Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Acts Studies|
Chs. 20 & 21
Chapters 20 & 21
Chapter: Acts 20
Passage: Acts 20:1-6
A. Find Out:
1. Where did Paul go after Ephesus ? v.1
2. What did he do there and where did he end up? v.2
3. How long did he stay and what then happened? v.3
4. Who travelled with him? v.4
5. How was the travel arranged? v.5
6. So what happened? v.6
From Ephesus, Paul obviously travelled north and west crossing over to Macedonia again where he encouraged the churches he had previously established. Working south he came to Greece and probably stayed with the church in Corinth for the three months mentioned. His plan at that point was to travel back home directly by sea, but (it seems likely) finding many Jews boarding the ship, he decided this was very risky (knowing their opposition to him) and so decided to make his way back the long way, mostly by land. It is easy to miss in such a few verses the extent of these travels. In just six verses Luke covers a journey of something like twelve hundred miles, and it was not by coach, train, fast boat or plane! Perhaps because Luke glosses over it so easily, it means it was not a particularly eventful time, yet it would have been a time of further building of relationships which Paul's letters show he was so good at doing.
It is at this point that Luke gives us a picture of the apostolic community that often came together to travel with Paul. On this occasion six men are mentioned who travelled for the Lord sharing the Gospel and building the churches. Although an individualist Paul is also very much a team man who obviously likes company.
1. Church building is all about building relationships.
2. Church building is also about team work. Paul examples both for us.
A. Find Out:
1. What were they doing and when? v.7a
2. What did Paul do? v.7b
3. What happened to Eutychus? v.9
4. What did Paul do? v.10
5. What did Paul then do? v.11
6. What happened to Eutychus? v.12
We have a meeting shown here that would put most Western “services” to shame. First of all note the purpose for which they gathered: to have “communion” and to receive teaching. The local church was meeting in the upstairs room of a three storey building and the meeting seems to go on late into the night. Why? Because Paul has got so much to teach them before he leaves the next day.
Unfortunately this long meeting was too much for one young listener who fell asleep and fell out of the upstairs window, apparently to his death. Is the meeting abandoned in disarray? No! Paul simply goes down (and presumably prays over him) and pronounces him alive, which he clearly is! They take the young man inside and the meeting continues on again - until daybreak! These are serious Christians!
It is interesting that they had been here a whole week but it is only as the church gathers on the Sunday that we are told that Paul spoke to them. Presumably this was the only time the Christians could all gather together and because Paul had to leave the next day, they were willing to listen on for hours and hours to the apostle's teaching. They didn't even break bread until after midnight ! Do we have this same hunger for teaching?
1. The early church met on Sunday to gather and break bread.
2. Their meeting involved teaching as well as fellowship.
A. Find Out:
1. Where did their route take them? v.13-15
2. Why did they set in at Miletus ? v.16
3. What did Paul do when they arrived there? v.17
4. How does Paul describe his time in the province of Asia ? v.19
5. How does he describe what he has done? v.20
6. What was the heart of his message? v.21
At first sight these are not exceptional verses but when we consider them more fully they tell us much. First of all, about Paul's travelling. There is now a sense of urgency about him, he wants to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost. Yet there is also the slowness of travel in those days. The boat goes from island to island. stopping at each one; there can be no rush in those days.
Second, about Paul's concern for the church. He doesn't want to stop at Ephesus because he is in a hurry and he knows if he does he will immediately get caught up in encouraging, teaching and blessing the church. Yet he does want to encourage the elders there, so he sets in a little further along the coast and sends for them to have a short “leaders' retreat”. He is willing to be slowed up for such a purpose.
Third, we find a summary of Paul's ministry in Asia Minor:
In stating these things, Paul re-establishes his credibility with the leaders from Ephesus and also sets them an example to follow.
1. Our central goal must always be to preach Christ.
2. We may use a variety of methods, but it must all be relying on Him.
A. Find Out:
1. Where was Paul going and why? v.22
2. What did he know was coming? v.23
3. How did he view all this? v.24
4. What did he know about them? v.25
5. What did he declare about himself? v.26
6. Why was he able to say that? v.27
Having first spoken about his past ministry, Paul now moves on to what is coming. He has a certainty that this will be his last time with these Ephesian elders. He has a certainty in the Spirit that he is to go to Jerusalem and trouble awaits him. In this we see Paul is completely aware of the Lord's coming purposes for him; he understands where he is in those purposes. Yet he is not fatalistic or depressed by the possible outcome because he is only concerned for one thing: to be able to finish his life still preaching the Gospel. As long as he can carry on doing that to the end he is not bothered about his life. He is not concerned whether his life will apparently be restricted or ended prematurely, as long as he knows he is doing God's will throughout and to the end, preaching the Gospel. What an example!
Having established that, he makes it clear that this will be the last time he will see them and therefore he wants them to be quite clear: he has fully discharged his responsibilities in the Gospel toward them, he has sought on every occasion to share the love of Jesus in its fullness. They therefore now know the whole counsel of God for he has shared it with them completely. They are not lacking in teaching; they know all they need to know.
1. Is the sharing of the Gospel our main priority in life?
2. Are we secure in knowing that we are in the will of God?
A. Find Out:
1. What did Paul exhort them to do? v.28,31
2. Why? v.29,30
3. To what did Paul commit them? v.32
4. What was Paul able to testify? v.33,34
5. What example did he give? v.35
6. What upset the elders most? v.38
Paul gives three straight forward instructions:
i.e. like shepherds watch against marauding wolves, so you guard against spiritual predators that would seek to snatch away the flock. The reason he says this is that he has a prophetic sense (word of knowledge?) that after he has gone there will be attacks on the beliefs of the believers from both people coming in from outside and from those already there. Therefore elders, watch out, seek to avoid it happening. Forewarned is forearmed.
Notice in passing how Paul describes the church as those “which he bought with his blood”, i.e. they are very precious to God, for He has given His ultimate, His very own Son to purchase them, so look after them carefully!
Finally Paul commits them into God's hands, sure that God's grace is adequate for them, to enable them to become the people God has planned them to be. He reminds them of his own ever-giving example and then he prays for them. This is a moment of great significance. He's raised them and now he has to leave them.
1. Christians are very precious to God. Ponder on that.
2. We need to guard against wrong teaching in its many forms.
A. Find Out:
1. Where did their route take them? v.1-4
2. What happened there? v.4
3. Yet what happened? v.5,6
4. Where did they next go and to who? v.7
5. Where did they next go and stayed with who? v.8
6. What are we told about his family? v.9
The next stage of their journey takes them by boat, skirting Asia Minor and stopping off at many of the islands. Eventually they catch another boat that is crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Tyre . This seems a slow and tedious journey home.
At Tyre we find the local church greets them and they stay with them for a week. It is interesting that “Through the Spirit” they warned Saul against going to Jerusalem . What they caught was the sense that things would not go well (humanly speaking) for Paul there, and in their love for him, they wanted him to avoid that. Paul however, has a sense that he has to go down this path whatever it costs.
From Tyre they sailed further down the coast where yet again they meet with believers. Moving on the next day they sail to Caesarea where again they meet with the local church or, to be more precise, with one family. Philip was both an evangelist and one of those who had been set apart to care for the material well-being of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 6), and he had four prophetic daughters. What a family! Wherever they go here, we see they encounter believers. The church is clearly well established and well spread throughout Israel , as well as Asia Minor .
1. Travelling for the Gospel is tiring. Pray for those who do.
2. Even if the future is difficult, in Christ we can be at rest.
Chapter: Acts 21
Passage: Acts 21:10-16
A. Find Out:
1. Who then arrived there in Caesarea ? v.10
2. What did he do and say? v.11
3. What did the disciples do? v.12
4. Yet what was Paul's answer? v.13
5. How did the disciples conclude it? v.14
6. So what then happened? v.15,16
As they come to the end of this third journey, a third indication comes that, humanly speaking at least, all is not going to be well for Paul when he comes to Jerusalem. He had testified to the Ephesian elders (20:23) that he expected only trouble, and at Tyre the disciples had sensed in the Spirit the same thing. Now the prophet Agabus prophesies the same thing. If we were there we might have seen the prophecy in one of two ways: either it is a warning to avoid Jerusalem or it is simply a warning saying, ‘Be prepared, for this is what is coming'. At Tyre and Caesarea the disciples had taken the former understanding, but on both occasions Paul took it as the latter. Yes, it will happen, so let's just look to God for His grace to cope with the trying circumstances that are coming.
Eventually the believers with Paul came to the second understanding and they continue their journey with him up to Jerusalem. This is the end of this third journey, for there will be no returning to Antioch this time, a completely new chain of events is about to swing into being, but for those you will have to get the next in this Series of Studies, “The Long Road to Rome”. The churches of Asia Minor and Greece are established, it's time for Paul to move on.
1. There are at least two ways to understand every prophetic word.
2. We need to seek understanding behind the words. Ask for it.
In this final group of 7 studies we have seen Paul :
In the second half of the journey we saw Paul continue on through to the churches “at the end of the line” where he had been before, and then make his way home encouraging the believers at every place they stopped. The picture we have is of a church well and truly established in this part of the world. The apostle has done a good job and the believers are well taught. God has provided local leadership and other ministries for them, so it is now time for Paul to move on. The job has been well done.
1. Church building is all about building relationships and teamwork.
2. The early church met on Sundays for worship, teach & break bread.
3. Sharing the Gospel is always the main task of the Church.
4. Holding the truth and resisting heresy is also necessary.
5. The future is not always easy but we can rest in Christ.
6. We need to be secure in Christ to cope with whatever comes.
Thank the Lord that we can rest in His sovereign purpose, power, wisdom and love, whatever the circumstances seem to hold. Ask that the example of this great apostle way stay with you.
SECTION SUMMARY - Acts 15 to 21
As we have followed Paul's travels on his second and third missionary journeys, we have seen:
NB. Each of the highlighted place named above were places where Paul went and where the church was clearly established. There may have been many other places but these were specific ones mentioned by Luke in his account of Paul's travelling.
ADDITIONAL NOTE : Towns & Cities
By way of additional summary the following are the major places that Paul visited with the Gospel on these two trips:
As we conclude this set of studies, may we perhaps dwell on some of the main lessons that have come over to us as we have watched the apostle Paul travelling:
1. Church Planting
The apostle teaches us some very fundamental things:
2. The Will of God
We observe that:
3. Personal Application
The grave danger, as we read the things above, is that they remain of academic interest only. May it not be! Church planting should come about wherever the church is absent in an area, by the sharing of the Gospel on a one-to-one basis or preaching in a crowd context. This is the work of the whole church. The Gospel is for sharing and when people become believers, they need nurturing in their faith. Where, in YOUR area is the church absent (even though a building is there!)? They need the Gospel. Who will go?