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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
Acts 20

 

 

Verses 1-6

Travelling from Ephesus to Troas

After encouraging the Ephesian brethren, Paul went on to Macedonia. He also built up the churches there before he went on to Greece. His work there continued for some three months. Then, he planned to sail to Syria, until the Jews plotted to kill him. When the apostle learned of the plot against his life, he headed north back into Macedonia instead. As Paul was carrying a large contribution to Jerusalem to help the needy saints, he took along several men, likely to serve as witnesses to the proper handling of the money.

Coffman said, "One may observe that Macedonian congregations were represented by Sopater, Aristarchus and Secundus; the Galatian congregations were represented by Gaius of Derbe and Timothy of Lystra; the ones in Asia were represented by Tychicus and Trophimus; and it may be inferred from 2 Corinthians 8:6 ff. that the Corinthians contribution was entrusted to Titus and two other brethren sent by Paul to Corinth to receive it." It may be that they went around collecting the funds with the goal of meeting at a predetermined location, which would have been Troas. Luke rejoined Paul at Philippi and they sailed for Troas after the Passover (Acts 20:1-6).


Verses 7-12

Paul"s Stay In Troas

Luke"s seemingly casual comment that Paul and his company stayed seven days in Troas actually serves to enlighten us as to the custom of worship in New Testament times. They came together on the first day of the week to break bread. They were there on every other day of the week, yet they partook on the Lord"s day. Though an inspired apostle spoke on that occasion, mention of that fact takes a back seat to remembering the Lord"s death. The first day was also the day Jesus was raised and the day his church was established (Mark 16:9; Acts 2:1-47 : Leviticus 23:15-16). Now, when God said, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8), the Jews understood that he meant every Sabbath.

Gus Nichols wrote a good article on the frequency of our Lord"s supper observance. In it, he quoted 1 Corinthians 11:20-22 and said, "If a school teacher should say to some naughty boys, "You did not come here to learn," she would be understood to mean that they should have come for that purpose. Hence the apostle"s meaning is clear when in reproving the church he said they had not assembled to eat the Lord"s supper." From this excellent analysis, we conclude that early Christians assembled to partake of the Lord"s supper. Nichols also tells us "the Greek preposition "Kata" is used in this passage, and means "every," with reference to week." (1 Corinthians 16:2) Thus, we have the early church assembling every first day of the week. We know they assembled to break bread and Paul tells them to give every first day of the week.

Paul"s lesson continued until midnight. The church assembled in a third story room. A young man, named Eutychus, who was sitting in a window listening, went to sleep and fell out of the window. After he was pronounced dead, Paul took him up in his arms and announced that his life was still in him. The miraculous restoration of life having been completed, the Christians again assembled in their upper room to eat a meal together. The conversation lasted until daybreak, which indicates just how highly the brethren thought of the apostle. They, along with the young man raised just hours before, walked with the apostle as he departed. Luke notes they were more than a little comforted (Acts 20:7-12).


Verses 13-27

Meeting with the Elders from Ephesus

The rest of the apostle"s company travelled by ship to Assos, while he went on foot. He joined them in the ship at Assos and went on with them to Mitylene, then by Chios, a brief stop at Samos, staying for a time at Trogyllium and a more extended stay at Miletus. Luke explained Paul"s longer stay in Miletus by saying Paul intended to sail by Ephesus in hopes of reaching Jerusalem before Pentecost. So, he called for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him at Miletus. When they arrived, he reminded them of the struggles he faced while in Asia. He had served the Lord with a humble attitude, even being moved to tears at times and surviving more than one Jewish plot against his life. Yet, he had faithfully declared the truth to them, both publicly, in the synagogue and the school of Tyrannus, and teaching in one house, then another. His preaching had extended to Jews as well as Greeks and included the need for repentance and faith (Acts 20:13-21).

Having reminded them of his time working among them, Paul next told the elders he was compelled to go on to Jerusalem, despite the knowledge of what awaited him there. The Holy Spirit had testified to him, through the voices of prophets and other inspired men (Acts 21:10-11), concerning his impending arrest and the other trials he would confront in Jerusalem. Paul"s greatest concern was not for his own personal safety but with completing the special ministry Jesus had given him, or preaching the kingdom, which is one and the same. He did not expect to ever see the faces of those elders again. So, he called upon them to faithfully witness the content of his preaching among those at Ephesus. He had preached the whole truth, thus relieving himself of any responsibility for those who might have remained in sin (Acts 20:22-27).


Verses 28-38

Paul"s Charge to the Ephesian Elders

Because he did not anticipate seeing them again, the apostle charged those elders, who had been selected on the basis of the qualifications listed by the Holy Spirit, to watch out for their own spiritual well being. Further, they were commanded by the apostle to watch out for every sheep in God"s flock at Ephesus. This was specifically the case because they had been given oversight, or made bishops, over the flock purchased with Jesus" blood. Such a watchful state was necessary because false teachers, even from within the eldership, would draw away disciples. Particularly, Paul urged the elders to remember his own watchful service of three years. He had warned them day and night, even with crying.

Paul recommended that the shepherds trust God and his word, which would help them grow stronger and inherit eternal life. He reminded them that he worked with his own hands to support himself and did not covet anyone"s money. He urged them to labor to support themselves and help the weak, while reminding them that Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." After kneeling with them in prayer, Paul tearfully departed (Acts 20:28-38).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 20:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/acts-20.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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