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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
Acts 20

 

 

Verse 1

CONTENTS

Paul goeth to Macedonia. He preacheth at Troas, and celebrates the Lord's Supper. A Youth falls front - a Window while Paul was long preaching, and is taken up as dead. Paul restores him to Life. He gives a Charge to the Elders at Miletus, and enters into a Ship.


Verses 1-6

And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. (2) And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, (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. (4) And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. (5) These going before tarried for us at Troas. (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.

It appears from the preceding Chapter; that Paul had determined upon a visit to Macedon (Acts 19:21-22). Probably however, this uproar prompted him the rather to hasten his departure. However he went not away before that he had called together the people to take an affectionate farewell of them. And it should seem that this was always the Apostle's custom. For wherever he went, it was as with his life in his hand. And when at any time he took leave of the brethren, he knew not whether he should ever see them again. It is very interesting the parting interview of a faithful minister and a beloved congregation. How truly lovely is that of Moses, which is called the blessing wherewith Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel before his death, De 33. Such Joshua also, Jos 23 and Jos 24. And, in short, all the servants of Jesus. But, Reader! what a farewell was that of Jesus himself? Joh 13 and John 14:1-31 etc.

The exercise of Paul's ministry through this circuit, we are told, was with much exhortation. And , if we may form a judgment from the specimen given in the close of this Chapter, when addressing the Elders at Miletus; what a lovely part of the Apostle's labors must this have been? They who have been curious to trace the journeys of the Apostle, have formed to view no small tract of land, the Apostle went over during this circuit. But, I can only refer the Reader to the Scriptural statement of it; together with the same account of his companions. See 2 Corinthians 8:1-6; 2Co_9:1-5; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 16:3-4


Verses 7-12

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. (8) And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. (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. (10) And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. (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. (12) And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

I admire the expression, the first day of the week; meaning the day in which the Lord Jesus arose from the dead. For the whole body of believers ' from that time, made it the great day of public meeting. And, from that period, they considered it for their sabbath. And before the beloved Apostle left the Church upon earth, to join the Church in glory, the name by which this first day was known, was the Lord's day. Hence John saith: I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, Revelation 1:10. And, as in the first ages of the Church, the name by which the holy Supper Christ instituted was called, breaking of bread and prayer: Acts 2:42. So, before Paul's ministry ended, the believers called this solemn service, the Lord's Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20. And what can be more sweet and suited, in reference to both? Is it not the Lord's day, and the Lord's Supper? Is not Jesus Lord of both; yea, the sum, and substance of both? Reader! do you not love the Lord's day, and the Lord's Supper? And can anything be more suited, than that all true believers, celebrate the Supper of the Lord on the Lord's day? Not indeed to the exclusion of other days, when the Lord invites his members to his table. All days, and all times, are blessed, when the King sitteth at his table, and when the sweet Spikenard of his people's graces, planted and brought into exercise by His Spirit, send forth the smell thereof: Song of Solomon 1:12; 1 Corinthians 10:16. But, there is a peculiar sweetness and sacredness, on the Lord's day, and is endeared to the Lord's people by every tie of affection. And, what blessedness have the saints of God in all ages, yea, the whole Church of God, during the whole time, state of her pilgrimage here below, found in it? The Jews say, that it was the first day when Jehovah, in his three-fold character of Persons, went forth, in the creation of the world. And we know, that it was the first day when the Son of God, in our nature, triumphed by his resurrection; over death, hell, and the grave. And, is it not the first day as such of the everlasting world to all his redeemed? Hail! thou holy day of the Lord! Sweet pledge and emblem of the eternal and unceasing Sabbatism of heaven!

The farewell sermon of Paul was lengthened to the midnight hour. His heart was with the people, and he knew not how to leave off; It is truly blessed, when the sent servants of the Lord, like the Apostle, are so affectionately desirous of the flock of Christ, as not to impart only the Gospel of God, but their own souls also, because they are dear to them. See a beautiful portrait of this in the Apostle himself: 1Th 2 throughout. And it is a lovely sight, when a congregation, under the teachings and influences of God the Spirit, hang upon the Preacher's words, and forget the length of the discourse in the sweetness of it, from Christ being both text, sermon, and substance. Reader! think, what a Preacher must have been Jesus himself! Look at one instance of the Lord's preaching, when the people pressed upon him to hear his word? Luke 5:1.

I stay not to make any further observation on this certain young Man's infirmity of sleeping under the word, than to remark, his sin, and the Lord's mercy. Had not the Lord's grace been greater than even his undeservings, what would have been the consequence? The Evangelists have been particular, in telling the Church how the disciples slept, when Christ was in his agony. But, the Lord himself hath taught us from what quarter the temptation came. It was the hour of the power of darkness, See Matthew 26:36-45; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-53. And who shall say, even now in the present hour, how often the deadly foe attempts to drench the people of God in sleep, when sitting under the word, in the house of prayer, to render it unfruitful? Let the Lord's people seek grace from the Lord, to counteract Satan's devices. Pray, saith Jesus, that ye enter not into temptation, Luke 22:40. And, every sinner that reads this history of Eutychus, (though his life was restored to him by a miracle) hath reason to tremble, if sleeping in the house of God, conscious that he thereby insults the majesty of the Lord, and exposes himself both to the divine wrath, and to the devil's devices, Mark 4:15.


Verses 13-16

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

It is delightful, to behold the zeal of the Apostle and his companions, in going from place to place, to preach the Gospel of the ever-blessed God. He had not been at Jerusalem for several years before (perhaps four). His object, in getting there before the feast of Pentecost, was not, it should seem, to keep the feast after the manner of the Jews; for these things he had done with: but his wish was, to avail himself of the great concourse of persons, which came from all parts at those festivals, to trade together: that he might preach to them Jesus. And, as that feast had been made so blessed, by the first open display of God the Holy Ghost; no doubt, Paul had it in remembrance, and had his heart directed to the Lord with hopes of distinguishing mercy, at such a time. Reader! it is blessed to eye the Lord's hand, in all our movements. And sure I am, our souls are never more likely to enjoy the Lord's mercies, than when the Lord is preparing our souls to be looking for them. Indeed the hour comes; (and well is it for his people that he doth,) when our forgetful and inattentive hearts are not looking for him, Isaiah 65:1. But, those mercies are doubly sweet, which, by the Lord's prompting our hearts to seek, are first prayed for, then watched for, and then received at the Lord's hand, and sweetened and sanctified with the Lord's, blessing. Oh! how ten-fold blessed are all mercies, where Jesus is seen in all, and Himself enjoyed in all! Reader! are you acquainted with those soul-enjoyments?


Verses 17-38

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (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, (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: (20) And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, (21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (22) And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: (23) Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. (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. (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. (26) Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. (27) For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (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. (29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears. (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. (33) I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. (34) Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. (35) I have showed you all things, how that so laboring 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. (36) And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. (37) And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, (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.

It hath been thought by some, that Miletus was near fifty miles front Ephesus; though others make it no more than thirty. But, even thirty miles in those days, was a great distance for the Elders to attend the Apostles' visitation. Reader! you and I have cause to bless God the Holy Ghost, both for this meeting of the Apostle with the Bishops and Deacons, and for having caused this precious sermon of the Apostle's to be recorded. What refreshment hath the Church in all the intermediate ages to the present hour found from it? And what numbers yet unborn will arise to enjoy the blessing of it? Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1.

I cannot, propose to the Reader to offer any observations by way of comment, on Paul's discourse. It is in itself so truly Apostolical, and carries with it in every verse, such evident marks of being the immediate work of inspiration; that it can need nothing more, than for the same Almighty Lord, which guided Paul's mouth, to accompany the reading of it to the heart of his people who peruse it, or hear it read, to make, it a sweet savour of Christ in every place. Oh! that all the sent servants of Jesus were so taught, so helped to speak, and so enabled to appeal to the hearts and consciences of the people, among whom they minister, in proof of their honesty and faithfulness, as Paul here did. What a Church of Christ would it be were servants so to labour? What a visitation would it form, were the meeting and the parting become so tender and affectionate? Happy period of the Lord's household! When shall the Lord's people behold the return of days so truly blessed?

Though I venture not to attempt any remarks on Paul's sermon, (perfectly aware, that the beautiful simplicity which runs through the whole of it, from beginning to end, would suffer from the least alteration made in it;) yet, I would beg to point to the Reader some of the more prominent parts of it, as they strike me, which serve to set the whole in a more interesting point of view; and which, under God's teaching, may render it more profitable, both to the Reader's apprehension, and my own.

And here I request him first to notice, that it was not only the parting farewell discourse of an Apostle to the Church at Ephesus, rendered dear, to him, by a three years ministry, exercised among them; but it became infinitely more interesting, in that it appealed to their consciences, that he had preached none but Christ. This, Reader, appears to me, to be the grand and distinguishing feature, of this very blessed discourse. I am free to allow all that may be demanded, of affection, and tenderness, and love, which ought to distinguish a Church of Jesus, between a minister and the people. But, when this is heightened in the utmost extent the imagination can heighten it, the whole is nothing in my view, compared to what ought to mark the faithfulness of the servant of the Lord, in ministering in holy things. It is the Lord's work, and to the Lord, the servant is to be everlastingly looking. The tenderest sympathy and affection to the people can admit no departure from steadfastness here. Nay, without a constant eye to this first leading principle of duty, it is possible, that a mistaken tenderness to the people, might induce an inattention to the Lord. The Apostle hath in another place, stated this idea of service, when he saith: not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ, Colossians 3:22-24, And hence, what a solemn appeal the Apostle makes in the midst of his discourse, on this ground; that lie was pure from the blood of all men, because he had kept back nothing that was profitable to them, but had declared the whole counsel of God. Reader! ponder over the view. Think what a blessed frame of mind Paul was in, when he thus spake. It is not indeed the privilege of all the faithful ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, so to take a farewell of the Church and people. But, amidst the consciousness of a thousand infirmities, as the believer finds them daily in his heart; it is, it must be, truly blessed, when he can, and doth appeal, in the first and highest of all concerns, in the humble hope, that his preaching, hath been wholly Jesus.

Having looked at Paul's sermon in this first; best, and most important point, we, may look at it in another; I mean, the unbounded affection expressed in it, to the Church. Reader! depend upon it, there is a relationship, between the members of Christ's mystical body, that infinitely surpasseth all the mere natural ties of common life. They are kindred souls. Their union with each other, begins in Christ the Head; and is kept alive in Him, and by Him. And, it is an union, which is indissoluble and everlasting. Death, which puts an end to all the affinities of this world, makes no alteration here. Nay, as it is with the glorious Head of the body, to which the Church is but betrothed in the time-state of her existence, and the complete union begins but at death, when brought home to the marriage supper of the lamb in heaven: so, by the several members, their perfect union, freed from all the interruptions arising from a sinful, sorrowful body, can only be truly said to be pure and unbroken, when that which is perfect is come, and that which is but in part is done away. And, under this view, what very sweet and precious apprehensions of the mind, Must the faithful servant of the Lord Jesus feel towards the several members of Christ's body, among whom he ministers, and over whom, as Paul here, beheld it, the Lord makes his ministering servants Overseers,

Whoever reads the several parts of this blessed discourse of the Apostle with an attention to this particular will discover, how much the heart of Paul was in all he said in his earnestness for their Spiritual and eternal welfare; and that his very soul, was going forth, in the most unbounded affection towards them. He calls upon them to observe, that the whole drift of his preaching was to hold up Christ. He expressed his jealousy, lest any other subject at any time, from any quarter whatever, should be brought forward, to mingle with this one, this only one of salvation. He foresaw by the Spirit of prophecy the Lotto had given him, (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 12:10) that there would be grievous wolves entering in among them; yea, some among themselves would arise, from the corruptions of nature and the temptations of Satan, which would speak perverse things. Paul therefore charges them to watch, and remember, how for the space of three whole years, he had been preaching Christ, and Christ only; and that even with all the tears of entreaty, in holding him up in his beauty, glory, suitableness, and all-sufficiency!

Reader! I beseech you, look over this sermon of Paul's; yea, look over the whole preachings and writings of Paul, with an eye to those things, and then judge, under the Lord's teachings, for yourself, whether Christ and him crucified, Christ and him glorified, is not the whole of all, 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14; Colossians 3:11. All the sweet and precious conclusions of the Apostle's Epistles, are spoken of by him, and recommended by him, as the effects, and not the party cause, of the real conversion of the heart towards God. Paul makes Christ to be, in all his Sermons, and in all his Epistles, what Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, made Him, from all eternity; the One, and only one, great and complete Ordinance of heaven, for salvation to everyone that believeth. Indeed, as another great Apostle said, and the faithful gone to glory all along have proved, by experience; salvation is in no other: neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, Acts 4:12. And, if these things are so, as the word of God, in every part 'beareth witness, how sad, how wretchedly sad, must it be, to preach any other, which can only tend to mislead, and carry sinners From Christ, instead of leading them to Christ. Had Paul studied oratory, who more eloquent? Had he meant to, gratify men's ears, instead of awakening under God the Spirit their souls; who better able? But, conscious that be was always addressing men, who by nature were all guilty, and polluted before God; he came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom; but simply preached Christ, And, who shall count the honor which God the Holy Ghost put upon his labors, in the vast success of his ministry to souls?

I must not enlarge. But Paul's sermon leads to an almost endless subject, in marking the beauties of it. What an affecting account the Apostle gives of himself; his watchings, his humbleness, bonds, imprisonments! The earnestness of his labors, with tears, amidst temptations, persecutions, and conflicts: and how the Hoar Ghost witnessed to his trials in every city, which awaited him! And with what holy triumph he viewed the whole, now going bound as he was, to Jerusalem; declaring that none of these things moved him, not counting his life dear to himself, so that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry which he had received from the Lord Jesus! Faithful servant of thy God! thou Mist indeed long since finished thy course with joy, and hast entered into the joy of thy Lord! Oh! that the Lord would raise up many a Paul, in the present dark day of the Church, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God! 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

Reader! let us not overlook the sweet prayer at parting, when the Apostle tore himself away, as it were, from the embraces of the people. The Lord, who gave the Apostle grace to preach, gave both him and them, the grace also to pray. Such a sermon, could come only from the Lord. And, though the prayer is not recorded, yet there can be no doubt, but it was a very blessed one, for it could only some from the Lord too. And what a place of weeping was it Made! But the tears were holy tears, like the spiced wine of the pomegranate. Jesus, who wept himself at the grave of Lazarus, hath sweetly sanctified all the sorrows of his people. And how have all those tears on this occasion since terminated in joy? How Hath Paul, and the gracious party which were then with him, long sung together their hymns of everlasting glory, and praise, around the throne of God, and the Lamb; where all tears ore wiped away from all eyes, and sorrow and sighing are done away forever, Revelation 7:9 to the end.


Verse 38

REFLECTIONS

READER! let you and I behold with delight, what is here said, of the Apostle and his companions, celebrating the Lord's supper on the Lord's day. Let it encourage our hearts to delight in that sweet service, that we may be often found, in breaking of bread, and of prayer. And do thou, Lord Jesus, always preside over those assemblies of thy people. Oh! the blessedness, when by faith we receive the gracious emblems at thine own hand! Then will it always be a feast upon a sacrifice. Christ our New Testament Altar, our High Priest, and Passover sacrificed for us. A sweet commemorating, communicating, refreshing, strengthening Ordinance. Yea, we shall say the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

Who that reads of the Eutychus in this Chapter, and beholds the Eutychus in the many instances of the present day, but must be ready to cry out; what meanest thou, 0 sleeper: arise, call upon thy God that thou perish not? What, if such sleepers in the house of God were to open their eyes no more, until awakening in eternity? - Is the sanctuary of the Lord, and the place where his honor dwelleth, a fit place to sleep in? Can it be possible, for men to snuff at Gob's ordinances, and say: Oh what a weariness is it! When will the Sabbath be gone'?

Let my soul be relieved, from such a contemplation as the weary and the sleepy in the house of God, to look once more at Paul, and the Elders of Miletus at this most refreshing meeting, described in this Chapter. Ye servants of the Lord, who are sent by Him to minister in his Name; and ye faithful among the congregation, who are ministered unto: let this interesting service between Paul and his beloved people, which God the Holy Ghost hath so graciously recorded the account of for his Church's edification, be your pattern, and the object of your imitation. Such indeed, should be every assembly of the faithful. lie that preached', should preach, as though it was his last. And they who hear, as though they should hear no more. Every separation, and the breaking up of assemblies, as it the final farewell. Lord Jesus! do thou be present at all, that in the close on earth, instantly thy redeemed may meet thee in heaven.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Acts 20:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/acts-20.html. 1828.

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