Acts 20:1-16 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Comments for Study 22

Acts 20:1-16
Memory Verse: 7


I. Through Macedonia and Greece (1-6)

>1. What was the uproar? (See previous chapter.)

* Acts 20:1 "When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia."

* "When the uproar had ended" -The craftsmen who made religious artifacts for a great profit started a riot because business was down for the people of the Way (Christians) stopped buying their goods.

* "Macedonia" -Now the northern most providence of Greece and the east edge of Europe. Macedonia is the link between the Balkan peninsula to the north and the Greek mainland and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

>What did Paul decide to do?

* "said good-by and set out" -Paul had decided to travel north west to go to Macedonia, then south all the way through Greece, and then to Jerusalem. From Jerusalem, Paul wanted to travel to Spain passing through Rome on the way.

* Paul wrote the letter to the Romans at this time. By now he had also written letters to believers in Galatia, two to Thessalonica, and two to Corinth.

* Paul's intent on this short trip was:
    1) preach in Troas on his way to Macedonia
    2) meet Titus at Troas with a report from Corinth (2 Cor. 1:12-13)
    3) continue to collect an offering for the poor in Judea (1 Cor. 16:1-4; and 2 Cor. 8:1-9:15; Rom. 15:25-28)

* Paul is in the final weeks of his 3rd missionary journey. It is 56 AD. He had just finished a traveling zigzag sweep through Macedonia and Greece (1-3) in the west where he penned 1 and 2nd Corinthians. He was about to write the Roman congregations who were even farther west because he could not go there even though he wanted to.

Paul was teaching and encouraging the congregations as he traveled southeast. Paul founded most of these congregations on earlier mission trips. He was also collecting a charity gift for the Judea congregations who were going through hard times. Hence the need for a large number of men on this trip (4).

Paul spent 7 days in Troas, a large city on the farthest west part of the Roman providence Mysia and the Asia continent. Troas had a large Mediterranean port. Paul had gone through Troas much earlier (16:8). God was using Paul's eagerness to serve him to grow the church. I am benefitted from this work. I wonder how God will use the small things I do today for him.

While speaking late into the Sunday evening a young man, Eutychus fell to his death. Paul, not bringing attention to himself was used to bring the young man's body back to life. I find Paul's words interesting, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him."

Eutychus' body had ceased to function, it was dead. However, the man's life was still in the physical body. Life is connected to the physical body, and yet my life is not dependant on my physical body. Whenever my body will die, my life will not cease. My soul and spirit will continue.

I was standing at the bed when my mother's body died. My father, siblings, aunts and uncles were called, gathered, and stood at her bedside during her last hours in her body. Her breathing steadily slowed and her eyes remained closed for several hours.

Then suddenly she opened her eyes. Someone said, "She's got her second eyesight." Those who were not standing around the bed gathered. Her head moved, but her eyes did not nor did they blink. She slowly gazed at all of us as if someone was steadily moving her head. Her moving head only stopped at my father. Then she closed her eyes and stopped breathing. Someone said, "She passed."

All left the room, yet I remained. Every once in a while her body would take a deep breath. The nurses entered the room to take care of the body. I said, "She still occasionally takes a deep breath." They said, "That is an automatic physical response. She is not here."

I looked at my mother's body continuance. They were correct. She looked different than a few minutes ago, then her whole life. The body functioned. Her soul and spirit had left. Just the body remained. I left the room.

Life is connected to the physical body, and yet life is not dependant on the physical body. Whenever a body dies, life does not cease. The soul and spirit continue.

>What kind of words did he speak?

* Acts 20:2 "He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece,"

* "words of encouragement" -The good news of the kingdom of God is an encouragement.

* "Greece" -Located between the Italian Peninsula and Asia Minor, Greece itself is a peninsula with the Adriatic and Ionian Seas on the west and the Aegean Sea on the east. These seas, in turn, are a part of the larger Mediterranean Sea. Greece owes its rough terrain to the fact that it is the southern end of the central European mountain range. Another geographical feature is the numerous islands that lie in close proximity to the Greek mainland. The southernmost area, the Peloponnesus, is itself virtually an island, connected to the mainland by only a narrow neck of land known as the Isthmus of Corinth. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

>How should we follow this example?

* Speaking the gospel is good news. The kingdom of God is good news. The presence of the Lord gives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

>2. What happened after three months in Greece?

* Acts 20:3 "where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia."

* "Where he stayed three months" -Probably the three months of winter when boats did not sail in the Mediterranean Sea. This is the winter of 56-57 A.D.

* "the Jews made a plot against him" -Everywhere Paul went people tried to kill him. Jesus often came to places that wanted to kill him. Yet God had set a time for each of us. I've heard that one day Dr. Livingston came out of the jungle where he had been ministering in needing medical help because a lion had attacked him. After being mended he started to go back in the jungle. Someone asked, "Why? You were almost killed?" His answer, "A man of God's mission will not die before his time."

* "Syria" -Syria is the region or nation directly north of Palestine in the north-west corner of the Mediterranean Sea.

* "he decided to go back through Macedonia" -Paul wanted to sail to Jerusalem. However, to avoid a death plot he backtracked his steps. Paul did not seek pain, persecution, and death. He had no death wish. He avoided it. Through this death threat God was leading Paul in a different route than Paul had planned. God diverting Paul's plans happened a lot in his ministry. I shouldn't be worried or surprised when I'm not sure of God's will or sudden changes in my plans are needed.

>3. Who was with Paul?

* Acts 20:4 "He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Thessalonica, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia."

* "Sopater son of Pyrrhus" -Nothing is mentioned in the New Testament about these two again.

* "Aristarchus" -Aristarchus was one of the men the mob in Ephesus grabbed and drug into the theater. He often traveled with Paul and shared jail time with him. (19:29, 27:2; Col. 4:10; Phm 1:24)

* "Secundus" -Only mentioned here.

* "Gaius" -Gaius was one of the men the mob in Ephesus grabbed and drug into the theater. He is one of only two people Paul says he baptized. He lived in many cities. (19:29, 20:4; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14) John's third letter is to him, calling him friend and his child.

* "Timothy" -Timothy was with Paul since his second missionary journey. See below for more.

* "Tychicus" -Tychicus seems to many times have been a courier. (Eph. 6:21, Col. 4:21, and 2 Tim. 4:12, Tit. 3:12)

* "Trophimus" -Trophimus was with Paul all the way to Jerusalem and then became sick in Miletus. (21:29; and 2 Tim. 4:20)

>Where were they all from?

* "Berea" -Berea is in Macedonia, not situated on the major highways. Surrounded by springs in the plain below Mount Bermion, it was 45 miles (70km) west of Thessalonica. It is modern Verria. Paul went there on his second missionary journey. See study 19 chapter 17.

* "Thessalonica" -Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia was a very large city around one hundred miles (160km) west of Philippi and situated on a major Roman highway. Paul went there on his second missionary journey. See study 19 chapter 17.

* Timothy was from Derbe and Lystra located in the Roman province Cilicia, the same region Paul was from.

* "the province of Asia" -Also known as the Roman province of Asia Minor. Paul went there for the first time on this missionary journey. Ephesus was the leading city.

>What do you think Paul was doing with so many men from so many places?

* Acts 20:5 "These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas."

* Two reasons:
1) they were carrying the gift to the needy in Jerusalem and wanted to make sure it arrived at its destination.
2) Paul was following Jesus' example; both had disciples with them as they traveled. A disciples making ministry is effectual if the Lord blesses it. Yet, don't be fooled just because a "ministry" uses this principle. Satan and his people also train in this way. A ministry cannot say, "We are of God because we are disciples makers." The difference is Jesus and the Holy Spirit raising people. Still, disciple making ministry is important. So few churches do this. People have become so self centered and egotistical. Several years ago a pastor friend and I tried to start a disciple making group in the church we attended. It was to be a new branch of our evangelism program. Only two people came for the first semester and no one came to the second semester. Another ministry I attended years before that had engaged in disciple making ministry, but many of its leaders moved away from making disciples of Christ Jesus to making disciples of their group and leaders. So disciple making can either be good or bad depending on the pastor's (shepherd's) relationship with Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in the congregation. Read the book Churches That Abuse, published in 1991 by Dr. Ronald Enroth about Christian churches and organizations he perceives as "spiritually abusive" and the effects these groups can have on their members.

* "Troas" -A coastal city in Mysia. It was the east most point in Mysia. Paul had been there earlier. (16:8)

* Not all sailed perhaps because of the cost.

>4. What feast does Luke (the author of Acts) mention?

* Acts 20:6 "But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days."

* "But we sailed" -Luke, the author had rejoined Paul's travels.

* "Philippi" -Paul had been there earlier. Acts 16:12 states, "...Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days."

* "the Feast of Unleavened Bread" -A spring feast immediately following Passover.

* "five days later" -Paul was not wasting time by stopping at a lot of places. The trip took five days back then.

* "we stayed seven days" -Most likely Paul delayed although he intended to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost (20:16) because wanted to meet with all the congregation on their meeting day of the first day of the week, Sunday.

>What is the significance of this feast in light of the Old Testament and Jesus' fulfilment of it? (Lev. 23)

* Lev. 23 and Exodus 23:14-16 are two places that records the Feasts of the Lord. Exodus 23 states, “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.”

* The first Feast of the Lord is a seven day event commemorating when the Lamb of God's blood saved Israel from death and slavery in Egypt. It starts with Passover and ends with the seven days Feast of Unleavened Bread with the Day of Wave Sheaf in the mist of it. (Ex. 23:19, and 2 Ki. 4:42) Leviticus 23:4-8 states, “The Lord's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.'" Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are further described and explained in Exodus12:1-30 and Exodus 13:1-16.

* The interesting fact to be learned from the first holidays is that Israel, the Lord's first bride, was called into existence as a nation in the same way as the beginning of the Lord’s second bride, the church. (Matt. 26:2, 26-27) The Hebrew feasts just mentioned were a shadow pointing to the start of the age of the Preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Also, the count of days is exact for both.

* Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread corresponds with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.

* The above is from The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.

>5. What does it mean that Paul was keeping the Sabbath and the Feasts of the Lord?

* Paul was a Jew. Most of the people who confessed the name of Jesus at this time were also Jews. They kept the feasts of the Lord as found in the Old Testament.

* Jesus kept the feasts of the Lord and changed the celebration of Passover.

* All the congregations kept the feasts of the Lord for the first three centuries.

>Why has all the holy days changed? (Col. 2:13-17; and 1 Cor. 9:19-23) Also think of this in like of the temple's destruction in 70 A.D. and the general responses to Paul's ministry.

* Colossians 2:13-15 "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."

* 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

* More and more gentiles and less and less Jews were in the congregations as time passed after Pentecost.

* The apostles letters to the churches said nothing about keeping the feasts of the Lord. Also, the issue that prompted the letter, circumcision was deemed not necessary for the Gentiles and for salvation. Circumcision was then considered the rite of passage to becoming a Jew. The Gentiles did not consider themselves Jews or Messianic Jews. They were called either Christians or people of The Way.

* Paul's letters made it clear that the Gentiles were not required to keep any of the days and feasts of the Lord, though many did because it help them understand the Jewish culture Jesus lived in and because many of their brothers in the Lord were Jews. They only considered keeping Jesus' commandment to remind them of Jesus with the breaking of bread and drinking a little wine, the new Passover and called The Last Supper.

* In 70 A.D. the temple was destroyed and Jerusalem was abandoned. The feasts of the Lord required the temple. With the temple gone the Jews had to rewrite how to observe the Feasts of the Lord. They adapted the then established practices of the many Jews who lived throughout the Roman Empire since Alexander the Great and the Greeks ruled over Israel. In the third century the Jews wrote official rules and customs for keeping the feasts of the Lord. Jews follow many of these practices today, and will continue to do so until they rebuild the temple.

* In the third century the first Pope and Roman Caesar passed a law to stop celebrating Sabbath and the Jewish feasts. He declared Sunday the new Sabbath and changed the day of Passover to coincide with Easter. He also declared the celebration of Jesus' birth in December though no one had recorded the date of his birth up until that time.

* Many of the churches did not keep the law and the eastern churches eventually split from Rome. So to this days those who call themselves Christians celebrate different holidays on different dates, including a recent movement of some to keep the Old Testament feasts. Yet like the Jews of today, without the temple this is impossible. So these people celebrate the Jewish customs developed in the third century and claim they are keeping the Sabbath and the feasts of the Lord.

* Which day to celebrate on and how to celebrate was already a concern in Paul's day. He wrote in Romans 14:1-8 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."

II. Breaking Bread and onto Jerusalem by Pentecost (7-16)

>6. What did they do on the first day of the week?

* Acts 20:7 "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight."

* "On the first day of the week" -Sunday by the Gregorian calendar in use in most of the world today.

* "we came together" -Paul, Luke, and all the disciples were together as a group.

* "to break bread" -Break bread refers to keeping Jesus' command during the Last Supper.

* "Paul spoke to the people" -Paul gave a message to the congregation at this meeting.

>Where did this come from? (Matt. 26:17-35, Mk. 12:12-26, Lk. 22:7-38, Jn. 13-17)

* Jesus commanded his followers to remember him in this way. All four gospels record this, making it one of the few events that all four record. The breaking of bread is very important to keep. Paul explains it in several of his letters.

>7. How long did the meeting of God's people last?

* "midnight" -Not 12:00 A.M. for that time keeping method was developed later.

* Most of the believers here, if not all had to have worked before this meeting took place. In much of the world today we have Saturday and Sundays off. It those days people worked almost every day, unless the person was a devout Jews. Yet in those days work was a bit different than today. Today many consider work as working for a company, government, or organization. In those days there were on corporations, factories, or chains. Most were either slaves, servants, or self employed.

>What would the presents of lamps do to the air quality? (8)

* Acts 20:8 "There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting."

* Luke points out the use of lamps. The air must have been smoky.

>8. What happened to a young man who fell asleep? (9)

* Acts 20:9 "Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead."

* "Eutychus" -only mentioned here. Most likely in his teens.

* "deep sleep" -Perhaps he was even snoring. No one objected to this man sleeping as Paul spoke, not even Paul.

* "talking on and on" -Meaning this was not Paul usually custom. Rather, because this was to be his last visit with them, perhaps never to see them again, Paul wanted to part as much information as he could.

* "third story" -The higher the room at that time the lower the cost because carrying food up the stairs was not desirable. In fact, until the development of the automatic elevator this fact is true.

* "picked up dead" -He was not pretending or mistakenly taken as dead. He was dead.

>What did God do through Paul? (10)

* Acts 20:10 "Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "He's alive!"

* Paul hoped in the kingdom of heaven, but did not want to be the cause of this man's death.

>Why do you think Paul said what he said?

* Acts 20:11-12 "Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted."

* "broke bread and ate" -Remembering Jesus in the dark of night. They must not have done so until now.

* "talking until daylight" -Paul continued to talk.

* "were greatly comforted" -Either by finally leaving, the young man being alive, or because of the words Paul spoke. (Just kidding about the first point.)

>10. Why do you think Paul traveled on foot and let everyone else take a ship?

* Acts 20:13-16 "We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to take Paul aboard. He had made this arrangement because he was going there on foot. When he met us at Assos, we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. The next day we set sail from there and arrived off Kios. The day after that we crossed over to Samos, and on the following day arrived at Miletus. Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost."

* "We" -Luke was still with Paul.

* "Assos" -On the opposite side of the peninsula from Troas, about twenty miles (30km) by land.

* "he was going there on foot" -Paul wanted some quiet personal time with Jesus. He walked alone. Jesus often separated himself from everyone including his disciples in order to have quiet time with his Father. We all need personal quiet time with Jesus. Perhaps also, Paul wanted to visit some more people in the few small cities on the way.


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