ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Chapter 20:5-38 & 21:1-14
The Experience at Troas – Acts 20:6-16. Paul and Luke (note the ‘we’) had sailed from Philippi in Macedonia, and came to Troas, which was in the northwest corner of Asia Minor. Quite a few gospel workers were waiting for Paul when he arrived there – 20:4-5. They stayed there a week, likely waiting for the first day of the week to arrive. That gave them the opportunity to have fellowship with the believers, for they must have gathered to worship on Sunday like we do. Paul had to leave in the morning, so he took that opportunity to preach to them. He had much to say, for he realized he wouldn’t be seeing them again.
They gathered in an upper room where there were many lights. It says they were in the third loft. I’m sure they were all eager to hear what Paul had to say. He preached a long time. One young man by the name of Eutychus was sitting in a window. He sunk down with sleep and fell down, clear from that third loft. Remember that the writer of “Acts” is Dr. Luke. He tells the story and says they took the young man up dead. Jesus to the rescue with Paul’s help! Paul went down, fell on him, embraced him, and then announced, “Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.” That didn’t stop their meeting. They continued right on with their fellowship, breaking of bread, eating, and talking until morning. The young man was alive and all of them were comforted. What a visit! The group went on by ship to the seaport Assos. Paul took that opportunity to walk that distance. Perhaps he just wanted to talk with the Lord. Anyway they got him back on board ship at Assos, then came to Mitylene, then to Chinos, Samos, Trogyllium, and finally Miletus. From there he called for the elders at Ephesus to come there to meet him.
Paul and the Ephesian Elders – Vs. 17-35. The reason Paul wanted them to come to him there was to save time. They apparently met on the seashore at Miletus. This was his last “Goodbye” to them. He had many things to tell them. Here are some things he touched on: He reminded them of his manner among them, that he had served the Lord with all humility, with tears, temptations, because the Jews were out to “get” him. And that he had kept back nothing from them about God’s Word. He had showed them, and taught them in public and in private. He testified to Jews and Greeks repentance and faith. Now he was going bound in his spirit unto Jerusalem, and he didn’t know what would take place there. The Holy Ghost had witnessed in every city that bonds and afflictions awaited him. None of this bothered Paul because he didn’t mind if he would die. What he desired most of all was that he would finish the work God gave him to do. He wanted to do this with joy. This was to testify the gospel of the grace of God. He knew he wouldn’t see them again so he wanted them to know he had done all he could do. He had taught them all the counsel of God, as he said before, not holding back anything from them.
Then he gave some warnings – Vs. 28-30. They should take heed to themselves. They should take heed to the flock over which they were overseers. This meant these elders were under-shepherds of the flock of the Lord. As such they must feed the flock. Jesus bought his sheep (you are one of these) with his own blood. Paul knew that after he left grievous wolves (really bad men) would come from the outside to hurt and scatter the people. Even from within, from their own selves, men would arise, saying wrong things to have men follow them.
Then Paul gave them advice – V. 31; Vs. 33-35. Watch, remember what Paul had taught and how he live. He had warned them night and day with tears. He had not wanted their money. He had worked with his own hands to support himself and those with him. He had showed them how to help others. He said the Lord Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Paul commended them to God and to the word of His grace – V. 37. He said this to build them up. This would give them an inheritance.
Vs. 36-38 – After he finished speaking to them, he kneeled down and prayed with them. They all were crying because they wouldn’t be seeing him again. He loved these people and they loved him. They went with him to the ship. Now he was on his way to Jerusalem.
Some thoughts about what took place before Paul arrived in Jerusalem – Acts 21:1-14. They stayed at Tyre long enough for the ship to unload, which turned out to be seven days. There they found some believers. There the Holy Spirit warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem. They stopped at Philip’s house at Caesarea. Remember when Philip preached to the Ethiopian in the desert, and then was caught away to Azotus? That was in Chapter 8 of this Book of Acts. Anyway by now he had an house and four daughters who prophesied. Was not he a happy man? They stayed there quite awhile. It was there that the prophet Agabus came and warned Paul about going to Jerusalem. He illustrated this by taking Paul’s girdle (belt). With this he bound his own hands and feet and told Paul they would do this to him at Jerusalem and deliver him to the Gentiles. All the folks there tried to get Paul not to go. Paul knew, however, that he should go. It was the will of God. Their loving him so and not wanting this to happen to him was breaking his heart. He said he was willing not just to be bound, but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus. And so – V. 14 – they let him go, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”
This ended Paul’s third missionary journey. We will find these prophesies came true but since Paul knew this was the will of God, we will see that it will work out for good. After all, had not the Lord said he would bear His name before Gentiles, KINGS, and the children of Israel. He would get to witness to kings by his being bound as the prophet had said. Are we willing to suffer for Jesus? If you knew this would bring many to Jesus wouldn’t you say “Yes” to the Lord, even when it meant hardships?
Continued in the next issue.