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Acts Chapter 20
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
Ephesus is Paul's final church plant. He had in mind to revisit northern and southern Greece (Macedonia and Achaia) and then go on to Jerusalem and Rome. (Acts 19:21) This he eventually did, but under far different circumstances than he had dreamed about. First, he leaves Ephesus, reaches Troas and moves on to Greece.
1) After the commotion died down, Paul sent for the [Ephesian] disciples and encouraged them before he left, [heading west] for Macedonia. The commotion died down at the amphitheater in Ephesus.
- Paul sent for the disciples because he was staying out of sight.
2) And when he had traveled through those districts and had delivered many messages of encouragement, he went on [south] into Greece, Encouragement is a Divine part of the assembly time. Those leaders that skip it are not following the Scriptures.
- Paul may have visited Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.
- 2 Corinthians was written at this time.
- Greece here is generally believed to describe Corinth.
3) where he spent three months. Then, just as he was about to set sail for Syria, Paul discovered that a plot was being laid against him by the Jews, so he decided to return through Macedonia. The plan evidently was to return to Antioch of Syria, his "sending" church.
- Plots were a part of Paul's life. Luke has reported at least one before (Acts 9:24) and will report yet others. Paul lists these plots along with other opposition in 2 Cor. 11:26.
- The plan was probably to throw Paul overboard at sea, so he traveled by land to avoid trouble.
4) The following men accompanied Paul as far as [the province of] Asia [where Troas was located]: Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus, of Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus of Thessalonica; Gaius of Derbe; Timothy, Tychicus and Trophimus from [the province of] Asia, [seven in all]. While there are some differences among translations, it appears the group accompanied Paul to Philippi, then took a ship for Troas before Paul, Luke and Titus embarked for the same port. See the discussion below the text on this page.
- Trophimus was from Ephesus. A Gentile, his presence sparked trouble at Jerusalem. Acts 21:29.
5) These [men] had gone ahead and were waiting for us [when we arrived] in Troas [i.e., a seaport town across the Aegean Sea from Philippi]. [Note: The use of "us" begins here again, suggesting that the writer Luke rejoins the party at Philippi. See next verse ]. Luke is rejoining the traveling team. Note the "us." Luke has lived at Philippi for five or six years and is now ready to travel with Paul again. This he does, all the way to Rome. His notes and experiences enable Acts to be completed with eyewitness detail.
6) And we [ourselves] sailed away from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread [ Note: This was the Jewish feast commemorating deliverance from Egyptian bondage ], and five days later [we] joined them at Troas [i.e., the seven men mentioned in verses 4 and 5], where we remained for seven days. Since the Festival of Unleavened Bread is Luke's comment and he is a Gentile, it is probably only mentioned to denote the time of the year. It is reading into the text to claim that the church or its leaders made a special occasion of the event.
- The group must have arrived on Monday and had to wait for the church to meet on the following Sunday. By calculating the trip in reverse, we conclude that Paul and his company had embarked from Philippi (Neapolis) on Thursday.
  Before dismissing these verses, we must note some uncertainties for the reader. Did the group of seven men travel by ship from Corinth (Cenchrea was the port) directly to Troas or go overland with Paul to Philippi?

The land route through Philippi was in the range of 300 miles and would require about 12 days if they walked. Aristarchus and Secundus would have traveled through their hometown. If Paul were traveling with gold or silver for the Jerusalem church, there would be greater protection if the group were present.

On the other hand, if the seven men traveled by ship directly to Troas, they would have had to wait more than two weeks for Paul and Luke even if the two left promptly from Philippi. Verse six shows they did not leave immediately. It seems unlikely to this writer that seven men would be willing to wait so long in Troas without word from the head of the team.

While Luke gives us a simple travelog, reading in 2 Corinthians will give us Paul's feelings during this time. See J. W. McGarvey on Acts 20:1-6.
7) And on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday], when we [disciples] had gathered together to break bread ---[i.e., the Lord's Supper. See I Cor. 11:20-24], Paul delivered a message that lasted until midnight, [since] he was planning to leave [Troas] the next day. This is the first direct statement saying the church met on the first day of the week. See the discussion following verse 12.
- A primary purpose of the gathering was to break bread.
- Time was calculated our way - from midnight to midnight. Luke was living in a Roman world, writing to a Greek official and there is no reason to believe they used the Jewish system of calculating a day from sunset to sunset.
- Was this an all day service? Since Sunday was an ordinary workday, it was probably an evening meeting.
- It was Paul's last presentation here. Vs. 38.
8) Now there were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. These are plainly the words of an eyewitness. Compare the detail here to the brevity of verses 2 and 3.
9) A certain young man, named Eutychus, fell sound asleep while sitting on an [open] window ledge [during the message]. Since Paul's message continued [until nearly midnight] Eutychus was overcome by sleep and fell from the third floor to his death. The room may have had some smoke from the lamps, or the oxygen level may have been affected by the burning lamps and the breathing people and the room may have been quite warm. Whatever contributed to it, Eutychus was overcome and fell asleep.
- He fell at least 20 feet, allowing eight feet per floor and four feet to the sill of the window.
- Luke could verify death as a doctor.
10) Paul hurried downstairs and placed himself on the young man and held him closely, saying [to the people gathered around], "Do not be upset, he is alive." Paul took charge and restored Eutychus to life clearly a miracle.
11) After that Paul went upstairs, broke bread and ate [a common meal]. [Following the meal] Paul talked with them for a long time, even until it got daylight, and then he left. Paul ate. This language is not used of the Lord's Supper in Scripture. This was the common meal.
- Following the meal, Paul entered into a question and answer time until dawn and time for the 10 men to get on the ship.
12) [In the meantime] they brought the young fellow [back upstairs] alive, and were greatly comforted. The young man had stayed. The people were comforted by the confirming nature of the miracle as well as their love for one of the young men of the church.
The Church Of the First Century met on Sunday:

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death . . . . 1 Clement to the Corinthians, IX

And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Ignatius in his Epistle to the Magnesians, IX

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration. Justin Martyr in First Apology of Justin, LXVII

The Lord's Supper was a part of each Sunday assembly:

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 1 Clement to the Corinthians, LXVII

(We think the water was because the wine was boiled down to a musk, then diluted back to normal at the time of use.)

But on the Lord's day, after that ye have assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure. Didache 14:1

How does this affect us?

In following the example of the church as they were guided by the inspired men, we conclude that the church of today is to meet on the Lord's Day and observe the Lord's Supper. Some reject this example of the Lord's Supper as not being authoritative for today's church. The actual meeting on the Lord's Day itself stands on the same ground, so it is not reasonable to reject the weekly meeting for the Lord's Supper and still insist the Church is to meet on a prescribed day.

The author now has a comprehensive work on this subject posted at

13) But we went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos [i.e., a seaport town near Troas], where we expected to take Paul on board. This is how Paul had planned it, intending to go there himself by land. Paul walked without sleep. Was it for prayer and meditation as he walked alone? Living with a group of men - especially when he was their leader - made it difficult to find time to pray and ponder.
14) When he met us at Assos, we took him on board, then [together] we went to Mitylene [i.e., a town on a nearby island]. This was about a 20 mile walk.
- Paul was taken on board the ship with his fellow-travelers on Monday afternoon. This coastal ship anchored in harbors at night rather than remain at sea. This time the choice was Mitylene on the Island of Lesbos.
15) And after leaving there, the next day we sailed past Chios [i.e., another small island on the way], and the next day past Samos [i.e., another small island], until [finally] on the following day we arrived at Miletus [i.e., another seaport town near Ephesus]. This writer remembers the nice people and the nice lunch on the island of Chios.

- Miletus was becoming more important as a seaport because of the continual silting of the harbor at Ephesus.

16) For Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus so he would not have to spend any time in [the province of] Asia, because he was hurrying to get to Jerusalem in time for the Day of Pentecost, if at all possible. Paul's friends in Ephesus would want to visit. To avoid this delay, he decided to send for the leaders to come to him.
- He may have wanted to be at Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost because he could contact more of his dispersed countrymen.
17) And from Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus, requesting that the elders of the church [there] come to him. Ephesus was 28 miles. Day one of travel for the messenger.
- Elders at Ephesus were not mentioned before.
18) And when they arrived, he said to them, "You [men] know the kind of life I lived when I was with you, from the [very] first day I set foot in [the province of] Asia. Day two for return trip with the elders.
- This is the only recorded speech that Paul delivered to Christians. Luke samples several kinds of presentations for his readers.
- They were the first fruits if they can remember back to the first day. They must have been some of John's disciples.
19) [You know that] I served the Lord with humility, with tears and with trials that I experienced as the result of plots by the Jews. Paul was emotionally involved. Planting churches had not just been his hobby and pastime for the last few years. He had a heart involvement.
20) [You know] how I held back nothing in declaring to you whatever was profitable, and taught you in public [meetings] and in your homes. He held nothing back: Literally, he did not lower the sail. A great test of our own preaching is to ask, "Am I refraining from saying something that I should be saying?" While there is proper timing to consider, we should get the entire message presented over time.
- public: In the synagogue and school of Tyrannus.
- Paul had Acts 20:20 vision.
21) [You know how] I testified to both Jews and Greeks [i.e., Gentiles], that they must repent [i.e., change their attitudes and behavior] toward God, and have faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The message was the same for both Jews and Greeks.
- For men and women to move toward Christ, they must first change their attitude towards any message from heaven. Then they can develop faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
22) "And now, look, I am going to Jerusalem, impelled by the Holy Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me [when I get] there, Paul had been adequately warned of God's plans for him. He should not be puzzled or discouraged.
- Paul is facing unknown dangers.
23) except that the Holy Spirit reveals to me in every city [I visit] that chains and persecutions await me there. Prophets everywhere had warned Paul such as in 21:11. The earlier warnings are not recorded for the reader.
24) But I do not consider my life to be of value, as precious to me, [when compared to the importance of] accomplishing my task and the mission I received from the Lord Jesus to declare the good news of God's unearned favor [through Christ]. Paul's ties to this life are weak. He does not have a family or family responsibilities. He has focused on the grand task of planting churches and extending the Kingdom of God on earth.
- The task was given in Acts 9:13-17.
- He has savored deeply of God's favor and wants to share that superb message with everyone who will listen.
25) Now look, I know that none of you, among whom I traveled on preaching missions, will ever see my face again. He is certain because of his own prophetic powers. Paul has been preaching the presence of the kingdom.
- It is usually understood that Paul would not return here, but he did. Perhaps he is saying that THESE MEN would not be present.
26) Therefore, I [must] declare to you today that I am not responsible for what happens to any of you. They are on their own before God.
27) For I held nothing back in declaring to you the entire message of God. This is like verse 20.
28) So, pay close attention to your [own] lives, and to all [members] of the flock [i.e., the congregation] of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [i.e., elders, shepherds or pastors]. Provide [spiritual] food for the church of the Lord which He purchased by [shedding] His own blood. Elders are to watch over themselves as well as the church. Their leadership role does not allow them an exemption from God's will.
- Made overseers: The Spirit gave the pattern and the gifts.
- They are more than overseers, they are to shepherd. This requires a plan. Many of today's elders see themselves as corporate executives fine tuning the business life of the congregation. These men were to teach and shepherd the church as their primary responsibility, not hire someone else to act on their behalf.
29) [Because] I know that after I am gone [from here] there will be vicious wolves [i.e., ravaging false teachers] who will come in among you, and they will not spare the flock [i.e., the congregation]. Wolves: like Judiazers, Gnostics. Paul instructed Timothy to remain at Ephesus to cope with the expected onslaught of falsehood. 1 Timothy 1:3.
- There must have been a number of elders.
30) [Indeed, even] from among your own selves [i.e., the body of elders there in Ephesus] some men will arise and, by speaking false things, they will lead away the disciples, [influencing them] to follow them. Power is the motive.
- Even the best of churches will have trouble.
- All who were in Asia turned away from Paul. 2 Tim. 1:15
- Paul has an inkling of what awaits him at Jerusalem and also an inkling of what awaits these elders when they return to Ephesus.
31) So, be very watchful, and remember that for three years I never stopped warning every one of you [about such matters] both night and day with tears [in my eyes]. 31.) Paul was not Mr. Positive.
- he warned by night and warned by day. He does not mean that he warned non-stop. Only Paul uses this word in the New Testament literature.
- A congregation may have trouble remaining faithful through even one generation.
32) "Now I commit you [elders] to God and to the message of His unearned favor which can build you up [spiritually] and provide you with the inheritance [of never ending life], along with others who are [specially] set apart [for God]. This is like saying, "I commit you to God and His Word." While translators disagree on the precise meaning, this one seems accurate. The Word was not yet written down. Most that was to be learned about Christ was still oral - hence the need for inspired prophets in the church. It was just in the process of being written.
- The final phase of the Kingdom of God is the inheritance.
- The inheritance is always beyond death.
33) [You know that] I had no greedy desire for anyone's silver, gold or clothing. Paul has not planted this church and evangelized this area so he could receive wealth.
34) You [also] know that I worked with my own hands to provide not only my own needs, but the needs of those who were with me. Helping the weak was a frequent concern of Paul's and one purpose of his trip.
- He had both the skill and the desire to support the other team members.
35) I have demonstrated before you a [good] example in all [these] things, so that you [too] will work hard to help those who are [physically] weak. [Also] remember the words of the Lord Jesus who Himself said, 'It is a greater blessing [for you] to give [to people's needs] than to receive [help yourselves].'" Instead of the weak supporting the strong, he has set the example of the strong working hard for the weak. The grand finale is his quotation of this very truth directly from Jesus.
- If they were to remember these words of Jesus, they had heard them before. However they are not recorded in any Gospel. They were a part of the oral gospel until Luke penned them here.
- Such a grand conclusion to this seminar on church leadership!
36) After speaking these things Paul knelt down and prayed with all of the elders. This was certainly a time of bonding. Following the spoken words, they prayed together that they might remember and practice what they have just heard.
37) And when they all had a good cry, they embraced Paul and kissed him. "When love has welded souls, a time of parting is a time of open crying." - Gareth Reese
38) What saddened them most of all was when Paul said that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to his ship. The pathos of the parting comes to us across the centuries.
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