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Jesus Fish 3

Acts: Chapter 20

Written By: Steve Shirley

     Let’s begin by reading (Acts 20:1-12). 

     (Verses 1-2) “And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. (2) And when he had gone over those parts (that region), and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,”

     After the “uproar” ended in Ephesus over the idolatry of Diana, Paul left Ephesus and headed to Macedonia. (Before moving on, please find a map showing Paul’s “3rd Missionary Journey.” This can be found at the back of most Bibles.)

     The “Believer’s Bible Commentary” tells us this: “From verse 1 it would appear that the apostle traveled directly from Ephesus to Macedonia. However, from 2 Corinthians we learn that he first went to Troas. There he found an open door to preach the gospel but was anxious to see Titus and to learn from him how the Corinthians had received his First Epistle. When he did not find Titus in Troas, he crossed over the Aegean Sea to Macedonia (my note: see 2 Cor 2:11-12). Undoubtedly he landed at Neapolis, then traveled to Philippi. While in Macedonia, probably at Philippi, he met Titus and was greatly encouraged by the news from Corinth (my note: see 2 Cor 7:5-7,13). It was probably at this time that he wrote 2 Corinthians (A.D. 56?) (my note: see 2 Cor 7:5, 8:1, 9:2,4).”

     “Macedonia” – As we first mentioned in (Acts 16:9), Macedonia was: “A country lying N of Greece, whose rivers were the Strymon and the Axius, and whose mountains included Olympus and Athos. Some of its chief cities were Amphipolis, Apollonia, Berea, Neapolis, Philippi, and Thessalonica. It was conquered by the Romans, 168 B.C. Under the famous Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great, it attained the summit of its power (359-323 B.C.).” (From “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”)

     We are not told how long Paul stayed in the region of Macedonia, “giving them much exhortation,” but when he finished, he headed south to Greece.


     (Verse 3)(NKJV) “and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.”

     Paul stayed in Greece for “3 months,” with most of this time likely in Corinth (the capital of the region of “Achaia”). Sometime during these 3 months, Paul likely wrote his letter to the Romans. As we have seen in the past (i.e. Acts 9:23-24, Acts 14:19, Acts 17:13, Acts 18:6,12-13), the Jews were after Paul again. “Plotted against him” certainly means they “plotted to kill Paul.”

     From the “MacArthur Study Bible” – “Luke does not record the details of the Jews’ plot, but it undoubtedly involved murdering Paul during the voyage to Palestine. The apostle would have been an easy target on a small ship packed with Jewish pilgrims. Because of that danger, Paul canceled his plans to sail from Greece to Syria. Instead, he decided to go N into Macedonia, cross the Aegean Sea to Asia Minor, and catch another ship from there. That delay cost Paul his opportunity to reach Palestine in time for Passover; but he hurried to be there in time for Pentecost (v. 16).” (He celebrated Passover with the believers in Philippi [see v. 6].)

     So again, looking at the Missionary Journey map, we can see that Paul went back to the place he had come to Greece (i.e. Corinth) from. Also, we can see on the map the long journey to Syria Paul would have taken, if the plot of the Jews hadn’t changed his plans.


     (Verse 4)(NKJV) “And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.”

     “Sopater” – We know virtually nothing about this man, other than he was from Berea. Nearly all Bible versions, outside of the KJV and NKJV, also call him “son of Pyrrhus.” Most scholars believe that the man named “Sosipater” in (Rom 16:21) is also him. If so, Paul calls him one of his “countrymen.”

     “Aristarchus” – (name means “the best ruler”) A Macedonian of Thessalonica, he is mentioned by name 5 times in the NT (Acts 19:29)(here)(Acts 27:2)(Col 4:10)(Phile 24). In looking at the 5 verses, we see that he was a close companion of Paul’s.

     “Secundus” – From Thessalonica, Secundus is mentioned only in this one verse in the NT. Therefore, we know nothing about him.

     “Gaius” – Again, as we mentioned in (Acts 19:29), the name “Gaius” is mentioned 5 times in the NT: (Acts 19:29)(here)(Rom 16:23)(1 Cor 1:14)(3 Jn 1). It is unclear if any of these 5 are the same man or not. This Gaius is from Derbe, which was a city in the province of Galatia.

     “Timothy” – Paul calls Timothy his “son” in (1 Tim 1:2,18)(2 Tim 1:2)(1 Cor 4:17), indicating his close relationship with him. See the beginning of our study on Acts 16 for a biography on him.

     “Tychicus” – From Asia, Tychicus is mentioned by name 5 times in the NT: (here)(Eph 6:21)(Col 4:7)(2 Tim 4:12)(Titus 3:12). In (Eph 6:21)(Col 4:7), Paul calls him “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord.” He delivered Paul’s letters from Rome to the Ephesians (Eph 6:21-22), and the Colossians (along with Onesimus) (Col 4:7-10). (Also see KJV footnote at the end of Ephesians and Colossians.)

     “Trophimus” – Trophimus is mentioned by name 3 times in the NT: (here)(Acts 21:29)(2 Tim 4:20). I will use the “Nelson’s Bible Dictionary” to summarize his mention in (Acts Ch. 21): “When certain Jews saw Trophimus the Ephesian with Paul in Jerusalem, they supposed that Paul had brought “Greeks” (uncircumcised Gentiles) into the court of Israel (an inner court beyond the Court of the Gentiles), defiling the Temple (Acts 21:28-29). The people seized Paul, dragged him out of the Temple, and tried to kill him. But Paul was rescued by the commander of the Roman garrison and sent to Rome for trial.” Later, near the end of his life, Paul mentions in (2 Tim 4:20), that because Trophimus was sick, he had to leave him in Miletus (see “Note” below in verse 15).

     Each of these 7 men likely represented the different churches that sent money for the financial assistance of the church at Jerusalem (see: 1 Cor 16:1-4).

     The “Life Application Bible” says this: “These men traveling with Paul represented churches he had started in Asia. Each man was carrying an offering from his home church to the believers in Jerusalem. Paul’s strategy of having each man deliver the gift gave the gift a personal touch and promoted unity of believers. It was also an effective way to teach the church about giving, for the men were able to report to their churches what they had seen. Paul discussed this gift in one of his letters to the Corinthian church (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-21).”


     (Verses 5-6)(NKJV) “These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. (6) But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.”

     “These men, going ahead” – Combining the previous verses with these two verses, it appears that the 7 men listed in (verse 4) left from Greece with Paul, and accompanied him to Philippi (Macedonia in Asia Minor). Upon arriving, Paul immediately sent them on ahead to Troas. However, he stayed in Philippi (with Luke) until after the Feast of Unleavened Bread had ended.

     “waited for us / we sailed” – Notice the change from 3rd person “they /them,” to the 1st person “us / we.” This indicates that the author Luke has again rejoined Paul in Philippi (continuing to verse 15). The last time we saw Luke with Paul was when Paul was in Troas, and traveled to Philippi (see: Acts 16:10-17). Other “we” sections are found in (Acts 21:1-18)(Acts 27:1-28:16)

      “the Days of Unleavened Bread” – This is the “Feast of Unleavened Bread,” which was a 7 day festival that God commanded the Israelites to keep. It was celebrated on the 15th – 21st of Nisan (app. our March/April) (Lev 23:-4-8)(Ex 12:14-20), and it followed the Passover, which was to be celebrated on the 14th of Nisan (Lev 23:4-8)(Ex 12:14-20). During the first day of this week, they were commanded to remove all leaven from their houses, and they were not to eat any bread which contained leaven for the whole week.

     “in five days joined them at Troas” – In (Acts 16:11-12), we saw this same journey being undertaken in reverse (Troas to Neopolis / Philippi), and it took “two days.” They either must have been facing bad weather / strong headwinds, or they made an unrecorded stop, in order to take “five days.”


     (Verse 7) “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow (“the next day”); and continued his speech until midnight.”

     In (Verse 6), we are told that when Paul arrived at Troas, he “stayed seven days.” Combining that with this verse, here is a likely timeline. Paul left Philippi several days after completion of the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” (mid-week – Wednesday), and spent 5 days on the sea, arriving at Troas probably on Monday. He spent the next 5 days likely ministering to the saints in Troas, and then gathered with the “church” on the “first day of the week” (Sunday) to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and preach. He “departed the next day” (Monday).


     “the first day of the week” (Sunday)- The question is sometimes asked: “Why do Christians worship on Sunday, instead of the Sabbath day (Saturday), as God commanded in the 4th Commandment (Ex 20:8-11)?” In short, the Resurrection of Jesus occurred on a Sunday (Mk 16:9)(Lk 24:1)(Jn 20:1), and after His Resurrection, we see Christians gathering on Sunday to honor this day in verses like this, and (1 Cor 16:1-2). Today, Christians continue this tradition.

     It is also significant to note that after Jesus arose from the dead on Sunday, He showed the importance of this day by appearing to the disciples on the following two Sundays (See: Jn 20:19,26). In addition, the Holy Spirit was later given on Sunday (Acts 2:1). In (Rev 1:10), John gives us the term “the Lord’s Day,” for the “first day of the week.” The “Liberty Bible Commentary” tells us, “This observance of the first day of the week is corroborated by the early fathers in the writings of Barnabas (A.D. 100), Ignatius (A.D. 107), Justin Martyr (A.D. 145-150), and Irenaeus (A.D. 155-202).”

      It is very important to understand that a great number of the laws, rules, and traditions God gave the Jewish people to follow in the Old Testament had a single purpose: to point to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Can you think of some of these?


     The Sabbath Day is another example of this. The Sabbath Day was a symbol of rest. It pointed to Jesus Christ who is now our rest (See: Heb 4). The Sabbath was a shadow of the substance that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (See: Col 2:16-17). The Sabbath was also given as a sign to Israel (Ex 31:13-17)(Ezek 20:12). Nowhere is it given as a sign to the church in the New Testament. This is very important to understand. Nowhere in the New Testament are Christians told to keep the Sabbath Day. Nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament as laws to be kept, with only keeping the Sabbath Day omitted. On the contrary, God tells us in several places that we are no longer to be held accountable for the day we choose to honor the Lord (Col 2:16-17)(Rom 14:5-6)(Gal 4:9-10).

     For more on this subject, you can go here:


      “the disciples come together to break bread” – What does “breaking bread” together mean?


     Let’s turn to 3 sections of Scripture: First (Acts 2:42-46), Second (1 Cor 10:16-17), Third (1 Cor 11:17-34).


     “Paul preached to them” – The Greek word used for “preached” here is “dialegomai.” It is defined by Strong’s as: “to say thoroughly, i.e. discuss (in argument or exhortation).” It is translated elsewhere as to “reason” (Acts 17:2)(Acts 18:4,19)(Acts 24:25), and “dispute” (Mk 9:34)(Acts 17:17)(Acts 19:8,9)(Acts 24:12)(Jude 1:9).

     “Paul…. continued his speech until midnight…” (verse 11) even till daybreak” – Do you think your pastor’s sermon is long?


     (Verses 8-9) “And there were many lights (“lamps”) in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. (9) And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down (was “overcome”) with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.”

     “the upper chamber” – A meeting of believers in the “upper chamber (“room”),” similar to the “upper room” that Jesus and the disciples met in for the “Last Supper’ (Mk 14:15)(Lk 22:12), and the “brethren” prayed in right before the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost (Acts 1:13). As we have discussed earlier in Acts, this may have been the site of a “house church,” which were the primary churches in early NT times (see: Rom 16:3-5,23, 1 Cor 16:19, Col 4:15, Phile 1:1-2).

     It seems very likely that the heat from the “lamps,” and the body heat of those gathered, would have made the room hot. To help with this, Eutychus probably “sat in a window,” where it might have been a little cooler. The heat, combined with the late hour, probably led to his falling asleep.


     (Verses 10-12) “And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. (11) When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. (12) And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

     “Paul… fell on him” – Paul is doing the same thing here that both Elijah and Elisha did in the Old Testament when a “young man” had died, stretching themselves out over the dead body (1 Kin 17:21-22)(2 Kin 4:34-35).

     “trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him” – Because Paul says this, some believe that Eutychus had not really “died,” but instead was gravely injured, and unconscious. Two reasons for this being wrong: 1. Luke, the doctor who wrote this, would know if Eutychus was actually dead or not, and he says he was “taken up dead,” 2. In (Verse 13), Luke continues saying, “they brought the young man alive,” again implying that he had been dead.

     Jesus said something similar before raising the “little girl” of the ruler of the synagogue, and the crowd “ridiculed him” (Mt 9:24-25)(Mk 5:39-42)(Lk 8:52-55).

     “and talked a long while” – (From the “Cambridge Bible Commentary”) – “The verb implies the talking of persons one with another, the talk of friendly intercourse, as distinguished from the previous discourse on more solemn subjects of the spread of Christ’s kingdom and the part each of them might take in helping it on.”


     Next, let’s read (Acts 20:13-24).

     (Verses 13-14)(NKJV) “Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. (14) And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.”

     Let’s look at our Missionary Journey map again.

     Leaving on Monday (see v. 7), Paul again (as in verses 5-6) sent the 7 men traveling with him ahead without him, this time sending Luke with them. He sent them by boat to Assos, while he decided to walk there. The distance between Troas and Assos was about 20 miles. However, if going by boat, there was a peninsula (Cape Lectum, today Cape Baba) you had to go around (see map) to get from Troas to Assos, making the journey about twice as long (40 miles). Therefore, Paul may have arrived in Assos around the same time they did.

     Why do you think Paul decided to “walk” to Assos?


     “Assos” – (today Behram) (From “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”) – “A seaport town in Mysia, on the northern shore of the Gulf of Adramyttium… opposite Lesbos… Assos was excavated by an American expedition directed by J.T. Clarke and F.H. Bacon (1881-83). At the site may be seen the remains of a city wall (fourth century B.C.), a temple of Athena (sixth century B.C.), and agora (third-second century B.C.), a gymnasium (second century B.C.), and a theatre (third century B.C.).”

     “Mitylene” – About 30 miles south of Assos, Mitylene was/is located on SE shore of the island of Lesbos (in the Aegean Sea), and was its capital. Unger’s mentions that: “It was a favorite resort area for Roman aristocrats. Sappho, Alcaeus, Pittacas, and Theophrastus were natives of Mitylene.”

***Note: (From “”) – “The word “lesbian” comes from the name of the Greek island Lesbos, where Sappho was born. She was an ancient Greek woman who wrote poems that included homosexual themes. The term “sapphic,” named for this poet, also refers to female homosexuality.”


     (Verse 15)(NKJV) “We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus.”

     “Chios” – About 56 miles S of Mitylene (Lesbos), Chios was/is another island in the Aegean Sea. It is about 32 miles long, and from 8 to 18 miles wide. “Nelson’s Bible Dictionary” says, “The island was famous for its wine, wheat, figs, and gum mastic. Paul did not make a stop on this island, but went past (“came opposite”) it on the way to Samos.

     “Samos” – (Again, from “Unger’s) – “It was the seat of the worship of Juno, and her temple, called the Heraeon, was enriched by some of the finest works of art known in Greece. Its chief manufacture was pottery of fine red clay, the Samian ware celebrated all over the civilized world. Its wine (“Levantine”) ranks high.” It was the birthplace of famed mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (570 – 495 B.C.). (His bust can be seen today in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.)

     “Trogyllium” – Trogyllium was a city on west coast of Asia Minor (the mainland), about 20 miles S of Ephesus. It was east of Samos, being separated from it by a one mile wide channel. Virtually nothing is known about this city.

     “Miletus” – (From “Nelson’s Bible Dictionary”) – “An ancient seaport in Asia Minor… situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Miletus was about (37 miles) south of Ephesus and on the south side of the Bay of Latmus… Colonized by Cretans and others, Miletus became a leading harbor during the Greek and Persian periods. It prospered economically and boasted a celebrated temple of Apollo.” Ruins of a 15,000 seat theater, a council chamber, baths, agoras, a gymnasium, and stadium can still be seen today.

***Note: It is interesting to note that in the last Epistle Paul wrote before his death (2 Tim 4:20), he says “Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.” As we mentioned above in (verse 4), we see Trophimus in the next chapter of Acts with Paul in Jerusalem. So, when did Paul leave a sick Trophimus in Miletus? Apparently, he must have accompanied Paul on his journey from Jerusalem to Rome (which we will see later in Acts), but he didn’t make it to Rome because of his sickness, and had to be left behind at Miletus (just north of an area where Paul’s ship sailed on the way to Rome: see Missionary map).


     (Verses 16-17)(NKJV) “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost. (17) From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.”

     As we first mentioned in (Acts 19:21), Paul had a plan to get to Jerusalem. Originally, it appears that he wanted to be there for Passover, however, after he learned of “the Jews plot” to kill him while on the boat to Jerusalem (verse 3), Paul had to change his plans. He ended up celebrating Passover in Philippi (verse 6). Now, Paul’s new plan is to be in Jerusalem for “the Day of Pentecost” (celebrated 50 days after Passover). Because that day was soon approaching, Paul decided that stopping at Ephesus again would cause him to miss Pentecost.

***Note: As we discussed above in (verse 4), Paul also would have wanted to get to Jerusalem as soon as possible to deliver the financial gift that the different churches had collected for the church there.

     Instead, Paul landed at Miletus (about 37 mi. S of Ephesus), and called for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him there for a quick meeting.


     (Verses 18-21) “And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, (19) Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: (20) And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, (21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

     From this point, to the end of the chapter is Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders.

     In these 4 verses, Paul begins his speech to the elders by reminding them of what had happened during the 3 years (verse 31) he had previously “served” (Gr. “douleuo” – “to serve as a slave, to be a slave, to be in bondage” [Strong’s]) them (see: Acts Ch. 19). He had “humility of mind, tears, and temptations (Gr. “peirasmos” – the only time the word “temptation” is used in Acts),” which resulted from the continual persecution of the Jews. (Note: This speech to the Ephesian elders would not even be happening if it wasn’t for the Jews desire to kill him that we previously mentioned in [verse 3].) 

     However, in spite of this persecution, Paul boldly continued to go “from house to house, teaching them publicly” (see: Acts 19:8-9), and sharing the Gospel (“repentance towards God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”).


     (Verses 22-24) “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: (23) Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. (24) But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

     “bound” – The Greek word “deo” is used for “bound.” The “Cambridge Commentary” defines how this word is used here as, “The verb implies that he felt there was no freeing himself from the impulse to go.” Similar uses of this word are found in: (Rom 7:2)(1 Cor 7:27,39)(2 Tim 2:9).

     “not knowing what things that shall befall me there” – At this time, while Paul expected trials and persecutions when he arrived in Jerusalem, he did not know what these might be. However, after he leaves Miletus at the end of this chapter, and continues towards Jerusalem in the next chapter (Acts Ch. 21), he encounters a prophet from Judea named Agabus while he is in Caesarea. This prophet tells him that he will be bound, arrested, and imprisoned (Acts 21:10-11) in Jerusalem. This happened soon afterwards in (Acts 21:30-36)(Acts 22:23-29).

     “neither count I my life dear unto myself” – Paul was willing to share the Gospel at any cost, including dying if necessary (also see: Acts 21:13, Phil 1:20-24, 1 Cor 9:16).

     “I might finish my course” – Years later, while writing at the end of his life, Paul says this in (2 Tim 4:7), “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” In several other verses, He compares life to a “race” (1 Cor 9:24)(Gal 2:2)(Gal 5:7)(Phil 2:16).

     “to testify the gospel of the grace (Gr. “charis“) of God” – Many verses in the New Testament testify to the “grace of God” i.e. (Rom 3:22-24)(2 Cor 9:14)(Eph 1:7)(Eph 2:8-9)(Titus 2:11)(1 Pet 5:10). (For more on the “grace of God” you can go here:

     In relation to these verses, the “Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible” says this, “Some say that Paul was out of the will of God in going to Jerusalem after the warnings of bonds and afflictions. But there is no evidence that Paul was rebelling against God. On the contrary, Jesus Himself confirmed that the trip was part of His good and perfect will (23:11). While Paul was in a Jerusalem prison, Jesus appeared to him to tell him to take courage. The Lord explained to Paul that just as he had solemnly witnessed for the cause of Christ at Jerusalem, he would do the same in Rome. There was no condemnation, but rather affirmation, of the fact that Paul bore witness to Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.”


     Next, let’s read (Acts 20:25-31).

     (Verses 25-27) “And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. (26) Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. (27) For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”

     “shall see my face no more” – From the “Zondervan NIV Study Bible” – “Not a message from God, but what Paul anticipated. He had been mistaken before in his plans: He had intended to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, but he had to leave earlier (see v.1; 1 Co 16:8-9). His prophetic power was not used to foresee his own future, just as his healing power was not used to heal his own disease (see 2 Co 12:7-9). As it turned out, it seems that Paul did revisit Ephesus (see 1 Ti 1:3).”

     “I am pure from the blood of all men” – As we previously mentioned in (Acts 18:6), after Paul had “declared the whole counsel of God” (i.e. had fully shared the Gospel), and had “warned” his audience of the consequences of rejecting Jesus’ payment for sin, he no longer felt responsible if they rejected his message. He was free from their “blood” (also see: Ezek 3:18-21, Ezek 33:8-9).


     (Verses 28-31) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed (shepherd) the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (30) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”

     “the Holy Ghost has made you overseers” – The Greek word for “overseer” is “episkopos.” It is translated in 6 other places in the NT as “bishop.” As “overseers” of “the church of God,” appointed by the Holy Spirit, leaders are to feed (“shepherd”) their flock. Jesus gave this commission to Peter in (Jn 21:15-19).

     “church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” – There is some debate amongst scholars as to the meaning of this phrase. The plain reading would seem to point to Jesus being God. However, the translation of these words by others is summed up in the “Zondervan NIV Study Bible” – “Lit. “the blood of his own dear one,” a term of endearment (such as “his own dear one,” referring to his own Son).”

     “shall grievous wolves enter in among you” – “Wolves” here is referring to “false prophets.” Jesus warned about them in the Book of Matthew: (Mt 7:15) “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves,” (Mt 10:16) “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (also see: Lk 10:3)

     “Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples” – Not only were attacks to the church going to come from “wolves” on the outside (verse 28), but also from the inside.

     As we mentioned in the “Biography of Timothy” in Acts Chapter 16, tradition says that Timothy became the first bishop of the church at Ephesus. Whether true or not, we do know that Timothy was stationed there for long periods of time. In writing to Timothy while he was at Ephesus, Paul sends other warnings to him (1 Tim 1:3-7)(1 Tim 6:20-21), and mentions two men “from within” (“of your own selves”) named “Hymenaeus and Alexander,” who (he) delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (Also see: 2 Tim 2:16-18, where Hymenaeus is mentioned again, along with a different partner in sin named Philetus.)

***Note: In writing to the “Church of Ephesus” in (Rev 2:1-8), Jesus commends the Ephesian Church for obeying the warnings given, and not “bearing with those who are evil” (Rev 2:2).

     “Therefore watch” – “Watch” (Gr. “gregoreuo“), echoing the word used by Christ (Mt 24:42,43)(Mt 25:13)(Mt 26:38,40,41)(Mk 13:34,35,37)(Mk 14:34,37,38). (Also see: 1 Cor 16:13, Col 4:2, 1 Th 5:6)

     “the space of three years” – The time Paul was in Ephesus in the previous chapter (19).


     Finally, let’s read (Acts 20:32-38).

     (Verses 32-35) “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (33) I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. (34) Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. (35) I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

     “and to give you an inheritance” – (From the “Barnes Commentary”) – “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)(Eph 5:5)(Col 1:12)(Col 3:24)(Rom 8:17)(Gal 3:29).”

     “among all them which are sanctified” – (Also from the “Barnes Commentary”) – “With all who are holy; with an the saints… Those who shall be saved are made holy. They who receive a part in the inheritance beyond the grave will 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.” (Heb 12:19) “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

     “I have coveted no man’s silver, gold, or apparel” – Paul distinguishes himself from “false prophets,” and “false teachers,” whose primary motive is generally to make a profit off of others i.e. (Titus 1:11)(1 Pet 5:2)(2 Pet 2:1-3)(Mic 3:11). 

***Note: A good parallel between Paul and Samuel is found in (1 Sam 12:1-5). Let’s look at that.

***Note: Unlike today, in Bible times, “apparel” was of great value (equal to gold in many cases) (1 Sam 27:9)(2 Kin 5:5,22-23)(Gen 24:53)(Gen 45:22)(Amos 2:8)(Zech 14:14)(Ex 3:22)(Judg 14:12)(Jn 19:23-24)(1 Tim 2:9). 

***Note: Related: “Why did people tear their clothes in the Bible?” –” 


     “these hands have ministered to my own necessities, and to them that were with me” – While Paul had a right to be supported by others financially in his ministry work (1 Cor 9:3-14)(1 Tim 5:17-18)(Mt 10:9-10)(Lk 10:7)(2 Th 3:9), he often chose to work to support himself, so as to not be a burden to those he was ministering to (1 Th 2:9)(2 Th 3:7-9)(1 Cor 4:12)(1 Cor 9:12)(2 Cor 12:13)(Acts 18:2-3).


***Small Rabbit Trail***

     “I have shewed you all things” – (From “Vincent’s Word Studies”) – “The verb means to shew by example.” In other words, Paul has set an example for them to follow. Would you feel comfortable telling someone to follow the way you live your life? Should you be?


     What should be the primary goal of all Christians? (Eph 4:13,15)(Phil 3:12-14)(2 Cor 3:17-18)(Rom 8:29)


     Let’s look at a few more verses related to this: (Mt 16:24)(Jn 13:15)(Mt 11:29)(1 Pet 2:21).

     And, some more from Paul: (1 Cor 11:1)(1 Cor 4:16)(Phil 3:17)(Phil 4:9)(Gal 4:12)(2 Th 3:7-9).


     “support the weak” – A concept stressed over, and over, and over in the Bible i.e. (1 Th 5:14)(Heb 12:12)(Rom 15:1)(Prov 31:8-9)(Ps 41:1)(Ps 82:2-4)(Ps 140:12)(Isa 35:3)(Jer 22:3)(Mic 6:8).

     “the words of the Lord Jesus…. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” These words of Jesus are recorded nowhere in the Gospels. This is the only example of a phrase spoken by Jesus that is “not” found in the Gospels. (Jn 21:25) “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”


     (Verses 36-38) “And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. (37) And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, (38) Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”

     “fell on Paul’s neck” – This phrase is used 5 times in the Bible (Gen 33:4)(Gen 46:29)(Gen 45:14)(Lk 15:20)(Acts 20:37). While similar to a “hug,” in its uses, it appears to be more emotional. In all but (Lk 15:20 – a parable), “weeping” is connected with it.

     “kissed him” – In Bible times, when two people greeted each other, or were leaving, a “kiss” was often given as a way to show love, affection, and friendship between them. We see examples of this in the Old Testament. Friends David and Jonathan “kissed” before departing (1 Sam 20:41-42). Laban “ran to meet” Jacob, and greeted him with a kiss (Gen 29:13). Esau did the same thing with Jacob (Gen 33:4).

     In some cultures today, primarily in the East, we still see people practice this. This “kiss” is almost always between one man and another, or one woman and another, and not between different sexes. The “kiss” is generally done on the cheek, although at times it is done on the lips. I have read that this custom was also practiced in the West until around the 13th century, when it was for the most part abolished. Today, in the West, we primarily use a handshake or a hug instead of a kiss. (For more on this, see:

     “Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more” – While they were sad to see Paul go, the thing that made them most sad is that Paul told them (verse 25) it would be the last time they would ever see him. (This apparently was false, see above.)

Copyright: © Steve Shirley