Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 20:1-6
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 20:1, 2
vs1-2: When the shouting finally stopped, Paul called the disciples in the city to meet with him so he could say goodbye. He encouraged, challenged, and comforted them with his words, and then hugged them and started out on his journey to Macedonia. If the only information we had was from this brief passage in Acts, we would assume Paul went directly from Ephesus to Macedonia, and then down into central Greece. But as we noted earlier (Ac 19:22), much took place along the way. It appears that Luke kindly chose to omit those details because this was a very painful season for Paul, but Paul reveals them to us in his letters. We discover that he originally intended to leave Ephesus and go directly to Corinth, but because he was having such conflict with the church in Corinth he changed his plans, and sent Titus to Corinth, as his representative while he headed north, up the coast of Asia to Troas. He planned to stay in Troas long enough to evangelize and minister, yet he became so worried about Corinth, he left Troas abruptly and went on to Macedonia.

Monday: Acts 20:2, 3
vs2: By saying that Paul “passed through” the districts of Macedonia Luke means Paul didn’t remain in any one place long enough to evangelize and plant churches. On this trip he simply traveled from place to place to meet with believers, and Luke says he exhorted them (encouraged, challenged, comforted) “with many words.” Then he either walked or sailed south to central “Greece” (Achaia) and spent the winter (three months) in Corinth. While there he most likely visited churches in the surrounding area, such as Cenchrea (Ac 18:18) and Athens (Ac 17:34). v3: Paul’s plan was to sail from Cenchrea, the harbor near Corinth on the Aegean side of the peninsula, to Caesarea (Ac 21:8) so he could be in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost (Ac 20:16).

Tuesday: Acts 20:3, 4
v3 (continued): But just before his ship set sail, Paul learned that a group of Jews had boarded the ship and were planning to kill him during the voyage, probably by throwing him overboard. He did have a number of traveling companions who would be on that ship with him and they certainly would have tried to protect him in the event of any assault, but he decided the risk was too great and chose to return to Macedonia and sail from Neapolis, the seaport near Philippi (v6). v4: Luke names Paul’s seven traveling companions, soon to be eight when Luke himself joins this team in Philippi (v5). The first three are from Macedonia. Sepater is from Berea (Ac 17:10-14), and Aristarchus and Secundus are from Thessalonica (Ac 17:1-9). Gauis (Derbe) and Timothy (Lystra) are both from the Galatian region (Ac 14:6), and Tychicus and Trophimus are from Asia (Ac 19:1-41).

Wednesday: Acts 20:4
v4 (continued): Luke doesn’t mention why Paul was traveling with representatives from all these regions, but we learn from Paul’s letters (1Co 16:1-9; 2Co 8:1 – 9:15; Ro 15:25-28, 31) that he had arranged for a financial gift to be collected from the churches he planted and sent to Jerusalem to help care for persecuted believers. Many still endured poverty because of their faith (Ac 2:44, 45; 4:32-35; Ro 15:26). Paul preferred that this money be transported by individuals from those churches so that no one could accuse him of stealing funds. About ten years earlier Paul and Barnabus took a similar gift to Jerusalem from the church in Antioch of Syria (Ac 11:27-30). While they were there, three of the leaders (James, the Lord’s brother, Peter and John) had encouraged them to continue evangelizing Gentiles, but in doing so, not forget the suffering of their Jewish brothers and sisters. Paul gladly agreed and said that was something he was eager to do (Gal 2:9,10).

Thursday: Acts 20:4
v4 (continued): The men who accompanied Paul were either Gentiles, or Jews who represented churches whose membership was mostly Gentiles. In Paul’s mind, this group of men were more than simply guardians appointed to watch over the money they carried. They represented the fruit of his labors. Jesus had called him to evangelize Gentiles and Jews, but especially Gentiles (Ac 9:15, 16; 22:21; 26:15-20), and he had faithfully carried out that assignment. In his letter to the Romans, written shortly before leaving on this trip to Jerusalem (Ro 15:25), he reflected on that call and described it this way: ...“to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Ro15:16). So, while these Gentile churches were bringing an offering of money to their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, Paul was personally presenting these Gentiles as a “first-fruits” offering to the Lord on Pentecost (the Jewish festival that celebrates the offering of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest; Lev 23:15,16)(F.F. Bruce, New Testament History, Doubleday and Co. 1971, p.353). This is why “he was hurrying to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost” (Ac 20:16).

Friday: Acts 20:4, 5
v4 (continued): At this point in his life, Paul felt he had completed his assignment in the eastern regions of the Mediterranean and after visiting Jerusalem, he intended to briefly stop in Rome, and then begin a new season of ministry in the western regions of the Mediterranean (Ro15:18-25). So this trip to Jerusalem would be the conclusion of one phase of his ministry, and the beginning of another. v5: When they reached Philippi, Paul sent his team on ahead to Neapolis to board a ship bound for Troas but he remained in Philippi to observe Passover and the Week of Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:4-8). When that week was over he would board a ship and catch up to them. But we should notice that when he boarded that ship, he did not get on alone. Finally, after an absence of about five years, Luke rejoins him (“us”), and apparently Luke will remain with him through the rest of his trials right up to the end of the Book of Acts. It seems likely that Paul had left Luke to pastor the church in Philippi after they founded it during their second missionary journey (Ac 16:11, 12; 17:1).

Saturday: Acts 20:6
v6: By noting that he and Paul left Philippi after the “days of Unleavened Bread,” and that Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem by Pentecost (v16), Luke gives us a very definite amount of time available for the trip back. If he and Paul left Philippi on the day after Unleavened Bread, they had exactly 42 days to reach Jerusalem. In a sense the season of Paul’s third missionary journey was now over and he had become a pilgrim on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. Luke tells us it took five days to sail from Neapolis to Troas, and that they stayed in Troas for a week. This means that when they left that city they had only 30 days to travel all the way to Jerusalem. 

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