Acts of Apostles 20:1-38

20  When the uproar had subsided, Paul sent for the disciples, and after he had encouraged them and said farewell, he began his journey to Mac·e·doʹni·a.+  After going through those regions and giving many words of encouragement to the ones there, he arrived in Greece.  He spent three months there, but because a plot was hatched against him by the Jews+ when he was about to set sail for Syria, he made up his mind to return through Mac·e·doʹni·a.  He was accompanied by Sopʹa·ter the son of Pyrʹrhus of Be·roeʹa, Ar·is·tarʹchus+ and Se·cunʹdus of the Thes·sa·loʹni·ans, Gaʹius of Derʹbe, Timothy+ and, from the province of Asia, Tychʹi·cus+ and Trophʹi·mus.+  These men went on ahead and were waiting for us in Troʹas;+  but we put out to sea from Phi·lipʹpi after the days of the Unleavened Bread,+ and within five days we came to them in Troʹas, and there we spent seven days.  On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to have a meal, Paul began addressing them, as he was going to depart the next day; and he prolonged his speech until midnight.  So there were quite a few lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together.  Seated at the window, a young man named Euʹty·chus sank into a deep sleep while Paul kept talking, and overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. 10  But Paul went downstairs, threw himself on him and embraced him,+ and said: “Stop making a commotion, for he is alive.”+ 11  He then went upstairs and began the meal and ate. He continued conversing for quite a while, until daybreak, and then he departed. 12  So they took the boy away alive and were comforted beyond measure. 13  We now went ahead to the ship and set sail for Asʹsos, where we were intending to take Paul aboard, for after giving instructions to this effect, he was intending to go there on foot. 14  So when he caught up with us in Asʹsos, we took him aboard and went to Mit·y·leʹne. 15  And sailing away from there the next day, we arrived off Chiʹos, but the day after that, we touched at Saʹmos, and on the following day, we arrived at Mi·leʹtus. 16  Paul had decided to sail past Ephʹe·sus+ so as not to spend any time in the province of Asia, for he was hurrying to get to Jerusalem+ on the day of the Festival of Pentecost+ if he possibly could. 17  However, from Mi·leʹtus he sent word to Ephʹe·sus and called for the elders of the congregation. 18  When they came to him, he said to them: “You well know how I conducted myself among you from the first day I stepped into the province of Asia,+ 19  slaving for the Lord with all humility+ and with tears and trials that befell me by the plots of the Jews, 20  while I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable* nor from teaching you publicly+ and from house to house.+ 21  But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance+ toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.+ 22  And now look! bound in the spirit, I am traveling to Jerusalem,+ although not knowing what will happen to me there, 23  except that from city to city the holy spirit repeatedly bears witness to me, saying that imprisonment and tribulations are waiting for me.+ 24  Nevertheless, I do not consider my own life of any importance to me,* if only I may finish my course+ and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus,+ to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God. 25  “And now look! I know that none of you among whom I preached the Kingdom will ever see my face again. 26  So I call you to witness this very day that I am clean from the blood of all men,+ 27  for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.+ 28  Pay attention to yourselves+ and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers,+ to shepherd the congregation of God,+ which he purchased with the blood of his own Son.+ 29  I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you+ and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30  and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.+ 31  “Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years,+ night and day, I never stopped admonishing each one of you with tears. 32  And now I entrust you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which word can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones.+ 33  I have desired no man’s silver or gold or clothing.+ 34  You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my own needs+ and the needs of those with me. 35  I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way,+ you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said: ‘There is more happiness in giving+ than there is in receiving.’” 36  And when he had said these things, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37  Indeed, quite a bit of weeping broke out among them all, and they embraced Paul and affectionately kissed him, 38  for they were especially pained at the word he had spoken that they would not see his face anymore.+ Then they accompanied him to the ship.

Footnotes

Or “for your good; for your benefit.”
Or “of any value to me whatsoever.”

Study Notes

we: Up to Ac 16:9, the book of Acts is narrated strictly in the third person, that is, the writer Luke reports only what others said and did. Here at Ac 16:10, however, there is a change in that style, and Luke includes himself in the narrative. From this point on, he uses the pronouns “we” and “us” in sections of the book where he was apparently accompanying Paul and his traveling companions. (See study note on Ac 1:1 and “Introduction to Acts.”) Luke first accompanied Paul from Troas to Philippi in about 50 C.E., but when Paul left Philippi, Luke was no longer with him.​—Ac 16:10-17, 40; see study notes on Ac 20:5; 27:1.

us: As mentioned in the study notes on Ac 16:10 and 20:5, the book of Acts contains sections where Luke, the writer of the book, uses first person pronouns such as “we,” “us,” and “our” (Ac 27:20) when describing what happened. This indicates that Luke accompanied Paul for portions of some of his many journeys. The section of Acts that starts here and continues to Ac 28:16 includes such references, showing that Luke traveled with Paul to Rome.

us: Luke’s use of the first person pronoun “us” indicates that he rejoined Paul at Philippi; the two men had parted company at Philippi some time earlier. (Ac 16:10-17, 40) They now traveled together from Philippi to Jerusalem, where Paul was later arrested. (Ac 20:5–21:18, 33) This is the second section of the book of Acts where Luke includes himself in the narrative.​—See study notes on Ac 16:10; 27:1.

the days of the Unleavened Bread: See Glossary, “Festival of Unleavened Bread.”​—See App. B15.

after breaking the loaves: Bread was often made in flat loaves that were baked hard. Therefore, breaking the loaves to eat them was customary.​—Mt 15:36; 26:26; Mr 6:41; 8:6; Lu 9:16.

took a loaf . . . broke it: The loaves common in the ancient Near East were thin and, if unleavened, brittle. There was no spiritual significance to Jesus’ breaking the bread; this was the normal way to divide that type of loaf.​—See study note on Mt 14:19.

to have a meal: Lit., “to break bread.” Bread was the staple of the diet in the ancient Middle East; hence, this expression came to denote any kind of meal. Bread was generally formed into flat loaves that were baked hard, so the bread was often broken rather than cut with a knife. Therefore, breaking the loaves to eat them was customary and something that Jesus often did. (See study note on Mt 14:19; see also Mt 15:36; Lu 24:30.) When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal, he took a loaf and broke it. Since this was the normal way to divide a loaf, there is no spiritual significance to Jesus’ breaking the bread. (See study note on Mt 26:26.) Some claim that when this expression occurs in certain places in the book of Acts, it refers to the observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal. (Ac 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11) Every time the Lord’s Evening Meal is mentioned, though, breaking bread is associated with drinking wine from a cup. (Mt 26:26-28; Mr 14:22-25; Lu 22:19, 20; 1Co 10:16-21; 11:23-26) The two actions are equally significant. So when breaking bread is mentioned without any reference to drinking from a cup, this is a reference, not to the Lord’s Evening Meal, but to an ordinary meal. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate that Jesus intended the Memorial of his death to be observed more often than the festival it replaced, the Passover, which was observed just once a year.

for he is alive: Or “for his soul [that is, “his life”] is in him.” In other words, the young man’s life had been restored. As in many places in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word psy·kheʹ here means “life as a person.”​—Mt 6:25; 10:39; 16:25, 26; Lu 12:20; Joh 10:11, 15; 13:37, 38; 15:13; see Glossary, “Soul.”

to have a meal: Lit., “to break bread.” Bread was the staple of the diet in the ancient Middle East; hence, this expression came to denote any kind of meal. Bread was generally formed into flat loaves that were baked hard, so the bread was often broken rather than cut with a knife. Therefore, breaking the loaves to eat them was customary and something that Jesus often did. (See study note on Mt 14:19; see also Mt 15:36; Lu 24:30.) When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Evening Meal, he took a loaf and broke it. Since this was the normal way to divide a loaf, there is no spiritual significance to Jesus’ breaking the bread. (See study note on Mt 26:26.) Some claim that when this expression occurs in certain places in the book of Acts, it refers to the observance of the Lord’s Evening Meal. (Ac 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11) Every time the Lord’s Evening Meal is mentioned, though, breaking bread is associated with drinking wine from a cup. (Mt 26:26-28; Mr 14:22-25; Lu 22:19, 20; 1Co 10:16-21; 11:23-26) The two actions are equally significant. So when breaking bread is mentioned without any reference to drinking from a cup, this is a reference, not to the Lord’s Evening Meal, but to an ordinary meal. Moreover, there is nothing to indicate that Jesus intended the Memorial of his death to be observed more often than the festival it replaced, the Passover, which was observed just once a year.

began the meal: Lit., “broke the bread.”​—See study note on Ac 20:7.

elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Spiritually older, or mature, men shared the responsibility of leadership and administration in the cities of the ancient nation of Israel. Likewise, spiritually older, or mature, men served in the different Christian congregations in the first century C.E. This account about Paul meeting with the elders from Ephesus clearly shows that there was more than one elder in that congregation. The number of elders in each congregation depended on the number who qualified as spiritually mature men. (1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-8) When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, who likely lived in Ephesus at the time, he mentioned “the body of elders.”​—1Ti 1:3; 4:14.

lowly in heart: The Greek word for “lowly” refers to the quality of being humble and unpretentious; it also occurs at Jas 4:6 and 1Pe 5:5, where it is rendered “humble ones.” The condition of a person’s figurative heart is reflected in his disposition or his attitude toward God and other people.

humility: This quality involves freedom from pride or arrogance. Humility is manifested in the way a person views himself in relation to God and others. It is not a weakness but a state of mind that is pleasing to God. Christians who are truly humble can work together in unity. (Eph 4:2; Php 2:3; Col 3:12; 1Pe 5:5) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the word ta·pei·no·phro·syʹne, here translated “humility,” is drawn from the words ta·pei·noʹo, “to make low,” and phren, “the mind.” It could therefore literally be rendered “lowliness of mind.” The related term ta·pei·nosʹ is rendered “lowly” (Mt 11:29) and “humble ones” (Jas 4:6; 1Pe 5:5).​—See study note on Mt 11:29.

from house to house: This expression translates the Greek phrase katʼ oiʹkon, literally, “according to house.” Several lexicons and commentators state that the Greek preposition ka·taʹ can be understood in a distributive sense. For example, one lexicon says that the phrase refers to “places viewed serially, distributive use . . . from house to house.” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition) Another reference says that the preposition ka·taʹ is “distributive (Acts 2:46; 5:42: . . . house to house/in the [individual] houses.” (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider) Bible scholar R.C.H. Lenski made the following comment: “Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. ‘Every day’ they continued, and this openly ‘in the Temple’ where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also κατ’ οἴκον, which is distributive, ‘from house to house,’ and not merely adverbial, ‘at home.’” (The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles, 1961) These sources support the sense that the disciples’ preaching was distributed from one house to another. A similar use of ka·taʹ occurs at Lu 8:1, where Jesus is said to have preached “from city to city and from village to village.” This method of reaching people by going directly to their homes brought outstanding results.​—Ac 6:7; compare Ac 4:16, 17; 5:28.

from house to house: Or “in different houses.” The context shows that Paul had visited the houses of these men to teach them “about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Ac 20:21) Therefore, he is not referring solely to social calls or visits to encourage fellow Christians after they became believers, since fellow believers would already have repented and exercised faith in Jesus. In his book Word Pictures in the New Testament, Dr. A. T. Robertson comments as follows on Ac 20:20: “It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls.” (1930, Vol. III, pp. 349-350) In The Acts of the Apostles With a Commentary (1844), Abiel Abbot Livermore made this comment on Paul’s words at Ac 20:20: “He was not content merely to deliver discourses in the public assembly . . . but zealously pursued his great work in private, from house to house, and literally carried home the truth of heaven to the hearths and hearts of the Ephesians.” (p. 270)​—For an explanation of rendering the Greek expression katʼ oiʹkous (lit., “according to houses”), see study note on Ac 5:42.

bound in: Or “compelled by.” Paul felt both an obligation and a willingness to follow the direction of God’s spirit to go to Jerusalem.

my own life: Or “my soul.” The Greek word psy·kheʹ here refers to a person’s life.​—See Glossary, “Soul,” and App. A2.

preached: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger” and stresses the manner of the proclamation, usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group. The theme of Christian preaching continued to be “the Kingdom of God.”​—Ac 28:31.

the Kingdom: That is, God’s Kingdom. This overriding theme of the entire Bible runs through the book of Acts. (Ac 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31) Some early translations into other languages, such as the Latin Vulgate and the Syriac Peshitta, read “the Kingdom of God.” One translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J17 in App. C4) uses the divine name, and the whole expression can be rendered “the Kingdom of Jehovah.”

I am clean from the blood of all men: Paul was free of bloodguilt before God because he had not failed to preach the good news of the Kingdom. He had not withheld the lifesaving information that this message contains. (Ac 18:6; compare Eze 33:6-8) Paul conveyed “all the counsel of God” to the disciples in Ephesus because he did not want anyone to lose his life in God’s day of judgment. (Ac 20:27) Other ways in which a Christian can become bloodguilty before God are by committing murder or bloodshed, which can include actively or tacitly supporting the activities of a bloodguilty organization, such as “Babylon the Great” (Re 17:6; 18:2, 4), or other organizations that have shed innocent blood (Re 16:5, 6; compare Isa 26:20, 21). Also, eating or drinking blood in any way would incur bloodguilt.​—Ac 15:20.

all the counsel of God: Or “the whole purpose (will) of God.” Here referring to all that God has purposed to do by means of his Kingdom, including everything that he has decided is essential for salvation. (Ac 20:25) The Greek word bou·leʹ is rendered “counsel [or, “direction; guidance,” ftn.]” at Lu 7:30 and “purpose” at Heb 6:17.

His office of oversight: Or “His assignment as an overseer.” The Greek word used here, e·pi·sko·peʹ, is related to the Greek noun for “overseer,” e·piʹsko·pos, and the verb e·pi·sko·peʹo, rendered “carefully watch” at Heb 12:15. Peter quoted Ps 109:8 to support his recommendation that the place left vacant by the unfaithful apostle Judas be filled. In that passage, the Hebrew text uses the word pequd·dahʹ, which can be rendered with such terms as “office of oversight; oversight; overseers.” (Nu 4:16; Isa 60:17) At Ps 109:8 in the Septuagint (108:8, LXX), this Hebrew word is rendered by the same Greek word that Luke used here at Ac 1:20. From this inspired statement by Peter, it is clear that the apostles had an office, or assignment, as overseers. They had been directly appointed by Jesus. (Mr 3:14) So on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the Christian congregation, which grew from about 120 members to about 3,000 in one day, started out with 12 overseers. (Ac 1:15; 2:41) Thereafter, others were appointed as overseers to help take care of the growing congregation. However, the apostles’ oversight remained special, since Jehovah apparently purposed to have the 12 apostles form the future “12 foundation stones” of New Jerusalem.​—Re 21:14; see study note on Ac 20:28.

Pay attention to: Or “Keep watch over.” The sheep in Jehovah’s flock are dear to him because he purchased them with the precious “blood of his own Son.” Jehovah could not have paid a higher price. Humble overseers, therefore, keep watch over the welfare of each member of the flock, bearing in mind how much Jehovah loves his sheep.​—1Pe 5:1-3.

overseers: The Greek word for overseer, e·piʹsko·pos, is related to the verb e·pi·sko·peʹo, meaning “carefully watch” (Heb 12:15), and to the noun e·pi·sko·peʹ, meaning “inspection” (Lu 19:44, Kingdom Interlinear; 1Pe 2:12), “to be an overseer” (1Ti 3:1), or “office of oversight” (Ac 1:20). Therefore, the overseer was one who visited, inspected, and directed members of the congregation. Protective supervision is a basic idea inherent in the Greek term. Overseers in the Christian congregation have the responsibility to care for spiritual concerns of their fellow believers. Paul here used the term “overseers” when speaking to the “elders” from the congregation in Ephesus. (Ac 20:17) And in his letter to Titus, he uses the term “overseer” when describing the qualifications for “elders” in the Christian congregation. (Tit 1:5, 7) The terms, therefore, refer to the same position, pre·sbyʹte·ros indicating the mature qualities of the one so appointed and e·piʹsko·pos indicating the duties inherent in the appointment. This account about Paul meeting with the elders from Ephesus clearly shows that there were several overseers in that congregation. There was no set number of overseers for any one congregation, but the number serving depended on the number of those qualifying as “elders,” or spiritually mature men, in that congregation. Likewise, in writing to the Philippian Christians, Paul referred to the “overseers” there (Php 1:1), indicating that they served as a body, overseeing the affairs of that congregation.​—See study note on Ac 1:20.

God: Some ancient manuscripts read “the Lord” here, but the main text reading “God” has strong manuscript support and is viewed by many scholars as the original reading.

with the blood of his own Son: Lit., “through the blood of the own (one).” Grammatically, the Greek expression could be translated “with the blood of his own” or “with his own blood,” so the context has to be taken into consideration. In Greek, the expression ho iʹdi·os (“his own”) could stand alone without a clarifying noun or pronoun, as seen by how it is rendered at Joh 1:11 (“his own home”); at Joh 13:1 (“his own”); at Ac 4:23 (“their own people”); and at Ac 24:23 (“his people”). In non-Biblical Greek papyri, the phrase is used as a term of endearment to refer to close relatives. A reader of this verse would logically understand from the context that a noun in the singular number is implied after the expression “his own” and that the noun referred to God’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed. Based on this, quite a number of scholars and translators acknowledge that the word “son” is to be understood here and render the phrase “with the blood of his own Son.”

God: A few manuscripts read “the Lord” here, but the majority of manuscripts read “God.”

the words of the Lord Jesus: The statement following these words is quoted by the apostle Paul only, although the sense of those words is found in the Gospels and in the rest of the inspired Scriptures. (Ps 41:1; Pr 11:25; 19:17; Mt 10:8; Lu 6:38) Paul may have been told this quote orally, either by someone who heard Jesus say it or by the resurrected Jesus himself or in a divine revelation.​—Ac 22:6-15; 1Co 15:6, 8.

gave him a tender kiss: The Greek verb rendered “to give a tender kiss” is an intensive form of the verb for “kiss,” used at Mt 26:48. By greeting Jesus in such a warm, friendly manner, Judas showed the depth of his deceitfulness and hypocrisy.

embraced Paul: Lit., “fell upon Paul’s neck.” In the Scriptures, to embrace someone along with kissing and tears was a sign of great affection, something that these elders certainly felt for Paul.​—See also Ge 33:4; 45:14, 15; 46:29; Lu 15:20.

affectionately kissed him: Or “tenderly kissed him.” Paul’s genuine love for his brothers had endeared him to them. In Bible times, such friendship was often expressed with a kiss. (Ge 27:26; 2Sa 19:39) At times, kissing was accompanied by a warm embrace along with tears. (Ge 33:4; 45:14, 15; Lu 15:20) The Greek term rendered “affectionately kissed” has been understood to be an intensive form of the verb phi·leʹo, sometimes rendered “to kiss” (Mt 26:48; Mr 14:44; Lu 22:47) but more often meaning “to have affection for” (Joh 5:20; 11:3; 16:27).​—Compare study note on Mt 26:49.

Media

Preaching From House to House
Preaching From House to House

In the days following Pentecost 33 C.E., Jesus’ disciples continued bringing the good news right to the homes of the people. Though the disciples were ordered to “stop speaking,” the inspired record says that “every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Ac 5:40-42) About 56 C.E., the apostle Paul told the elders of Ephesus: “I did not hold back from . . . teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Ac 20:20) Paul was speaking of his efforts to preach to these men when they were yet unbelievers and needed to know “about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Ac 20:21) When he found spiritually inclined people, he doubtless returned to their homes to teach them further and, as these became believers, to strengthen them in the faith.—See study notes on Ac 5:42; 20:20.

Wolf
Wolf

The wolves of Israel are primarily nighttime predators. (Hab 1:8) Wolves are fierce, voracious, bold, and greedy, frequently killing more sheep than they can eat or drag away. In the Bible, animals and their characteristics and habits are often applied in a figurative sense, picturing both desirable and undesirable traits. For example, in Jacob’s deathbed prophecy, the tribe of Benjamin is described figuratively as a fighter like a wolf (Canis lupus). (Ge 49:27) But in most occurrences, the wolf is used to picture such undesirable qualities as ferocity, greed, viciousness, and craftiness. Those compared to wolves include false prophets (Mt 7:15), vicious opposers of the Christian ministry (Mt 10:16; Lu 10:3), and false teachers who would endanger the Christian congregation from within (Ac 20:29, 30). Shepherds were well-aware of the danger posed by wolves. Jesus spoke of “the hired man” who “sees the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees.” Unlike the hired man, who “does not care for the sheep,” Jesus is “the fine shepherd,” who surrendered “his life in behalf of the sheep.”—Joh 10:11-13.