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Bible Commentaries
Acts 20

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verses 1-6


After the uproar died down. Paul had already decided to go through Macedonia and Greece (Acts 19:21), but planned to stay in Ephesus until after Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8). This time had come (about the middle of May, 55 or 56 A.D. by the corrected calendar). After he encouraged the disciples, he left for Macedonia. He went through those regions. Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and perhaps other churches. Then he came to Greece. To Corinth. During the three months there, he wrote the Letter to the Romans (Ramsay gives the spring of 57 A.D. as the date for this). When he discovered. We have no details of this. To avoid them, he did not sail to Syria, but went back through Macedonia. Sopater. Only mentioned here. [Sosipater (Romans 16:21) is a different person.] Aristarchus. Acts 19:29. Secundus. Only mentioned here. Gaius, from Derbe. Not the Gaius of Acts 19:29. Timothy. See notes on Acts 16:1-4 Tychicus. Colossians 4:7-8. Trophimus. Acts 21:29. They went ahead. Paul stayed in Philippi while they went ahead to Troas and waited for him. Waited for us. Us implies Luke was along also. We see Luke with Paul a few years before this (see note on Acts 16:10). Some think Luke had stayed on at Philippi until this time, working with the church there. And five days later. This had only taken two days before (Acts 16:11-12), which implied bad weather.

Verse 7


On Saturday evening. This is the evening of the “first day of the week.” By the Jewish way of figuring time, the Sabbath expired at 6:00 P.M. on the day we call Saturday, and the first day of the week began there and continued until 6 P.M. of the day we call Sunday, at which time it terminated and the second day of the week began. We follow the Roman method of counting from midnight to midnight. We gathered together. This is a clear example of the practice of the believers which began immediately after the Lord Jesus raised from death. They met together on the first day of the new week for religious purposes (compare 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). This was their regular meeting, at which Paul spoke. For the fellowship meal. It was the custom well into the middle of the second century to eat the Lord’s Supper [Holy Meal] in the CONTEXT of a “fellowship meal” (also known as a “love feast,” “agape,” “eucharist”). Compare notes on Acts 2:42; Acts 2:46; Jude 1:12. Note they gathered together for this. Acts 20:11 shows the actual eating of the Lord’s Supper [Holy Meal]. The next day. Sunday morning. The Sabbath (Saturday) was still a day of rest for many. [On the use of day, see John 11:9.] Sunday is the Lord’s Day (see note on Revelation 1:10).

Verses 8-10


There were many lamps. These were their source of light. On the “upstairs room,” see note on Mark 14:15. Eutychus was sitting in the window. The language implies that he was killed by the fall, and that he was then brought back to life by a miracle (similar to 2 Kings 4:34).

Verse 11


Broke bread, and ate. This is the Lord’s Supper [Holy Meal]. The Fellowship Meal would follow this. The two were closely associated, yet distinct from each other. McGarvey says: “To the objection that Paul alone is said to have broken and eaten the bread, I answer, that this would be a very natural expression to indicate that Paul officiated at the table; but, on the other hand, if it was a common meal, it would be strange that he alone should eat, especially to the exclusion of his traveling companions, who were going to start as early in the morning as he did.” Johnson says: “It is probable that this meeting at Troas began at the close of the Sabbath, in the evening, was continued through the night, the Lord’s Supper being celebrated in the latter part of the night, before dawn of Sunday, and that at daybreak Paul departed.”


Verses 13-16


And sailed off to Assos. Luke says: “we went on ahead,” implying that he and some others went by ship. Paul followed the Roman road that connected Troas with Assos (a distance of twenty miles). It was about twice as far by ship, but Paul could expect to arrive there about the same time. We do not know why Paul walked, or whether he went by himself. Johnson thinks a number of brethren walked with Paul. Mitylene. About thirty miles from Assos, it is the capital of the island of Lesbos. Chios. An island near the coast of Asia (the Roman province), famous for its wine. Samos. Another island, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. Miletus. About thirty miles south of Ephesus. Ramsay thinks the route of the ship forced Paul to land here rather than Ephesus. Paul may have done this deliberately, because of his hurry to reach Jerusalem before Pentecost. Acts 20:16 seems to say this.

Verses 17-27


Asking the elders of the church to meet him. We are not told about them before this, but it was Paul’s custom to appoint elders in each church (Acts 14:23). Elders [church leaders] are also called shepherds [bishops] in Acts 20:28. The modern system of a “hierarchical series of bishops” is post-apostolic, not beginning until after the death of Paul and the other apostles. You know how. He reminds them of the example he set in his own life. As I preached and taught you in public and in your homes. Three months in the synagogue at Ephesus; two years in the lecture-hall of Tyrannus; plus many other times and places. I gave solemn warning. The positive message of God’s act in Christ to set men free, also contains some negative warnings. In obedience to the Holy Spirit. He was obeying the instructions of the Spirit. That none of you will ever see me again. This is his personal opinion. He may have expected to die for Christ at Jerusalem. Some are almost certain that Paul did revisit these churches during the time of his release from the first imprisonment until he was again imprisoned and put to death. If any of you should be lost. He would not be responsible, if they were lost, because he had already announced to them the whole purpose of God.

Verses 28-31


Keep watch. This is said especially to elders [church leaders]. Compare Hebrews 13:17. Over yourselves. Their first responsibility was over themselves, since they could not fulfill their mission unless they themselves set an example by their own lives. And over all the flock. The flock is the group of believers who make up the church in a locality. “Church leaders [elders] are a horizontal extension of the congregation, called to guide the spiritual growth and development of each member.” Through the death of his own Son. Death is symbolic of the totality of God’s act in Christ. Compare Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 2:9; Hebrews 2:14-17; Galatians 3:13. [Blood is symbolic of both life and death (Leviticus 17:11)] Fierce wolves will come among you. He still uses the symbolism of the flock. “Fierce wolves” are false teachers, and the special reference is to the “circumcisers” (Acts 15:1-2). Paul’s whole ministry was a battle with these people. The early church faced all the problems which we face today! See the Third Letter of John.

Verses 32-35


And now I place you in the care of God. He places a solemn obligation upon them. Compare James 1:21; Hebrews 4:12. For all his people. See 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. I have not coveted. He had not preached because of any motives of self-interest or a desire to make himself rich. At Ephesus he had worked at making tents to support both himself and his companions. See note on Acts 18:3. The “love of money” is sinful (1 Timothy 6:10). There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. These are genuine words of Jesus. The Four Gospels give only a small part of all Jesus said and did (John 21:25). Paul had “acted out” these words of Jesus in his life!

Verses 36-38


He knelt down with them all and prayed. This is the final good-bye. These people are more emotional than we are, but remember Paul is their spiritual leader and close friend, and they never expect to see him again in this world of time!!! Johnson thinks Paul did get to see them one more time, after his release from the first imprisonment (see note on Acts 20:25).

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 20". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/acts-20.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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