Act 20: "The drama of the witnessing to the people by the
apostle Paul continues in our readings for today. Paul's troubles were
accentuated towards the close of his stay in Ephesus (cp 2Co 1:9-11). In Act 20
Luke records his experiences as (1) Three months in Greece: vv 1-6. (2) The
company leaves for Jerusalem via Troas: vv 3-6. (3) A remarkable incident at
Troas: vv 7-12. (4) From Troas to Miletus: vv 13-16. (5) Paul's farewell address
to the elders at Ephesus: vv 17-35. (6) A tearful farewell: vv 36-38. Paul's
message draws attention to the desperate condition of the Truth when attacked by
the 'grievous wolves' and 'hirelings' (vv 29,30). Paul made no mistake about the
nature of flesh. He recognized the ease with which error permeates the
community. His identification of 'grievous wolves' describe the Judaizers who
would enter the ecclesia under the guise of sheep to devour those weak in the
faith. But more sadly, the apostle notes that even from their own ranks,
errorists would arise to seek a hearing and to draw aside groups of followers.
They would speak 'perverse things' (the word means that which is distorted, or
twisted). Such are devious doctrines which seem to present the Truth, but
contain elements that would cause a misunderstanding of it. The exhortation of
the apostle is vital: to be strengthened by the 'word of His grace.' Let us
elevate Truth above the personalities of individuals, and thereby protect our
great heritage. It is vital that we 'stand for the things earnestly believed,'
and not to countenance a change of emphasis in any respect. Then will we stand
alongside the great apostle in the day of joy to come" (GEM).
V 1: In these days, Paul probably feared for the total
collapse of the work there (2Co 1:8,9).
THE JEWS MADE A PLOT AGAINST HIM: How did he learn of
V 4: The representatives to accompany the gift of money
to the Jerusalem ecclesia.
SOPATER: Probably the same person as the Sosipater of
Rom 16:21 who sent greetings to the Romans with Paul.
ARISTARCHUS: Cp Acts 19:27.
GAIUS: There are four, and perhaps five, different men
by this name in the NT.
TYCHICUS: One of the most frequently mentioned of
Paul's companions and delegates (Acts 20:4; Eph 6:21; Col 4:7; 2Ti 4:12; Tit
3:12). He was an Asian (Ephesian?) who probably accompanied Paul as he carried
the collection to the church in Jerusalem (1Co 16:1-4). High praise is given
Tychicus by the apostle: "the beloved brother and faithful minister and
fellowservant in the Lord" (Col 4:7; cf Eph 6:21). He was sent, together with
Onesimus, from Paul (in prison) to the church at Colosse (and possibly to the
one at Ephesus), to deliver the apostle's letters and to inform the believers of
his state. According to Tit 3:12, Tychicus was a possible replacement for Titus
in Crete, for Paul wanted Titus to join him during his stay in
TROPHIMUS: Later he was seen with Paul in Jerusalem
(Acts 21:29), and the Jews accused Paul of defiling the temple by bringing a
Gentile into the court of Israel, an act forbidden by the temple authorities. A
notice (written in Greek and Latin), now preserved in a museum in Istanbul,
reads: "Let no foreigner enter within the screen and enclosure surrounding the
sanctuary. Whosoever is taken so doing will be the cause that death overtaketh
him." The resulting uproar led to Paul's being taken into custody by the Roman
soldiers and ultimately being sent to Rome for trial. After Paul was released
from his first Roman imprisonment, Trophimus was left by Paul in Miletus ill
(2Ti 4:20), presumably shortly before Paul's final trip to Rome and his
WE: Luke joins the company again here.
The Lord's Supper: a memorial of Christ (Mat 26:26,27); a
feast of remembrance (1Co 11:24); a banquet of victory (Act 20:7); a token of
fellowship (1Co 10:16); and a confession of hope (1Co 11:26).
MANY LAMPS: Rapidly consuming the available oxygen, and
leading to stupor.
Do we "fall asleep" on the "back row" because the "night" is
long? See Article, Eutychus (Acts 20:9).
AFTER TALKING UNTIL DAYLIGHT: "This is the only
occasion we are told of an all-night vigil of this sort, but it is described
with a certain matter-of-factness that makes me inclined to feel that it was not
that rare an occurrence. They were so full of the things of God that they could
not stop talking about them. Are we?" (PC).
All things -- even a fatal fall from an upper window -- work
together for good to them that love God (Rom 8:28).
ASSOS: Which was about 20 miles south of Troas. The
ship would take a much longer route, around the peninsula, and would arrive
about the same time as did Paul.
HE WAS IN A HURRY TO REACH JERUSALEM, IF POSSIBLE, BY THE
DAY OF PENTECOST: His purpose was to meet as many brethren as possible at
one time and place (ie when assembled at Pentecost), and to show to them the
Was Paul perhaps forbidden to return to Ephesus?
I HAVE NOT HESITATED TO PREACH ANYTHING...: "The
Apostle was driven by the need to warn men and women that he might be pure from
the blood of all men, having faithfully discharged that commission which Ezekiel
the prophet named when he said that the blood of those who perished would be
upon his head if he should remain silent instead of witnessing. This is an
individual responsibility. There are some, faithful and hard workers for the
Lord. That is good. Many of us have failed; all of us fail in some respects. The
reason that most of us fail is that we are too much part of the world and we
cannot fulfil our responsibilities to the world if we are part of it" (John
Roberts, Xd 117:93).
PRISON AND HARDSHIPS ARE FACING ME: "So do not be
ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with
me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God" (2Ti 1:8).
I CONSIDER MY LIFE WORTH NOTHING: Cp Phi
// Eze 3:8,20; 33:5,6.
"The elders of Ephesus were exhorted by Paul to feed the
ecclesia of God, the word feed in this text being the verb, poimaino, of which
the word pastor (poimen) in Eph 4:11,12 is the noun. Many elders would therefore
be teachers... Paul singled out for special honor those elders who labored in
the word and doctrine. It is well today not to overlook the pastoral aspect of
Christian teaching. The ideal is not so much to have pupils learning a set of
doctrines, which may be more correct than nutritious, but to have them first
realize their starving condition, then lead them to the Chief Pastor who said:
'I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that
believeth on me shall never thirst.' The true pastor does not lead his flock to
rich grass on cliff edges, nor does he always keep them in one small field" (FCE
WITH HIS OWN BLOOD: Or, "with the blood of His own"
(RSV mg). In a special sense, it was God's blood (Xd 119:82).
This great apostasy (falling away) from the truth began to
happen in the first century. Internal and external sources would lead to error.
This would be a great crisis to the early church: cp v 19. Cp 1Ti
Apostasy prophesied: Rev 11:16-18; 1Ti 4:1,6; 2Ti 3:1; 4:3;
Gal 1:6-9; 1Jo 4:3; Col 2:8; 2Th 2:3,8. Nations in darkness: Rev 17:2; 18:23;
1Co 1:21; Mat 7:14; Luk 18:8; 2Co 11:13.
SO BE ON YOUR GUARD: They must have paid attention to
Paul, because some years later, Jesus commends these elders for resisting the
Nicolaitans (Rev 2:6).
WITH TEARS: Cp 2Ti 1:4.
THE WORD OF HIS GRACE: The "Word" = Christ in Act
10:36,37; Joh 1:1,14; 1Jo 1:1,2; Rev 6:9; 19:13; Heb 4:12,13; Luk 1:2; 1Pe
Is Paul citing Mat 10:8; Luk 14:14? Or is he quoting a saying
of Jesus not otherwise recorded?
IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE: "Be big.
Most people are small: small-minded; small-hearted; small-thoughted. The
children of God are called on to make the supreme effort to grow up from
mankind's natural, infantile, self-centered smallness. Think eternity, not
peanuts. Devote your life to giving, not getting. The getting will come in God's
good time -- eternally: 'heaped up, pressed down, shaken together, running over'
-- divine good measure. Relax into goodness and largeness of heart. Let the
little minds burn themselves out in anxious seeking and fear of being
shortchanged. Have no fear that you are going to lose something unless you
constantly consider your self-interest and fret about your fair share. You
cannot possibly lose if you are in track with God. He gives abundantly to all.
He will see you do not lose -- eventually and eternally -- if you have the faith
and the patience to wait" (GVG).