Sunday, April 25, 2010

Acts 20 - Goodbyes

by Becky

LINK: Acts 20

BACKGROUND

Here's a map so that you can trace Paul's travels in this chapter and the next.

At the beginning of this chapter Paul says goodbye to the believers in Ephesus and heads for Greece, where (according to several study Bibles) he spends three months in Corinth. He probably wrote the book of Romans during this last visit. He had planned to head from Greece directly to Syria, and from there to Jerusalem, but he discovers a plot against his life by some Jews. So he changes his plans and returns by land through Macedonia. He makes several stops, but is intent on returning to Jerusalem.

Paul and his companions visit Troas on the way back where a somewhat humorous incident happens. A young man named Eutychus attended a service in an upstairs room, where the believers gather to observe the Lord's Supper and where Paul preaches. The sermon was apparently lengthy, going on until midnight and the room was warm. Eutychus (whose name means "fortunate" ), sitting in an open third story window, becomes drowsy, falls out and dies. He is well named! He is fortunate, for Paul raises him from the dead, and Eutychus is taken home unhurt. The group of believers returns to their room to eat the Lord's Supper together and Paul continues talking until dawn!

Also note the change in the pronouns in verse 5. We see once again the inclusive "us" and "we" last seen in Chapter 16. Luke, the writer of this book, apparently rejoins Paul before the Troas visit.

Much of this chapter records a message given by Paul to the Ephesian elders during a stopover in Miletus, the port city of Ephesus. We see the concern of Paul for this church, as well as their great affection for him.

REFLECTION

This message is so much like the letters of Paul that we will read later. We get a picture of Paul's heart! He has one last chance to talk to those he has lived with and loved. He wants the elders to feed the flock, and warns them that false teachers will come like wolves. They will distort the truth in order to get a following.

He reminds the elders of his own single mindedness. He tells them the truth: that it is necessary to turn from sin and turn to God through faith in the Lord Jesus. God, in His kindness and love, offers grace through His own death and resurrection. That gospel (good news) is what motivates Paul. He had endured and will endure much suffering as a result, but he makes it plain that what matters is to keep on keeping on... to finish the task the Lord had given him. He also worked hard, not coveting fine clothes or money for his labors among them. In fact, he helped others.

He quotes Jesus in this sermon, saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." That quotation is not recorded in the gospels. Those who were with Jesus must have told others.

APPLICATION

I hope this passage will make each of us stop to ask several questions:

What motivates me?

Who do I live for?

Do I truly believe that it is more blessed to give than receive? Does my life show that?

PRAYER

Thank you, dear Lord, for the example and messages of Paul. Help us to love you as he did.
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