Acts 20:7
And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Upon the first day of the week . . .—This and the counsel given in 1Corinthians 16:2, are distinct proofs that the Church had already begun to observe the weekly festival of the Resurrection in place of, or, where the disciples were Jews, in addition to, the weekly Sabbath. It lies in the nature of the case that those who were slaves, or freed-men still in service, under heathen masters could not transfer to it the rigid abstinence from labour which characterised the Jewish Sabbath. And on this day they met together, obviously in the evening after sunset, to “break bread.” On the half- technical significance of that phrase, as applied specially to the Lord’s Supper, the Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, see Notes on Acts 2:46, and 1Corinthians 10:16. Two further questions, however, present themselves—(1) On what evening was the meeting held? (2) How far was a meal such as was known as the Agapè, or Feast of Charity, united with the Lord’s Supper? In answer to (1), it seems probable that in churches which were so largely organised on the framework of the Jewish synagogue, and contained so many Jews and proselytes who had been familiar with its usages, the Jewish mode of reckoning would still be kept, and that, as the Sabbath ended at sunset, the first day of the week would begin at sunset on what was then or soon afterwards known as Saturday. In this case, the meeting of which we read would be held on what we should call the Saturday evening, and the feast would present some analogies to the prevalent Jewish custom of eating bread and drinking wine at that time in honour of the departed Sabbath (Jost, Gesch. Judenthums, i. 180). (2) Looking to St. Paul’s directions in 1Corinthians 11:33-34, it is probable that the hour of the “breaking bread” became gradually later, so as to allow those who would otherwise have been hungry to take their evening meal at home before they came. The natural result of this arrangement was, as in the instance now before us, to throw the Eucharistic rite forward to midnight, or even later; and, as this was obviously likely to cause both inconvenience and scandal, the next step was to separate it entirely from the Agapè, and to celebrate the purely symbolic feast very early in the morning of the first day of the week, while the actual meal came later in the evening of the same day. That this was so in the regions of Troas and Asia we see from Pliny’s letter to Trajan (Epp. x. 96), in which he describes the Christians as meeting on “a fixed day,” for what he calls a sacramentum at break of day, and again in the evening to partake of a simple and innocent repast. At Troas we have the connecting-link between the evening communion of the Church of Corinth, and the morning celebration which has been for many centuries the universal practice of the Church.

Paul preached unto them.—The fact has a liturgical interest as showing that then, as in the more developed services of the second and third centuries, the sermon, and the lessons from Scripture which it implied, preceded what we now know as the Celebration.

Ready to depart on the morrow.—It may perhaps seem to some strange, taking the view maintained in the previous Note, that the Apostle and his companions should thus purpose to travel on a day to which we have transferred so many of the restrictions of the Jewish Sabbath. But it must be remembered (1) that there is no evidence that St. Paul thought of them as so transferred, but rather the contrary (Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16); and (2) that the ship in which his friends had taken their passage was not likely to alter its day of starting to meet their scruples, even had those scruples existed.

Acts 20:7-10. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples — As was usual with them on that day; came together — From different parts; to break bread — That is, to celebrate the Lord’s supper. It is well known the primitive Christians administered the eucharist every Lord’s day, and as that was the most solemn and appropriate, as well as the concluding act of their worship, it is no wonder that it should be mentioned as the end of their assembling. Paul preached unto them — With great fervency, being now to take his leave of them, and depart on the morrow — And his heart was so enlarged in love to his hearers, and concern for their salvation, that he continued his speech until midnight — Through uncommon fervour of spirit. And there were many lights — Or lamps; in the upper chamber where they were assembled — For, whatever the malice of their enemies might insinuate, the Christians held not their assemblies in darkness, but took all prudent precautions to avoid every circumstance that might incur censure, or even suspicion. And there sat in a window — Kept open to prevent heat, both from the lamps and the number of people; a young man, named Eutychus, who, having fallen into a deep sleep, as Paul was long preaching, fell down from the third loft — And no wonder, if, like the eastern windows, described by Chardin, this was very large, and even with the floor; and was taken up dead — Really and properly so; and (the whole assembly, doubtless, being thrown into disorder) Paul — Breaking off his discourse; went down and fell on him — It is observable, our Lord never used this gesture, but Elijah and Elisha did, as well as Paul; and embracing high — In his arms; said, Trouble not yourselves — Be not in any disorder about it; for his life is in him — He is come to life again. Paul, doubtless, restored him to life by a miracle. When he therefore was come up again — Into the chamber where the assembly met; (for, having composed and quieted their minds, he returned to his work;) and had broken bread — And conversed a considerable time; even till break of day, he departed — From Troas, without taking any rest at all. And they brought the young man alive — And well into the room; and were not a little comforted — At so happy an event; and the rather, as they might apprehend that some reproach would have been occasioned by his death, if he had not been so recovered, because it happened in a Christian assembly, which had been protracted so long beyond the usual bounds of time, on this extraordinary occasion. But, alas! how many of those that have allowed themselves to sleep under sermons, or, as it were, to dream awake, have perished for ever, with the neglected sound of the gospel in their ears; have slept the sleep of eternal death, and are fallen to rise no more!20:7-12 Though the disciples read, and meditated, and prayed, and sung apart, and thereby kept up communion with God, yet they came together to worship God, and so kept up their communion with one another. They came together on the first day of the week, the Lord's day. It is to be religiously observed by all disciples of Christ. In the breaking of the bread, not only the breaking of Christ's body for us, to be a sacrifice for our sins, is remembered, but the breaking of Christ's body to us, to be food and a feast for our souls, is signified. In the early times it was the custom to receive the Lord's supper every Lord's day, thus celebrating the memorial of Christ's death. In this assembly Paul preached. The preaching of the gospel ought to go with the sacraments. They were willing to hear, he saw they were so, and continued his speech till midnight. Sleeping when hearing the word, is an evil thing, a sign of low esteem of the word of God. We must do what we can to prevent being sleepy; not put ourselves to sleep, but get our hearts affected with the word we hear, so as to drive sleep far away. Infirmity requires tenderness; but contempt requires severity. It interrupted the apostle's preaching; but was made to confirm his preaching. Eutychus was brought to life again. And as they knew not when they should have Paul's company again, they made the best use of it they could, and reckoned a night's sleep well lost for that purpose. How seldom are hours of repose broken for the purposes of devotion! but how often for mere amusement or sinful revelry! So hard is it for spiritual life to thrive in the heart of man! so naturally do carnal practices flourish there!And upon the first day of the week - Showing thus that this day was then observed by Christians as holy time. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10.

To break bread - Evidently to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Compare Acts 2:46. So the Syriac understands it, by translating it, "to break the eucharist"; that is, the eucharistic bread. It is probable that the apostles and early Christians celebrated the Lord's Supper on every Lord's day.

And continued his speech until midnight - The discourse of Paul continued until the breaking of day, Acts 20:11. But it was interrupted about midnight by the accident that occurred to Eutychus. The fact that Paul was about to leave them on the next day, probably to see them no more, was the principal reason why his discourse was so long continued. We are not to suppose, however, that it was one continued or set discourse. No small part of the time might have been passed in hearing and answering questions, though Paul was the chief speaker. The case proves that such seasons of extraordinary devotion may, in special circumstances, be proper. Occasions may arise where it will be proper for Christians to spend a much longer time than usual in public worship. It is evident, however, that such seasons do not often occur.

7. upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together—This, compared with 1Co 16:2, and other similar allusions, plainly indicates that the Christian observance of the day afterwards distinctly called "the Lord's Day," was already a fixed practice of the churches.

Paul preached—discoursed. The tense implies continued action—"kept discoursing."

The first day of the week; this was the day which the Lord had made, it being called from his resurrection, which was on this day, the Lord’s day, Revelation 1:10. On this day the disciples met, and Christ honoured them with his presence, John 20:19,26. And when he was ascended, this day was appointed for the Christians to meet in, 1 Corinthians 16:2; which must necessarily infer the abrogation of the Saturday, or Jewish sabbath: for it being part of the command, Six days shalt thou labour, they could not in ordinary have rested the last day of the week and the first day too, without sinning against the law of God.

To break bread; to take a meal in common together, which they called agapae, or the love feast, so great a harmony and natural love was manifested in it; which was concluded with celebrating the Lord’s supper; and this is chiefly, if not only, intended in this place. The love feasts being abused, were soon laid aside; but the other must continue until the Lord come, 1 Corinthians 11:26.

Continued his speech until midnight; a long sermon indeed, at least it would be now thought so; and yet we must have the same spirit, or we are not members of that catholic church. And upon the first day of the week,.... Or Lord's day, Revelation 1:10 and which Justin Martyr calls Sunday; on which day, he says (i), all, both in city and country, met in one place for religious worship; and on this day, it appears from hence, and from other places, that the apostles and primitive churches did meet together for religious exercises; see John 20:19 and so they did at Troas at this time, as follows:

when the disciples came together to break bread; not to eat a common meal, or to make a feast, or grand entertainment for the apostle and his company, before they departed; but, as the Syriac version renders it, "to break the eucharist", by which the Lord's supper was called in the primitive times; or as the Arabic version, "to distribute the body of Christ", which is symbolically and emblematically held forth in the bread at the Lord's table. Now on the first day of the week, the disciples, or the members of the church at Troas, met together on this occasion, and the apostle, and those that were with him, assembled with them for the same purpose; the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions read, "when we were come together"; Paul and his company, together with the church at Troas; for it is plain from hence that there was a church in this place, not only by disciples being here, but by the administration of the Lord's supper to them; and so there was in after ages. Who was the first pastor or bishop of this church, is not certain; perhaps Carpus, of whom mention is made in 2 Timothy 4:13 though he is said to be bishop of other places; See Gill on 2 Timothy 4:13. In the "second" century, in the times of Ignatius, there were brethren at Troas, from whence he wrote his epistles to the churches at Smyrna, and Philadelphia, and who are saluted in them by the brethren at Troas (k): in the third century, several martyrs suffered here, as Andreas, Paulus, Nicomachus, and Dionysia a virgin: in the "fifth" century, Pionius, bishop of Troas, was present at Constantinople at the condemnation of Eutyches, and afterwards he was in the council at Chalcedon; and even in the "eighth" century mention is made of Eustathius, bishop of Troas, in the Nicene council (l).

Paul preached unto them; to the disciples that were gathered together, either before, or after, or at the time of breaking of bread; for this ordinance was not administered without some instructions about the nature, use, and design of it.

Ready to depart on the morrow; this seems to be mentioned as a reason for what follows,

continued his speech until midnight: since he was about to take his leave of them, and not knowing when he should see them again, or whether ever any more, he delivered a long discourse to them; which not only shows that he was full of matter, but that his affection for these saints, and his desire of doing them good, were very great, by imparting as much spiritual light and knowledge as he could unto them; and also his great zeal for the glory of God, and the interest of Christ, though he was to set forth on a journey the next morning.

(i) Apolog. 2. p. 98. (k) Ignatii Epist. p. 9. 46. Ed. Voss. (l) Magdeburg. Hist. Eccles. cent. 3. c. 3. p. 11. cent. 5. c. 10. p. 603. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 4.

{3} And upon the {b} 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.

(3) Assemblies in the night-time cannot be justly condemned, neither should they be, when the cause is good.

(b) Literally, the first day of the Sabbath, that is, upon the Lord's day: so that by this place, and by 1Co 16:2 we properly understand that in those days the Christians habitually assembled themselves solemnly together upon that day.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 20:7. But on the first (see on Matthew 28:1; 1 Corinthians 16:2) day of the week. That the Sunday was already at this time regularly observed by holding religious assemblies and Agapae (κλάσαι ἄρτον; see on Acts 2:42), cannot, indeed, be made good with historical certainty, since possibly the observance of the Agapae in our passage might only accidentally occur on the first day of the week (because Paul intended to depart on the following day), and since even 1 Corinthians 16:2, Revelation 1:10, do not necessarily distinguish this day as set apart for religious services. But most probably the observance of Sunday is based on an apostolic arrangement—yet one certainly brought about only gradually and in the spirit of Christian freedom[109]—the need of which manifested itself naturally (importance of the resurrection of Jesus and of the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost) and indeed necessarily, in the first instance, when the gospel came to be diffused among the Gentiles who had no Sabbath festival; and the assumption of which is indispensable for the explanation of the early universal observance of that day (τῇ τοῦ ἡλίου, ΛΕΓΟΜΈΝῌ ἩΜΈΡᾼ ΠΆΝΤΩΝ ΚΑΤᾺ ΠΌΛΕΙς Ἢ ἈΓΡΟῪς ΜΕΝΌΝΤΩΝ ἘΠῚ ΤῸ ΑὐΤῸ ΣΥΝΈΛΕΥΣΙς ΓΊΝΕΤΑΙ, Justin, Apol. I. 67; comp. c. Tryph. p. 34; Ignat. ad Magnes. 9; Barnab. 15), although for a long time the observance of the Sabbath along with it was not given up by the Jewish Christians and even by others (Constitt. ap. ii. 59. 2, vii. 23. 2, can. 66; Orig. Hom. 28; Eus. iii. 27),—a circumstance which was doubtless connected with the antignostic interest. Rightly, therefore, is the μία τῶν σαββ. in our passage regarded as a day of special observance. See on the whole subject, Augusti, Denkw. III. p. 345 ff.; Schöne, über die kirchl. Gebräuche, I. p. 335 ff.; Neander, apost. K. I. p. 198; Ewald, p. 164 ff.; Harnack, christl. Gemeindegottesd. p. 115 ff. The observance of Sunday was not universally introduced by law until A.D. 321 by Constantine. See Gieseler, K. G. I. l, p. 274, ed. 4.

αὐτοῖς] to the assembled. Luke changes his standpoint (previously ἩΜῶΝ), as the discourse was held with the Christians of that place.

μέχρι-g0- μεσον-g0-.] On Sunday (not Saturday) evening they had assembled for the love-feast. On τείνειν and its compounds, used of long speaking, see Heind. ad Plat. Gorg. p. 465 D; Pflugk, ad Eur. Med. 1351.

[109] See Neander in the Deutsch. Zeitschr. 1850, p. 203 ff.Acts 20:7. τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σ., “on the first day of the week,” μιᾷ being used, the cardinal for the ordinal πρῶτος, like Hebrew אֶחָד, in enumerating the days of the month, see Plummer’s note on Luke 24:1; cf. Luke 18:12 (so Blass). We must remember that 1 Cor. had been previously written, and that the reference in 1 Corinthians 16:2 to “the first day of the week” for the collection of alms naturally connects itself with the statement here in proof that this day had been marked out by the Christian Church as a special day for public worship, and for “the breaking of the bread”. On the significance of this selection of the “first day,” see Milligan, Resurrection, pp. 67–69; Maclear, Evidential Value of the Lord’s Day, “Present Day Tracts” 54; and for other references, Witness of the Epistles, pp. 368, 369; Wendt (1899), p. 326.—μέλλων: Burton, Moods and Tenses, p. 71.—παρέτεινε, see μῦθον, Arist., Poet., xvii., 5, λόγους, and Acts 9:4, μῦθον.—μεσονυκτίου, cf. Acts 16:25.7–12. Paul preaches at Troas. Eutychus is restored to life

7. And upon the first day of the week] Which had now, in memory of the Resurrection, begun to be observed as a holy day by Christians. In an Epistle written before this visit to Troas (1 Corinthians 16:2) the day is appointed by St Paul as the special time when the Christian alms should be laid aside.

when the disciples came together to break bread] The oldest authorities give (and the Rev. Ver. represents) “when we were gathered together,” &c. We can see how the alteration has been introduced by some one who felt the awkwardness of the following “them.” Wherever a congregation was organized the natural service of the Christian worshippers was the communion of the body and blood of Christ.

Paul preached unto them] Except here and in Acts 20:9 the verb is nowhere else rendered “preach.” Better, “discoursed with them.” The meeting was one where reasoning and conversation were used to solve doubts and clear away difficulties which might be in the minds of the Christians at Troas. For we can perceive that there was a Church established here. Indeed wherever St Paul came he was enabled to leave that mark of his visit behind him. It is true the meeting was only still in an upper chamber, but the “many lights” shews that it was not a mere gathering of one or two with the Apostle and his friends, but a settled Christian congregation.

ready [intending] to depart on the morrow] They had met first for an evening service, but the consolation of Christian intercourse and the additional zeal infused into the church by the Apostle’s visit caused the irregular conversational meeting to be protracted beyond the intended time.

and continued his speech until midnight] The “prolonged” of the Rev. Ver. is no improvement. It rather gives the impression that the Apostle had worn out all his hearers.Acts 20:7. Συνηγμένων ἡμῶν, when we were met together) as already at that time they were wont, on the Lord’s day. Therefore it is probable that by the breaking of bread is denoted here a feast of the disciples conjoined with the Eucharist, especially since it was so solemn a taking of leave.—διελέγετο, preached to them) Spiritual teachers ought not to be too strictly tied down to a given time (ad clepsydram), especially on a solemn and rare occasion.Verse 7. - We were gathered for the disciples came, A.V. and T.R.; discoursed with for preached unto, A.V.; intending for ready, A.V.; prolonged for continued, A.V. The first day of the week. This is an important evidence of the keeping of the Lord's day by the Church as a day for their Church assemblies (see Luke 24:1, 30, 35; John 20:19, 26; 1 Corinthians 16:2). To break bread. This is also an important example of weekly communion as the practice of the first Christians. Comparing the phrase, "to break bread," with St. Luke's account of the institution of the Holy Eucharist (Luke 22:19) and the passages just quoted in Luke 24, and St. Paul's language (1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 11:24), it is impossible not to conclude that the breaking of bread in the celebration of the Lord's Supper is an essential part of the holy sacrament, which man may not for any specious reasons omit. Further, this passage seems to indicate that evening Communion, after the example of the first Lord's Supper, was at this time the practice of the Church. It was preceded (see ver. 11) by the preaching of the Word. The following description, given by Justin Martyr, in his second Apology to Antoninus Plus (or Marcus Aurelius), of the Church assemblies in his day, not a hundred years after this time, is in exact agreement with it: - "On the day which is called Sunday, all (Christians) who dwell either in town or country come together to one place. The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read for a certain time, and then the president of the meeting, when the reader has stopped, makes a discourse, in which he instructs and exhorts the people to the imitation of the good deeds of which they have just heard. We then all rise up together, and address prayers (to God); and, when our prayers are ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president, to the best of his ability, offers up both prayers and thanksgivings, and the people assent, saving 'Amen.' And then the distribution of the bread and wine, over which the thanksgivings have been offered, is made to all present, and all partake of it." He adds that the elements are carried to the absent by the deacons, and that collections are made for poor widows, and orphans, and sick, and prisoners. Discoursed (διελέγετο); Acts 17:17, note. Prolonged (παρέτεινε). The word is found only here in the New Testament, but is of frequent use in medical writers. First (τῇ μιᾷ)

Lit., "the one day." The cardinal numeral here used for the ordinal.

Week (σαββάτων)

The plural used for the singular, in imitation of the Hebrew form. The noun Sabbath is often used after numerals in the signification of a week. See Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; John 20:19.

To break bread

The celebration of the eucharist, coupled with the Agape, or love-feast.

Preached (διελέγετο)

Better, as Rev., discoursed with them. It was a mingling of preaching and conference. Our word dialogue is derived from the verb.

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