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Bible Commentaries
Acts 20

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

After the uproar was ceased (μετα το παυσασθα τον θορυβον). Literally, after the ceasing (accusative of articular aorist middle infinitive of παυω, to make cease) as to the uproar (accusative of general reference). Noise and riot, already in Matthew 26:5; Matthew 27:24; Mark 5:38; Mark 14:2; and see in Acts 21:34; Acts 24:18. Pictures the whole incident as bustle and confusion.

Took leave (ασπαμενος). First aorist middle participle of ασπαζομα, old verb from α intensive and σπαω, to draw, to draw to oneself in embrace either in greeting or farewell. Here it is in farewell as in Acts 21:6. Salutation in Acts 21:7; Acts 21:19.

Departed for to go into Macedonia (εξηλθεν πορευεσθα εις Μακεδονιαν). Both verbs, single act and then process. Luke here condenses what was probably a whole year of Paul's life and work as we gather from II Corinthians, one of Paul's "weighty and powerful" letters as his enemies called them (2 Corinthians 10:10). "This epistle more than any other is a revelation of S. Paul's own heart: it is his spiritual autobiography and apologia pro vita sua."

Verse 2

Those parts (τα μερη εκεινα). We have no way of knowing why Luke did not tell of Paul's stay in Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12) nor of meeting Titus in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 2:13-7) nor of Paul's visit to Illyricum (Romans 15:19) to give time for II Corinthians to do its work (Acts 20:2), one of the most stirring experiences in Paul's whole career when he opened his heart to the Corinthians and won final victory in the church by the help of Titus who also helped him round up the great collection in Achaia. He wrote II Corinthians during this period after Titus arrived from Corinth. The unity of II Corinthians is here assumed. Paul probably met Luke again in Macedonia, but all this is passed by except by the general phrase: "had given them much exhortation" (παρακαλεσας αυτους λογω πολλω). Literally, "having exhorted them (the Macedonian brethren) with much talk" (instrumental case).

Into Greece (εις την Hελλαδα). That is, Achaia (Acts 18:12; Acts 19:21), and particularly Corinth, whither he had at last come again after repeated attempts, pauses, and delays (2 Corinthians 13:1). Now at last the coast was clear and Paul apparently had an open door in Corinth during these three months, so completely had Titus at last done away with the opposition of the Judaizers there.

Verse 3

When he had spent three months there (ποιησας μηνας τρεις). Literally, "having done three months," the same idiom in Acts 14:33; Acts 18:23; James 5:13. During this period Paul may have written Galatians as Lightfoot argued and certainly did Romans. We do not have to say that Luke was ignorant of Paul's work during this period, only that he did not choose to enlarge upon it.

And a plot was laid against him by the Jews (γενομενης επιβουλης αυτω υπο των Ιουδαιων). Genitive absolute, "a plot by the Jews having come against him." Επιβουλη is an old word for a plot against one. In the N.T. only in Acts (Acts 9:24; Acts 20:3; Acts 20:19; Acts 23:30). Please note that this plot is by the Jews, not the Judaizers whom Paul discusses so vehemently in Acts 20:2. They had given Paul much anguish of heart as is shown in I Cor. and in Acts 20:2, but that trouble seems now past. It is Paul's old enemies in Corinth who had cherished all these years their defeat at the hands of Gallio (Acts 18:5-17) who now took advantage of Paul's plans for departure to compass his death if possible.

As he was about to set sail for Syria (μελλοντ αναγεσθα εις την Συριαν). The participle μελλοντ agrees in case (dative) with αυτω. For the sense of intending see also verse Acts 20:13. Αναγεσθα (present middle infinitive) is the common word for putting out to sea (going up, they said, from land) as in Acts 13:13.

He determined (εγενετο γνωμης). The best MSS. here read γνωμης (predicate ablative of source like επιλυσεως, 2 Peter 1:20, Robertson, Grammar, p. 514), not γνωμη (nominative). "He became of opinion." The Jews had heard of Paul's plan to sail for Syria and intended in the hurly-burly either to kill him at the docks in Cenchreae or to push him overboard from the crowded pilgrim ship bound for the passover. Fortunately Paul learned of their plot and so eluded them by going through Macedonia. The Codex Bezae adds here that "the Spirit bade him return into Macedonia."

Verse 4

Accompanied him (συνειπετο αυτω). Imperfect of συνεπομα, old and common verb, but only here in the N.T. The singular is used agreeing with the first name mentioned Σωπατρος and to be supplied with each of the others. Textus Receptus adds here "into Asia" (αχρ της Ασιας, as far as Asia), but the best documents (Aleph B Vulg. Sah Boh) do not have it. As a matter of fact, Trophimus went as far as Jerusalem (Acts 21:29) and Aristarchus as far as Rome (Acts 27:2; Colossians 4:10), The phrase could apply only to Sopatros. It is not clear though probable that Luke means to say that these seven brethren, delegates of the various churches (2 Corinthians 8:19-23) started from Corinth with Paul. Luke notes the fact that they accompanied Paul, but the party may really have been made up at Philippi where Luke himself joined Paul, the rest of the party having gone on to Troas (Acts 20:5). These were from Roman provinces that shared in the collection (Galatia, Asia, Macedonia, Achaia). In this list three were from Macedonia, Sopater of Beroea, Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica; two from Galatia, Gaius of Derbe and Timothy of Lystra; two from Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. It is a bit curious that none are named from Achaia. Had Corinth failed after all (Acts 20:2; Acts 20:9) to raise its share of the collection after such eager pledging? Rackham suggests that they may have turned their part over directly to Paul. Luke joined Paul in Philippi and could have handled the money from Achaia. It was an important event and Paul took the utmost pains to remove any opportunity for scandal in the handling of the funds.

Verse 5

Were waiting for us in Troas (εμενον ημας εν Τροιαδ). Here again we have "us" for the first time since chapter 16 where Paul was with Luke in Philippi. Had Luke remained all this time in Philippi? We do not know, but he is with Paul now till Rome is reached. The seven brethren of verse Acts 20:4 went on ahead from Philippi to Troas while Paul remained with Luke in Philippi.

Verse 6

After the days of unleavened bread (μετα τας ημερας των αζυμων). Paul was a Jew, though a Christian, and observed the Jewish feasts, though he protested against Gentiles being forced to do it (Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16). Was Luke a proselyte because he notes the Jewish feasts as here and in Acts 27:9? He may have noted them merely because Paul observed them. But this passover was a year after that in Ephesus when Paul expected to remain there till Pentecost (1 Corinthians 16:8). He was hoping now to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost (Acts 20:16) as he did. We do not know the precise year, possibly A.D. 56 or 57.

In five days (αχρ ημερων πεντε). Up to five days (cf. Luke 2:37). D has πεμπταιο, "fifth day men," a correct gloss. Cf. δευτεραιο, second-day men (Acts 28:13). In Acts 16:11 they made the voyage in two days. Probably adverse winds held them back here.

Seven days (επτα ημερας). To atone for the short stay in Troas before (2 Corinthians 2:12) when Paul was so restless. Now he preaches a week to them.

Verse 7

Upon the first day of the week (εν δε μια των σαββατων). The cardinal μια used here for the ordinal πρωτη (Mark 16:9) like the Hebrew ehadh as in Mark 16:2; Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1 and in harmony with the Koine idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 671). Either the singular (Mark 16:9) σαββατου or the plural σαββατον as here was used for the week (sabbath to sabbath). For the first time here we have services mentioned on the first day of the week though in 1 Corinthians 16:2 it is implied by the collections stored on that day. In Revelation 1:10 the Lord's day seems to be the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the grave. Worship on the first day of the week instead of the seventh naturally arose in Gentile churches, though John 20:26 seems to mean that from the very start the disciples began to meet on the first (or eighth) day. But liberty was allowed as Paul makes plain in Romans 14:5.

When we were gathered together (συνηγμενων ημων). Genitive absolute, perfect passive participle of συναγω, to gather together, a formal meeting of the disciples. See this verb used for gatherings of disciples in Acts 4:31; Acts 11:26; Acts 14:27; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:30; Acts 19:7; Acts 19:8; 1 Corinthians 5:4. In Hebrews 10:25 the substantive επισυναγωγην is used for the regular gatherings which some were already neglecting. It is impossible for a church to flourish without regular meetings even if they have to meet in the catacombs as became necessary in Rome. In Russia today the Soviets are trying to break up conventicles of Baptists. They probably met on our Saturday evening, the beginning of the first day at sunset. So these Christians began the day (Sunday) with worship. But, since this is a Gentile community, it is quite possible that Luke means our Sunday evening as the time when this meeting occurs, and the language in John 20:19 "it being evening on that day the first day of the week" naturally means the evening following the day, not the evening preceding the day.

To break bread (κλασα αρτον). First aorist active infinitive of purpose of κλαω. The language naturally bears the same meaning as in Acts 2:42, the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper which usually followed the Αγαπη. See 1 Corinthians 10:16. The time came, when the Αγαπη was no longer observed, perhaps because of the abuses noted in 1 Corinthians 11:20. Rackham argues that the absence of the article with bread here and its presence (τον αρτον) in verse Acts 20:11 shows that the Αγαπη is ] referred to in verse Acts 20:7 and the Eucharist in verse Acts 20:11, but not necessarily so because τον αρτον may merely refer to αρτον in verse Acts 20:7. At any rate it should be noted that Paul, who conducted this service, was not a member of the church in Troas, but only a visitor.

Discoursed (διελεγετο). Imperfect middle because he kept on at length.

Intending (μελλω). Being about to, on the point of.

On the morrow (τη επαυριον). Locative case with ημερα understood after the adverb επαυριον. If Paul spoke on our Saturday evening, he made the journey on the first day of the week (our Sunday) after sunrise. If he spoke on our Sunday evening, then he left on our Monday morning.

Prolonged his speech (Παρετεινεν τον λογον). Imperfect active (same form as aorist) of παρατεινω, old verb to stretch beside or lengthwise, to prolong. Vivid picture of Paul's long sermon which went on and on till midnight (μεχρ μεσονυκτιου). Paul's purpose to leave early next morning seemed to justify the long discourse. Preachers usually have some excuse for the long sermon which is not always clear to the exhausted audience.

Verse 8

Many lights (λαμπαδες ικανα). It was dark at night since the full moon (passover) was three weeks behind. These lamps were probably filled with oil and had wicks that flickered and smoked. They would not meet in the dark.

In the upper room (εν τω υπερωιω). As in Acts 1:13 which see.

Verse 9

Sat (καθεζομενος). Sitting (present middle participle describing his posture).

In the window (επ της θυριδος). Old word diminutive from θυρα, door, a little door. Latticed window (no glass) opened because of the heat from the lamps and the crowd. Our window was once spelt windore (Hudibras), perhaps from the wrong idea that it was derived from wind and door. Eutychus (a common slave name) was sitting on (επ) the window sill. Ahaziah "fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber" (2 Kings 1:2). In the N.T. θυρις only here and 2 Corinthians 11:33 (δια θυριδος) through which Paul was let down through the wall in Damascus.

Borne down with deep sleep (καταφερομενος υπνω βαθε). Present passive participle of καταφερω, to bear down, and followed by instrumental case (υπνω). Describes the gradual process of going into deep sleep. Great medical writers use βαθυς with υπνος as we do today (deep sleep). D here has βασε (heavy) for βαθε (deep).

As Paul discoursed yet longer (διαλεγομενου του Παυλου επ πλειον). Genitive absolute of present middle participle of διαλεγομα (cf. verse Acts 20:7). with επ πλειον. Eutychus struggled bravely to keep awake, vainly hoping that Paul would finish. But he went on "for more."

Being born down by his sleep (κατενεχθεις απο του υπνου). First aorist (effective) passive showing the final result of the process described by καταφερομενος, finally overcome as a result of (απο) the (note article του) sleep (ablative case). These four participles (καθεζομενοσ, καταφερομενοσ, διαλεγομενου, κατενεχθεις) have no connectives, but are distinguished clearly by case and tense. The difference between the present καταφερομενος and the aorist κατενεχθεις of the same verb is marked.

Fell down (επεσεν κατω). Effective aorist active indicative of πιπτω with the adverb κατω, though καταπιπτω (compound verb) could have been used (Acts 26:14; Acts 28:6). Hobart (Medical Language of St. Luke) thinks that Luke shows a physician's interest in the causes of the drowsiness of Eutychus (the heat, the crowd, the smell of the lamps, the late hour, the long discourse). Cf. Luke 22:45.

From the third story (απο του τριστεγου). From τρεις (three) and στεγη (roof), adjective τριστεγος having three roofs.

Was taken up dead (ηρθη νεκρος). First aorist passive indicative of αιρω. Luke does not say ως (as) or ωσε (Mark 9:26 as if). The people considered him dead and Luke the physician seems to agree with that view.

Verse 10

Fell on him (επεπεσεν αυτω). Second aorist active indicative of επιπιπτω with dative case as Elijah did (1 Kings 17:21) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:34).

Embracing (συνπεριλαβων). Second aorist active participle of συνπεριλαμβανω, old verb to embrace completely (take hold together round), but only here in the N.T. In Ezra 5:3.

Make ye no ado (μη θορυβεισθε). Stop (μη and present middle imperative of θορυβεω) making a noise (θορυβος) as the people did on the death of Jairus's daughter (Matthew 9:23 θορυβουμενου and Mark 5:38 θορυβου) when Jesus asked Τ θορυβεισθε? For his life is in him (η γαρ ψυχη αυτου εν αυτω εστιν). This language is relied on by Ramsay, Wendt, Zoeckler to show that Eutychus had not really died, but had merely swooned. Paul's language would suit that view, but it suits equally well the idea that he had just been restored to life and so is indecisive. Furneaux urges also the fact that his friends did not bring him back to the meeting till morning (verse Acts 20:12) as additional evidence that it was a case of swooning rather than of death. But this again is not conclusive as they would naturally not take him back at once. One will believe here as the facts appeal to him.

Verse 11

When he was gone up (αναβας). Second aorist active participle in sharp contrast to καταβας (went down) of verse Acts 20:10.

Had broken bread (κλασας τον αρτον). Probably the Eucharist to observe which ordinance Paul had come and tarried (verse Acts 20:7), though some scholars distinguish between what took place in verse Acts 20:7 and verse Acts 20:11, needlessly so as was stated on verse Acts 20:7.

And eaten (κα γευσαμενος). The word is used in Acts 10:10 of eating an ordinary meal and so might apply to the Αγαπη, but it suits equally for the Eucharist. The accident had interrupted Paul's sermon so that it was observed now and then Paul resumed his discourse.

And had talked with them a long while (εφ' ικανον τε ομιλησας). Luke, as we have seen, is fond of ικανος for periods of time, for a considerable space of time, "even till break of day" (αχρ αυγης). Old word for brightness, radiance like German Auge, English eye, only here in the N.T. Occurs in the papyri and in modern Greek for dawn. This second discourse lasted from midnight till dawn and was probably more informal (as in Acts 10:27) and conversational (ομιλησας, though our word homiletics comes from ομιλεω) than the discourse before midnight (διαλεγομα, verses Acts 20:7; Acts 20:9). He had much to say before he left.

So he departed (ουτως εξηλθεν). Thus Luke sums up the result. Paul left (went forth) only after all the events narrated by the numerous preceding participles had taken place. Effective aorist active indicative εξελθεν. Hουτως here equals τυμ δεμυμ, now at length (Acts 27:7) as Page shows.

Verse 12

They brought the lad alive (ηγαγον τον παιδα ζωντα). Second aorist active indicative of αγω. Evidently the special friends of the lad who now either brought him back to the room or (Rendall) took him home to his family. Knowling holds that ζωντα (living) here is pointless unless he had been dead. He had been taken up dead and now they brought him living.

Not a little (ου μετριως). Not moderately, that is a great deal. Luke is fond of this use of the figure litotes (use of the negative) instead of the strong positive (Acts 1:5, etc.). D (Codex Bezae) has here instead of ηγαγον these words: αλπαζομενων δε αυτων ηγαγεν τον νεανισκον ζωντα (while they were saying farewell he brought the young man alive). This reading pictures the joyful scene over the lad's restoration as Paul was leaving.

Verse 13

To the ship (επ το πλοιον). Note article. It is possible that Paul's party had chartered a coasting vessel from Philippi or Troas to take them to Patara in Lycia. Hence the boat stopped when and where Paul wished. That is possible, but not certain, for Paul could simply have accommodated himself to the plans of the ship's managers.

To take in Paul (αναλαμβανειν τον Παυλον). So in verse Acts 20:14. Same use in 2 Timothy 4:11: "Picking up Mark" (Μαρκον αναλαβων). Assos was a seaport south of Troas in Mysia in the province of Asia.

He had appointed (διατεταγμενος ην). Past perfect periphrastic middle of διατασσω, old verb to give orders (military in particular).

To go by land (πεζευειν). Present active infinitive of πεζευω, old verb to go on foot, not on horse back or in a carriage or by ship. Here only in the N.T. It was about twenty miles over a paved Roman road, much shorter (less than half) than the sea voyage around Cape Lectum. It was a beautiful walk in the spring-time and no doubt Paul enjoyed it whatever his reason was for going thus to Assos while the rest went by sea. Certainly he was entitled to a little time alone, this one day, as Jesus sought the Father in the night watches (Matthew 14:23).

Verse 14

Met us (συνεβαλλεν ημιν). Imperfect active where the aorist (συνεβαλεν, as C D have it) would seem more natural. It may mean that as soon as (ως) Paul "came near or began to meet us" (inchoative imperfect), we picked him up. Luke alone in the N.T. uses συνβαλλω to bring or come together either in a friendly sense as here or as enemies (Luke 14:31).

To Mitylene (εις Μιτυληνην). The capital of Lesbos about thirty miles from Assos, an easy day's sailing.

Verse 15

We came over against Chios (κατηντησαμεν αντικρυς Χιου). Luke uses this Koine verb several times (Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19), meaning to come right down in front of and the notion of αντα is made plainer by αντικρυς, face to face with, common "improper" preposition only here in the N.T. They probably lay off the coast (anchoring) during the night instead of putting into the harbour. The Island of Chios is about eight miles from the mainland.

The next day (τη ετερα). The third day in reality from Assos (the fourth from Troas), in contrast with τη επιουση just before for Chios.

We touched at Samos (παρεβαλομεν εις Σαμον). Second aorist active of παραβαλλω, to throw alongside, to cross over, to put in by. So Thucydides III. 32. Only here in the N.T. though in Textus Receptus in Mark 4:30. The word parable (παραβολη) is from this verb. The Textus Receptus adds here κα μειναντες εν Τρογυλλιω (and remaining at Trogyllium), but clearly not genuine. In passing from Chios to Samos they sailed past Ephesus to save time for Pentecost in Jerusalem (verse Acts 20:16), if in control of the ship, or because the captain allowed Paul to have his way. The island of Samos is still further down the coast below Chios. It is not stated whether a stop was made here or not.

The day after (τη εχομενη). The day holding itself next to the one before. Note Luke's three terms in this verse (τη επιουσηι, τη ετεραι, τη εχομενη). This would be the fourth from Assos.

To Miletus (εις Μιλητον). About 28 miles south of Ephesus and now the site is several miles from the sea due to the silt from the Maeander. This city, once the chief city of the Ionian Greeks, was now quite eclipsed by Ephesus.

Verse 16

For Paul had determined (κεκρικε γαρ ο Παυλος). Past perfect active (correct text) of κρινω and not the aorist εκρινε. Either Paul controlled the ship or the captain was willing to oblige him.

To sail past Ephesus (παραπλευσα την Εφεσον). First aorist active infinitive of παραπλεω, old verb to sail beside, only here in the N.T.

That he might not have (οπως μη γενητα αυτω). Final clause (negative) with aorist middle subjunctive of γινομα and dative "that it might not happen to him."

To spend time (χρονοτριβησα). First aorist active of the late compound verb χρονοτριβεω (χρονος, time, τριβω, to spend), only here in the N.T. The verb τριβω, to rub, to wear out by rubbing, lends itself to the idea of wasting time. It was only a year ago that Paul had left Ephesus in haste after the riot. It was not expedient to go back so soon if he meant to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. Paul clearly felt (Acts 20:15) that the presentation of this collection at Pentecost to the Jewish Christians would have a wholesome influence as it had done once before (Acts 11:30).

He was hastening (εσπευδεν). Imperfect active of σπευδω, old verb to hasten as in Luke 2:16; Luke 19:56.

If it were possible for him (ε δυνατον ειη αυτω). Condition of the fourth class (optative mode), if it should be possible for him. The form is a remote possibility. It was only some thirty days till Pentecost.

The day of Pentecost (την ημεραν της πεντηκοστης). Note the accusative case. Paul wanted to be there for the whole day. See Acts 2:1 for this very phrase.

Verse 17

Called to him (μετεκαλεσατο). Aorist middle (indirect) indicative of μετακαλεω, old verb to call from one place to another (μετα for "change"), middle to call to oneself, only in Acts in the N.T. (Acts 7:14; Acts 10:32; Acts 20:17; Acts 24:25). Ephesus was some thirty miles, a stiff day's journey each way. They would be with Paul the third day of the stay in Miletus.

The elders of the church (τους πρεσβυτερους της εκκλησιας). The very men whom Paul terms "bishops" (επισκοπους) in verse Acts 20:28 just as in Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7 where both terms (πρεσβυτερουσ, τον επισκοπον) describe the same office. The term "elder" applied to Christian ministers first appears in Acts 11:30 in Jerusalem and reappears in Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22 in connection with the apostles and the church. The "elders" are not "apostles" but are "bishops" (cf. Philippians 1:1) and with "deacons" constitute the two classes of officers in the early churches. Ignatius shows that in the early second century the office of bishop over the elders had developed, but Lightfoot has shown that it was not so in the first century. Each church, as in Jerusalem, Philippi, Ephesus, had a number of "elders" ("bishops") in the one great city church. Hackett thinks that other ministers from the neighbourhood also came. It was a noble group of preachers and Paul, the greatest preacher of the ages, makes a remarkable talk to preachers with all the earmarks of Pauline originality (Spitta, Apostelgeschichte, p. 252) as shown by the characteristic Pauline words, phrases, ideas current in all his Epistles including the Pastoral (testify, course, pure, take heed, presbyter, bishop, acquire, apparel). Luke heard this address as he may and probably did hear those in Jerusalem and Caesarea (Acts 20:21-26). Furneaux suggests that Luke probably took shorthand notes of the address since Galen says that his students took down his medical lectures in shorthand: "At any rate, of all the speeches in the Acts this contains most of Paul and least of Luke. ... It reveals Paul as nothing else does. The man who spoke it is no longer a man of eighteen centuries ago: he is of yesterday; of today. He speaks as we speak and feels as we feel; or rather as we fain would speak and feel." We have seen and listened to Paul speak to the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia as Luke pictures the scene, to the uneducated pagans at Lystra, to the cultured Greeks in Athens. We shall hear him plead for his life to the Jewish mob in Jerusalem, to the Roman governor Felix in Caesarea, to the Jewish "King" Herod Agrippa II in Caesarea, and at last to the Jews in Rome. But here Paul unbosoms himself to the ministers of the church in Ephesus where he had spent three years (longer than with any other church) and where he had such varied experiences of prowess and persecution. He opens his heart to these men as he does not to the average crowd even of believers. It is Paul's Apologia pro sua Vita. He will probably not see them again and so the outlook and attitude is similar to the farewell discourse of Jesus to the disciples in the upper room (Acts 20:13-17). He warns them about future perils as Jesus had done. Paul's words here will repay any preacher's study today. There is the same high conception of the ministry here that Paul had already elaborated in 2 Corinthians 2:12-6 (see my Glory of the Ministry). It is a fitting time and occasion for Paul to take stock of his ministry at the close of the third mission tour. What wonders had God wrought already.

Verse 18

Ye yourselves know (υμεις επιστασθε). Pronoun expressed and emphatic. He appeals to their personal knowledge of his life in Ephesus.

From the first day that (απο πρωτης ημερας αφ' ης). "From first day from which." He had first "set foot" (επεβην, second aorist active indicative of old verb επιβαινω, to step upon or step into) in Ephesus four years ago in the spring of 51 or 52, but had returned from Antioch that autumn. It is now spring of 54 or 55 so that his actual ministry in Ephesus was about two and a half years, roughly three years (verse Acts 20:31).

After what manner I was with you (πως μεθ' υμων εγενομην). Literally, "How I came (from Asia and so was) with you." Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 where Paul likewise dares to refer boldly to his life while with them "all the time" (τον παντα χρονον). Accusative of duration of time. So far as we know, Paul stuck to Ephesus the whole period. He had devoted himself consecratedly to the task in Ephesus. Each pastor is bishop of his field and has a golden opportunity to work it for Christ. One of the saddest things about the present situation is the restlessness of preachers to go elsewhere instead of devoting themselves wholly to the task where they are. Acts 20:19.

Serving the Lord (δουλευων τω κυριω). It was Paul's glory to be the δουλος (bond-slave) as in Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1. Paul alone, save Jesus in Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13, uses δουλευω six times for serving God (Page).

With all lowliness of mind (μετα πασης ταπεινοφροσυνης). Lightfoot notes that heathen writers use this word for a grovelling, abject state of mind, but Paul follows Christ in using it for humility, humble-mindedness that should mark every Christian and in particular the preacher.

With tears (δακρυων). Construed with μετα. Paul was a man of the deepest emotion along with his high intellectuality. He mentions his tears again in verse Acts 20:31, tears of sorrow and of anxiety. He refers to his tears in writing the sharp letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:4) and in denouncing the sensual apostates in Philippians 3:18. Adolphe Monod has a wonderful sermon on the tears of Paul. Consider also the tears of Jesus.

Trials which befell me (πειρασμων των συμβαντων μο). Construed also with μετα. Second aorist active participle of συνβαινω, to walk with, to go with, to come together, to happen, to befall. Very common in this sense in the old Greek (cf. Acts 3:10).

By the plots of the Jews (εν ταις επιβουλαις των Ιουδαιων). Like the plot (επιβουλη) against him in Corinth (Acts 20:3) as well as the earlier trial before Gallio and the attacks in Thessalonica. In Acts 19:9 Luke shows the hostile attitude of the Jews in Ephesus that drove Paul out of the synagogue to the school of Tyrannus. He does not describe in detail these "plots" which may easily be imagined from Paul's own letters and may be even referred to in 1 Corinthians 4:10; 1 Corinthians 15:30; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 1:4-10; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23. In fact, one has only to dwell on the allusions in Acts 20:2 to picture what Paul's life was in Ephesus during these three years. Luke gives in Acts 20:19 the outbreak of Demetrius, but Paul had already fought with "wild-beasts" there.

Verse 20

How that I shrank not (ως ουδεν υπεστειλαμεν). Still indirect discourse (question) after επιστασθε (ye know) with ως like πως in verse Acts 20:18. First aorist middle of υποστελλω, old verb to draw under or back. It was so used of drawing back or down sails on a ship and, as Paul had so recently been on the sea, that may be the metaphor here. But it is not necessarily so as the direct middle here makes good sense and is frequent, to withdraw oneself, to cower, to shrink, to conceal, to dissemble as in Habakkuk 2:4 (Hebrews 10:38). Demosthenes so used it to shrink from declaring out of fear for others. This open candour of Paul is supported by his Epistles (1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Galatians 1:10).

From declaring unto you (του μη αναγγειλα υμιν). Ablative case of the articular first aorist active infinitive of αναγγελλω with the redundant negative after verbs of hindering, etc. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1094).

Anything that was profitable (των συμφεροντων). Partitive genitive after ουδεν of the articular present active participle of συμφερω, to bear together, be profitable.

Publicly (δημοσια, adverb)

and from house to house (κα κατ' οικους). By (according to) houses. It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls. He was doing kingdom business all the while as in the house of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Corinthians 16:19).

Verse 21

Testifying (διαμαρτυρομενος). As Peter did (Acts 2:40) where Luke uses this same word thoroughly Lucan and Pauline. So again in verses Acts 20:23; Acts 20:24. Paul here as in Romans 1:16 includes both Jews and Greeks, to the Jew first.

Repentance toward God (την εις θεον μετανοιαν)

and faith toward our Lord Jesus (κα πιστιν εις τον κυριον ημων Ιησουν). These two elements run through the Epistle to the Romans which Paul had recently written and sent from Corinth. These two elements appear in all Paul's preaching whether "to Jews or Gentiles, to philosophers at Athens or to peasants at Lystra, he preached repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus" (Knowling).

Verse 22

Bound in the spirit (δεδεμενος τω πνευματ). Perfect passive participle of δεω, to bind, with the locative case. "Bound in my spirit" he means, as in Acts 19:21, from a high sense of duty. The mention of "the Holy Spirit" specifically in verse Acts 20:23 seems to be in contrast to his own spirit here. His own spirit was under the control of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16) and the sense does not differ greatly.

Not knowing (μη ειδως). Second perfect active participle of οιδα with μη.

That shall befall me (τα συναντησοντα εμο). Articular future active participle of συνανταω, to meet with (Acts 10:25), to befall (with associative instrumental case) and compare with συμβαντων (befell) in verse Acts 20:19. One of the rare instances of the future participle in the N.T.

Verse 23

Save that (πλην οτ). The οτ clause is really in the ablative case after πλην, here a preposition as in Philippians 1:18, this idiom πλην οτ occasionally in ancient Greek.

In every city (κατα πολιν). Singular here though plural in κατ' οικους (verse Acts 20:20).

Bonds and afflictions (δεσμα κα θλιψεις). Both together as in Philippians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 1:8. Literal bonds and actual pressures.

Abide me (με μενουσιν). With the accusative as in verse Acts 20:5 (εμενον ημας) and nowhere else in the N.T.

Verse 24

But I hold not my life of any account (αλλ' ουδενος λογου ποιουμα την ψυχην). Neat Greek idiom, accusative ψυχην and genitive λογου and then Paul adds "dear unto myself" (τιμιαν εμαυτω) in apposition with ψυχην (really a combination of two constructions).

So that I may accomplish my course (ως τελειωσω δρομον μου). Rather, "In order that" (purpose, not result). Aleph and B read τελειωσω here (first aorist active subjunctive) rather than τελειωσα (first aorist active infinitive). It is the lone instance in the N.T. of ως as a final particle (Robertson, Grammar, p. 987). Paul in Acts 13:25 in his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia described John as fulfilling his course and in 2 Timothy 4:7 he will say: "I have finished my course" (τον δρομον τετελεκα). He will run the race to the end.

Which I received from the Lord Jesus (ην ελαβον παρα του κυριου Ιησου). Of that fact he never had a doubt and it was a proud boast (Galatians 1:1; Romans 11:13).

The gospel of the grace of God (το ευαγγελιον της χαριτος του θεου). To Paul the gospel consisted in the grace of God. See this word "grace" (χαρις) in Romans and his other Epistles.

Verse 25

And now, behold (κα νυν, ιδου). Second time and solemn reminder as in verse Acts 20:22.

I know (εγω οιδα). Emphasis on εγω which is expressed.

Ye all (υμεις παντες). In very emphatic position after the verb οψεσθε (shall see) and the object (my face). Twice Paul will write from Rome (Philippians 2:24; Philemon 1:22) the hope of coming east again; but that is in the future, and here Paul is expressing his personal conviction and his fears. The Pastoral Epistles show Paul did come to Ephesus again (1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 3:14; 1 Timothy 4:13) and Troas (2 Timothy 4:13) and Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20). There need be no surprise that Paul's fears turned out otherwise. He had reason enough for them.

Among whom I went about (εν οις διηλθον). Apparently Paul here has in mind others beside the ministers. They represented the church in Ephesus and the whole region where Paul laboured.

Verse 26

I testify (μαρτυρομα). Elsewhere in the N.T. only in Paul's Epistles (Galatians 5:3; Ephesians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). It means "I call to witness" while μαρτυρεω means "I bear witness."

This day (εν τη σημερον ημερα). The today day, the last day with you, our parting day.

I am pure from the blood of all men (καθαρος ειμ απο του αιματος παντων). Paul was sensitive on this point as in Corinth (Acts 18:6). It is much for any preacher to claim and it ought to be true of all. The papyri also give this use of απο with the ablative rather than the mere ablative after καθαρος.

Verse 27

Paul here repeats the very words and idioms used in verse Acts 20:20, adding "the whole counsel of God" (πασαν την βουλην του θεου). All the counsel of God that concerned Paul's work and nothing inconsistent with the purpose of God of redemption through Christ Jesus (Page).

Verse 28

Take heed unto yourselves (προσεχετε εαυτοις). The full phrase had τον νουν, hold your mind on yourselves (or other object in the dative), as often in old writers and in Job 7:17. But the ancients often used the idiom with νουν understood, but not expressed as here and Acts 5:35; Luke 12:1; Luke 17:3; Luke 21:34; 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 4:13. Επεχε is so used in 1 Timothy 4:16.

To all the flock (παντ τω ποιμνιω). Contracted form of ποιμενιον = ποιμνη (John 10:16) already in Luke 12:32 and also in Acts 20:29; 1 Peter 5:2; 1 Peter 5:3. Common in old Greek.

Hath made (εθετο). Did make, second aorist middle indicative of τιθημ, did appoint. Paul evidently believed that the Holy Spirit calls and appoints ministers.

Bishops (επισκοπους). The same men termed elders in verse Acts 20:17 which see.

To shepherd (ποιμαινειν). Present active infinitive of purpose of ποιμαινω, old verb to feed or tend the flock (ποιμνη, ποιμνιον), to act as shepherd (ποιμην). These ministers are thus in Paul's speech called elders (verse Acts 20:17), bishops (verse Acts 20:28), and shepherds (verse Acts 20:28). Jesus had used this very word to Peter (John 21:16, twice βοσκε, feed, Acts 21:15; Acts 21:17) and Peter will use it in addressing fellow-elders (1 Peter 5:2) with memories, no doubt of the words of Jesus to him. The "elders" were to watch over as "bishops" and "tend and feed as shepherds" the flock. Jesus is termed "the shepherd and bishop of your souls" in 1 Peter 2:25 and "the great Shepherd of the sheep" in Hebrews 13:20. Jesus called himself "the good Shepherd" in John 10:11.

The church of God (την εκκλησιαν του θεου). The correct text, not "the church of the Lord" or "the church of the Lord and God" (Robertson, Introduction to Textual Criticism of the N.T., p. 189).

He purchased (περιεποιησατο). First aorist middle of περιποιεω, old verb to reserve, to preserve (for or by oneself, in the middle). In the N.T. only in Luke Acts 17:33; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:13. The substantive περιποιησιν (preservation, possession) occurs in 1 Peter 2:9 ("a peculiar people" = a people for a possession) and in Ephesians 1:14.

With his own blood (δια του αιματος του ιδιου). Through the agency of (δια) his own blood. Whose blood? If του θεου (Aleph B Vulg.) is correct, as it is, then Jesus is here called "God" who shed his own blood for the flock. It will not do to say that Paul did not call Jesus God, for we have Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13 where he does that very thing, besides Colossians 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11.

Verse 29

After my departing (μετα την αφιξιν μου). Not his death, but his departure from them. From αφικνεομα and usually meant arrival, but departure in Herodotus IX. 17, 76 as here.

Grievous wolves (λυκο βαρεις). Βαρεις is heavy, rapacious, harsh. Jesus had already so described false teachers who would raven the fold (John 10:12). Whether Paul had in mind the Judaizers who had given him so much trouble in Antioch, Jerusalem, Galatia, Corinth or the Gnostics the shadow of whose coming he already foresaw is not perfectly clear. But it will not be many years before Epaphras will come to Rome from Colossae with news of the new peril there (Epistle to the Colossians). In writing to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:20) Paul will warn him against some who have already made shipwreck of their faith. In Revelation 2:2 John will represent Jesus as describing false apostles in Ephesus.

Not sparing the flock (μη φειδομενο του ποιμνιου). Litotes again as so often in Acts. Sparing the flock was not the fashion of wolves. Jesus sent the seventy as lambs in the midst of wolves (Luke 10:3). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus had pictured the false prophets who would come as ravening wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15).

Verse 30

From among your own selves (εξ υμων αυτων). In sheep's clothing just as Jesus had foretold. The outcome fully justified Paul's apprehensions as we see in Colossians, Ephesians, I and II Timothy, Revelation. False philosophy, immorality, asceticism will lead some astray (Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:18; Ephesians 4:14; Ephesians 5:6). John will picture "antichrists" who went out from us because they were not of us (1 John 2:18). There is a false optimism that is complacently blind as well as a despondent pessimism that gives up the fight.

Perverse things (διεστραμμενα). Perfect passive participle of διαστρεφω, old verb to turn aside, twist, distort as in Acts 13:8; Acts 13:10.

To draw away (του αποσπαιν). Articular genitive present active participle of purpose from αποσπαω, old verb used to draw the sword (Matthew 26:51), to separate (Luke 22:41; Acts 21:1). The pity of it is that such leaders of dissension can always gain a certain following. Paul's long residence in Ephesus enabled him to judge clearly of conditions there.

Verse 31

Wherefore watch ye (διο γρηγορειτε). Paul has concluded his defence of himself and his warning. Now he exhorts on the basis of it (διο) because of which thing. The very command of Jesus concerning the perils before his return as in Mark 13:35 (γρηγορειτε), the very form (late present imperative from the second perfect εγρηγορα of εγειρω, to arouse). Stay awake.

I ceased not to admonish (ουκ επαυσαμην νουθετων). Participle describes Paul, I did not cease admonishing, night and day (νυκτα κα ημεραν, accusative of extent of time, for three years τριετιαν, accusative of extent of time also). Νουθετων is from νουθετεω, to put sense into one. So Paul kept it up with tears (verse Acts 20:19) if so be he could save the Ephesians from the impending perils. Forewarned is to be forearmed. Paul did his duty by them.

Verse 32

And now (κα τα νυν). Same phrase as in verses Acts 20:22; Acts 20:25 save that ιδου (behold) is wanting and the article τα occurs before νυν, accusative of general reference. And as to the present things (or situation) as in Acts 4:29.

I commend (παρατιθεμα). Present middle indicative of παρατιθημ, old verb to place beside, middle, to deposit with one, to interest as in 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:2. Paul can now only do this, but he does it hopefully. Cf. 1 Peter 4:19.

The word of his grace (τω λογω της χαριτος αυτου). The instrumentality through preaching and the Holy Spirit employed by God. Cf. Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29.

Which is able to build up (τω δυναμενω οικοδομησα). God works through the word of his grace and so it is able to build up (edify); a favourite Pauline word (1 Corinthians 3:10-14; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 2:20-22; 2 Timothy 3:15; etc.), and James 1:21. The very words "build" and "inheritance among the sanctified" will occur in Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 2:30; Ephesians 3:18 and which some may recall on reading. Cf. Colossians 1:12. Stephen in Acts 7:5 used the word "inheritance" (κληρονομιαν), nowhere else in Acts, but in Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 5:5. In Ephesians 1:18 the very expression occurs "his inheritance among the saints " (την κληρονομιαν αυτου εν τοις αγιοις).

Verse 33

No man's silver or gold or apparel (αργυριου η χρυσιου η ιματισμου ουδενος). Genitive case after επεθυμησα. One of the slanders against Paul was that he was raising this collection, ostensibly for the poor, really for himself (2 Corinthians 12:17). He includes "apparel" because oriental wealth consisted largely in fine apparel (not old worn out clothes). See Genesis 24:53; 2 Kings 5:5; Psalms 45:13; Matthew 6:19. Paul did not preach just for money.

Verse 34

Ye yourselves (αυτο). Intensive pronoun. Certainly they knew that the church in Ephesus had not supported Paul while there.

These hands (α χειρες αυτα). Paul was not above manual labour. He pointed to his hands with pride as proof that he toiled at his trade of tent-making as at Thessalonica and Corinth for his own needs (χρειαις) and for those with him (probably Aquila and Priscilla) with whom he lived and probably Timothy because of his often infirmities (1 Timothy 5:23).

Ministered (υπηρετησαν). First aorist active of υπηρετεω, to act as under rower, old verb, but in the N.T. only in Acts 13:36; Acts 20:34; Acts 24:23. While in Ephesus Paul wrote to Corinth: "We toil, working with our own hands" (1 Corinthians 4:12). "As he held them up, they saw a tongue of truth in every seam that marked them" (Furneaux).

Verse 35

I gave you an example (υπεδειξα). First aorist active indicative of υποδεικνυμ, old verb to show under one's eyes, to give object lesson, by deed as well as by word (Luke 6:47). Hυποδειγμα means example (John 13:15; James 5:10). So Paul appeals to his example in 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17. Παντα is accusative plural of general reference (in all things).

So labouring ye ought to help (ουτως κοπιωντας δε αντιλαμβανεσθα). So, as I did. Necessity (δε). Toiling (κοπιωντας) not just for ourselves, but to help (αντιλαμβανεσθα), to take hold yourselves (middle voice) at the other end (αντ). This verb common in the old Greek, but in the N.T. only in Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35; 1 Timothy 6:2. This noble plea to help the weak is the very spirit of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Romans 5:6; Romans 14:1). In 1 Thessalonians 5:14 αντεχεσθε των ασθενουντων we have Paul's very idea again. Every Community Chest appeal today re-echoes Paul's plea.

He himself said (αυτος ειπεν). Not in the Gospels, one of the sayings of Jesus in current use that Paul had received and treasured. Various other Agrapha of Jesus have been preserved in ancient writers and some in recently discovered papyri which may be genuine or not. We are grateful that Paul treasured this one. This Beatitude (on μακαριον see on Matthew 5:3-11) is illustrated by the whole life of Jesus with the Cross as the culmination. Aristotle (Eth. IV. I) has a saying somewhat like this, but assigns the feeling of superiority as the reason (Page), an utterly different idea from that here. This quotation raises the question of how much Paul personally knew of the life and sayings of Jesus.

Verse 36

He kneeled down (θεις τα γονατα αυτου). Second aorist active participle of τιθημ, to place. The very idiom used in Acts 7:60 of Stephen. Not in ancient writers and only six times in the N.T. (Mark 15:19; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5). Certainly kneeling in prayer is a fitting attitude (cf. Jesus, Luke 22:41), though not the only proper one (Matthew 6:5). Paul apparently prayed aloud (προσηυξατο).

Verse 37

They all wept sore (ικανος κλαυθμος εγενετο παντων). Literally, There came considerable weeping of all (on the part of all, genitive case).

Kissed him (κατεφιλουν αυτον). Imperfect active of καταφιλεω, old verb, intensive with κατα and repetition shown also by the tense: They kept on kissing or kissed repeatedly, probably one after the other falling on his neck. Cf. also Matthew 26:49.

Verse 38

Sorrowing (οδυνωμενο). Present middle participle of οδυναω, old verb to cause intense pain, to torment (Luke 16:24), middle to distress oneself (Luke 2:48; Acts 20:38). Nowhere else in N.T.

Which he had spoken (ω ειρηκε). Relative attracted to the case of the antecedent λογω (word). Past perfect indicative of ειπον.

They brought him on his way (προεπεμπον αυτον). Imperfect active of προπεμπω, old verb to send forward, to accompany as in Acts 15:3; Acts 20:38; Acts 21:5; 1 Corinthians 16:6; 1 Corinthians 16:11; 2 Corinthians 1:16; Titus 3:13; 3 John 1:6. Graphic picture of Paul's departure from this group of ministers.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 20". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-20.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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