Acts 20 Bible Study
What "uproar" (Acts 20:1) ceased?
The one led by Demetrius in Ephesus just after Paul decided to leave Ephesus (see Acts 19).
Why did Paul go to "Macedonia" (Acts 20:1) and "Greece" (Acts 20:2)?
To visit and encourage the churches there, as well as to round up those who will be carrying the financial gift from these churches to the church in Jerusalem, which once again (see Acts 11) was suffering through a famine. Before he left Ephesus, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth of Greece (Achaia), "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me." (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
Where in "Greece" (Acts 20:2) did Paul go and how long did he stay?
He most likely spent the "three months" (Acts 20:3) at Corinth, as he had also written to the Corinthians before leaving Ephesus: "Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits." (1 Corinthians 16:5-7)
How did Paul adapt his plans after learning that "the Jews
plotted against him" (Acts 20:3)?
Instead of taking a ship to "sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia" (Acts 20:3) and take a ship from there.
How many disciples sailed from Corinth in Greece to wait for Paul at Troas in Turkey?
Why so many?
They were carrying the financial gift from their respective churches to the church in Jerusalem: "Sopater of Berea" (Acts 20:4) in Macedonia; "Aristarchus and Secundus" (Acts 20:4) of the church in Thessalonica, which is also in Macedonia; "Gaius of Derbe" (Acts 20:4), which was in Galatia of Turkey; and "Tychicus and Trophimus" (Acts 20:4) from the other churches in Turkey.
Who was carrying the gift from the church in Corinth?
Most likely "Timothy". (Acts 20:4)
Where did Paul spend "the Days of Unleavened Bread" (Acts 20:6)?
He spent the Days of Unleavened Bread, also called the Passover, at "Philippi" (Acts 20:6), from where he sailed to Troas to rendezvous with the others.
Why does the Bible say "we sailed" (Acts 20:6)?
Paul left Philippi with Luke, who wrote Acts and who most likely was carrying the financial gift from the church at Philippi.
Why did the "disciples" (Acts 20:7) come together?
To celebrate the Lord's supper - "break bread" (Acts 20:7) - on the Sunday - "the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7) - before Paul's departure "the next day" (Acts 20:7).
Why were there "many lamps in the upper room where they
were gathered together" (Acts 20:8)?
The upper room was most probably packed with people and many lamps had been lit so that everyone could see Paul as he "spoke to them" (Acts 20:7).
Why did "Eutychus" (Acts 20:9) fall asleep?
Paul's message could have been very boring (unlikely) or Eutychus could have been very tired. Since Luke mentions "there were many lamps" (Acts 20:8) just before Eutychus falling asleep, the heat from those lamps may have been a, if not the, contributing factor.
Did the fall kill Eutychus or did the people mistakenly think that he had been killed?
Luke observed that he was "dead" (Acts 20:9).
Why does Luke's observation carry weight?
He is a doctor: "Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you." (Colossians 4:14)
What happened after "Paul went down, fell on him, and"
(Acts 20:10) embraced him?
His life was returned to him: "his life is in him" (Acts 20:10).
What did Paul do thereafter?
He went back "up" (Acts 20:11) and continued his message "even till daybreak" (Acts 20:11), and then departed.
Where is "Assos" (Acts 20:13)?
Assos was a small port about 25 miles south of Troas.
Why did Paul tell the others to take the ship to Assos
while he went "on foot" (Acts 20:13)?
Unless he met someone along the way, he probably wanted to spend some time alone in prayer, as Jesus often did: "However, the report went around concerning Him [Jesus] all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed." (Luke 5:15-16)
Where are "Mitylene" (Acts 20:14), "Chios ... Samos ...
Trogyllium ... Miletus" (Acts 20:15)?
Mitylene is the capital of Lesbos, a large island that faces Assos. Chios is another large island that is to the south of Lesbos. Samos is yet another island that is to the southwest of Chios (all three islands are close to the coast of Turkey), and Trogyllium is a rocky extremity of Turkey that almost touches Samos and just next to which is a place for ships to anchor. Miletus is a major port city southeast of Samos and 30 miles south of Ephesus.
Why did Paul call "for the elders of the church at Ephesus"
(Acts 20:17) to come to him in Miletus?
Paul "was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost" (Acts 20:16). Had he sailed into Ephesus, he would have had "to spend time" (Acts 20:16). Perhaps he would have had to make the rounds and see everyone in the Ephesus' church, who would have been eager to see Paul. Lacking time, Paul just wanted to speak to the elders.
Who could be "elders of the church" (Acts 20:17)?
Those who meet the criteria that Paul indicated to Timothy - '1 ... If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." (1 Timothy 3:1-7) - and to Titus: "4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. 5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you - 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict." (Titus 1:4-9)
What is the difference between an "elder" (Acts
20:17) and a "bishop" (1 Timothy 3:2)?
The respective Greek words are presbuteros ("elder" or one who is elderly) and episkopos ("bishop" or one who oversees) but they are used interchangeably, as in Titus 1:5 and Titus 1:7 above.
Can someone who is unable to teach the Bible become an elder/bishop?
Not according to God, who said the person should be "able to teach" (Acts 20:2).
Can a greedy and/or violent person become an elder/bishop?
Not according to God, who said the person should be "not violent, not greedy for money" (Acts 20:3).
Can a woman become an elder/bishop?
Not according to God, who said the person should be "a man" (1 Timothy 3:1) and a "husband" (1 Timothy 3:2).
What about Deborah in the Old Testament?
God had Deborah judge Israel at a time when the country so lacked real men that even the commander of its army was a wimp who refused to fight unless a woman came with him: "Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Then she sent and called for Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, “Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, ‘Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand’?” And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” (Judges 4:4-8) When the 'prophet' Balaam couldn't see the Angel of the Lord, the Lord spared his life by making a donkey talk to him: "And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.” (Numbers 22:27-33) And Jesus told the Pharisees that if people don't welcome Him as prophesied, stones will: "Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40) God is sovereign. If the vessels designated for certain tasks don't perform them, He uses other and even unconventional vessels to perform them. Proponents of talking donkeys and crying stones may cite Deborah to advocate women elders/bishops.
Why does Paul say that he came to "Asia" (Acts 20:18)?
In 1st century AD, 'Asia' referred to the region that is largely today's Turkey, in which Ephesus is located.
How did Paul teach "publicly" (Acts 20:20) in Ephesus?
He taught at the synagogue "to Jews" (Acts 20:21) and at the "school of Tyrannus" (Acts 19:9) "to Greeks" (Acts 20:21).
Why would Paul shed "many tears ... by the plotting of the
Jews" (Acts 20:19)?
Knowing the Old Testament prophecies, they should have been the first to recognize and worship Jesus as the promised Messiah. Yet all that many of them did is to plot against Paul, to their own loss, so his heart broke for them.
Do your shed tears over those you love who aren't saved and
who resist the Gospel?
What does Paul mean by, "you ... will see my face no more" (Acts 20:25)?
This will be the last time they see him alive.
What did Paul know about "the things that will happen to"
(Acts 20:22) him in Jerusalem?
Paul didn't know specifics but "in every city" (Acts 20:23), the "Holy Spirit" (Acts 20:23) had been telling him that "chains and tribulations" (Acts 20:23) awaited him.
How did Paul feel about that?
"None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)
Would you feel "joy" (Acts 20:24) if the Lord wanted
you to head into "chains and tribulations"?
Why does Paul say, "I am innocent of the blood of all men" (Acts 20:26)?
Since he has "not shunned to declare ... the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), he had fulfilled his "ministry" (Acts 20:24). He had sounded the trumpet: "... When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand." (Ezekiel 33:2-6)
Is Paul showing off?
No, he is encouraging them to do likewise.
From which direction will "savage wolves" (Acts 20:29) attack?
From the outside, they will "come in" (Acts 20:29).
Why does Paul tell the elders to "shepherd" (Acts 20:28) the church"?
He is telling them to be true shepherds who lay down their lives to defend the flock instead of fleeing against wolves, as Jesus declared: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them." (John 10:11-12)
What will happen from within their own ranks?
"Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves" (Acts 20:30) instead of Jesus.
How should they identify and defend against those
who say such "perverse things" (Acts 20:30)?
Rely on "God and to the word - the Bible - of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified". (Acts 20:32)
Was it proper for Paul to be "kissed" (Acts 20:37) by men?
A kiss on the cheek was a sign of respect, which is what Judas feigned when he kissed Jesus to identify him to the arresting mob the night before His crucifixion. To this day, men in parts of the Middle East kiss each other on the cheek to greet each other and to express respect.
Did Paul work as a tent maker to provide only for his own
"necessities" (Acts 20:34)?
No, also "for those who were with" (Acts 20:34) him, including "the weak" (Acts 20:35).
At your church, does money flow from the pastor to the poor or from the poor to the pastor?