On Acts 20:1-6

Acts 20:1-6
It would appear from the Epistle to the Corinthians, that the tumultuous meeting in the theater was but one incident of a dangerous crisis at Ephesus. Certainly the apostle did not quit the city till there was a lull.
“And after the uproar had ceased, Paul having called [or sent1] for the disciples, and exhorted and saluted [them], departed to go into Macedonia. And, having gone through those parts and exhorted them with much discourse, he came into Greece. And having spent three months, and a plot being laid against him by the Jews, as he was about to sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia.2 And there accompanied him (as far as Asia3) Sopater, a Berean, [son] of Pyrrhus; and of Thessalonians Aristarchns and Seciundus; and Gains of Derbe, and Timothy; and of Asia Tychicus and Trophimus. These going before waited for us at Troas; and we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened [bread], and came onto them to Troas in five days, where we tarried seven days” (Acts 20:1-61And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. 2And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 3And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. 4And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5These going before tarried for us at Troas. 6And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. (Acts 20:1‑6)).
In this passage, as in many others of scripture, we have a living testimony to the joints and bands which operated so efficaciously in apostolic times to preserve the saints in unity, fellowship, and love. There was no lack of missionary zeal; but, besides, the Spirit of God wrought much in the exhortation and encouragement of the saints. Thus was the body of Christ built up. It is here that we see the most manifest contrast of modern times with the primitive. If the converts are guarded from turning aside, it is in general the most that is attempted. Zeal habitually goes out towards the conversion of sinners, and those devoted to that work are regarded as eminently faithful and enlightened if they do not yield to superstition on the one hand, or to philosophy on the other. Growth in the truth is rare and practically unknown even among the teachers, not to speak of the converts. The consequences are deplorable: teachers and taught in these circumstances are ever liable to the many misleading influences around.
In these early days we see on the contrary the utmost care and zeal in visiting afresh those who had been already brought to God, and gathered to the name of Jesus. Nor was it only by oral instruction. That new and characteristic form of Christian instruction which expressed itself in the apostolic Epistles was now fully in operation. No composition admits of greater candor and intimacy; none gives such scope to the affections of the heart. It was from Ephesus that the apostle wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, as grand a development of Christian and church truth as was the Epistle to the Romans, written not long after as we shall see, on the great foundations of grace in justifying the ungodly, and on the reconciling of the indiscriminate gospel with the peculiar promises to Israel, as well as on the practical walk of the believer in view of all this.
There is no fresh inspiration going on now; but these two modes of seeking the edification of souls ought surely both to proceed. Preaching and teaching have a most unquestionable importance in reaching souls more simply and directly than any other; but there is an exactness as well as a fullness of treatment, which are best conveyed in a written (and, we may add, a printed) form. There is another object also of great value attained in the latter way that souls can be reached thereby all over the world, most of whom neither could nor would listen to oral instruction of distinctive weight.
In these early days then we see not only the principle of both oral and written teaching, but the highest form of either ever reached on the earth. The apostles and prophets were the foundation on which the church was built. By the gracious power of the Holy Spirit they had immunity from error. It was not men doing their best, but God conveying His mind perfectly through chosen instruments.
Their writings alone constitute the Christian standard. Others at the present day may be raised up to recover what is forgotten, and to propagate this and all truth; the Spirit may work energetically by them, and give indefinite accuracy to their thoughts and words in unfolding revealed truth; but they are in no wise a standard. Their writings are not God-inspired; and, as they are not entitled to issue their convictions under the authority of “Thus saith the Lord,” for every or any word of theirs, so the saints are responsible to judge all they say or write, and still more what they do, by unerring scripture. Here then, after the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for and exhorted the disciples, and, after bidding them farewell, departed to go into Macedonia, the scene of his former labors. There too we find him passing through those quarters; and, after exhorting the saints with much discourse, he came into Greece. It was during the three months spent there that he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. He had long desired to visit Rome in person, but was hindered hitherto. Urgent duties detained him elsewhere; and God had it in His purpose that His servant should enter Rome only as a prisoner. It was not so that even the apostle would have ordered matters, still less the saints themselves. It is good however to learn and accept God’s profound wisdom in all these dealings of His. In weakness, and fear, and trembling, he at first testified at Corinth. After much danger and persecution he had left Ephesus. An ill-understood man, his deep spirituality and zeal ran athwart much prejudice at Jerusalem. He could only go at length to Rome with a chain. Such were the ways of God in the unequaled path and service of the blessed apostle.
Nevertheless thorough sobriety pervades the action of Paul. When there was a plot on the part of the Jews against him, as about to sail into Syria, he avoids it by adopting the resolution of returning, not from Achaia direct, but through Macedonia. The Jews had enormous influence in that great commercial entrepot, Corinth; and injury or death could easily have been, humanly speaking, inflicted upon him as a passenger in one of the numerous ships of that day. He therefore changed his plan and returns through the northern province. And there accompanied him Sopater, Pyrrhus’ son, a Berean, and of Thessalonians Aristarchus and Secundus, and Gains of Derbe, and Timothy, and of Asia Tychicus and Trophimus.
It was not merely therefore that the apostle labored in all directions. Here we find not less than seven companions in service, who were in no way restrained to one fixed local sphere. The presbyters or elders labored and took the lead locally. There were many others besides the apostles who moved about with perfect liberty, seeking the blessing of the faithful and the spread of the gospel. Of these laborers we may discern at least two classes. Some few attached themselves as much as possible to the companionship of Paul. Of these we have a sample before us. But there were others like Apollos who labored in a more independent way and enjoyed less of his society, though they had his entire love and confidence.
In verse 5 we learn of another deeply attached personal companion, Luke, the inspired writer of this very book. “And these having gone before awaited us at Treas.” Thus quietly does this honored man intimate that he too was with the apostle at this time and at Philippi. It will be remembered that it was in these regions that Luke had first become the companion of Paul (Acts 16:10-1110And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; (Acts 16:10‑11), and so forth).
“And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened [bread], and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we tarried seven days” (vs. 6). Why the party did not move together, why the others went before, and Paul and Luke waited till after the feast, we can only conjecture. But we see the special association of Luke with the apostle and utterly reject the vain key to it that Wieseler suggests, that Luke traveled with him as his physician! If men cannot trace below the surface of the word with spiritual insight, how sad that they should exercise their wits in such degrading ingenuity! And will even saints learn how deeply the church is fallen when such thoughts are repeated instead of provoking indignation?
The delay of seven days furnished the ever desired privilege of partaking the Lord’s Supper together.