Acts 20:9, 10
And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching…
Explain precisely what happened. The window was a lattice opening, and, for the sake of air to the crowded room, the lattices were put aside. How crowded the house was is intimated by the presence of some people in this third story. There they would be sure to feel oppressed by the heat of the house. Eutychus may have fallen into the street, but it is more likely that he fell into the hard paved courtyard. For a similar fall, see the account of the death of Ahaziah, King of Israel (2 Kings 1:2, 17). The word that is translated "young man" implies that Eutychus was quite a youth, and not likely to be very directly interested in St. Paul's address. He very probably was a child of the house where the meeting was held. While the narrative does not positively say that Eutychus was killed by the fall, and indeed leaves it possible for us to assume that he was only badly stunned, the simplest reading of it - without prejudice in relation to the miraculous - certainly leaves the impression of a real death and restoration. We bend attention to the conduct of St. Paul in relation to the matter, and inquire why he took the trouble thus to recover the fallen and dead youth. Dismissing, with a brief mention, the interest he would feel in such a calamity affecting the people of the house, and seeking for explanations having a more general application, we notice -
I. ST. PAUL FELT THAW EUTYCHUS WAS NOT TO BLAME. If any one was to blame, it was the apostle himself, who had been led on to talk so long and keep the meeting to unreasonable hours for young folk. Long services make too great a demand on the physical strength of young people. They are trying even to the elder Christians, but their awakened spiritual interest will enable them to bear such fatigue of body. It was not wrong for Eutychus to sleep. He was simply overborne by the heat of the place and the lateness of the hour. And still we need to distinguish between failings, which come out of human frailties, and sins that come out of human willfulness. Too often the young are punished for what is merely due to the influence of surrounding circumstances and the undeveloped bodily conditions. The relation of public services to the young needs careful and judicious treatment.
1. Services for them are advisable and necessary.
2. Their share in the general service of the Church is important.
3. Such services may exert a gracious influence apart from the actual mental comprehension of what is said and done.
4. Such services need not be unduly limited or too easily altered in character for the sake of the young.
5. Such services should take into due account, and deal considerately with, the physical infirmities of the young. It is possible, by securing variety in forms of worship, changing attitudes, and efficient illustration in preaching, to successfully resist the infirmities of the children. If we find our public services uninteresting, we may question whether we are not, like the apostle, ourselves to blame.
II. ST. PAUL FELT THAT THE DEATH OF EUTYCHUS WOULD BE MISUNDERSTOOD. Too easily the company would take up the notion that this was a judgment on inattention, and such an idea must be at once and fully corrected. In such a case as that of Ananias and Sapphira, no apostle would feel impelled to put forth miraculous power; the judgment of God on sin must stand. But the case of Eutychus belonged to what may fairly be called "accidents. A conjunction of circumstances brought it about - heat, sleepiness, the position in which Eutychus sat, the open window, etc.; and this St. Paul may deal with in a way of miracle, just as Elijah and Elisha had done in cases of sudden death from disease (see 1 Kings 17:21; 2 Kings 4:34). It is quite true that Christianity makes great demands on self-control and self-denial. It expects the spirit to master the body; but it makes its demands of the full-grown man in Christ;" and, only in appropriate measures and degrees, on those who are young in years and young in the faith. The restoration of Eutychus may be regarded as a prominent and interesting illustration of the "sweet reasonableness" of Christianity. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And 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.
WEB: A certain young man named Eutychus sat in the window, weighed down with deep sleep. As Paul spoke still longer, being weighed down by his sleep, he fell down from the third story, and was taken up dead.