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Acts of the Apostles

A Bible Study

Acts Chapter 20


Heading Towards Its End in Jerusalem

Click to view Map Animation

I Posted a a shockwave flash Map Animation with an overlay of today's map, the map of the Jewish diaspora 100 AD, and Paul's Journeys to show how completely he covered the Jewish region north with the gospel. 

Acts 20
1And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.
2And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,
3And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.
4And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
5These going before tarried for us at Troas.
6And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

From Acts 19 we left off with a mob recently disbursed, because of the silversmith idol makers stirring up trouble, because of their economy being affected by Paul's gospel. Paul journeys to Macedonia and then spends 3 months there.

Eight named men and some others unnamed now accompany Paul when they picked up Luke, the writer of Acts, in Troas, who was in Phillipi and sailed to meet Paul at Troas. We know this by reading these verses closely, because Luke is writing and we are now reading the account in the first person, "tarried for us" and "we sailed away". This also means there were more persons than just Luke going to meet Paul, also because of the words used; "we" and "us".

It took five days to get there and they stayed in Troas seven days. So we pick up the story in Troas.

Acts 20
7And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

All the commentaries I read, besides William Barclay's who made no mention of Sunday meeting, allude to this scripture as tenant for Sunday gatherings for Christians. Now one of the first things we studied in Acts 2 was that the Jewish days start at sundown and end the next sundown and depending upon the season the time could be from anywhere between 5 and 9 pm. In this scripture the time was near Passover so probably around 7 pm. This meeting started as the breaking of bread "upon" the first day of the week, or the start of the day, which would make it Saturday night, in our modern time. This makes total sense, because the Sabbath had just ended and now they had come together to eat or break bread together. Paul speaks until midnight planning on leaving in the morning and continue on his journey to Jerusalem.

Acts 20
8And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

Of course it was dark out, the day started at dark. Why would the lights be mentioned? One explanation was from:

Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft
 [And there were many lights] Why this circumstance is mentioned is not apparent. It, however, meets one of the slanders of the early enemies of Christianity, that the Christians in their assemblies were accustomed to extinguish all the lights, and to commit every kind of abomination.

Other commentaries suggested it was smoke that caused Eutychus to be overcome with sleep.

Acts 20
9And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
10And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
11When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
12And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

This was a parallel miracle to that of Peter in Acts 9:40 and of Elisha in 2Kings 4:34 where Elisha lays upon a dead child and he lives.  Now Eutychus was dead, again some commentaries would say he was thought dead, well why mention it then. Luke did not mention Paul fighting beasts at Ephesus, or ship wreck, or robbers, why then mention this man merely falling asleep in a meeting and falling out a window to be OK if it were not a miracle?

Acts 20
13And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.
14And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.
15And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.

In Acts 18 we read that Paul had a 3 year ministry in Ephesus and did many miracles and wonders there. he had a special personal relationship with these people. During this next discourse we find out this is his final personal farewell.

Acts 20
16For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
17And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
19Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
23Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

Let's stop here for a moment because we just read a lot of information in these few verses.

Paul reminds them as to what manner of man he was "at all seasons".

  • Humility of mind
  • Many tears
  • Many temptations or trials because of Jewish zealots

Paul taught them everything, both in the knowledge of the scriptures and the revelations. That he received his commission how? "I have received of the Lord Jesus", by direct revelation and miraculous intervention in Acts chapter 9.

The key messages both to Jew and Gentile:

  • Repentance toward God
  • Faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Gospel or the good news of the grace of God

Now he tells them he is "bound in spirit" for Jerusalem, not knowing his fate, but it does not sound good; "in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me."


Acts 20
26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
33I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
35I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Again there is a lot of information in these verses.

Paul warns of wolves who:

  • are grievous - those who cause dissention and grief - most probably law keepers
  • not sparing the flock - do not consider their spiritual care
  • speaking perverse things - law keepers Gal 1:7 who 'pervert the gospel'
  • will draw away disciples or followers mixers of law and grace
  • covet or require money or payment for 'spiritual' services rendered

Paul contrasts his own example of labor as that of love and charity, working to support himself and those that ministered with him, a stark contrast of those wolves who are soon to come.

Acts 20
36And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
37And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
38Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

Paul knew in his spirit that the trip to Jerusalem would be perilous and that he would never return to Ephesus. Paul, who never said more than yea and nay but by the grace of God, said,  "ye shall see my face no more."


Acts 20:23
"Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me."


Acts 19:21
"purposed in the spirit ... to go to Jerusalem"

Acts 20:16
"Paul had determined ... to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost."

Acts 20:22
"I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem"

Affliction was not a reason to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem. He faced that in "every city". There is another clue as to Paul knowing his fate which awaited him at Jerusalem in verse 24, "so that I might finish my course ... and the ministry". There is no doubt Paul the apostle knew his course and did not waiver.

Sometimes the Spirit of God does not point us down the easy path. Sometimes the 'right' way leads to very troubled times. But, the reward of faithfulness cannot be measured or compared to temporary affliction. We have obtained the message of a promise, directly as a result of the faithfulness of this man, that through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, as our earnest, that we might have everlasting life.