Acts 20:16
For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hurried, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus.—The English phrase is unfortunately ambiguous. What is meant is that he had decided to continue his voyage without going to Ephesus—to pass it by.

To be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.—The motives for this wish lie on the surface. (1) It was, as has been said in the Note on Acts 2:1, the Feast that attracted most pilgrims from all parts of the world, and therefore gave most scope for his work as an Apostle, especially for the great task of healing the growing breach between the Jewish and Gentile Christians. (2) It revived the memories and the power of the great day which had been the birthday of the Church’s life as a distinct society. (3) St. Paul was contemplating a journey from Syria to Rome after his visit, and that would hardly have been feasible had he waited for the Feast of the Tabernacles. It might have seemed at first as if there was little gained in point of time by sending for the elders to come to him instead of going to them. We must remember, however, that had he taken the journey he would have been exposed to the accidents of travel, perhaps to a fresh riot like that of Demetrius, and might have been detained beyond the day fixed for the departure of the ship. By remaining at Miletus it was in his power to embark at any moment.

20:13-16 Paul hastened to Jerusalem, but tried to do good by the way, when going from place to place, as every good man should do. In doing God's work, our own wills and those of our friends must often be crossed; we must not spend time with them when duty calls us another way.To sail by Ephesus - The word "by" in our translation is ambiguous. We say to go by a place, meaning either to take it in our way and to go to it, or to go past it. Here it means the latter. He intended to sail past Ephesus without going to it.

For he hasted ... - Had he gone to Ephesus, he would probably have been so delayed in his journey that he could not reach Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost.

The day of Pentecost - See the notes on Acts 2:1.

16. For Paul had determined to sail by—or "sail past."

Ephesus—He was right opposite to it when approaching Chios.

because he would not spend time in Asia—the Asian province of which Ephesus was the chief city.

for he hasted, if … possible … to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost—as a suitable season for giving in the great collection from all the western churches, for keeping the feast, and clearing his apostolic position with the Church, then represented in large number at Jerusalem. The words imply that there was considerable ground to doubt if he would attain this object—for more than three of the seven weeks from Passover to Pentecost had already expired—and they are inserted evidently to explain why he did not once more visit Ephesus.

Ephesus was not so far from Miletus; but lest he should hinder his journey, he would not go thither.

If it were possible for him; or, as Acts 18:21, if the Lord would; for his endeavour should not be wanting.

To be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost; not that he placed any religion in the observing this feast, which was abrogated and done away by being fulfilled, Acts 2:1-47; but because of the vast concourse of people at all those solemn feasts, when his opportunities to magnify Christ and his truths might be the greater. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus,.... That is, to sail by it, without calling at it, as he did, for it lay by the shore before he came to Miletus; but he chose not to stop there, fearing he should be detained by the brethren there:

because he would not spend the time in Asia; of which Ephesus was the metropolis:

for he hasted, if it were possible, for him to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost: which was near at hand; for it was but fifty days from the second day of the passover, which feast was over when he sailed from Philippi; and at Troas he stayed seven days, and he had been several days sailing already; see Acts 20:6. And his great desire to be at the feast of Pentecost was not in order to keep that feast, according to the usage of the Jews; but that he might have an opportunity of preaching the Gospel to a great number of Jews, out of all countries, whom he knew would come to that feast.

{5} For 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.

(5) Paul, an earnest and diligent follower of Christ, making haste to his bonds without any ceasing or stopping in his race, first of all as it were makes his testament, wherein he gives an account of his former life, defends the doctrine which he taught, and exhorts the pastors of the church to persevere and go forward with continuance in their office.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 20:16-17. The ship was thus entirely at his disposal, probably one hired specially for this voyage.

παραπλ. τ. Ἔφεσον] he sailed past Eph.; for in the chief church of Asia, to which Paul stood in such intimate relation, and where he also would encounter his opponents (1 Corinthians 16:9), he would have been under the necessity of tarrying too long. In order to avoid such prolonged contact with friend and foe, because on account of the aim of his journey he might not now spend the time (χρονοτρ., comp. Aristot. Rhet. iii. 3; Plut. Mor. p. 225 B) in Asia, he arranged the interview with the presbyters, which was to subserve the longing of his parting love as well as the exigency of the threatening future, not at the very near Trogyllium, but at Miletus, distant about nine geographical miles from Ephesus.

εἰ δυνατ. ἦν αὐτῷ] if it should be possible for him. Direct form of expression (Kühner, § 846). Of another nature is the conception in Acts 27:39 : εἰ δύναιντο.

γένεσθαι] in the sense of coming, as in John 6:25; Luke 22:40, al. Comp. Acts 21:17, Acts 25:15.

πέμψας] as in Matthew 14:10, and in the classical writers. He caused them to be summoned to him by an embassy to Ephesus.Acts 20:16. ἔκρινε (see critical note) … παραπλεῦσαι τὴν Ἔ.: “to sail past Ephesus,” R.V., i.e., without stopping there. The words have sometimes been interpreted as if St. Paul had control over a ship which he had hired himself, and could stop where he pleased, so Alford, Hackett, Rendall. But if so, there seems no definite reason for his going to Miletus at all, as it would have been shorter for him to have stopped at Ephesus, or to have made his farewell address there. According to Ramsay the probabilities are that Paul experienced at Troas some delay in continuing his journey. In starting from Troas he had therefore to choose a vessel making no break in its voyage except at Miletus, or a vessel intending to stop at Ephesus, perhaps as its destination, perhaps with a previous delay elsewhere. He determined for the former by the shortness of the time, and his desire to reach Jerusalem. He may no doubt have been also influenced to some extent by the thought that it would be difficult to tear himself away from a Church which had so many claims upon him, and by the reflection that hostilities might be aroused against him and his progress further impeded (cf. McGiffert, p. 339, who thinks that the author’s reason for St. Paul’s desire not to visit Ephesus “is entirely satisfactory”).—χρονοτριβ.: nowhere else in N.T. or in LXX, but in Arist., Plut.—γένηται αὐτῷ, cf. Acts 11:26 for construction.—ἔσπευδε γὰρ: if the verb expresses as the imperfect intimates the whole character of the journey (Blass, Gram., p. 216), the repeated long delays at first sight seem inexplicable, but we know nothing definitely of the special circumstances which may have occasioned each delay, and we must not lose sight of the fact that the Apostle would have to guard against the constant uncertainty which would be always involved in a coasting voyage. Whether St. Paul reached Jerusalem in time we are not told. St. Chrysostom maintained that he did, see also Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 296, 297; McGiffert, p. 340 (on the other hand, Weiss, Renan, Felten). Mr. Turner, Chron. of N. T., p. 422, holds that the Apostle probably reached Jerusalem just in time, while Farrar sees in Acts 24:11 an intimation that he arrived on the very eve of the Feast. The Pentacostal Feast was the most crowded, most attended by foreigners, cf. Acts 2:1.16. For Paul, &c.] In the midst of a large Christian congregation, such as we know to have existed in Ephesus, there would have arisen many causes of delay which the Apostle in this rapid journey desired to avoid. Perhaps too there might have been some hostility roused against him, and either from a wish not to awaken this or from fear lest the allaying of it should consume time he resolved to send for the heads of the church to confer with him at Miletus.

because he would not spend the time in Asia] Better (with Rev. Ver.), that he might not have to spend time in Asia. He felt that he could not go to Ephesus and leave again in a day.

for he hasted] Better, was hastening. The verb expresses the whole character of his journey, and we can only conclude that there was some difficulty in finding a vessel at Troas, or he would not have stayed there so long as he did and not have given a day to Ephesus, which he felt he was hardly likely to see again.

if … Pentecost] Pentecost at Jerusalem must have been a high Christian as well as a Jewish festival. There would be at such a time an opportunity for the Apostle to meet the more prominent members of the Christian body, and, while bringing his contributions from the churches which he had founded, to gladden them with the news of what God had enabled him to do.Acts 20:16. Ἔκρινε) determined. For Ephesus was in the rear.—χρονοτριβῆσαι) Not even in Asia would Paul have wasted time without fruit: but he considered that he would have been nevertheless wasting time, if (though obtaining some fruit) he neglected thereby greater fruits.—τὴν ἡμέραν, the day) The Accusative of time.—Πεντηκοστῆς, of Pentecost) Time was urgent: Acts 20:6. At the feast there were great concourses of people; and therefore a great opportunity of winning souls.Verse 16. - Past for by, A.V.; that he might not have to for because he would not, A.V.; time for the time, A.V.; was hastening for hasted, A.V. To spend time; χρονοτριβῆσαι, found only here in the New Testament, but used by Aristotle and others. It has rather the sense of wasting time, spending it needlessly. The day of Pentecost. The time of year is rims very distinctly marked. Paul was at Philippi at the time of the Passover, and hoped to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. To spend time (χρονοτριβῆσαι)

Only here in New Testament. The word carries the suggestion of a waste of time, being compounded with τρίβω, to rub; to wear out by rubbing. The sense is nearly equivalent to our expression, fritter away time.

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