Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 7th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 20

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-6

Paul’s Journey to Macedonia and Greece Acts 20:1-6 gives us a brief account of Paul’s journey into Macedonia and Greece.

Acts 20:3 Comments Many conservative Bible scholars believe that this three-month stay in Greece was the winter season (Dec-Jan-Feb) when much shipping in the Mediterranean comes to a halt because of the hazards on the sea. When the winter had passed, he determined to make his way to Jerusalem with the contribution of the saints. However, because of threats upon his life, Paul did not sail from the port of Cenchrea a short distance from the city of Corinth. Rather, he chose the unlikely route of returning through Macedonia in order to minister to the saints in Philippi, Troas and Ephesus.

Verses 1-38

The Witness of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (A.D. 54-58) Acts 18:23 to Acts 20:38 gives us the testimony of Paul’s third missionary journey.

Oultine Here is a proposed outline:

1. Apollo’s Ministry in Ephesus Acts 18:23-28

2. Paul in Ephesus Acts 19:1-41

3. Paul’s Journey to Macedonia and Greece Acts 20:1-6

4. Paul at Troas Acts 20:7-12

5. Paul Journeys from Troas to Miletus Acts 20:13-16

Verses 7-12

Paul at Troas Acts 20:7-12 gives us the account of Paul’s ministry at Troas. The most significant event during this stay was the raising from the dead of a certain man named Eutychus. It is very possible that Eutychus was mentioned in the book of Acts because he played an important role in the church at a later date.

At some point there was a church planted at Troas. We have a record of Paul preaching the Gospel in this city in 2 Corinthians 2:12 where an effectual door had been opened for him. This was when Paul had left Ephesus and was planning on spending the winter in Greece. Mostly like Paul planted a church here at this time.

2 Corinthians 2:12, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,”

Verses 13-16

Paul Journeys from Troas to Miletus Acts 20:13-16 gives us a brief account of Paul’s journey from Troas to Miletus as he makes his way to meet the elders of Ephesus and on to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost.

Verses 17-38

Paul Exhorts the Elders at Ephesus Acts 20:17-38 gives us a lengthy account of Paul’s brief visit to Miletus to meet the elders of the church at Ephesus. The importance of this event lies in the fact that the church of Ephesus would become the leading church in the region. After Paul’s death, John the apostle would become the elder shepherd over the churches of Asia Minor and would minister out of the church in Ephesus.

Acts 20:19 Comments - Jesus is our example of humility, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

Acts 20:22 Comments - Just as Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), knowing that this decision would cost Him His life, so Paul made the same decision to go to Jerusalem, knowing that afflictions awaited him (Acts 21:11), even possibly death.

Luke 9:51, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,”

Acts 21:11, “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”

Acts 20:23 “the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city” Comments Acts 20:23 confirms the fact that the gifts of the Spirit were operating in every New Testament church that Paul established.

Acts 20:24 Comments - Here, we begin to see that Paul is making a choice. He knows that if he goes to Jerusalem, he would be bound and imprisoned. He knows that it meant possible death. Therefore he says here that he does not count his life dear. He also knew that he must preach the Gospel in Rome (Acts 19:21). It was God's will for Paul to go to Rome, yet the Holy Spirit was warning Paul of its consequences, which was certain death. Here, Paul makes a choice, to finish the work that God's has called him to, resulting in death, or to save his own life, yet never reach Rome. In Paul's visit to Rome, he increased the influence of his ministry, but it cost him his life.

Acts 19:21, “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome .

Acts 23:11, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome .

The Lord allowed Paul to make the choice. Paul chose God's will above his own will. Paul had to make a choice many times in his life. When he was taken captive a Caesarea shortly after leaving the Ephesians, he made a choice to face death for an opportunity to preach the Gospel before Caesar (Acts 25:11-12). This was the culmination of his ministry. He had finished his course.

Acts 25:11-12, “For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go .”

Acts 20:23-24 Comments Testimonies of the Suffering of the Godly - Since all Scripture is inspired by God, the Holy Spirit is witnessing to us also in many places in the Scriptures. In Acts 20:23-24 we are able to identify with Paul while he awaits bonds and afflictions. In five places in Scripture (Psalms 34:9, John 16:33, Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Peter 5:9) we have the Holy Spirit witnessing to us that we must bear these same kinds of afflictions. So, let us confess by faith along with Paul (Acts 20:24). Let us not be moved nor offended by afflictions (Mark 4:17).

Psalms 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

1 Peter 5:9, “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Mark 4:17, “And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.”

Acts 20:31 Scripture Reference - Note:

Philippians 3:18, “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping , that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:”

Acts 20:32 Comments - Paul commended the churches unto God each time he departed from them. When my wife goes out of the home to do errands, she commends my child into the hands of our nanny. It becomes the responsibility of this nanny to care for the child while my wife is away. Paul had to leave and minister to other churches. In commending them unto God he knew that through divine providence the Lord would work in their lives and keep them in the faith. The Lord would bring people like Apollos and others to them to teach them the Word. God would encamp about them by His angels to keep them from many trials that the Devil would attempt to bring.

Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive” Comments - Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States (1923-29), once said, “No person was ever honoured for what he received. Honour has been the reward for what he gave.” [256] Someone once said, “The quality of one’s life is calculated by one’s donation, not by one’s duration.”

[256] Calvin Coolidge, Have Faith in Massachusetts, 2 nd ed (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919), 173.

Acts 20:34-35 Comments - Paul’s Labours In Acts 20:34-35 Paul tells the elders of Ephesus how he has laboured with his hands on many occasions during his three missionary journeys. He refers to his labours in Acts 18:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 4:12.

Acts 18:1-3, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”

1 Corinthians 4:12, “And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:”

Alexander Mackay, the famous missionary to Uganda, East Africa, worked daily among the native Africans, realizing it was his access to preaching the Gospel to a naturally lazy culture. These natives saw in him each day a sacrifice was made to serve them, which opened their hearts to the testimony of God’s love towards them through Jesus Christ.

“All through his mechanical work, building, turning, casting, carpentering, glazing, engrossed as he was with these crafts, and earning his bread literally by the sweat of his brow, Mackay's burning desire was to lead the people to Christ. He grudged the time spent in these secular occupations and longed to give himself entirely to teaching and preaching. Indeed, he had serious thoughts of going home, and studying for ordination as a clergyman, in order that he might be able to baptize and

administer the communion. But happily for the success of the Mission, and happily for Uganda, he was led to give up this idea of return. After studying the subject long, and with much prayer, he came to the conclusion that the sphere of working missionary was the one in which he had most influence, and to which God had called him. The example of hard work which he set was of great value to the natives, who were naturally lazy. Here was a man who taught that work was noble, and proved that he believed it, by himself working harder than any of them. They called him Mzunguwa-Kazi, which means ‘white man of work;’ for, from the time that he first came to their country, they had never seen him idle.” [257]

[257] C. T. Wilson, Alexander Mackay: Missionary Hero of Uganda (London: The Sunday School Union, 1893), 83.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 20". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/acts-20.html. 2013.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile