).

19. Temptations] trials or misfortunes.

Lying in wait] RV 'plots.'

25. Shall see my face no more] St. Paul is not here speaking as a prophet, but is merely giving utterance to an overpowering presentiment that the time of his death is near. As a matter of fact, his life was preserved many years, and he subsequently revisited Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 3:14), and other places in Asia.

28. We have here a very decided testimony that though Christian ministers may be elected by the people, their authority comes from God, whose ambassadors they are. Overseers] a literal translation of the Gk. word episcopos (Lat. episcopus, E. 'bishop'). At this time the title 'bishop' (i.e. overseer) was freely applied to the Christian presbyters ('elders') (Philippians 1:1). By the beginning of the second cent, (perhaps already in the Pastoral Epistles) the term was generally restricted, as now, to the chief ruler of a church.

His own blood] The blood of Christ is here called 'God's blood,' a striking expression afftrniing with great emphasis the Deity of Christ. There is an inferior reading,' Feed the Church of the Lord' (RM), which probably originated in a desire to eliminate the unusual expression' the blood of God.' Westcott and Hort think that the original reading may have been 'the blood of His own Son.'

30. The heretics, Hymenæus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20), also Diotrephes (3 John 1:9), were presbyters of Ephesus. From the Epistles of St. John, which were written at Ephesus, we learn that the Ephesian heresies were of the Gnostic and Docetic types. St. John's chief opponent at Ephesus was Cerinthus, who taught a Jewish form of Gnosticism.

34. Cp. Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8.

35. Ye ought to support the weak] 'The weak' are here, probably, the poor and the sick. The presbyters are exhorted to work with their hands (like St. Paul), that with their earnings they may support the sick and the poor. It is more blessed, etc.] It is strange that this beautiful saying is found in no Gospel. Similarly Aristotle says, 4 It belongs to virtue rather to confer than to receive a benefit.' On the contrary, Athenæus says, 'A giver is foolish: a receiver is fortunate.'

36-38. A striking example of the intense affection which the apostle's converts felt for him. If he had bitter enemies, he had also staunch friends.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Acts 20:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/acts-20.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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