The passage from Acts 20:1-16 was part of a very important and productive time in Paul’s ministry. Some of his most refined theological letters were written during this time period. Verses 4-6 include a list of strong leaders, but they also show the mutual caring of the churches represented by these leaders. The reason Luke listed them is that these men were all delegates from their churches to bring monetary and spiritual help to the distressed church in Jerusalem.
Paul’s abilities as a teacher and encourager were God-given. Everywhere he travelled, he encouraged and exhorted the church to remain strong, to remain committed to the truth, and to spread the Gospel. When he is mentioned in Scripture, Paul is nearly always accompanied by other believers. He wanted, needed and sought out the company of Christian coworkers. To live in a Christian manner is to live in community with one’s brothers and sisters.
The power of Christ was evident through Paul. and this comforted fellow believers. Paul’s lengthy teaching session was interrupted by the accidental death of Eutychus. Paul’s session was long because he was going to leave the next day and probably would not see them anymore. The late hour combined with the length of the session and the heat from candles cause Eutychus to fall asleep and fall out of the window to his death. Paul raised him back to life probably by lying on him and praying like Elijah did with the widow’s son.
Because Christ fulfilled all the Jewish feasts, Paul was under no obligation to keep them, but he was under an obligation to act with integrity toward those whose spiritual understanding was less mature. Paul had a deep love and concern for people. He planned to sail past Ephesus in order to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. His longing for his friends in Ephesus and his desire to build upon the church there prompted him to change his plans. He asked the elders from the church in Ephesus to meet with him in the nearby port of Mileta. Paul knew the danger the church faced and the sufficiency of the living Christ to meet these dangers.
This passage consists of a series of adaptations to challenges presented by unfortunate circumstances. Paul’s flexibility became the means by which God would advance His agenda. He has a plan and He will continue to see it through. There are four principles from Paul’s experience that we can apply today:
- Hold all personal plans loosely. We need to expect changes.
- Don’t waste time crying over a ruined plan.
- Be prepared to adapt your plan when circumstances change.
- Never forget that your adaptation was always God’s “Plan A.” When plans fall apart, look for how God might use the situation to advance His plan, and then join Him.
Paul strengthened and encouraged believers. He was careful to explain that his sacrificial love for the Ephesians and other believers was like Jesus’ love for the church. True Christianity is a sacrificial love-a genuine love for other people.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, p. 1521)
- Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- Ogilvie, L.J. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 28: Acts (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1983; pp. 284-286)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
- Dave Wyrtzen, “The Dream Team.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary: Acts (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers; 2016; pp. 396-406)