Acts 20CHAPTER 20 Verse 1. The uproar. The tumult excited by Demetrius and the workmen. After it had been quieted by the town-clerk, Acts 19:40,40. Embraced them. Saluted them; gave them parting expressions of kindness. Comp. Lk 7:45, Rom 16:16, 1Cor 16:20, 2Cor 13:12; 1Thes 5:26, 1Pet 5:14. The Syriac translates this, "Paul called the disciples, and consoled them, and kissed them." To go into Macedonia. On his way to Jerusalem, agreeably to his purpose--recorded in Acts 19:21. (a) "uproar was ceased" Acts 19:40 (b) "go into Macedonia" 1Cor 16:5, 1Timm 1:3 Verse 2. Over those parts. The parts of country in and near Macedonia. He probably went to Macedonia by Troas, where he expected to find Titus, 2Cor 2:12; but not finding him there, he went by himself to Philippi, Thessalonica, etc., and then returned to Greece Proper. Into Greece. Into Greece Proper, of which Athens was the capital. While in Macedonia, he had great anxiety and trouble, but was at length comforted by the coming of Titus, who brought him intelligence of the liberal disposition of the churches of Greece in regard to the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, 2Cor 7:5-7. It is probable that the Second Epistle to the Corinthians was written during this time in Macedonia, and sent to them by Titus. See Note of Doddridge. (c) "exhortation" 1Thes 2:3,11 Verse 3. And there abode. Why he remained here is unknown. It is probable, that while in Greece he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. Comp. Rom 15:25-27. Laid wait. There was a design formed against him by the Jews, which they sought to execute. Why they formed this purpose, the historian has not informed us. As he was about to sail. It would seem from this, that the design of the Jews was to attack the ship in which he was about, to sail, or to arrest him on ship-board. This fact determined him to take a much more circuitous route by land, so that the churches Of Macedonia were favoured with another visit from him. Into Syria. On his way to Jerusalem. He purposed, etc. He resolved to avoid the snare which they had laid for him, and to return by the same way in which he had come into Greece. (d) "wait" Acts 23:12, 25:3, 2Cor 11:26 (*) "purposed" "determined" Verse 4. And there accompanied him. It was usual for some of the disciples to attend the apostles in their journeys. Into Asia. It is not meant that they attended him from Greece through Macedonia; but that they went with him to Asia, having gone before him, and joined him at Troas. Sopater of Berea. Perhaps the same person who, in Rom 16:21, is called Sosipater, and who is there said to have been a kinsman of Paul. Aristarthus, Acts 19:29. Gaius of Derbe. Acts 19:29. Tychicus. This man was high in the confidence and affection of Paul. In Eph 6:21,22, he styles him "a beloved brother, and faithful minister in the Lord." And Trophimus. Trophimus was from Ephesus, Acts 20:29. When Paul wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy, he was at Mileturn, sick, 2Ti 4:20. (e) "Aristarchus" Acts 19:29 (f) "Timotheus" Acts 16:1 (g) "Tychius" Eph 6:21 (h) "Trophimus" Acts 21:29, 2Ti 4:20 Verse 5. These going before. Going before Paul and Luke. Dr. Doddridge supposes that only Tychicus and Trophimus went before the others. Perhaps the Greek most naturally demands this interpretation. Tarried for us. The word "us" here shows that Luke had again joined Paul as his companion. In Acts 16:12, it appears that Luke was in Philippi, in the house of Lydia. Why he remained there, or why he did not attend Paul in his journey to Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, etc., is not known. It is evident, however, that he here joined him again. At Troas. Acts 16:8. (++) "tarried" "waited" Verse 6. After the days of unleavened bread. After the seven days of the passover, during which they ate only unleavened bread. See Ex 12. In five days. They crossed the AEgean Sea. Paul, when he crossed it on a former occasion, did it in two days, Acts 16:11,12; but the navigation of the sea is uncertain, and they were now probably hindered by contrary winds. (i) "unleavened bread" Ex 23:15 (k) "Troas" 2Ti 4:13 Verse 7. And upon the first day of the week. Showing thus that this day was then observed buy Christians as holy time. Comp. 1Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10. To break bread. Evidently to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Comp. Acts 2:46. So the Syriac understands it, by translating it, "to break the Eucharist," i.e. the eucharistic bread. It is probable that the apostles and early Christians celebrated the Lord's Supper on every Lord's-day. And continued his speech until midnight. The discourse of Paul continued until the breaking of day, Acts 20:11. But it was interrupted about midnight by the accident that occurred to Eutychus. The fact that Paul was about to leave them on the next day, probably to see them no more, was the principal reason why his discourse was so long continued. We are not to suppose, however, that it was one continued or set discourse. No small part of the time might have been passed in hearing and answering questions, though Paul was the chief speaker. The case proves that such seasons of extraordinary devotion may, in peculiar circumstances, be proper. Occasions may arise where it will be proper for Christians to spend a much longer time than usual in public worship. It is evident, however, that such seasons do not often occur. (l) "first day" 1Cor 16:2, Rev 1:10 (m) "break bread" Acts 2:42,46, 1Cor 10:16, 11:20-34 (++) "speech" "discourse" Verse 8. And there were many lights. Why this circumstance is mentioned is not apparent. It, however, meets one of the slanders of the early enemies of Christianity, that Christians in their assemblies were accustomed to extinguish all the lights, and to commit every kind of abomination. Perhaps the mention of many lights here is designed to intimate that it was a place of public worship, as not only the Jews, but the Gentiles were accustomed to have many lights burning in such places. In the upper chamber. Acts 1:13. (&) "many lights" "lamps" (n) "upper chamber" Acts 1:13 (|) "upper" "room" (+) "together" "Assembled" Verse 9. And there sat in a window. The window was left open, probably to avoid the malice of their enemies, who might be disposed otherwise to charge them with holding their assemblies in darkness for purposes of iniquity. The window was a mere opening in the wall to let in light, as there was no glass known at that time; and as the shutters of the window were not closed, there was nothing to prevent Eutychus from falling down. The third loft. The third story. And was taken up dead. Some have supposed that he was merely stunned with the fall, and that he was still alive. But the obvious and therefore the safest interpretation is, that he was actually killed by the fall, and was miraculously restored to life. This is an instance of sleeping in public worship that has some apology. The late hour of the night, and the length of the services, were the excuse. But, though the thing is often done now, yet how seldom is a sleeper in a church furnished with an excuse for it. No practice is more shameful, disrespectful, and abominable, than that so common of sleeping in the house of God. Verse 10. And fell on him, etc. Probably stretching himself on him as Elisha did on the Shunammite's son, 2Kgs 4:33-35. It was an act of tenderness and compassion, evincing a strong desire to restore him to life. Trouble not yourselves. They would doubtless be thrown into great consternation by such an event. Paul therefore endeavoured to compose their minds by the assurance that he would live. For his life is in him. He is restored to life. This has all the appearance of having been a miracle. Life was restored to him as Paul spoke. (o) "fell on him" 1Kgs 17:21, 2Kgs 4:34 Verse 11. Come up again. To the upper room, Acts 20:8. And had broken bread, and eaten, Had taken refreshment. As this is spoken of Paul only, it is evidently distinguished from the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Verse 12. Not a little comforted. By the fact that he was alive; perhaps also strengthened by the evidence that a miracle had been wrought. Verse 13. Sailed unto Assos. There were several cities of this name. One was in Lycia; one in the territory of Eolis; one in Mysia; one in Lydia; and another in Epirus. The latter is the one intended here. It was between Troas and Mitylene. The distance to it from Troas by sea was much greater than by land, and accordingly Paul chose to go to it on foot. Minding himself. Choosing or preferring to go on foot. Most of his journeys were probably performed in this way. (*) "afoot" "Intending himself to go by land" Verse 14. Came to Mitylene. This was the capital of the island of Lesbos. It was distinguished by the beauty of its situation, and the splendour and magnificence of its edifices. The island on which it stood, Lesbos, was one of the largest in the AEgean Sea, and the seventh in the Mediterranean. It is a few miles distant from the coast of Aeolia, and is about one hundred and sixty-eight miles in circumference. The name of the city now is Castro. Verse 15. Over against. Opposite to. Into the neighborhood of, or near to it. Chios, called also Coos, an island in the Archipelago, between Lesbos and Samos. It is on the coast of Asia Minor, and is now called Scio. It will long be remembered now as the seat of a dreadful massacre of almost all its inhabitants by the Turks in 1823. At Samos. This was also an island of the Archipelago, lying off the coast of Lydia, from which it is separated by a narrow strait. These islands were celebrated among the ancients for their extraordinary wines. Trogyllium. This was the name of a town and promontory of Ionia in Asia Minor, between Ephesus and the mouth of the river Meander, opposite to Samos. The promontory is a spur of Mount Mycale. Miletus. Called also Miletum. It was a city and seaport, and the ancient capital of Ionia. It was originally composed of a colony of Cretians. It became extremely powerful, and sent out colonies to a great number of cities on the Euxine Sea. It was distinguished for a magnificent temple dedicated to Apollo. It is now called, by the Turks, Melas. It was the birthplace of Thales, one of the seven wise men of Greece. It was about forty or fifty miles from Ephesus. (+) "tarried" "remained" Verse 16. To sail by Ephesus. The word by in our translation is ambiguous. We say to go by a place, meaning either to take it in our way, to go to it, or to go past it. Here it means the latter. He intended to sail past Ephesus, without going to it. For he hasted, etc. Had he gone to Ephesus, he would probably have been so delayed in his journey that he could not reach Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost. Acts 2:1. (b) "be at Jerusalem" Acts 18:21, 24:17 (c) "Pentecost" Acts 2:1 Verse 17. He sent to Ephesus. Perhaps a distance of forty miles. The elders of the church. Who had been appointed while he was there to take charge of the church. Acts 15:2. Verse 18. And when they were come to him. The discourse which follows is one of the most tender, affectionate, and eloquent, which is anywhere to be found. It is strikingly descriptive of the apostle's manner of life while with them; evinces his deep concern for their welfare; is full of tender and kind admonition; expresses the firm purpose of his soul to live to the glory of God, and his expectation to be persecuted still; and is a most affectionate and solemn farewell. No man can read it without being convinced that it came from a heart full of love and kindness; and that it evinces a great and noble purpose to be entirely employed in one great aim and object --the promotion of the glory of God, in the face of danger and of death. Ye know. From your own observation. He had been with them three years, and could make this solemn appeal to themselves, that he had led a faithful and devoted life. How happy is it when a minister can thus appeal to those with whom he has laboured, in proof of his own sincerity and fidelity! How comforting to himself, and how full of demonstration to a surrounding world, of the truth and power of the gospel which is preached! We may further remark, that this appeal furnishes strong proof of the purity and holiness of Paul's life. The elders at Ephesus must have had abundant opportunity to know him. They had seen him, and heard him publicly, and in their private dwellings. A man does not make such an appeal unless he has a consciousness of integrity, nor unless there is conclusive proof of his integrity. It is strong evidence of the holiness of the character of the apostles, and proof that they were not impostors, that they could thus appeal with the utmost assurance to those who had every opportunity of knowing them. From the first day. He was with them three years, Acts 20:31. Into Asia. Asia Minor. They would probably know, not only how he had demeaned himself while with them, but also how he had conducted [himself] in other places near them. After what manner I have been with you. How I have lived and acted. What has been my manner of life. What had been his mode of life, he specifies in the following verses. At all seasons. At all times. (d) "first day" Acts 19:1,10 (++) "seasons" "The whole team" Verse 19. Serving the Lord. In the discharge of the appropriate duties of his apostolic office, and in private life. To discharge aright our duties in any vocation is serving the Lord. Religion is often represented in the Bible as a service rendered to the Lord. With all humility. Without arrogance, pride, or a spirit of dictation; without a desire to "lord it over God's heritage ;" without being elated with the authority of the apostolic office, the variety of the miracles which he was enabled to perform, or the success which attended his labours. What an admirable model for all who are in the ministry, for all who are endowed with talents and learning, and for all who meet with remarkable success in their work. The proper effect of such success, and of such talent, will be to produce true humility. Eminent success in the work of the ministry tends to produce lowliness and humbleness of mind; and the greatest endowments are usually connected with the most simple and childlike humility. And with many tears. Paul not unfrequently gives evidence of the tenderness of his heart, and his regard for the souls of men, and his deep solicitude for the salvation of sinners, Acts 20:31; Php 3:18, 2Cor 2:4. The particular thing, however, here specified as producing weeping, was the opposition of the Jews. But it cannot be supposed that those tears were shed from an apprehension of personal danger. It was rather because the opposition of the Jews impeded his work, and retarded his progress in winning souls to Christ. A minister of the gospel will (1.) feel, and deeply feel, for the salvation of his people. He will weep over their condition when he sees them going astray, and in danger of perishing, He will (2.) be especially affected with opposition, because it will retard his work, and prevent the progress and the triumph of the gospel. It is not because it is a personal concern, but because it is the cause of his Master. And temptations. Trials, arising from their opposition. We use the word temptation, in a more limited sense, to denote inducements offered to one to lead him into sin. The word in the Scriptures most commonly denotes trials of any kind. Which befell me. Which happened to me; which I encountered. By the lying in wait, etc. By their snares and plans were designed to blast his reputation, and to destroy his usefulness. (e) "humility" 1Cor 15:9,10 (f) "many tears" Php 3:18 (g) "temptations" 2Cor 4:8-11 (&) "temptations" "trials" Verse 20. I kept back nothing, etc. No doctrine, no admonition, no labour. Whatever he judged would promote their salvation, he had faithfully and fearlessly delivered. A minister of the gospel must be the judge of what will be profitable to the people of his charge. His aim should be to promote their real welfare--to preach that which will be profitable. His object will not be to please their fancy, to gratify their taste, to flatter their pride, or to promote his own popularity. "All Scripture is profitable," 2Ti 3:16; and it will be his aim to declare that only which will tend to promote their real welfare. Even if it be unpalatable; if it be the language of reproof and admonition; if it be doctrine to which the heart is by nature opposed; if it run counter to the native prejudices and passions of men; yet, by the grace of God, it should be, and will be delivered. No doctrine that will be profitable should be kept back; no plan, no labour, that may promote the welfare of the flock, should be withheld. But have shewed you. Have announced or declared to you. The word here used--αναγγειλαι--is most commonly applied to preaching in public assemblies, or in a public manner. Have taught you publicly. In the public assembly; by public preaching. And from house to house. Though Paul preached in public, and though his time was much occupied in manual labour for his own support, Acts 20:34, yet he did not esteem his public preaching to be all that was required of him; nor his daily occupation to be an excuse for not visiting from house to house. We may observe here, (1.) that Paul's example is a warrant and an implied injunction for family visitation by a pastor. If proper in Ephesus, It is proper still. If practicable in that city, it is in other cities. If it was useful there, it will be elsewhere. If it furnished to him consolation in the retrospect when he came to look over his ministry, and if it was one of the things which enabled him to say, "I am pure from the blood of all men," it will be so in other cases. (2.) The design for which ministers should visit, should be a religious design, Paul did not visit for mere ceremony, nor for idle gossip, or chit-chat; nor to converse on the mere news or politics of the day. His aim was to show the way of salvation, and to teach in private what he taught in public. (3.) How much of this is to be done, is of course to be left to the discretion of every minister. Paul, in private visiting, did not neglect public instruction. The latter he evidently considered to be his main or chief business. His high views of the ministry are evinced in his life, and in his letters to Timothy and Titus. Yet, while public preaching is the main, the prime, the leading business of a minister, and while his first efforts should be directed to preparation for that, he may and should find time to enforce his public instructions by going from house to house; and often he will find that his most immediate and apparent success will result from such family instructions. (4.) If it is his duty to visit, it is the duty of his people to receive him as becomes an ambassador of Christ. They should be willing to listen to his instructions; to treat him with kindness, and to aid his endeavours in bringing a family under the influence of religion. (b) "kept back nothing" Acts 20:27 (c) "from house to house" 2Ti 4:2 Verse 21. Testifying. Bearing witness to the necessity of repentance towards God. Or teaching them the nature of repentance, etc., and exhorting them to repent and believe. Perhaps the word testifying includes both ideas of giving evidence, and of urging with great earnestness and affection that repentance and faith were necessary. See 1Timm 5:21; 2Ti 2:14; where the word here used, and here translated testify, is there translated correctly charge, in the sense of strongly urging, or entreating with great earnestness. Also to the Greeks. To all who were not Jews. The Greeks, properly, denoted those who lived in Greece% and who spoke the Greek language. But the phrase "Jews and Greeks," among the Hebrews, denoted the whole human race. He urged the necessity of repentance and faith in all. Religion makes no distinction, but regards all as sinners, and as needing salvation by the blood of the Redeemer. Repentance toward God. Mt 3:2. Repentance is to be exercised "toward God," because (1.) sin has been committed against him, and it is proper that we express our sorrow to the Being whom we have offended; and, (2.) because God only can pardon. Sincere repentance exists only where there is a willingness to make acknowledgment to the very being whom we have offended or injured. And faith. Mk 16:6. Toward. εις. In regard to; in; confidence in the work and merits of the Lord Jesus. This is required, because there is no other one who can save from sin. Acts 4:12. (d) "repentance toward God" Mk 1:15 Verse 22. Bound in the spirit. Strongly urged or constrained by the influences of the Holy Spirit on my mind. Not by any desire to see the place where my fathers worshipped, and not urged merely by reason, but by the convictions and mighty promptings of the Holy Spirit to do my duty in this case. The expression "bound in the spirit"--δεδεμενοςτωπνευματι-- is one of great strength and emphasis. The word δεω, to bind, is usually applied to confinement by cords, fetters, or bands, Mt 13:30, 14:3, 21:2; and then denotes any strong obligation, Rom 7:2, or anything that strongly urges or impels, Mt 21:2. When we are strongly urged by the convictions of duty, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, we should not shrink from danger or from death. Duty is to be done at all hazards. It is ours to follow the directions of God; results we may safely and confidently leave with him. Not knowing the things that shall befall me there. He knew that calamities and trials of some kind awaited him, Acts 20:23, but he did not know (1.) of what particular kind they would be; nor (2.) their issue, whether it should be life or death. We should commit our way unto God, not knowing what trials may be before us in life; but knowing that, if we are found faithful at the post of duty, we have nothing to fear in the issue. (e) "go bound" Acts 19:21 (f) "knowing" Jas 4:14 Verse 23. Save that. Except that. This was all that he knew, that bonds and afflictions were to be his portion. The Holy Ghost witnesseth. Either by direct revelation to him, or by the predictions of inspired men whom Paul might meet. An instance of the latter mode occurs in Acts 21:11. It is probable that the meaning here is, that the Holy Ghost had deeply impressed the mind of Paul by his direct influences, and by his experience in every city, that bonds and trials were to be his portion. Such had been his experience in every city where he had preached the gospel by the direction of the Holy Ghost, that he regarded it as his certain portion that he was thus to be afflicted. In every city. In almost every city where Paul had been, he had been subjected to these trials. He had been persecuted, stoned, and scourged. So uniform was this, so constant had been his experience in this way, that he regarded it as his certain portion to be thus afflicted; and he approached Jerusalem, and every other city, with a confident expectation that such trials awaited him there. Saying. In his experience; by direct revelation; and by the mouth of prophets, Acts 21:11. When Paul was called to the apostleship, it was predicted that he would suffer much, Acts 9:16. Bonds. Chains. That I would be bound, as prisoners are who are confined. Abide me. See the margin. They remain or wait for me; i.e., I must expect to suffer them. (*) "Ghost" "Spirit" (g) "saying that bonds" Acts 9:16, 21:11 (1) "abide me" "wait for me" Verse 24. Move me. Alarm me, or deter me from my purpose. Gr., "I make an account of none of them." I do not regard them as of any moment, or as worth consideration, in the great purpose to which I have devoted my life. Neither count I my life. I do not consider my life as so valuable as to be retained by turning away from bonds and persecutions. I am certain of bonds and afflictions; I am willing also, if it be necessary, to lay down my life in the prosecution of the same purpose. Dear unto myself. So precious or valuable as to be retained at the sacrifice of duty. I am willing to sacrifice it, if it be necessary. This was the spirit of the Saviour, and of all the early Christians. Duty is of more importance than life; and when either duty or life is to be sacrificed, life is to be cheerfully surrendered. So that. This is my main object, to finish my course with joy. It is implied here, (1.) that this was the great purpose which Paul had in view. (2.) That if he should even lay down his life in this cause, it would be a finishing his course with joy. In the faithful discharge of duty, he had nothing to fear. Life would be ended with peace, whenever God should require him to finish his course. Finish my course. Close my career as an apostle and a Christian. Life is thus represented as a course, or race that is to be run, 2Ti 4:7, Heb 12:1, 1Cor 9:24, Acts 13:25. With joy. With the approbation of conscience and of God; with peace in the recollection of the past. Man should strive so to live that he will have nothing to regret when he lies on a bed of death. It is a glorious privilege to finish life with joy. It is most sad and awful when the last hours are embittered with the reflection that life has been wasted, or that the course has been evil. The only way in which the course of life may be finished with joy, is by meeting faithfully every duty, and encountering, as Paul did, every trial with a constant desire to glorify God. And the ministry. That I may fully discharge the duty of the apostolic office, the preaching of the gospel. In 2Ti 4:5, he charges Timothy to make full proof of his ministry. He here shows that this was the ruling principle of his own life. Which I have received of the Lord Jesus. Which the Lord Jesus has committed to me, Acts 9:15-17. Paul regarded his ministry as an office entrusted to him by the Lord Jesus himself. On this account he deemed it to be peculiarly sacred, and of high authority, Gal 1:12. Every minister has been entrusted with an office by the Lord Jesus. He is not his own; and his great aim should be, to discharge fully and entirely the duties of that office. To testify the Gospel. To bear witness to the good news of the favour of God. This is the great design of the ministry. It is to bear witness to a dying world of the good news that God is merciful, and that his favour may be made manifest to sinners. From this verse we may learn, (1,) that we all have a course to run; a duty to perform. Ministers have an allotted duty; and so have men in all ranks and professions. (2.) We should not be deterred by danger, or the fear of death, from the discharge of that duty. We are safe only when we are doing the will of God. We are really in danger only when we neglect our duty, and make the great God our enemy. (3.) We should so live as that the end of our course may be joy. It is, at best, a solemn thing to die; but death may be a scene of triumph and of joy. (4.) It matters little when, or where, or how we die, if we die in the discharge of our duty to God. He will order the circumstances of our departure; and he can sustain us in the last conflict. Happy is that life which is spent in doing the will of God, and peaceful that death which closes a life of toil and trial in the service of the Lord Jesus. (a) "ministry" 2Cor 4:1 (b) "received" Gall 1:1 Verse 25. I know that ye all. Perhaps this means simply, "I have no expectation of seeing you again; I have every reason to suppose that this is my final interview with you." He expected to visit Ephesus no more. The journey to Jerusalem was dangerous. Trials and persecutions he knew awaited him. Besides, it is evident that he designed to turn his attention to other countries, and to visit Rome; and probably had already formed the purpose of going into Spain. See Acts 19:21. Comp. Ro 15:23-28. From all these considerations it is evident that he had no expectation of being again at Ephesus: it is probable, however, that he did again return to that city. Acts 28:31. Among whom I have gone preaching. Among whom I have preached. The parting of a minister and people is among the most tender and affecting of the separations that occur on earth. The kingdom of God. Making known the nature of the reign of God on earth by the Messiah. Mt 3:2. Verse 26. Wherefore. διο. In view of the past, of my ministry and labours among you, I appeal to your own selves to testify that I have been faithful. I take you to record. Greek, I call you to witness; I appeal to you to testify. If any of you are lost, if you prove unfaithful to God, I appeal to yourselves that the fault is not mine. It is well when a minister can make this appeal, and call his hearers to bear testimony to his own faithfulness. Ministers who preach the gospel with fidelity, may thus appeal to their hearers; and in the day of judgment may call on them to witness that the fault of the ruin of the soul is not to be charged to them. That I am pure. I am not to be charged with the guilt of your condemnation, as owing to my unfaithfulness. This does not mean that he set up a claim to absolute perfection; but that, in the matter under consideration, he had a conscience void of offence. The blood of all men. The word blood is used often in the sense of death, of blood shed; and hence of the guilt or crime of putting one to death, or condemnation for it, Mt 23:35, 27:25, Acts 5:28, 18:6. It here means, that if they should die the second death, if they should be lost for ever, he would not be to blame. He had discharged his duty, in faithfully warning and teaching them; and now, if they were lost, the fault would be their own, not his. All men. All classes of men--Jews and Gentiles. He had warned and instructed all alike. Ministers may have many fears that their hearers will be lost. Their aim, however, should be (1.) to save them, if possible; and (2.) if they are lost, that it should be by no neglect or fault of theirs. (*) "record" "declare to you" (c) "pure from the blood" 2Cor 7:2 Verse 27. For. This verse contains a reason for what had been said in the previous verse. It shows why Paul regarded himself as innocent if they should be lost. I have not shunned. I have not kept back; I have not been deterred by fear, by the desire of popularity, by the fact that the doctrines of the gospel are unpalatable to men, from declaring them fully. The proper meaning of the word translated here, "I have not shunned," υπεστειλαμην is to disguise any important truth; to withdraw it from public view; to decline publishing it from fear, or an apprehension of the consequences. Paul means that he had not disguised any truth; he had not withdrawn or kept it from open view, by any apprehension of the effect which it might have on their minds. Truth may be disguised or kept back, (1.) by avoiding the subject altogether from timidity, or an apprehension of giving offence if it is openly proclaimed; or, (2.) by giving it too little prominency, so that it shall be lost in the multitude of other truths; or, (3.) by presenting it amidst a web of metaphysical speculations, by entangling it with other subjects; or, (4.) by making use of other terms than the Bible does, for the purpose of involving it in a mist, so that it cannot be understood. Men may resort to this course, (1.) because the truth itself will be unpalatable; (2.) because they may apprehend the loss of reputation or support; (3.) because they may not love the truth themselves, and choose to conceal its prominent and offensive points; (4.) because they may be afraid of the rich, the great, and the gay, and apprehend that they shall excite their indignation; and, (5.) by a love of metaphysical philosophy, and a constant effort to bring everything to the test of their own reason. Men often preach a philosophical explanation of a doctrine instead of the doctrine itself. They deserve the credit of ingenuity, but not that of being open and bold proclaimers of the truth of God. All the counsel, πασαντηνβουλην. The word counsel (βουλη), denotes, properly, consultation, deliberation; and then will or purpose, Lk 23:51, Acts 2:23. It means here the will or purpose of God, as revealed in regard to the salvation of men. Paul had made a full statement of that plan--of the guilt of men, of the claims of the law, of the need of a Saviour, of the provisions of mercy, and of the state of future rewards and punishments. Ministers ought to declare all that counsel, because God commands it; because it is needful for the salvation of men; and because the message is not theirs, but God's, and they have no right to change, to disguise, or to withhold it. And if it is the duty of ministers to declare that counsel, it is the duty of a people to listen to it with respect and candour, and with a desire to know the truth, and to be saved by it. Declaring the counsel of God will do no good, unless it is received into honest and humble hearts, and with a disposition to know what God has revealed for salvation. (d) "counsel" Ep 1:11 Verse 28. Take heed therefore. Attend to; be on your guard against the dangers which beset you, and seek to discharge your duty with fidelity. To yourselves. To your own piety, opinions, and mode of life. This is the first duty of a minister; for, without this, all his preaching will be vain. Compare Col 4:17, 1Timm 4:14. Ministers are beset with peculiar dangers and temptations, and against them they should be on their guard. In addition to the temptations which they have in common with other men, they are exposed to those peculiar to their office-- arising from flattery, and ambition, and despondency, and worldly- mindedness. And just in proportion to the importance of their office, is the importance of the injunction of Paul, to take heed to themselves. And to all the flock. The church; the charge entrusted to them. The church of Christ is often compared to a flock. Jn 10:1; and Jn 10:2-20; also Jn 21:16; and Jn 21:17. The word flock here refers particularly to the church, and not to the congregation in general, for it is represented to be that which was purchased with the blood of the atonement. The command here is, (1.) to take heed to the church; i.e., to instruct, teach, and guide it; to guard it from enemies, Acts 20:29 and to make it their special object to promote its welfare. (2.) To take heed to ALL the flock--the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, the old and the young. It is the duty of ministers to seek to promote the welfare of each individual of their charge--not to pass by the poor because they are poor; and not to be afraid of the rich because they are rich. A shepherd regards the interest of the tenderest of the fold as much as the strongest; and a faithful minister will seek to advance the interest of all. To do this, he should know all his people; should be acquainted, as far as possible, with their peculiar wants, character, and dangers, and should devote himself to their welfare as his first and main employment. Over the which the Holy Ghost. Though they had been appointed, doubtless, by the church, or by the apostles, yet it is here represented as having been done by the Holy Ghost. It is by him, (1.) because he had called and qualified them for their work; and, (2.) because they had been set apart in accordance with his direction and will. Overseers. επισκοπους. Bishops. The word properly denotes those who are appointed to oversee, or inspect anything. This passage proves that the name was applicable to elders; and that in the time of the apostles, the name bishop and presbyter, or elder, was given to the same class of officers, and, of course, that there was no distinction between them. One term was originally used to denote office, the other age, and both were applied to the same persons in the church. The same thing occurs in Tit 1:5-7, where those who in Acts 20:5 are called elders, are in Acts 20:7 called bishops. See also 1Timm 3:1-10, Php 1:1. To feed. ποιμαινειν. This word is properly applied to the care which a shepherd exercises over his flock. Jn 21:15,16. It applies not only to the act of feeding a flock, but also to that of protecting, guiding, and guarding it. It here denotes not merely the duty of properly instructing the church, but also of governing it; of securing it from enemies, Acts 20:29 and of directing its affairs so as to promote its edification and peace. The Church of God. This is one of the three passages in the New Testament, in regard to which there has been a long controversy among critics, which is not yet determined. The controversy is, whether this is the correct and genuine reading. The other two passages are, 1Timm 3:16, 1Jn 5:7. The Mss. and versions exhibit three readings: the church of GOD, τουθεου; the church OF THE LORD, τουκυριου; and the church of THE LORD and GOD, κυριουκαιθεου. The Latin vulgate reads it God; the Syriac, the Lord; the Arabic, the Lord God; the Ethiopic, the Christian family of God. The reading which now occurs in our text is found in no ancient Mss., except the Vatican codex; and occurs nowhere among the writings of the fathers, except in Athanasius, in regard to whom also there is a various reading. It is retained, however, by Beza, Mill, and Whitby, as the genuine reading. The most ancient Mss. and the best, read the church of the Lord, and this probably was the genuine text. It has been adopted by Griesbach and Wetstein; and many important reasons may be given why it should be retained. See those reasons stated at length in Kuin�el, in loco; see also Griesbach and Wetstein. It may be remarked, that a change from Lord to God might easily be made in the transcribing, for in ancient MSS. the words are not written at length, but are abbreviated. Thus, the name Christ χριστος is written χοε; the name God θεος is written θοε; the name Lord κυριος is written κοε; and a mistake, therefore, of a single letter, would lead to the variations observable in the manuscripts. Compare in this place the Note of Mill in his Greek Testament, who thinks that the name God should be retained. The authority, however, is so doubtful, that it should not be used as a proof-text on the divinity of Christ; and is not necessary, as there are so many undisputed passages on that subject. Which he hath purchased. The word here used περιεποιησατο occurs but in one other place in the New Testament: 1Timm 3:13, "For they that have used the office of deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith." The word properly means, to acquire or gain anything; or to make it ours. This may be done by a price, or by labour, etc. The noun περιποιησις derived from this verb, is several times used in the New Testament, and denotes acquisition. 1Thes 5:9: "God hath appointed us to obtain [unto the obtaining or acquisition of] salvation." 2Thes 2:14: "Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Pet 2:9, Tit 2:14, Eph 1:14. In this place it means that Christ had acquired, gained, or procured the church for himself, by paying his own life as the price. The church is often represented as having thus been bought with a price, 1Cor 6:20, 7:23, 2Pet 2:1. With his own blood. With the sacrifice of his own life; for blood is often put for life, and to shed the blood is equivalent to taking the life. Rom 3:25. The doctrines taught here are, (1.) that the death of Christ was an atoning sacrifice; that he offered himself to purchase a people to his own service. (2.) That the church is, therefore, of peculiar value-- a value to be estimated by the worth of the price paid for it. Comp. 1Pet 1:18,19. (3.) That this fact should make the purity and salvation of the church an object of special solicitude with the ministers of the gospel. They should be deeply affected in view of that blood which has been shed for the church; and they should guard and defend it as having been bought with the highest price in the universe. The chief consideration that will make ministers faithful and self-denying is, that the church has been bought with a price. If the Lord Jesus so loved it--if he gave himself for it--they should be willing to deny themselves; to watch, and toil, and pray, that the great object of his death--the purity and the salvation of that church--may be obtained. (e) "heed" Col 4:17, 1Timm 4:16 (f) "overseers" Heb 13:17 (g) "feed" Prov 10:21, Jer 3:15, Jn 21:15-17, 1Pet 5:2,3 (a) "purchased" Eph 1:14, Col 1:14, Heb 9:12,14, 1Pet 1:18,19, Rev 5:9 Verse 29. For I know this. By what he had seen in other places; by his knowledge of human nature, and of the dangers to which they were exposed; and by the guidance of inspiration. After my departing. His presence had been the means of guarding the church, and preserving it from these dangers. Now that the founder and guide of the church was to be removed, they would be exposed to dissensions and dangers. Grievous wolves. Heavy, βαρεις, strong, mighty, dangerous wolves--so strong that the feeble flock would not be able to resist them. The term wolves is used to denote the enemies of the flock--false, and hypocritical, and dangerous teachers. Compare Mt 10:16; Acts 7:15. Enter in among you. From abroad; doubtless referring particularly to the Jews, who might be expected to distract and divide them. Not sparing the flock. Seeking to destroy the church. The Jews would regard it with peculiar hostility, and would seek to destroy it in every way. Probably they would approach them with great professed friendship for them, and expressing a desire only to defend the laws of Moses. (b) "Grievous wolves" Mt 7:15, 2Pet 2:1 (c) "sparing the flock" Jer 13:20, 23:1, Eze 34:2,3, Zech 11:17 Verse 30. Also of your own selves. From your own church; from those who profess to be Christians. Speaking perverse things. Crooked, perverted, distracting doctrines, διεστραμμενα. Acts 13:10. They would proclaim doctrines tending to distract and divide the church. The most dangerous enemies which the church has had, have been nurtured in its own bosom, and have consisted of those who have perverted the true. doctrines of the gospel. Among the Ephesians, as among the Corinthians, 1Cor 1:11-13, there might be parties formed; there might be men influenced by ambition, like Diotrephes, 3Jn 1:9, or like Phygellus or Hermogenes, 2Ti 1:15, or like Hymeneus and Alexander, 1Timm 1:20. Men under the influence of ambition, or from the love of power or popularity, form parties in the church, produce divisions and distractions, and greatly retard its internal prosperity, and mar its peace. The church of Christ would have little to fear from external enemies if it nurtured no foes in its own bosom; and all the power of persecutors is not so much to be dreaded as the counsels and plans, the parties, strifes, heart-burnings, and contentions which are produced by those who have power, among the professed friends of Christ. (d) "of you own selves" 1Jn 2:19, Jude 1:4 Verse 31. Therefore watch. Mt 24:42. In view of the dangers which beset yourselves, Acts 20:28, the danger from men not connected with the church, Acts 20:29, and the danger that shall arise from the lovers of power among yourselves, Acts 20:30, be on your guard. Observe the approach of danger, and set yourselves against it. Remember. Recall my counsels and admonitions in reference to these dangers. By the space of three years. In Acts 19:10, we are told that Paul spent two years in the school of Tyrannus. In Acts 19:8, it is said that he was teaching in the synagogue at Ephesus three months. In addition to this it is not improbable that he spent some months more in Ephesus in instructing the church in other places. Perhaps, however, by the phrase three years, he meant to use merely a round number, denoting about three years; or, in accordance with the Jewish customs, part of each of the three years-- one whole year, and a considerable portion of the two others. Mt 12:40. I ceased not. I continued to do it. To warn. To admonish; to place before the mind, νουθετων; setting the danger and duty of each individual before him. Every one. He had thus set them an example of what he had enjoined, Acts 20:28. He had admonished each individual, whatever was his rank or standing. It is well when a minister can refer to his own example as an illustration of what he meant by his precepts. Night and day. Continually; by every opportunity. With tears. Expressive of his deep feeling and his deep interest in their welfare. Acts 20:19. (e) "watch" 2Ti 4:5 (*) "warn" "admonish" (f) "every one" Col 1:28 Verse 32. And now, brethren. About to leave them, probably to see them no more, he committed them to the faithful care and keeping of God. Amidst all the dangers of the church, when human strength fails or is withdrawn, we may commit that church to the safe keeping and tender care of God. I commend you. I commit you; I place you παρατιθεμαι in his hands, and under his protection. Acts 14:23. And to the word of his grace. That is, to his gracious word; to his merciful promise. To his doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ, which has been conferred on us by grace. Paul refers, doubtless, to the gospel --including its promises of support, its consoling truths, and its directions to seek all needful help and comfort in God. Which is able. Which has power. τωδυναμενω. Which word, or gospel, has power to build you up. Heb 4:12: "For the word of God is quick, [living, life-giving, ζων,] and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword," etc. Comp. Isa 49:2, Jer 23:29. "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" It is implied here, that the gospel is not a dead letter; that it has power to accomplish a great work; and that it is adapted to the end in view, the conversion and sanctification of the soul. There is no danger in representing the gospel as mighty, and as fitted by infinite wisdom to secure the renovation and salvation of man. Comp. Rom 1:16; 1Cor 1:18, 2Cor 10:4. To build you up. The word used here is properly applied to a house, which is reared and completed by slow degrees, and by toil. It here means to establish, make firm, or permanent; and hence to instruct, to establish in doctrine, and in hope. It here means that the word of God was able to confirm and establish them in the hopes of the gospel, amidst the dangers to which they would be exposed. And to give you an inheritance. To make you heirs; or to make you joint partakers with the saints of the blessings in reserve for the children of God. Those blessings are often represented as an inheritance, or heirship, which God will confer on his adopted children, Mt 19:29; Mt 25:34, Mk 10:17, Heb 6:12, Rev 21:7, Eph 1:11, 5:5, Col 1:12, 3:24 Rom 8:17, Gal 3:29. Among all them which are sanctified. With all who are holy; with all the saints. Jn 10:36. Those who shall be saved are made holy. They who receive a part in the inheritance beyond the grave, shall have it only among the sanctified and the pure. They must, therefore, be pure themselves, or they can have no part in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (a) "which is able" Jn 17:17 (b) "inheritance among" Acts 26:18, Col 1:12, Heb 9:15, 1Pet 1:4 Verse 33. I have coveted. I have not desired. I have not made it an object of my living among you to obtain your property. Thus 2Cor 12:14 he says, "I seek not yours, but you." Paul had power to demand support in the ministry as the reward of his labour, 1Cor 9:13,14. Yet he did not choose to exercise it, lest it should bring the charge of avarice against the ministry, 1Cor 9:12,15. Paul also had power in another respect. He had a vast influence over the people. The early Christians were disposed to commit their property to the disposal of the apostles. See Acts 4:34,35,37. The heathen had been accustomed to devote their property to the support of religion. Of this propensity, if the object of Paul had been to make money, he might have availed himself, and have become enriched. Deceivers often thus impose on people for the purpose of amassing wealth; and one of the incidental but striking proofs of the Christian religion is here furnished, in the appeal which the apostle Paul made to his hearers, that this had not been his motive for action. If it had been, how easy would it have been for them to have contradicted him! and who, in such circumstances, would have dared to make such an appeal? The circumstances of the case, therefore, prove that the object of the apostle was not to amass wealth. And this fact is an important proof of the truth of the religion which he defended. What should have induced him to labour and toil in this manner, but a conviction of the truth of Christianity? And if he really believed it was true, it is, in his circumstances, a strong proof that this religion is from heaven. See this proof stated in Faber's "Difficulties of Infidelity," and in Lord Lyttleton's "Letter on the Conversion of St. Paul." Or apparel. Raiment. Changes of raiment among the ancients, as at present among the orientals, constituted an important part of their property, Mt 6:19. (c) "I have coveted" 1Sam 12:3, 1Cor 7:12. Verse 34. Yea, ye yourselves know. By your own acquaintance with my manner of life. In Corinth he had lived and laboured with Apollos, Acts 18:3; and he refers elsewhere to the fact that he had supported himself, in part at least, by his own labour, 1Cor 4:12 1Thes 2:9, 2Thes 3:8. We may hence learn that it is no discredit to a minister to labour. Whatever it may be to a people who put him under a necessity to toil for his support, yet the example of Paul shows that a man should rejoice in the privilege of preaching the gospel, even if it is done while he is obliged to resort to labour for his daily bread. It is well when a minister of the gospel can make an appeal to his people like this of Paul, and say, "I have coveted no man's gold, or silver, or apparel." Every minister should so live that he can make this appeal to their own consciences of the sincerity and disinterestedness of his labours from the pulpit; or when called to separate from them as Paul did; or when on a dying bed. Every minister of the gospel, when he comes to lie down to die, will desire to be able to make this appeal, and to leave a solemn testimony there, that it was not for gold, or ease, or fame, that he toiled in the ministerial office. How much more influence can such a man have, than he who has been worldly-minded; who has sought to become rich; and the only memorials of whose life is, that he has sought "the fleece, not the flock," and that he has gained the property, not the souls of men. And every Christian, when he dies, should and will desire to leave a testimony as pure, that he has been disinterested, self-denying, and laborious in the cause of Jesus the Lord. (d) "yourselves know" Acts 18:3, 1Cor 4:12, 1Thes 2:9, 2Thes 3:8 Verse 35. I have shewed you. I have taught you by instruction and example. I have not merely discoursed about it, but have showed you how to do it. All things. Or, in respect to all things. In everything that respects preaching and the proper mode of life, I have for three years set you an example, illustrating the design, nature, and duties of the office by my own self-denials and toils. How that. Or that. οτι. I have showed you that ye should by so labouring support the weak. So labouring, Labouring as I have done. Setting this example, and ministering in this way to the wants of others. To support the weak. To provide for the wants of the sick and feeble members of the flock, who are unable to labour for themselves. The weak here denote the poor, the needy, the infirm. And to remember. To call to mind for encouragement, and with the force of a command. The words of the Lord Jesus. These words are nowhere recorded by the evangelists. But they did not pretend to record all his sayings and instructions. Comp. Jn 21:25. There is the highest reason to suppose that many of his sayings which are not recorded would be treasured up by those who heard them; would be transmitted to others; and would be regarded as a precious part of his instructions. Paul evidently addresses them as if they had heard this before, and were acquainted with it. Perhaps he had himself reminded them of it. This is one of the Redeemer's most precious sayings; and it seems even to have a peculiar value, from the fact that it is not recorded in the regular and professed histories of his life. It comes to us recovered, as it were, from the great mass of his unrecorded sayings; rescued from that oblivion to which it was hastening if left to mere tradition, and placed in permanent form in the sacred writings by the act of an apostle, who had never seen the Saviour before his crucifixion. It is a precious relic-- a memento of the Saviour--and the effect of it is to make us regret that more of his words were not recovered from an uncertain tradition, and placed in a permanent form by an inspired penman. God, however, who knows what is requisite to guide us, has directed the words which are needful for the welfare of the church, and has preserved by inspiration the doctrines which are adapted to convert and bless man. It is more blessed to give. It is a higher privilege; it tends more to the happiness of the individual, and of the world. The giver is more blessed or happy than the receiver. This appears, (1.) because it is a privilege to give to the wants of others; it is a condition for which we should be thankful; when we are in a situation to promote their felicity. (2.) Because it tends to promote the happiness of the benefactor himself. There is pleasure in the act of giving, when it is done with pure motives. It promotes our own peace; is followed by happiness in the recollection of it; and will be followed by happiness for ever. That is the most truly happy man, who is most benevolent. He is the most miserable, who has never known the luxury of doing good, but who lives to gain all he can, and to hoard all he gains. (3.) It is blessed in the reward that shall result from it. Those who give from a pure motive, God will bless. They shall be rewarded, not only in the peace which they shall experience in this life, but in the higher bliss of heaven, Mt 25:34-36. We may also remark, that this is a sentiment truly great and noble. It is worthy of the Son of God. It is that on which he himself acted, when he came to give pardon to the guilty, comfort to the disconsolate and the mourner, peace to the anxious sinner, sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, life to the dead, and heaven to the guilty and the lost. Acting on this, he gave his own tears to weep over human sorrows and human guilt; he gave his own labours and toils to instruct and save man; he gave his own life a sacrifice for sin on the cross; and he gave his Spirit to awaken and save those for whom he died. Loving to give, he has freely given us all things. Loving to give, he delights in the same character in his followers, and seeks that they who have wealth, and strength, and influence, should be willing to give all to save the world. Imitating his great example, and complying with his command, the church shall yet learn more and more to give its wealth to bless the poor and needy, its sons and its daughters to bear the gospel to the benighted heathen, and its undivided and constant efforts to save a lost world. Here closes this speech of Paul--an address of inimitable tenderness and beauty. Happy would it be if every minister could bid such an adieu to his people, when called to part from them; and happy if, at the close of life, every Christian could leave the world with a like consciousness that he had been faithful in the discharge of his duty. Thus dying, it will be blessed to leave the world; and thus would the example of the saints live in the memory of survivors long after they themselves have ascended to their rest. (e) "to support the weak" Rom 15:1, Eph 4:28, 1Thes 5:14 (*) "weak" "Infirm" (f) "how he said" Lk 14:12-14 Verse 36. He kneeled down. The usual attitude of prayer. It is the proper posture of a suppliant. It indicates reverence and humility; and is represented in the Scriptures as the common attitude of devotion, 2Chr 6:13, Dan 6:10, Lk 22:41, Acts 7:60, 9:40, 21:5, Rom 11:4, Php 2:10; Eph 3:14, Mk 1:40. (a) "kneeled down" Acts 21:5. Verse 37. Wept sore. Wept much. Greek, "There was a great weeping of all." And fell on, Paul's neck. Embraced him, as a token of tender affection. The same thing Joseph did when he met his aged father Jacob, Gen 46:29. And kissed him. This was the common token of affection. Note, Mt 26:48, Lk 15:20, Rom 16:16, 1Cor 16:20. (b) "fell on Paul's neck" Gen 46:29. Verse 38. Sorrowing most of all, etc. This was a most tender and affectionate parting scene. It can be more easily imagined than described. We may learn from it, (1.) that the parting of ministers and people is a most solemn event, and should be one of much tenderness and affection. (2.) The effect of true religion is to make the heart more tender; to make friendship more affectionate and sacred; and to unite more closely the bonds of love. (3.) Ministers of the gospel should be prepared to leave their people with the same consciousness of fidelity, and the same kindness and love, which Paul evinced. They should live such lives as to be able to look back upon their whole ministry as pure and disinterested; and as having been employed in guarding the flock, and in making known to them the whole counsel of God. So parting, they may part in peace. And so living, and acting, they will be prepared to give up their account with joy, and not with grief. May God grant to every minister the spirit which Paul evinced at Ephesus, and enable each one, when called to leave his people by death or otherwise, to do it with the same consciousness of fidelity which Paul evinced, when he left his people to see their face no more! (c) "words" Acts 20:25
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