Acts 20
Vincent's Word Studies
And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.
Embraced (ἀσπασάμενος)

Better, as Rev., took leave. The word is used for a salutation either at meeting or parting. See Acts 21:6, Acts 21:7.

And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,

The Roman province of Achaia, comprehending Greece proper and the Peloponnesus. Luke uses Achaia (Acts 19:21) and Greece synonymously, as distinguished from Macedonia.

And 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.
Sail (ἀνάγεσθαι)

Better, as Rev., set sail. See on Luke 8:22; and compare Luke 5:3.

And 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.

The best texts add, the son of Pyrrhus. Compare Romans 16:21.


Compare Acts 19:29.


Not the one mentioned in Acts 19:29, who was a Macedonian.

Tychicus and Trophimus

See Colossians 4:7, Colossians 4:8; Ephesians 6:21, Ephesians 6:22; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12; Acts 21:29; 2 Timothy 4:20.

These going before tarried for us at Troas.

The first person resumed, indicating that Luke had joined Paul.

And 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.
In five days (ἄχρις ἡμερῶν πέντε)

Lit., "up to five days," indicating the duration of the voyage from Philippi.

And 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.
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.

And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.
Many lights

A detail showing the vivid impression of the scene upon an eye-witness. It has been remarked that the abundance of lights shows how little of secrecy or disorder attached to these meetings.

The upper chamber

See on Acts 1:13.

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.
The window

See on Acts 9:25. The windows of an Eastern house are closed with lattice-work, and usually reach down to the floor, resembling a door rather than a window. They open, for the most part, to the court, and not to the street, and are usually kept open on account of the heat.

Fallen into a deep sleep (καταφερόμενος ὕπνῳ βαθεῖ)

Lit., borne down by, etc. A common Greek phrase for being overcome by sleep. In medical language the verb was more frequently used in this sense, absolutely, than with the addition of sleep. In this verse the word is used twice: in the first instance, in the present participle, denoting the coming on of drowsiness - falling asleep; and the second time, in the aorist participle, denoting his being completely overpowered by sleep. Mr. Hobart thinks that the mention of the causes of Eutychus' drowsiness - the heat and smell arising from the numerous lamps, the length of the discourse, and the lateness of the hour - are characteristic of a physician's narrative. Compare Luke 22:45.

Dead (νεκρός)

Actually dead. Not as dead, or for dead.

And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
Fell on him

Compare 1 Kings 17:21; 2 Kings 4:34.

Trouble not yourselves (μὴ θορυβεῖσθε)

Rev., more correctly, make ye no ado. They were beginning to utter passionate outcries. See Matthew 9:23; Mark 5:39.

His life is in him

In the same sense in which Christ said, "The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth" (Luke 8:52).

When 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.
Having gone up

From the court to the chamber above.

Talked (ὁμιλήσας)

Rather, communed. It denotes a more familiar and confidential intercourse than discoursed, in Acts 20:7.

And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
And 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.
To go afoot (πεζεύειν)

Only here in New Testament. There is no good reason for changing this to by land, as Rev. The A. V. preserves the etymology of the Greek verb. The distance was twenty miles; less than half the distance by sea.

And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.
And 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.
Arrived (παρεβάλομεν)

Only here and Mark 4:30, where it is used more nearly according to its original sense, to throw beside; to bring one thing beside another in comparison. Here, of bringing the vessel alongside the island. The narrative implies that they only touched (Rev.) there, but not necessarily the word.

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.
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.

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
Having sent to Ephesus

About thirty miles.


Called overseers or bishops in Acts 20:28.

And 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,
Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
Kept back (ὑπεστειλάμην)

A picturesque word. Originally, to draw in or contract. Used of furling sails, and of closing the fingers; of drawing back for shelter; of keeping back one's real thoughts; by physicians, of withholding food from patients. It is rather straining a point to say, as Canon Farrar, that Paul is using a nautical metaphor suggested by his constantly hearing the word for furling sail used during his voyage. Paul's metaphors lie mainly on the lines of military life, architecture, agriculture, and the Grecian games. The statement of Canon Farrar, that he "constantly draws his metaphors from the sights and circumstances immediately around him," is rather at variance with his remark that, with one exception, he "cannot find a single word which shows that Paul had even the smallest susceptibility for the works of nature" ("Paul," i., 19). Nautical metaphors are, to say the least, not common in Paul's writings. I believe there are but three instances: Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 6:9. Paul means here that he suppressed nothing of the truth through fear of giving offence. Compare Galatians 2:12; Hebrews 10:38.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Repentance toward God

Repentance has the article: the repentance which is due to God. So, also, faith: the faith which is due toward Christ, as the advocate and mediator.

And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
Bound in the spirit

In his own spirit. Constrained by an invincible sense of duty. Not by the Holy Spirit, which is mentioned in the next verse and distinguished by the epithet the Holy.

Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
Testifieth (διαμαρτύρεται)

The compound verb signifies full, clear testimony. Not by internal intimations of the Spirit, but by prophetic declarations "in every city." Two of these are mentioned subsequently, at Tyre and Caesarea (Acts 21:4, Acts 21:11).

But 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.
But none of these things move me, neither count I, etc

The best texts omit neither count I, and render, I esteem my life of no account, as if it were precious to myself.

Dear (τιμίαν)

Of value; precious.

Course (δρόμον)

A favorite metaphor of Paul, from the race-course. See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:7.

And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

The I is emphatic: I know through these special revelations to myself (Acts 20:23).

Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.
This day (τῇ σήμερον ἡμέρᾳ)

Very forcible. Lit., on to-day's day; this, our parting day.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

The same word as in Acts 20:20 : kept back.

Take 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.
To yourselves and to all the flock

To yourselves first, that you may duly care for the flock. Compare 1 Timothy 4:16.

Overseers (ἐπισκόπους)

Denoting the official function of the elders, but not in the later ecclesiastical sense of bishops, as implying an order distinct from presbyters or elders. The two terms are synonymous. The elders, by virtue of their office, were overseers.

To feed (ποιμαίνειν)

See on Matthew 2:6. The word embraces more than feeding; signifying all that is included in the office of a shepherd: tending, or shepherding.

Purchased (περιεποιήσατο)

Only here and 1 Timothy 3:13. See on peculiar people, 1 Peter 2:9. The verb means, originally, to make (ποιέω) to remain over and above (περί): hence to keep or save for one's self; to compass or acquire.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Grievous (βαρεῖς)

Lit., heavy: violent, rapacious.

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Watch (γρηγορεῖτε)

See on Mark 13:35.

To warn (νουθετῶν)

From νοῦς, the mind, and τίθημι, to put. Lit., to put in mind; admonish (so Rev., better than warn). "Its fundamental idea is the well-intentioned seriousness with which one would influence the mind and disposition of another by advice, admonition, warning, putting right, according to circumstances" (Cremer).

And 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.

See on 1 Peter 4:19.

Build you up

A metaphor in constant use by Paul, and preserved in the words edify, edification (Latin, aedes, "a house," and facere, "to make") by which οἰκοδομέω and its kindred words are frequently rendered. In old English the word edify was used in its original sense of build. Thus Wycliffe renders Genesis 2:22, "The Lord God edified the rib which he took of Adam, into a woman."

So, too, Spenser:

"a little wide

There was a holy temple edified."

Faerie Queene, i., 1, 114.

I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.

Mentioned along with gold and silver because it formed a large part of the wealth of orientals. They traded in costly garments, or kept them stored up for future use. See on purple, Luke 16:19; and compare Ezra 2:69; Nehemiah 7:70; Job 27:16. This fact accounts for the allusions to the destructive power of the moth (Matthew 6:19; James 5:2).

Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
I 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.
I have shewed you all things (πάντα ὑπέδειξα ὑμῖν)

The verb means to shew by example. Thus, Luke 6:47, "I will shew you to whom he is like," is followed by the illustration of the man who built upon the rock. So Acts 9:16. God will shew Paul by practical experience how great things he must suffer. The kindred noun ὑπόδειγμα is always rendered example or pattern. See John 13:15; James 5:10, etc.; and note on 2 Peter 2:6. Rev., correctly, In all things I gave you an example.


As I have done.

To help (ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι)

See on Luke 1:54.

He said (αὐτὸς εἶπε)

Rev., more strictly, "he himself said." This saying of Jesus is not recorded by the Evangelists, and was received by Paul from oral tradition.

The speech of Paul to the Ephesian elders "bears impressed on it the mark of Paul's mind: its ideas, its idioms, and even its very words are Pauline; so much so as to lead Alford to observe that we have probably the literal report of the words spoken by Paul. 'It is,' he remarks, 'a treasure-house of words, idioms, and sentences peculiar to the apostle himself'" (Gloag).

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
Kissed (κατεφίλουν)

See on Matthew 26:49.

Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
See (θεωρεῖν)

See on Luke 10:18. The word for steadfast, earnest contemplation suggests the interest and affection with which they looked upon his countenance for the last time.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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