Paul says goodbye and sails to Jerusalem
Paul checks in on churches he started1 When the city calmed down, Paul met with the believers. He encouraged them, told them goodbye, and then left for Macedonia. 2 As he passed through the towns there, he encouraged believers along the way, often talking with them for quite a while. He eventually got to Greece. 3 He stayed there for three months. He was about to leave by boat and head back to Syria. But some Jews made plans to kill him. When he found out about it, he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 By this time Paul had developed an entourage of traveling associates: Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus, both from Thessalonica; Gaius of Derbe; Timothy; along with Tychicus and Trophimus, both from the province of Asia. 5 These seven men went on ahead of us and waited in the city of Troas. 6 We stayed in Macedonia through Passover. Then we left the city of Philippi and sailed for five days before we reached Troas. We stayed there for a week.
Paul’s mega-long sermon bores young man to death7 We met with the local believers on Sunday to eat and celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. Paul took the opportunity to speak with the people because he knew he would be leaving them the next day. He spoke until about midnight. 8 We met in an upstairs room, lit by a number of oil lamps. 9 A young man named Eutychus sat on the window ledge, as Paul talked on and on. Eventually, Eutychus fell asleep. Then he fell three stories. When they picked him up, he was dead. 10 Paul went down and wrapped his arms around the young man. He told the people, “Don’t worry. He’s still got some life in him.” 11 They all went back upstairs and Paul preached till dawn. They ate some food first, though. At daylight, Paul left. 12 Local folks were relieved that the boy was still alive, and they took him home.
Goodbye to Ephesian friends13 Paul decided to travel by land to the port city of Assos. He arranged for the rest of us to go by ship and meet him there. Then we would continue the voyage together. 14 So we met in Assos, picked up Paul, and continued our voyage. We made a stop in Mitylene. 15 The next day we sailed to Kios Island. Then a day later we sailed to Samos Island. A day after that we arrived at the port town of Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus because he was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem in time for the Jewish festival of Pentecost. He didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the province of Asia. 17 But he did want to see the Ephesus church leaders one last time. So he sent messengers from Miletus to invite them down. 18 When they arrived, Paul told them, “You know how I lived my life when I was with you. From the very first day I set foot in the province of Asia, 19 I did whatever the Lord wanted me to do. I did it humbly. And sometimes I did it with tears. I suffered through the hard times caused by Jews intent on making trouble for me. 20 When I taught you, I didn’t hold back. I told you everything that I believed would help you. I taught you in public. I made house calls, too. 21 My message to Jews and to non-Jews alike was this: God wants us to turn our back on sin, look to him for guidance, and put our trust in Jesus.
Nothing but trouble ahead22 Now I feel the Spirit driving me to Jerusalem. I don’t know what all will happen to me when I get there. 23 But I do know this. The Holy Spirit has told me that in every city I go to from now on, I will face persecution and imprisonment. 24 What happens to me now isn’t important to me anymore. All I care about is finishing the work that I’ve been given by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling the good news about the kindness of God. 25 I know this too, my friends. Not one of you will see my face again—none of you whom I have taught about God’s kingdom. 26 I want to make it clear that if any of you miss out on getting saved, it’s not my fault. 27 I didn’t hold back anything. I told you everything God wants you to know. 28 Take care of yourselves. And take care of the church. Those souls are your flock. They have been bought by the blood of God’s Son. They have been entrusted to you by God’s Spirit. 29 I know that when I’m gone false teachers will attack your flock like a pack of savage wolves. 30 Some of those lying teachers will come from inside your own congregation. They’ll twist the truth. They’ll lure people away from the faith. 31 So keep your guard up. Don’t forget that during those three years I was with you I never stopped trying to steer you away from danger. I warned you day and night, sometimes with tears. 32 Now my friends, I leave you in God’s hands. I want to give you a message about his kindness, too. God is able to give you all the strength you need. And God can bring you home to share the inheritance of all the people who have devoted themselves to him. 33 I have never envied anyone else’s silver or gold or fancy clothing. 34 You know that I paid my own way, working at my trade. I covered the expenses of my associates as well. 35 I did this because I wanted you to see that you need to work like I did to help people who are weaker than you are. I wanted you to remember what the Lord Jesus said, ‘It’s more of a blessing to give something than it is to get something.’” 36 After Paul said this, he knelt with everyone and prayed. 37 It seemed that everyone was crying. They hugged Paul and kissed him goodbye. 38 What made them saddest of all was that he told them they would never see his face again. They walked with him all the way to the ship.
Macedonia was a region in what is now northern Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, which is just north of Greece.
Troas was on the northwestern coast of what is now Turkey.
Passover took place the same time of year Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. Then, as today, Jews from all over the world traveled to Jerusalem each spring—around Eastertime—to celebrate Passover, one of their most important holidays. Passover commemorates God freeing their ancestors from slavery in Egypt, during the time of Moses. Jews call the holiday Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) because of the miracle that finally convinced a hard-headed king of Egypt to release them. God brought death to the oldest child in each family, but he passed over Jewish homes without harming them (Exodus 12).
Literally, “the first day of the week.” For Jews, the Sabbath Day ended the seven-day week. Sunday was the first day of a new week.
Ironically, given what happens to Eutychus, his name means “Lucky.”
By “dead,” many scholars agree that the Greek phrasing does not mean “almost dead,” “appears to be dead,” or “kinda looks dead.” The kid is kaput. The scene describing Paul bending over the young man is reminiscent of other Bible stories about people coming back to life. Elijah, confronted with a dead child, “stretched himself out over the child… and the life of the child returned” (1 Kings 17:21-22 NLT).
Assos was about a one-day walk southwest of Troas, roughly 20 miles (32 km).
These one-day hops from island to island or port city to port city along the coast were common in ancient times. Many sailors did not like to get too far away from shore.
Miletus was about a two-day walk south of Ephesus, roughly 30 miles (24 km).
The word Pentecost means “the fiftieth,” as in the fiftieth day. The festival comes about 50 days after Passover. Passover is when the Romans crucified Jesus. Pentecost is a festival celebrating the harvest. Many Jews call the festival by its Hebrew name Shavuot, “Festival of Weeks,” because it follows Passover by several weeks.
Paul made a lot of friends during his three-year stay in Ephesus. Perhaps he knew that if he went there, it would be hard to get away.
See Acts 18:2-3.
For those of us who have been following the story, it seems that just about every time a city gets all worked up about what Paul is teaching, he leaves town (17:10; 17:14; 18:18; 20:1). What do you think about that?
The writer puts himself back into the story saying, “The seven men went on ahead of us” (20:5). What do you make of the fact that he keeps popping in and out of this story?
A young man fell out of a third-story window during an incredibly long sermon Paul preached until midnight. The writer says “he was dead” (20:9). The footnote to this verse makes a case for the young man actually being dead and not just seeming to be dead. Do you buy that? Or do you see some wiggle room for the possibility that the young man was simply knocked unconscious and almost killed?
Paul had spent three years starting the church in Ephesus yet he decided to bypass this church on his way back to Jerusalem (20:16). How do you think the people in Ephesus felt about that—especially given the fact that Paul would tell the church leaders that they would never see his face again?
It seems odd that toward the end of his ministry Paul feels driven by the Spirit toward Jerusalem, though he knows that he’ll face persecution and prison (20:22-23). That’s similar to how the Bible writers described Jesus’ final days: “He made up his mind to go face what was coming in Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). What do you make of that parallel train of thought from the two men most responsible for what we read in the New Testament?
This voyage marks the last mission trip Paul is reported to have taken. Clearly he thinks of it as his goodbye tour. What do you think was going through his mind during those final weeks as he headed toward Jerusalem?
LIFE APPLICATION. After Paul revived the young man who fell out of the window and died, Paul kept preaching until dawn. If your minister would take a cue from the story, which cue would you prefer it to be?
- If you are going to preach more than 30 minutes, close the windows (20:9).
- If you want me to stay awake during your sermon, feed me first (20:11)
- If I do fall asleep, just have some of my friends take me home (20:12).
- I love my pastor, but all of the above.
LIFE APPLICATION. It’s a heart-wrenching scene, Paul saying goodbye to the Ephesus church leaders, and the people walking him all the way to the ship (20:38). Have you ever experienced a goodbye like that?