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Bible Commentaries
Acts 20

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-38

XX 1-6 Travels in Macedonia and Greece, A.D. 57-8 —1. Note the liturgical farewell, as always, e.g. 14:22; 16:40. In Macedonia St Paul wrote 2 Cor, and mentioned his trials, 1:8-10; 11:23 ff. St Luke does not refer to the troubles in Corinth, which the two Epistles reveal.

2. St Paul now preached ’as far as unto Illyricum’, Romans 15:19.3. The three winter months were spent at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 16:5-6. Rom was then being written to prepare for the projected visit, 19:21. The plot was to kill St Paul at the port or at sea.

5-6. Some of the party went ahead to Troas. Another ’we-section’. The first person shows that St Luke joined St Paul at Philippi where Easter was celebrated; see on 16:10. 840a

7-12 The Eucharist at Troas —7. It is clear from 1 Corinthians 16:2 that Sunday had already become the day for the Christian Assembly and Eucharist. By the Jewish reckoning the night would be that of Saturday. On the Breaking of Bread See 2:42. The verb used for ’assembling’ has for its noun ’Synaxis’, the Gk for Eucharist.

8. The accident was not due to the darkness.

9. St Luke means us to understand that Eutychus was dead, 12. 10. St Paul announces the miracle.

11. The gathering had been for the Breaking of Bread and the ’tasting’ of Holy Communion. This is now done, with St Paul presiding. He again speaks long, never expecting to return, 25.

13-16 From Troas to Miletus —13. The ship seems to have been at the disposal of St Paul’s party till 21:2. He may have taken the short cut by land so as to have more time with the disciples. 14-15. The details are given to show how no call was made at Ephesus. Miletus was 30 m. from Ephesus, a port at the mouth of the Meander. 16. St Luke now gives the reason for the route taken.

17-38 The Discourse to the Presbyters of Ephesus — On presbyters see § 820d. Only here in Ac does St Paul address his own converts, and his words have much to teach Christian pastors. The speech is thoroughly Pauline in style and subject and in the zeal for souls it reveals. Nearly every sentence can be paralleled in the Epistles. He lays bare his soul, his tender memories, his fears for the future, his love for his own.

18-24 St Paul will go up to Jerusalem in spite of the Dangers —18. Asia is the proconsular province.

19. Cf. 19:9; 20:3. 20. cf.2 Corinthians 4:2. St Paul did not teach only in the School of Tyrannus.

22. He is forced on by the Holy Spirit. He goes resolutely forward in obedience, like his Master who steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, Luke 9:51. He is enlightened both interiorly and exteriorly, 21:4, 11.

24 should probably begin, ’But I do not hold my life of any account, nor as precious to myself, so long as I may finish my course’. St Paul’s gospel was that of the free gift of God, without the works of the Law.

25-31 Pastoral Exhortation and Warning —25. St Paul’s statement is a presentiment based on the dangers which threaten him, Romans 15:31, and his plan of going to Spain, ibid. v 28. We learn from the Pastoral Epistles that St Paul did in fact revisit Ephesus. St Luke’s report of these words shows that he writes before those Epistles, and before St Paul returned to the Aegean.

26. This is a solemn declaration that he has done his duty. He is innocent of blood, in the matter of pastoral responsibility. The shepherd who does not preach the kingdom is guilty of the spiritual death of his flock.

27. St Paul has declared to them ’the whole counsel of God’; cf.Ephesians 1:11. Eph. is the best comm. on 27.

28. The presbyters must not neglect their own salvation, 1 Corinthians 9:27, nor that of the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed them, 1 Corinthians 12:28, ’to feed the Church’. The pastoral metaphor, so frequent in the Gospels is kept up. ’The Church of God which he has purchased with his own blood’ (as in DV) is the best supported reading, Sin, B, etc. D and other MSS have ’Church of the Lord’, to avoid the unusual phrase ’the blood of God’. Even this, in view of the reference to Ps 73( 74):2 which guarantees the meaning of ’Lord’, affirms the divinity of Christ. However the reading as in DV is to be retained, as the more difficult and so probably the original one. ’The Church of God’ appears eleven times in the Pauline Epistles, and ’The Church of the Lord’ nowhere in the NT. The expression ’the blood of God’ is used by St Ignatius, Ephesians 1:1, and by other early writers, cf. Light foot , Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, II, 13-16, but later became suspected of Apollinarism. It is straining the Gk to translate ’with the blood of his Own’ and supply the word ’Son’. Often in the NT it is said that Jesus purchased us with his blood.

29. The Pastoral Epistles and the history of St John at Ephesus (cf.Apoc. 2:2) show the fulfilment of these predictions.

31. cf. on 19:10. St Paul gives himself as an example and shows his care for his churches, all as in his Epistles.

32-35 He commends the Presbyters to God —32. The word, God’s gracious promises in the Gospel, works powerfully in us; cf.1 Thessalonians 2:13. God will strengthen and instruct the presbyters by means of the truths of Faith at work in them. 33. Clothes formed a large part of riches; cf.Matthew 6:19. St Paul’s disinterestedness often comes out in his Epistles; cf. 18:3. 35. The presbyters must work so as to support the needy (cf. Ephesians 4:28) and so that none may say they preach the Gospel for the sake of gain, but cf.1 Corinthians 9:14. The saying of our Lord is not found in the Gospels, though nothing could be closer to their spirit.

36-38 The Farewell to the Presbyters from Ephesus —37. St Paul’s gift of sympathy showed itself in tears, 19; 2 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 12:15. Often in the Epistles he exhorts the faithful to salute each other with a kiss; cf. the kiss of peace.

38. The harbour was some distance from the town where the meeting had been held, and all accompanied St Paul, as in 15:3 and 21:5.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Acts 20". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/acts-20.html. 1951.
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