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Bible Commentaries
Acts 20

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.

1. When the dust had settled from the riot at Ephesus it was time to move on.

2. Paul gave everyone a hug and headed toward Macedonia. This is the region of the Philippians and the Thessalonians.

Verse 2

2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece

1. Next Paul came into Greece itself. This is the area of Athens and Corinth.

2. There were many words of encouragement.

3. Paul was not assured that he would ever see these brethren again, so this was his last chance to instruct and encourage them.

Verse 3

3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.

1. Paul stayed in Corinth about 3 months.

2. Same story - next verse. The Jews began to stir up trouble. There was a plot against Paul so he left.

3. His original plan was to sail from Greece across the Aegean Sea to Ephesus.

4. However, his plans changed. He too the land route - back to Macedonia.

Verse 4

4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia-also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.

1. We are now introduced to several men who traveled with Paul.

1. Sopater of Berea - also mentioned in Rom_16:21

2. Aristarchus - one of those taken in Ephesus in the silversmith riot ( Act_19:29 )

3. Secundus of the Thessalonians - accompanied funds for Jerusalem ( Act_24:17 )

4. Gaius of Derbe - taken in the Ephesus riot ( Act_19:29 )

5. Timothy - Paul's "son in the faith"; Paul wrote two letters to him

6. Tychicus - Was sent to Ephesus to report on Paul ( Eph_6:21 )

7. Trophimus of Asia - See Act_21:29 - This man is the source of the problem with Paul entering the Temple area. It is thought this man is a gentile and that Paul brought him into the Temple.

2. I believe that, because of the consistent problems, and the increase in the intensity of these problems, several men traveled with Paul to provide security and safety.

Verse 5

5 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas.

1. Notice the "us" - This shows that Luke is also part of this company.

2. There is a "we" in verse 6 that shows while others traveled ahead to meet Paul, Luke stayed with Paul to Troas.

Verse 6

6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

1. Just after Passover (Feast of Unleavened Bread) Paul proceeds to travel on his way.

2. He is hoping to make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost. He has 50 days - not quite 2 months to make the trip.

3. Even though they are wanting to get to Jerusalem soon - they stay at Troas 7 days.

Verse 7

7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

1. First day of the week - This is the same phrase in Mat_28:1 ; Joh_20:19 ; 1Co_16:2

2. When the disciples came together - This phrase explains the first day of the week.

1. When did the disciples meet together? First day of the week.

2. What happens on the first day of the week? The disciples meet together.

3. Each phrase explains the other.

3. Break bread - The phrase "break bread" has two uses in the New Testament.

1. It is used of a common meal. Breaking bread means they ate together. See Act_2:46 and Act_20:11 .

2. This phrase is also used of communion, the Lord's Supper. See Act_2:42 ; 1Co_10:16

4. Rule : When a regularly recurring event occurs on a regularly recurring day, the two always recur together.

1. December 25 is Christmas. Christmas is always December 25. When it is December 25 - it is Christmas. When it is Christmas, it is December 25.

2. July 4 is independence Day. Independence Day is always on July 4. The two always occur together.

3. First day of the week they broke bread. When there was a first day of the week, they broke bread. When then broke bread, it was the first day of the week. The two events always occurred together.

5. Paul preached. We don't have the sermon or even the topic. I am sure that it was a message of support and encouragement like he had given to Corinth and in Macedonia.

Verse 8

8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.

1. Because it was after dark - there were many oil lamps burning to provide the light for the church meeting.

2. Add to the heat from all the burning lamps, all the heat of many people gathered in a small space - and the result is an extra warm, stuffy, stale air.

Verse 9

9 And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.

1. Eutychus - was a young man. Like many in church services today, he fell asleep. In fact Luke says he feel into deep sleep.

2. He fell down from the third story (where the meeting was being held) and was taken up dead. Eutychus was dead.

Verse 10

10 But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, " Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him. "

1. Paul assures those gathered around that all is going to be OK.

2. Some have suggested that this young man did not die. I disagree. He was taken up dead. This means he died.

3. Paul is now giving comfort to the church by assuring them that he will live again.

Verse 11

11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.

1. After the young man is raised from the dead, all returned to the meeting room.

2. They broke bread - ate, talked, and fellowshipped together until day break.

3. At daybreak Paul headed to the ship and departed.

Verse 12

12 And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted.

1. They brought the young man in ALIVE. He was dead, now he is alive.

2. The church is encouraged and comforted.

Verse 13

13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot.

1. Paul and Luke went to the ship and sailed to Assos.

2. Assos is an ancient city of Mysia. It was just a rest stop for Paul and Luke.

3. Luke and the others wanted Paul to travel by ship to Mitylene. But Paul wanted to walk the 20 miles by land. By ship was twice as far, but more restful.

Verse 14

14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.

1. Paul was finally convinced that going by ship was better.

2. All the men travel together to Mitylene.

Verse 15

15 We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus.

1. In one day they came to Chios - an island about 5 miles off the mainland.

2. The next day they arrived in Samos - an island about 40 miles away from Smyrna.

3. It was then a short trip to Trogyllium - a rocky outcrop of the mainland near the island of Samos.

4. And the following day they arrived at Miletus - about 35 miles south of Ephesus.

Verse 16

16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.

1. Paul was in a hurry. He decided not to stop at Ephesus. He knew that he could not just visit there overnight and move on.

2. Paul wanted to arrive in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost.

Verse 17

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.

1. Paul sent to Ephesus and asked the elders to come see him. This was faster way to meet with them than to stop in Ephesus.

2. Elder is one of three terms for the office in the church. See my notes on verse 28.

Verse 18

18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: " You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,

1. The elders from Ephesus arrived at Miletus.

2. Because Paul was in a hurry, the elders came with some haste.

3. Paul reminds them of his behavior while working and living in Ephesus.

1. From the first day - Paul was always the same. He did not change.

2. What manner - lifestyle, conduct, custom, habitual practice

3. Lived among you - Paul lived, worked, and taught among them.

Verse 19

19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;

1. Humility - Being humble is easy to recognize in others and difficult to find in ourselves. Humility requires self-abasement. It is an attitude of lowliness of mind.

2. Many tears and trials - Paul reminds them of the Jews who caused trouble. He is also thinking about the riot created by the silversmiths.

Verse 20

20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,

1. Paul was in Ephesus long enough to cover many subjects and teach in greater detail the will of God. Paul did not keep from them any topic that was useful and needed.

2. He proclaimed the whole gospel. There is more to preaching than the first principles of obedience to the gospel.

3. Here is the clear vision of the New Testament church. Act_20:20 (20/20 vision) is a simple statement of the process of the growth in the early church.

1. Publicly - hand out tracts, worship, radio, TV, newspaper, mailings, knock doors - any other public method - all of these, and many more, are methods of public teaching and evangelism.

2. House to House - Personal, private study, Jule Miller films, use of charts, Open Bible Study - these are some of the many individual means of sharing the gospel with others.

3. Paul and the Christians at Ephesus used both parts. They taught publicly and on the personal and individual level.

Verse 21

21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The elders are reminded that they taught Jews and Greeks (Gentiles).

2. All were obedient to the same commands. Repent. Faith in Jesus Christ. There is not one set of commands for Jews and another set of rules for Greeks.

Verse 22

22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,

1. Paul knew that he was going to face trouble when he arrived in Jerusalem. He was heavy hearted. He was feeling bound.

2. But he was still unsure what would happen when he got to Jerusalem.

Verse 23

23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.

1. Paul knew that in every city there were enemies. There were jails, chains, beatings, and all kinds of tribulations that were ahead of him.

2. These things were discussed in Act_9:15-16 . Paul knew that he would suffer many things. He has in the past. He knew that Jerusalem would be no different.

Verse 24

24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

1. Knowing these things does not change Paul's decision or determination. Paul will not be deterred.

2. Many misunderstand the statement about Paul's life not being dear. Paul was not suicidal. He was not saying that life is worthless. He was not suggesting that life has no value.

3. Paul was saying that some things are more important than his life. A friend of mine said, "Golf is not a matter of life and death. It is more important than that."

4. This is the idea here. Paul wanted to remain alive and keep on preaching. He had plans to go to Rome and on to Spain. Preaching the gospel, saving souls, are more important than Paul keeping alive.

5. Paul still has plans to keep him going. He has his eye on the race before him.

Verse 25

25 " And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.

1. Now it has been revealed to Paul that he will not be through Ephesus again. Paul knows that his life is about to make a dramatic change in direction.

2. He will not see these men again.

Verse 26

26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.

1. Paul has taken time to review his life and work. He has reflected on what he did and where he failed.

2. This statement is not boasting. Paul is saying that, while some will be lost, because they rejected the gospel, and some will be lost because the left the church and went back to the world, he can not be faulted or blamed.

Verse 27

27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.

1. Paul had taught them all that they needed to equip them for life and godliness. ( Eph_1:3 )

2. Paul taught them the whole counsel of God.

Verse 28

รท Act_20:28

28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

1. Take heed to yourselves - The first obligation of any leader is to make sure their life is correct. One can not lead where they are not willing to live.

2. And to the flock - The church, Christians, are the flock of God.

3. Among - Elders can not care for sheep that are in another country or territory. The elders were to be local, living among the flock they were seeking lead and feed.

4. Holy Spirit made - The revelation of the Holy Spirit has given us the requirements and qualifications for the office of a bishop. See 1Ti_3:1-16 and Tit_1:1-16 for lists of the qualities needed to be an elder.

5. Overseers - The Greek word translated "overseer" refers to a manager or foreman. It is the task of a manager to see to it that the work done by others is done correctly. This describes the work of an elder.

6. Shepherd - The flock of God needs guidance and leadership, just as sheep need a shepherd.

7. Purchased - The church is a "blood-bought" institution.


1. There are three terms that refer to the same office and are used together.

2. All three words are in Act_20:17 ; Act_20:28 .

3. All three words are also in 1Pe_5:1-2 .

Greek Word English terms Meaning Presbuteros Elder Older, mature, wisdom Episkopos Bishop, Overseer Manager, Makes sure work done by others is correct Poimen Pastor, Shepherd One who tends, feeds and cares for the flock

Verse 29

29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

1. Sheep need food and water. They also need protection. There are wolves out there and the job of the shepherd is to be alert for the wolves and protect the sheep from such dangers.

2. However, in the human analogy, the wolves look like sheep. They come in among the flock and deceive many. The elders must be vigilant and on guard. The wolves are a great danger.

Verse 30

30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

1. Now the message becomes even more distressing and frightful. Paul says that some of the "wolves" will be from among the elders. They will not just look like the rest of the sheep in the flock, but some of them will look like shepherds.

2. This is a case of the wolf guarding the hen house.

Verse 31

31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

1. Watch. Be alert. Always on guard. Diligent. Never let your guard down.

2. Paul did not stop warning during the three years he was in Ephesus. He warned them on a daily basis.

3. He warned them with tears because he knew the great danger that lurked in the days ahead.

Verse 32

32 " So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

1. With news like he has just given these elders, what can be said to encourage them?

2. Commend you to God - Don't abandon your faith and your roots.

3. Word of His grace - Keep with the Word. Don't leave the will of God.

1. Able to build you up - strengthen, support, encourage

2. Give you an inheritance - The Word of God is the place to learn how to receive the inheritance promised by God.

3. Among the sanctified - The charge of elders is to make sure that they serve God faithfully and keep the flock among them safe.

Verse 33

33 I have coveted no one ' s silver or gold or apparel.

1. Paul was not greedy. He was not in this work for the money. He did not send out letters seeking donations.

2. He did not seek to take - but to give. He did not charge for his work. He healed the sick, cast out demons, helped the lame, blind and deaf. Never did he charge a fee for this work.

Verse 34

34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.

1. The elders at Ephesus are aware that Paul often worked (making tents and perhaps other tasks) to provide for what he needed.

2. Rather than charge fees, Paul would rather work second shift in a factory.

3. Not only was Paul in need, but all who were with him, including Timothy, Titus, Luke, and several others at various times during his journey. Paul made sure that all who were with him were cared for.

Verse 35

35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. '"

1. Paul practiced what he preached. He cared for all with him. He taught that we must support the weak.

2. Weak physically - Help supply them with food, clothes, shelter, and other physical needs.

3. Weak spiritually - support, teaching, edification, admonition and instruction to bring them to stronger faith and dedication.

4. Paul quotes Jesus. This particular statement is not recorded in any of the gospels or by any other source close the Jesus.

1. Some believe this is just a paraphrase of sentiments of Jesus.

2. Others have suggested that this is a statement of Jesus during the time he was instructed by Jesus in Arabia.

3. We must remember that not every word spoken by Jesus was recorded. There were many things He said and did that are not recorded.

4. Many statements of Jesus, heard by the multitudes, were passed on to others orally. It may be that this is one of those statements that is an oral tradition.

Verse 36

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.

1. Paul ends his speech to the Ephesian elders. He instructs. He warns. He encourages.

2. Now he kneels in prayer.

1. He prayed with them.

2. He prayed for them and the church at Ephesus.

3. He knelt in prayer. Years ago, most men would kneel at time of prayer. Today, we have gotten too sophisticated and fear that our pants might get dirty. What ever happened to kneeling in prayer? What happened to saying, "Amen"? What happened to wearing our "Sunday clothes" to assemble in worship?

Verse 37

37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul ' s neck and kissed him,

1. The elders wept. They understood the awesome task ahead of them. They also understood that Paul would not be returning to Ephesus.

2. They hugged him and kissed him. It was a sad farewell.

Verse 38

38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

1. Saddened that he was leaving.

2. They were sad for the warnings he issued. There was a real fear of the dangers the church would face.

3. Most of all, they were saddened because he would not be back. They understood that his life was in danger and he would not be able to return to see them again.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 20". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-20.html. 2021.
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