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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 20

 

 

Verses 1-6

Acts 20:1-6. To Greece; Return to Troas.—The journey sketched in Acts 19:21, 1 Corinthians 16:5-9, is entered on; for what happened at Troas and in Macedonia on the way cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12 f., 2 Corinthians 7:5; but of all that intense experience there is little echo in Acts. The sketches of the journey did not fix what route was to be followed from Greece to Jerusalem; here (3) we find that the intention was to go by sea. The plan is changed on account of a Jewish plot. Accordingly Paul sets out to Macedonia with a part only of his companions, the others remaining behind in Greece and overtaking the party by sea. Light is shed on this journey by the epistles; cf. Romans 15:22-33, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, and especially 2 Corinthians 8 f., where Paul explains the arrangements for carrying to Jerusalem the money collected in Macedonia and Greece for the poor of Judæa, and introduces the envoys chosen by the Macedonian churches who are to go with him. The land party accompanying Paul embraces Sopater of Berœa, son of Pyrrhus, Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 8:22; these would see their friends on the way), and Gaius and three men from Asia Minor. In Acts 19:29 Gaius is named with Aristarchus as a Macedonian. The insertion of a colon after Gaius in the Gr. would give "and Timothy of Derbe." For Tychicus, cf. Colossians 4:7; for Trophimus, Acts 21:29, 2 Timothy 4:20. The date of the sailing of the others (Acts 20:6) is given by the Jewish calendar; they reach Troas in less than five days (Acts 16:11*), and the united party spend a week there.


Verses 7-12

Acts 20:7-12. Story of Eutychus.—Paul speaks of the first day of the week in 1 Corinthians 16:2, but not of a breaking of bread on that day, which appears here as an established usage (cf. Acts 24:2). It is Paul's last interview with these people, and he makes the most of it. The lights may be mentioned because of the accusation in early days that the Lord's Supper was partaken of in darkness and was accompanied by excesses. Eutychus (Acts 20:9) is a common name. The treatment is like that by Elijah (1 Kings 17:21), but the incident may be quite natural: it is reported by an eyewitness. It does not interrupt the proceedings nor, except for a short time, Paul's preaching, which goes on till dawn, after the bread is broken.


Verses 13-16

Acts 20:13-16. Troas to Miletus.—In the Armenian Catena we read: "But Luke and those with me came on the vessel"; words which, if we were sure of their really being in the journal, would show that Luke was not its author. Preuschen thinks the original text was, "But I, Luke, and those with me," the present text being grammatically impossible, and the emendation in the Armenian easy.

Acts 20:13. Assos, about twelve miles from Troas by land, on a hilly road. A ship has to round Cape Lekton. The Gr. does not compel us to think that Paul walked the distance; he may have ridden.

Acts 20:14. Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, is not far from Assos. For Chios and Samos, see EBi, HDB.

Acts 20:15. The call at Trogyllium is omitted in the corrected text. The voyage of four days was made with the N. wind, which blows at that season early in the day and dies away later. The ship seems to have been at the command of the party. Acts 20:16 speaks of haste at the beginning of the journey; it appears to have been unnecessary later (cf. Acts 21:4), and the reason for avoiding Ephesus may have lain in the circumstances of Paul's leaving that place.

Acts 20:16. From the days of unleavened bread (Acts 20:6) to Pentecost is a period of six weeks, and Paul seems to have reached Jerusalem at the time of a festival (Acts 21:26).


Verses 17-35

Acts 20:17-35. Paul's Speech to the Elders of Ephesus at Miletus.—See Ramsay, art. "Miletus" in HDB, as to the difficulties of the journey at that period from Miletus to Ephesus; one had to sail to Priene and make from there a journey of 25 miles across the mountains to Ephesus. The elders or presbyters (mg.), afterwards called "bishops" or "overseers" (Acts 20:28), make the toilsome journey, and Paul addresses them. We have had Paul addressing Jews (ch. 13) and Gentiles (ch. 17); here he addresses Christian office-bearers at a solemn point of his life. This speech hardly stood as we have it in the source; still there are things in it which do belong to this situation and to no other; some heads of it might be in the source, which have been worked up later with hints from Paul's epistles and other writings, and with reference, as we shall see, to later circumstances in the Church. The whole is in a fine style and in a warm tone of sentiment. There is an entire absence of specific Pauline ideas, but there is much in it that Paul could say and did say (cf. Cambridge Biblical Essays, pp. 401ff.).


Verses 18-27

Acts 20:18-27. Pathetic Appeal to Paul's Past Work at Ephesus and to his Present Position.

Acts 20:18. after what manner I was with you: cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:1.

Acts 20:19. serving the Lord: cf. Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1.—tears: cf. 1 Corinthians 2:3.—trials: from the Jews; these are not specified in the narrative.

Acts 20:20. in houses: e.g. of Aquila.

Acts 20:21. repentance . . . Jesus: cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 f.—bound . . . to Jerusalem: Romans 15:30

Acts 20:32 shows the same mood.

Acts 20:23. These intimations come afterwards (Acts 21:10 f.).

Acts 20:24. ministry . . . Jesus: somewhat different from Paul's usual statement on the subject.

Acts 20:25. How is he so sure he will never be at Ephesus again? Jewish hostility did not usually keep him from revisiting his churches, and he is indulging, at the period this chapter refers to, in plans of a journey to Spain (see Romans 15:24).


Verses 28-30

Acts 20:28-30. Duties of the Elders: Coming Dangers.—They are to be as free from blame as he is. The Holy Ghost has made them episcopoi of the flock, lit. overseers; if we remember what the word means we may translate "bishops"; they are the same persons as the elders (Acts 20:17). The office is local in early Church life; Paul mentions it only in Philippians 1:1; he generally speaks of "those who are over you and admonish you"; see Romans 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:12. The earliest bishops have to do with the stores and the hospitality of a Church (see 1 Timothy 3, 1 Timothy 5:17-20, Titus 1:5-9, Didaché xv.); those spoken of here have to do with teaching (cf. 1 Peter 5:2).

Acts 20:28. The end is strange. WH propose to read "the blood of His own son."

Acts 20:29 f. Who the adversaries are, is hard to tell; there are predictions all through the NT of persecutions without and of strange doctrines arising within (1 John 2:19, Revelation 2:14). The mention of bishops and the forecast of heresies are probably both marks of a somewhat later time for the redaction of this speech.


Verses 32-35

Acts 20:32-35. Conclusion.

Acts 20:32. Read mg.

Acts 20:33. Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:14 f., 1 Corinthians 4:12, 1 Thessalonians 2:9

Acts 20:35. the words of the Lord Jesus, which are in none of our Gospels (see Sirach 4:31; Sirach 4:1 Clem. 2:1), make a very effective conclusion of the affecting speech.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 20:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/acts-20.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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