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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 20

Verses 1-38

  1. Intro:
    1. Well, last week we left off with a frenzied riot in Ephesus. Demetrious & his mob were ready to tear them all apart in a bloody rage. Fortunately, though, God used a simple town clerk to quiet them down & restore reason.
      1. So Paul packed his bags & charts a course to Macedonia.
      2. Let’s join him & see where his next adventure takes us.
    2. “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” Flavia Weedn
      1. That seems to be a good description of…brother Paul!
  2. FOOTPRINTS ON OUR HEARTS! (1-16)
    1. ​​​​​​​NEXT BATTLE! (1-6)
    2. Uproars usually cease, so be patient; but be sure to get ready for the next battle.
    3. After Greece, he wintered in Corinth (ad 56-57) where he penned the letter to the Romans, preparing the way for what he hoped would be a pastoral visit to the capitol city of the Roman Empire.
      1. He also coordinated the offerings to bring to Jerusalem.
    4. (3) Paul & his friends uncovered a plot on Paul’s life. Once at sea probably murdered. So he changes his plans.
      1. He journeys by land to Macedonia & sailed from there to Jerusalem.
    5. (6) He is joined again by Luke (we) & they remain in Philippi until after the Passover
    6. SLEEPY SAINTS! (7-12)
    7. (7) One of the earliest references to Christians meeting for worship on Sunday.
    8. Since he was leaving the next morning by ship, Paul spent all the time he could w/the Christians in Troas, talking far into the night.
      1. And he talked, & he talked, & he talked!
      2. Every pastor is excited to hear that even the apostle Paul put people to sleep also! ☺
    9. There’s a lot of reasons you can fall asleep in church:
      1. [1] The church can get stuffy/warm/or poorly ventilated, in Eutychus’ case, the flickering of the lamps casting hypnotizing shadows & raising the temperature in the room. He probably had taken refuge in the window to catch a breath of fresh air to fight drowsiness.
      2. [2] If you don’t get sleep the night before;
      3. [3] Lack of interest in spiritual things;
      4. [4] A boring preacher (poorly organized; rambling material; monotone delivery; too much time spent on needless detail; being out of touch w/people’s needs)
    10. Read - Eccl.12:9-11
      1. He pondered & sought out – He studied many subjects, some conclusions he wrote down in Proverbs.
      2. Set in order/arranged – After studying, he weighed his conclusions carefully, & then, put them in an orderly fashion.
      3. Acceptable words – He used acceptable words (delightful, gracious, pleasing)
        1. You can use delightful words w/o diluting the message!
        2. Like Jesus was able to combine Grace & Truth!
      4. Like Goads – The goads prod the people to pay attention & to pursue truth.
      5. Like Nails – The nails give them something to hang what they learned.
      6. Good teaching requires both:
        1. Students – motivated to study & learn!
        2. Teachers – that nail down lessons, so they make sense!
    11. HURRYING TO JERUSALEM! (13-16)
    12. (13) On foot - probably to gain opportunity for quiet fellowship w/God.
    13. (14) Paul boarded the coastal ship that skirted the rugged shoreline, a sort of commuter boat.
    14. (16) Sometimes God’s servants just need to be alone to think, meditate, pray.
      1. Paul knew he was facing danger in Jerusalem.
  3. FAREWELL ADDRESS! (17-31)
    1. ​​​​​​​(17) Paul’s farewell message to the Ephesian elders.
      1. He is going to review with them his past ministry, his present concerns, & future dangers.
    2. This is very unusual as it is the only address that Paul made to Christians in Acts.
    3. Also, you may not know, Ephesus became the center of world Christianity for the next 200 years!!!
      1. Paul wrote 1 Cor from there; Timothy succeeded Paul in Ephesus, Paul wrote 1 & 2 Timothy to him while he was there; The apostle John took up residence there & wrote 1,2,3 John as well as his gospel there.
    4. PAST MINISTRY! (18-21)
    5. He reminds them of his conduct, style of ministry, & devotion while among them.
    6. (20) Public & Private – sounds like both pastoral as well as homiletical.
      1. Preaching is the easy part…its living it that makes ministry real, practical, sympathetic, alive.
      2. Not like some pastors who are “on weekdays invisible & on Sundays incomprehensible.” Or,
        1. “The preacher who preaches cream, but he lives skim milk!”
    7. (21) Repentance & Faith must go together to complete each other like a door & its post. (From Best of Spurgeon; Acts 20:21)
      1. Repentance is the door which shuts out our sin.
      2. Faith is the post on which its hinges are fixed.
        1. A doorpost w/o the door hanging on it...is of no value whatever.
        2. A door w/o a doorpost to hang on…is not a door at all.
      3. “What God has joined together, let no man separate!”
      4. Repentance = turning from sin; Faith = trusting Christ for salvation.
        1. Let go of sin, lay hold of Christ!
    8. Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior.”
    9. PRESENT CONCERNS! (22-27)
    10. (24) Will we finish our race with joy?
    11. (24-26) Paul saw himself as an accountant (I count); a runner (I may finish my race); a steward (the ministry which I received); a witness (to testify); a herald (preaching the kingdom); a watchman (innocent of blood). (Warren Wiersbe; With The Word; pg.722)
      1. What a responsibility it is to be a servant of God!
    12. Christian teachers must deliver the whole counsel of God. The positive, & the negative, the soothing & the corrective.
      1. Paul, by lip & life proclaimed the whole counsel of God.
    13. FUTURE DANGERS! (28-31)
    14. To sum up Paul’s speech, “I’ve done all I can for you. Now it’s up to you.”
    15. (28) This is a scriptural pattern that a minister take heed 1st to himself.
      1. “Water never rises above its level” – what we are will determine our preaching, & what we do will never rise above what we are!
      2. Spiritual health today is no guarantee of spiritual health tomorrow! 3.15.2.1. We need to consciously & consistently sustain the character traits that foster holiness.
    16. Shepherd - Our Lord is called the Good Shepherd who died(Jn.10:11); The Great Shepherd who lives(Heb.13:20); The Chief Shepherd who is coming again(1 Pet.5:4).
      1. His ministers are rightfully called shepherds, & their people sheep.
      2. Howard Hendricks said, “If you can't stand the smell of sheep, you shouldn't be a shepherd.”
    17. UPWARD HOPE! (32-38)
    18. (32) What a beautiful benediction. He calls them to look upward!
      1. He commends them to God & the word of His grace.
      2. Which would build them up & give them their full inheritance as members of the Christian community.
    19. (34) Paul shows his hands as he spoke.
    20. (35) It is better to give than receive. Paul drops us a flower from the Masters speech.
      1. More blessed it is, because it is more God-like; It is more fruitful; It is the consequence & consummation of receiving.
    21. (36-38) How sweet the friendship!
      1. It takes a minute to say hello and forever to say goodbye!
      2. How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie
    22. A missionary returning home after many years of service was asked, "Tell me what you found when you arrived in New Guinea." "Found? I found something that looked more hopeless than if I had been sent into a jungle of tigers." "What do you mean?" "Why, the people seemed utterly devoid of moral sense. If a mother was carrying her little baby and the baby began to cry, she would throw it into the ditch and let it die. If a man saw his father break his leg, he would leave him by the roadside to suffer by himself. They had no compassion whatever. They didn't even know what the word meant." "Well, what did you do for them?" "I thought it best to show them my faith by my works! When I saw a baby crying, I picked it up and consoled it. When I saw a man with a broken leg, I sought to mend it. When I found people distressed and hungry, I took them in, comforted them, and fed them. Finally they inquired, 'What does this mean? Why are you doing this for us?' Then I had my chance, and I preached the gospel!" "Did you succeed?" "My friend," said the missionary, "when I returned home on furlough, I left a church!"
    23. Prayer: Lord may we stay for awhile in peoples lives, that we might leave endearing footprints on their hearts!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Acts 20". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/acts-20.html. 2017.