Devotional # 60. 11/11/13. Eutychus’ Resurrection & Paul Continues Towards Jerusalem.
This week’s Reading: Acts 20:1-38.
Introduction. This chapter transitions from the riot the clerk broke up to Paul leaving. As we go through this chapter pay attention to how God leads Paul and Paul is excited to see God’s will be done.
vv. 1-6. After the riot Paul went to Macedonia and moved onto Greece. The “three months” in Greece was probably mostly spent in Corinth (Source 1). Remember in Acts 18 (Devotional 58) when the local Jews were angry with Paul for saying Jesus was the Messiah? They brought him before the governor Gallio but were humiliated when he wouldn’t help them and then two influential members from their leadership converted to Christianity (Sosthenes in 18:7 & Crispus in 18:8). So it’s no surprise that these same Jews “plotted against him.” It must have been a plan to kill him while he was on the boat going to Syria because Paul cancels that route and goes back through Macedonia and then to Asia Minor. Then the author of Acts (Luke) joins up with Paul’s group (obvious by his use of “we”) in Philippi. Then they travel to Troas and meet up with the rest of the group. This will be important for at least two reasons in the next section.
vv. 7-12. Once in Troas the disciples get together on Sunday (“first day of the week”) and Paul preaches into the night. There was a “young man”, which in the Greek would be between 7-14 years old (Source 1), sitting in an open window listening to Paul. Because it was late (“midnight”) and the smells from the oil burning in the “many lamps” would have an effect similar to a sedative (Source 2) so he falls asleep. And falls out of the third story window and dies when he hits the ground. What a horrifying end to a church service! Paul and everyone go down stairs to look at the boy. Paul hugs him and told everyone the boy’s “life is in him”, which doesn’t mean he didn’t die but that he had come back to life.
Do you remember that I said what we covered in vv. 1-6 was important for two reasons? The first was that the men mentioned (Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gais, Timothy, Tychicus, Trophimus and Luke) were from all different provinces, probably elected leaders from their churches who were accompanying Paul to present their offering in Jerusalem (Source 1). So they were all eye-witnesses of Eutychus’ resurrection and they could go share it with their churches spread all over. The second reason it was important was that Luke was a doctor and he would have known when to pronounce someone dead (as he does in v. 9). So him being a medical eye-witness gives this true story proof of what man considers impossible.
It’s interesting that although they were very “comforted” it doesn’t say anyone freaked out. In fact Paul continues preaching until the sun comes up. This was because their faith was real. They knew they served their Lord Jesus, who is the King of the living and the dead.
vv. 13-16. We hear about how Luke’s group meets up with Paul and pass by Ephesus so that he can reach Jerusalem quickly. I explained the reason for this in Acts 18:18 (Devotional 58, vv. 18-21).
vv. 17-35. I don’t have the time or space to really do this section justice but here is the important thing: God’s will be done! Paul asks for the elders of Ephesus to come to him so he can specifically instruct them. He is a little nervous to go into Jerusalem because he knows how he’s been treated by Jews elsewhere (we just talked about Corinth) and now he is going into the command center. He’s not sure if he’ll live through this trip (vv. 22-24) so he wants to cover his bases with them. He explains that God has made him strong, that he preaches the gospel to every person, in every place he goes no matter what trials he encounters. God’s will be done! And he says that he knows that there will be wolves coming into the church who will try and devour the sheep. Paul loves the people in the churches, he doesn’t want anything bad to happen to them and that’s why he knows they need to stand up for themselves. They need to know the truth and live by it so that when false teaching comes in they aren’t deceived. The only thing that comforts him is knowing that they are God’s and He will take care of them (v. 32). God’s will be done! Paul then tells them that he had the right to accept money for his ministry and that he never wanted money but he was happy to take care of those in need. He instructs them to do the same and proves it by quoting Jesus, “‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’”. This is the only place in the whole New Testament that Jesus is quoted and we don’t find it in the Gospels. Of course Jesus did say this and it’s very true. Getting a gift is a blessing but being able to give one to someone in need is incredible. I know this to be true. I don’t get as excited as I used to when I was a kid about Christmas but it’s awesome to watch my kids get so thrilled when they open gifts. But that’s just a toy they’ll get bored with or will break. How much better is it to be able to give a homeless person a cup of water? What about when someone is lost, maybe suicidal or cry themselves to sleep every night and you share Jesus with them? It is God’s wishes that no one should go to hell (2 Peter 3:9) but He has given men a choice. And because of that we should continually pray for… God’s will be done!
vv. 36-38. After Paul pours out his heart to his friends they all cry because they are afraid that they will never see him again. Thinking that he is marching to his death sentence. Does he die? Well, you’ll have to keep reading!
Conclusion. What we read is reassuring and comforting because we see the real problems and real issues the early church went through. They were traveling and as we know that can be frustrating (did you notice it took Paul 5 days to get across Aegean Sea this time but in Acts 16:11 it only took 2 days). The small child who fell and died. Paul heading to Jerusalem and wanting to straighten everything out with the Ephesians before he left. But the resolution in Paul is incredible. He rests on God’s will, knowing that it is best. It can’t be improved on. It can’t be swayed. God is good and He can’t do anything that is not eternally best for us.
Source 1: John MacArthur, the John MacArthur Study Bible, pp. 1670-73.
Source 2: David Guzik, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Act/Act_20.cfm?a=1038001