Acts 20:1
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples. After he had encouraged them, he said goodbye to them and left for Macedonia.
Apostolic Supervision of Church LifeR.A. Redford Acts 20:1-6
From Ephesus to TroasS. S. TimesActs 20:1-12
From Ephesus to TroasD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 20:1-12
From Ephesus to TroasJ. E. Ells, D. D.Acts 20:1-12
From Ephesus to TroasA. E. Dunning.Acts 20:1-12
Human Life: Lights and ShadowsW. Clarkson Acts 20:1-12
Reading Between the LinesJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 20:1-12
Scenes by the WayE. Johnson Acts 20:1-16

In these verses we are reminded of -

I. THE SCANTY RECORD OF HUMAN LIFE. We have six verses of this valuable chronicle given to the unimportant incident of the accident which befell Eutychus (vers. 7-12), and only three to Paul's visit to Macedonia and Greece. We do not understand why Luke should thus apportion his space, but the fact that he did so reminds us how often most interesting and instructive scenes, or even precious and influential periods, of our life are left unreported. We should have liked to read a full description, in copious detail, of the apostle's visit to the Churches of Macedonia, and especially of his interview with the Church at Corinth. But we are not gratified. Doubtless some of the most heroic deeds have been wrought in secret, and no tongue has told the story; doubtless some of the most saintly sufferings have been endured unseen by mortal eye, and no pen has described the scene.

"If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!" Let it be enough that one eye sees and one heart enters into our struggles and our sorrows, and that "our record is on high."

II. THE PRICELESSNESS OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. "After the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them" (ver. 1). After the storm was over, it was an intense relief to pour out their agitated hearts in mutual sympathy, congratulation, devotion. We know (2 Corinthians 2:13) that Paul found no rest in his spirit because he found not Titus his brother at Tress, and accordingly went on to Macedonia to seek him, and that he was greatly comforted by finding him there (2 Corinthians 7:6, 7). We read of the friends who "accompanied him into Asia" (ver. 4), and throughout we feel how precious beyond all reckoning was the sympathy and succor which came to the wearied and buffeted apostle from true human hearts. Loyal Christian fellowship is one of those beneficent gifts from God which we should count among our chief treasures, for which we should render heartiest thanksgiving; it is also one of those ways in which we can render invaluable service to faithful men, and thus an appreciated service to Christ, the Lord.

III. THE PENALTY OF UNFLINCHING FAITHFULNESS. When Paul was about to return to Syria, he found the enmity of his countrymen ready to waylay him. "The Jews laid wait for him" (ver. 3). He could not but speak as Christ, by his Spirit, taught him; and his preaching became more clear and distinct as to the non-necessity of the Law of Moses; his doctrine became less exclusive, more liberal, i.e. increasingly repugnant to the narrow-minded Jews; and the fierceness of their hostility found vent in plots against his life. Whoso will follow Christ in "bearing witness to the truth" must be ready to "take up his cross and follow him" along the path of the persecuted. To be quite true to our convictions, to be fearlessly faithful to the Lord who reveals to us his will, is to bear the penalty of the dislike, the hatred, the intrigues of men.

IV. THE OVERRULING PROVIDENCE OF GOD. His enemies schemed, but God thwarted their schemes; he "turned aside," and their murderous designs were defeated. Christ had more work for him to do, and the uplifted hand of the enemy must be arrested.

"Though destruction walk around us,
Though the arrows past us fly,
Angel-guards from thee surround us,
We are safe, if thou art nigh."

V. THE OVERFLOW OF SACRED ZEAL. Paul desired to use his opportunity at Troas, and "on the first day of the week" he preached, "ready to depart on the morrow" (ver. 7). In the" multitude of his thoughts within him," or conscious that he was soon to leave and feeling that he might never return to them, disregarding the lateness of the hour and the condition of the chamber, he still preached on. He "continued his speech until midnight." That which would be unwise as a rule is allowable as an exception. If "anger hath a privilege," much more so has zeal. We admire the man whose fullness of soul makes him oblivious of all attendant circumstances. It is well to have a capacity for devotedness which will sometimes lift us far above the level of ordinary moods, and make us forget everything but our subject and our cause, or rather everything but the truth of God and the cause and kingdom of Jesus Christ. - C.

And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for Macedonia.
There does not seem to be much in this section of the apostolic history. We must not, however, judge by appearances. Paul is still here, and wherever you find the great man you find the great worker. Paul does nothing like any other man. Look at —


1. Paul "embraces" the disciples — a word which hides in it the pathos of a farewell. Paul will often now say "Farewell." He is not quite the man he was. Sometimes he straightens himself up into the old dignity and force, and we say, "Surely he will last many a long year yet"; but, nevertheless, we see age creeping upon his face, and taking the youth out of his figure and mien.

2. Then he "departed to go into Macedonia." We like to go back to old places, to see that the old flag is still flying — yes, and to the green grave to see if it is still there. Paul will go back to Thessalonica, Berea, and Philippi. Who can tell what happened in those visits? At first, when we go to a place, there is nothing but that which is common to other places; but having worked there, when we return we talk over old themes, quote old sayings, and ask for old friends with a doubtful tone lest we should rip up old wounds and tear open the deepest graves of the heart. These are the things that make life sacred and precious.

3. Next Paul "came into Greece," and it is just possible looked in upon Athens once more. Certainly he went to Corinth, but Corinth was changed. The decree which made many exiles had been annulled, and Aquila and Priscilla were no longer there. The friends are the town; and if they are not there, we are mocked by masonry. There is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother; Aquila and Priscilla will leave the city, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, always at home.

4. Paul "abode" in Greece three months. The word "abode" misleads us. Paul cannot merely abide. But what is he doing? That we cannot always tell. Have confidence in faithful men. If you have only confidence in your friend so long as you can see every action, you have no confidence in him at all. What, then, has history shown that Paul was doing amidst all this commonplace movement? Within this period Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, and probably his great letter to the Galatians. There is a written ministry. It is beautiful to read what Luke has to say about Paul, but how infinitely better to read Paul's own words. We do not always want to hear about a man, we long to hear the man himself; one sight of him, and we understand much that can never be explained; one utterance of his voice, and we are able to fill up gaps that vexed us. What we would give for the writing of some men!

II. A PERIOD OF WAITING. Paul had written a letter to the Corinthians and wished to know its effect, and Titus was charged to hasten back to Troas with a report. Paul is now waiting at Troas. How did he wait? Read 2 Corinthians 2:12, 13. That is the same spirit we found at Athens; he soon fell into restlessness. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8. I thank God for those words and for that trouble. It brings Paul down amongst us. Read 2 Corinthians 12:7. See how Paul was being educated. Conclusion: Where is the commonplace now? The narrative is full of gaps, but when they are filled up by Paul's own records, we find that within a framework of sentences that merely indicate locomotion we have experiences of the most intensely spiritual nature. We cannot tell all we are doing. There is a public life that the neighbours can see and read and comment upon; but there is a within life, that fills up all the open lines and broken places, and only God sees that interior and solemn existence. You go amongst men as worldly; there may be those who "do not know how you spend half your time." They have no right to know. You will one day hand in your own account to the only Judge who has a right to overlook your life. Fill up your days well; do not ask human criticism to approve you; live ever in the great Taskmaster's eye.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

S. S. Times.
Note here, the apostle —

I. HELPING IN THE WAY (ver. 2; Acts 2:40; Colossians 1:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:1).

II. THREATENED IN THE WAY (ver. 3; Acts 9:23; Acts 23:11; 2 Corinthians 11:26; Acts 16:19).

III. ACCOMPANIED IN THE WAY (ver. 4; Acts 19:29; Acts 16:1; Ephesians 6:21; Acts 21:29).

IV. PROSPERED IN THE WAY (ver. 6; Acts 16:8; 2 Timothy 4:13). LESSONS:

1. Paul found time, in the course of his travels, for much exhortation to Christian service and encouragement to Christian work.

2. Paul was a great traveller, but he never planned his tours with the idea of amusing himself, or of improving his health, or of seeing the greatest possible number of interesting ruins.

3. Paul was a traveller, but the only one of his journeys that he talked a great deal about was of his coming to the Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Paul was a great preacher, and a proof of the fact is the fierce opposition he so frequently met from Jews and Gentiles. That fierceness is a measure of the work he was doing.

5. Paul was wise enough to change his plans, when persistence in them would have brought disaster. The wise Christian will always go by land through Macedonia if it would be incurring needless danger for him to go by sea to Syria.

(S. S. Times.)

These verses bring under notice —

I. THE FRAGMENTARY CHARACTER OF GOSPEL HISTORY. These few sentences extend over a period of nearly twelve months, during which what wonderful things have occurred, what privations endured, perils braved, discussions conducted, souls converted! We almost wish there had been journalists in those days to have chronicled all the items in Paul's wonderful life.

II. THE MYSTERY OF DIFFICULTIES IN CONNECTION WITH DUTY. Antecendently one might have thought that the Divine Father would have provided that a man like Paul should have no thorns in his path, no clouds in his sky. Herein is mystery, and we must patiently await the great explaining day.


1. In Paul's remaining at Ephesus until the "uproar" ceased. He did not abandon the vessel in the storm, but, like a brave captain, remained until it was secure in the haven.

2. In the spirit with which he withdrew — not with the fire of indignation. He calls the disciples together and "embraced them." No amount of trial could cause Paul to relinquish his blessed mission. "The love of Christ constraineth" him.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Among the many things to be learned from Paul's journeys, not the least are the intimations respecting the methods and usages of the apostolic Church. Look at the more prominent of these which appear in this narrative.

I. EVANGELISTIC WORK WAS PROSECUTED BY A NUMBER, WHO WERE ASSOCIATED FOR THE SERVICE (ver. 4). After Churches were organised, regular pastors were placed over them; but the preparatory work called for special effort, and in this a number were wisely enjoyed. Thus early was recognised the distinction between evangelists and pastors; and no doubt the Churches which became centres of Christian influence in Asia were the result of God's blessing, not alone on Paul's preaching, but also on the labours of the believers who with Paul carried the gospel unto the regions beyond.


1. Was the first day of the week (ver. 7). This mention of the day is significant because it is casual, and the inference is that they habitually assembled then; and the instance becomes authority when the great apostle gave his sanction to this transfer of holy time from the Sabbath to the Lord's Day. It is sometimes said that had God purposed such a change He would have distinctly commanded it. Yet an oft-repeated statement that the Church did observe the first in place of the seventh day may be taken as evidence that they were instructed so to do; and the sanction of the change by the inspired apostles, who had been in personal conference with the Lord, confirms and continues the usage. The argument is the same as that which establishes the unity of the Church, the substitution of baptism for circumcision, the membership of women in the Church, or any other accepted feature of the Christian dispensation which had become so universal and so undisputed that no doubt was suggested concerning it.

2. Was observed chiefly as a day of worship. A number of hours were spent in devotional exercises. There was no complaint because the meeting was protracted, nor did any present consult their watches to learn how much more than half an hour Paul was preaching. Notice of this has special value to us because of the disposition manifested to devote it largely to work rather than to worship. Other days may give opportunity for this, but the Lord's Day is appointed especially for that renewal of strength which is gained by those who wait on the Lord. Experience makes known the wisdom of the early Christians in this particular, and it is possible that the most constant work may make us feeble, that the most ardent zeal may become religious dissipation.

III. THE PURPOSE OF THE EUCHARIST. In the first place, the occasion was one —

1. Of high spiritual enjoyment. The visit of Paul must have awakened delight, and excited gratitude.

2. Of special Christian communion.

3. Of special stimulus and cheer. In these circumstances we find them celebrating the Eucharist; and for us it should be a time of spiritual joy, not of depression; of inspiring, whole-souled communion; of cheer and confidence which will make us certain of success.

IV. THE MANNER OF CONDUCTING PUBLIC WORSHIP. The assembly does not seem to have been governed by any special habits beyond those which would secure comfort and decorum. The room was probably in some private house. The preaching of Paul was not according to any prescribed standard, but was probably simple and expository and adapted to the audience. The necessity that he should care for Eutychus did not so much disturb the apostle's sense of propriety that he was unable to go on with his discourse, and it is likely that the incident added to the interest and practical character of his remarks. An upper room, an all-night service, the simplest observance of the Lord's Supper, the possible disturbances which would drive away all sanctity from some modern, more aesthetic Christian assemblies — all these were features of worship led by the most prominent of the apostles.

V. THE PREDOMINANCE OF THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT IN ALL THE CHURCHES (ver. 4). Here we have the secret of the success of the gospel in those days. Those who accepted it considered themselves as trustees of the blessed treasure for those who had it not. As soon as a Church was established, it assumed obligation respecting the outlying region, and thus other centres of evangelising power were formed. And so it should be today.

(J. E. Ells, D. D.)

Diligent service of Christ —

I. EXERTS WIDE AND VARIED INFLUENCES. Not all noble lives become famous, but any determined man, fully possessed by great truths, may move the world. No purpose was ever so sublimely conceived or more nobly realised than the one which Paul was carrying out by this journey. In accomplishing his task Paul —

1. Shrunk from no physical exertion. The Divine enthusiasm possessed his body as well as his soul.

2. Delivered his message constantly and confidently (ver. 2). He could not help it. Once, at least, he talked all night. To speak interestingly men must be filled with great themes. The most trying talkers about religion are those whose thoughts cling mainly about their own experiences.

3. Studied as faithfully as he preached, Men who make progress in teaching must grow in knowledge. No books give evidence of more close and masterful mental toil than the letters written during this tour (2 Corinthians, Romans, Galatians). It is a common mistake to suppose that scholarship is confined to the seclusion of the study. Preaching and teaching and a wide acquaintance with men are as essential as the study of books in attaining the scholarship which leads to a clear and profound comprehension of Divine truths.


1. Systematic giving. It is comparatively easy now to raise money to carry the gospel to the heathen. But we find Paul exciting the practical interest of the new Churches on missionary ground in the needs of the Christians in the home field . He sent forth the choicest men, such as Titus and Timothy, to be collecting agents; and, so far from regarding them as beggars, he called them "the glory of Christ." He sought by this to bring about unity between bodies of Christians separated by distance, race, language, and prejudice.

2. Christian love (ver. 7). Through the love of one man, begetting love in all the rest, the Churches of Achaia, Thessaly and Judaea joined as one Church in acts of mutual affection in efforts to spread the gospel through the world.

III. ESTABLISHES PERMANENT INSTITUTIONS. Wherever Paul journeyed he established Churches. Then he revisited and strengthened them. He also encouraged the institutions which would give the Churches permanence. He observed the Lord's Supper, and taught by example the observance of the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath.

IV. FORMS AND CONFIRMS ITS OWN CHARACTER IN LIKENESS TO CHRIST. Paul was ripening himself as he was building up the Churches.

(A. E. Dunning.)

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