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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Acts 20

 

 

Verse 1

1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

Ver. 1. Into Macedonia] Great Alexander’s country, called at this day Albany, and is subject to the Turk.


Verse 2

2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,

Ver. 2. Into Greece] sc. To Corinth, whence he wrote the Epistle to the Romans.


Verse 3

3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.

Ver. 3. And there abode three] Gr. ποιησας, "Was doing there," he was in continual action. Life consists in action; so doth spiritual life, Isaiah 38:16. And by this reason one may live more in a month than another in many years. In this sense Seneca saith (Epist. lxvii.), Quamvis vitae paucos fecerimus dies. See the same word used thus, Matthew 20:12.


Verse 4

4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

Ver. 4. Sopater of Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus, &c.] These all were the very "glory of Jesus Christ," 2 Corinthians 8:23, and yet counted the offscouring of all things: { περιψημα, 1 Corinthians 4:13} these precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, were esteemed as earthen pitchers, Lamentations 4:2. These worthies of whom the world was not worthy, Hebrews 11:38, were cast out of the world as it were by an ostracism. These jewels of Jesus Christ, these "excellent ones of the earth," these earthly angels, were shamefully slighted, and trampled upon by the fat bulls of Bashan with the feet of insolence and cruelty. Howbeit as stars (though we see them sometimes in a puddle, though they reflect there, yet) have they their situation in heaven; so God’s saints, though in a low condition, yet they are fixed in the region of happiness. Content they are to pass to heaven (as Christ their head did) as concealed men, and would not change estates with the earth’s mightier monarchs.


Verse 5

5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.

Ver. 5. Tarried for us at Troas] {See Trapp on "Acts 16:8"}


Verse 6

6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

Ver. 6. In five days] Let them that please read here Ptolemy’s first table of Asia, where they shall have this whole voyage of St Paul daintily described.


Verse 7

7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

Ver. 7. Continued his speech till midnight] Media nocte vigilabant, ut eos condemnent qui media die dormiunt, saith Chrysostom. Jacob, fearing his brother, slept not all that night. If Samuel thought it had been God that spake to him, he would not have slept. While lshbosheth slept, Baanah and Rechab took off his head. After the disciples slept, being bidden watch, they fled from Christ and forswore him, Matthew 26:40.


Verse 8

8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

Ver. 8. And there were many lights] Night meetings are lawful, and, in some cases, needful; though carnal men will calumniate, and muse as they use. Caligula thought there was not a chaste man upon earth, because himself was most detestably unchaste.


Verse 9

9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

Ver. 9. Being fallen into a deep sleep] Woe to many today, when God shall once send out summonses for sleepers.


Verse 10

10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

Ver. 10. His life is in him] After that Paul prayed for him, life returned; or else because he knew it should return, he speaks of it as a done thing.


Verse 11

11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

Ver. 11. And eaten] After the celebration of the Lord’s supper, followed the use of daily food. Animantis cuiusque vita est in fuga, saith the philosopher; so that were it not for the repair of nutrition, natural life would be soon extinguished. So would spiritual life also.


Verse 12

12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

Ver. 12. And were not a little comforted] Not so much for the young man’s recovery, as for the love of God sealed up unto them therein: this was the kernel, the other but the shell.


Verse 13

13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.

Ver. 13. Assos] A chief city of Mysia, called also Apollonia, on the Asiatic shore.

To go on foot] Haply for his health’s sake, or for more convenience of visiting the brethren, whose edification he minded more than his own ease.


Verse 14

14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

Ver. 14-15. Mytilene] An island of the Cyclades, now called Meteline. See what great difficulties these good men devoured for the glory of God and good of his people. The love of Christ constrained them ( amor addidit alas) and the recompence of reward in heaven quickened them; Quis enim non patiatur, ut potiatur? Who would not suffer for such a felicity?


Verse 16

15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.

16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

Ver. 16. To be at Jerusalem] Not so much to observe the legal rites, which he knew to be then abrogated (only sepelienda erat synagoga cum honore), as to edify the Church, by declaring to the faithful there how Christ’s kingdom was propagated abroad, and by confuting the slanderous aspersions cast upon him by evil-minded men.


Verse 17

17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

Ver. 17. From Miletus] A city of Asia, lower than Ephesus.


Verse 18

18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,

Ver. 18. Ye know] This the apostle speaketh, not out of vain glory or desire of popular applause, but partly for their imitation (all things in a minister should be eximious and exemplary), and partly to procure credit to his doctrine by setting forth the holiness of his life; since quod iussit, et gessit, as Bernard, nec verbis solum praedicavit, sed et exemplis, as Eusebius saith of Origen, he did what he taught; and his life was nothing else but a transcript of his sermons. This would be a real apology for him against the false apostles.


Verse 19

19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:

Ver. 19. Serving the Lord, &c.] Here is a mirror for ministers.


Verse 20

20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

Ver. 20. With many tears] He went weeping from house to house, beseeching them to be reconciled to God, persuading them, as knowing the terror of the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:10.


Verse 21

21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ver. 21. Testifying] Not barely preaching, but vehemently pressing (as matters of greatest importance).

Repentance towards God] Not a desperate repentance (as was that of Judas), that drives men from God, but such as draws them towards him, and brings them before him, submitting to his justice, and imploring his mercy, as at the meet at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 7:5.

Faith towards Jesus Christ] Repentance is put first, because initial repentance is a preparation to effectual faith. See Mark 1:15. {See Trapp on "Mark 1:15"}


Verse 22

22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

Ver. 22. I go bound in the spirit] Paul’s spirit did not hang loose, but it was girt up in a resolution to go through with the work, whatsoever came of it. The Spirit hems us about, comprehends and keeps us, when a man’s own strength would fall loose. It is not so with every ungirt gospeller, that hath a loose, discinct, and diffluent mind, and no supernatural strength to support him.


Verse 23

23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

Ver. 23. Bonds and afflictions abide me] Let no faithful minister dream of a delicacy, or think by any discretion to prevent affliction, but be ready, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, to suffer hardship. To preach is nothing else but to derive upon himself the hate and rage of graceless men, saith Luther.


Verse 24

24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Ver. 24. Neither count I my life dear] Singula prope verba spirant martyrium, as one saith of Cyprian’s writings. When one said to Julius Palmer the martyr, Take heed, it is a hard matter to burn; Indeed, said he, it is for him that hath his soul linked to his body, as a thief’s foot in a pair of fetters. Among all the vain mockeries of this world (said the Duke of Somerset at his death in King Edward VI’s time) I repent me of nothing more than of esteeming life more dear than I should.


Verse 25

25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

Ver. 25. Shall see my face no more] viz. In the flesh, and upon earth. But in heaven we shall see and say, ιδου ο παυλος και ο πετρος (as Chrysostom thinks) Lo, that is Paul, and the other is Peter. In the transfiguration, Peter knew Moses and Elias, as if he had been long acquainted with them. And yet that was but a glimpse of heaven.


Verse 26

26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

Ver. 26. I take you to record] Happy is that man that can be acquitted by himself private, in public by others, in both by God.

I am pure from the blood of all men] The apostle hath an eye here (doubtless) to that flaming place of Ezekiel 3:18; "His blood will I require at thine hands;" which words are fulmina, non verba, saith Erasmus, not words, but lighting bolts.


Verse 27

27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Ver. 27. All the counsel of God] sc. that concerneth you to know, to your eternal salvation by Christ alone. See Luke 7:30, {See Trapp on "Luke 7:30"}


Verse 28

28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Ver. 28. Hath made you overseers] επισκοπους. But many are Aposcopi rather than Episcopi, saith Espensaeus; byseers rather than overseers.

Which he hath purchased with his blood] The Church is to Christ a bloody spouse, an Aceldama, or field of blood; for she could not be redeemed with silver and gold, but with the blood of God; so it is called by a communication of properties, to set forth the incomparable value and virtue thereof.


Verse 29

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Ver. 29. Shall grievous wolves enter] Or fat wolves; for βαρυς in Greek comes of בריא in Hebrew, which signifies fat, as some etymologists have observed; a fit epithet for seducers, which fat themselves with the blood of souls. Now it is well observed that heretical seducers are fitly compared to wolves in various respects. First, wolves are dull sighted by day, but quick sighted in the night; {a} so are pernicious seducers sharp witted for error, but dull to apprehend the truth of sound divinity. Secondly, as the wolf deals gently with the sheep at first, carrying it away unhurt upon his back till he have brought it to the place where he means to strangle it: even so deal seducers; they first draw their proselytes into lighter errors, and then into blasphemous and damnable heresies. And thus homo homini lupus est, one man becomes a wolf to another. Thirdly, as a wolf begets a wolf, so doth a deceiver a deceived. {b} Fourthly, as the wolf is said to strike a man dumb, if he spy the man before the man spy him; {c} so when seducers prevail, they strike men dumb in respect of savoury communication or Christian profession. Fifthly, as the wool of a wolf, if it be made into a garment, will prove but an odious garment, breeding vermin upon him that shall wear it, as Plutarch speaks; so the good which poor seduced souls think they receive by impostors, it will prove corruption in the end. Lastly, as wolves are of a ravenous disposition and insatiable, so seducers hunger after gain, Romans 16:18, and thirst after blood of souls, as those Matthew 23:6.

{a} Lupus interdiu obtusius, nocte clarius videt. Gesner.

{b} Omne simile generat sibi simile. Plin. viii. 22.

{c} Lupi me videre priores. Virg.


Verse 30

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

Ver. 30. To draw away disciples] αποσπαν, to tear them limb from limb by a violent avulsion and distraction, compelling them by their persuasions to embrace those distorted doctrines, διεστραμμενα, that produce convulsions of conscience, Deuteronomy 13:5. Such are said to thrust men out of God’s ways.


Verse 31

31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Ver. 31. Night and day with tears] Good men weep easily, saith the Greek poet; {a} and the better any is, the more inclined to weeping; as David than Jonathan, 1 Samuel 20:41. Some (as they say of witches) cannot weep for sin. But they that weep not here, where there are wiping handkerchiefs in the hands of Christ, shall have their eyes whiped out in hell.

{a} αγαθοι δ αριδακρυες αυδρες.


Verse 32

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Ver. 32. Able to build] As being God’s arm, and mighty instruments of his power, 1 Corinthians 1:18; Romans 1:16.


Verse 33

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

Ver. 33. I have coveted no man’s, &c.] Non opes, non gloriam, non voluptates quaesivi, &c. Hanc conscientiam aufero quocunque discedo, said Melancthon. (Melch. Adam.)


Verse 34

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

Ver. 34. These hands have ministered] More shame for them to suffer it. Sed rara ingeniorum praemia, rara item et merces, saith one; and Nescio quomodo bonae mentis soror est paupertas, saith Petronius; and, Paupertas est Thilosophiae vernacula, saith Apuleius. Let God’s servant keep them honest, the world will keep them poor enough.


Verse 35

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Ver. 35. It is more blessed] Epicurus could say, του ευ πασχειν το ευ ποιειν καλλιον και ηδιον, that to do good was not only better, but sweeter also than to receive good. Julius Caesar counted nothing his own that he bestowed not upon others. And it better pleased Cyrus to give than to possess any good thing that he had. διδους μαλλον η κτωμενος ηδεται (Xenoph.)


Verse 36

36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.

Ver. 36. And prayed with them all] O verum valedicendi morem Christianis dignum, saith one. Now it’s no use parting without potting and healthing. Quae turpissima κυκλοσποσια, Principum derisio, a parasitis traxit originem, saith Pasor. Which cursed custom had its beginning from court parasites.


Verse 37

37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,

Ver. 37. And they all wept sore] Expletur lachrymis egeriturque dolor. It was noted and noticed by the very heathens that there were no people under heaven so loving one to another as the primitive Christians: animo animaque inter se miscebantur, saith Tertullian of them: it should seem so indeed by this mutual melting heartedness. Well might the heathen beholders say, Vide ut invicem se ament Christiani, See how these Christians love one another; like as the Jews when they saw Jesus weep over Lazarus, said, "Behold how he loved him," John 11:35-36.


Verse 38

38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

Ver. 38. Sorrowing most] They are out, then, qui ferream et immanem constantiam exigunt a fidelibus, who exact of Christians a stoic apathy or insensibleness to crosses and sorrowful occurrences. (Calvin.) Religion doth not root out natural passions, but regulate them. The parting with dear friends (which are as a man’s own soul, Deuteronomy 13:6) is so grievous that death itself is called a "departure."

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Acts 20:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/acts-20.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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