Scripture Study: Acts 20

Acts 20
ACT 20No doubt, with a distinct purpose, Paul does not tell us much of his own sufferings. He reminds Timothy of what he knew of them as an example to him; or in 1 Cor. 15:3232If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. (1 Corinthians 15:32), to show the foolishness of suffering for Christ, if there is no resurrection of the dead. In 2 Cor. 11:21-2821I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 22Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:21‑28), when, to show to the boasters their folly, he says, "I speak as a fool." In 2 Cor. 1:8-108For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; (2 Corinthians 1:8‑10) and 4:12, when we hear him tell of death's sentence carried in his soul, and of the God of comfort who has delivered, does deliver, and shall deliver, that the Corinthians might know their resource in time of need.
The writer in the Acts passes on rapidly in his narrative, but what a history it gives of the devoted servant given up to do the Master's will. We know fallen man will fail, and he did also, but how like, in self-sacrificing love, he is to his Master and Lord!
After the stormy time just gone through, Paul called the disciples, and embraced them, and started for Macedonia, where he spent a while in earnest exhortation and instruction. Then he came to Greece, and spent three months. As he was leaving for Syria, a treacherous plot against him came to light, so that he purposed returning to Macedonia. Verse 4 tells us of some of the company that went with him. These went before, and waited for him at Troas. The rest of the company, of whom Luke, the narrator, was one, sailed from Philippi, and reached Troas in five days, and stayed there seven days.
Here we find (In verse seven) the custom of the disciples in those days was to come together to break bread on the first day of the week, marking out for us our privilege to come together on that day, which we rightly, with John, by the Holy Spirit, in Rev. 1:1010I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10), call the Lord's Day. As they came together for the purpose of remembering the Lord in His death, this would doubtless be done, and Paul being present, began to unfold the truth which was necessary for them to know, and this he continued till midnight.
We must remember that at that time there was no legal holiday as we have now; they therefore met at the most convenient time for 'all, and that was evening.
It was an upper room, and there were many lights burning. A young man, Eutychus, sank into a deep sleep, and after a while fell down from the third loft, and was taken up for dead. Paul went down, and embracing him, said, "Trouble not yourselves, for his life (soul) is in him." Then he went up to his place again, and after having refreshments, he went on with the meeting, till day break, and then departed: It was a comfort to them that the young man was alive.
Paul journeyed on to Assos afoot, while his company went in a ship. From there they went on to Miletus; for Paul, with true Jewish feelings, wanted to be at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. From Miletus, he sent and called the elders of the Church, and gave them his farewell address, which is therefore important to us as instruction needed when we have no apostles. He could speak of his faithful, yet humble service, and the trials he passed through; of how he declared to them everything that was profitable for them to know, and taught them publicly, and from house to house. "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
Now he was going on to Jerusalem, not knowing what was before him, except that the Holy Spirit witnessed in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions were his lot. But none of these things deterred him, neither did he count his life dear unto himself. It was his aim to finish his course with joy, and to fulfill the ministry which the Lord entrusted to him, to declare the gospel of the grace of God. He adds, "Behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Lord bath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with the blood of His own (Son)."
And how we see this fulfilled. (Ver. 29). How many grievous wolves have succeeded the apostles, to destroy the teachings, and to scatter the flock! Thank God, they cannot destroy the Scriptures; the foundation of God standeth sure; they cannot change the purposes of God, nor His love, nor Christ's love to His Church which is His body, and this embraces all who are truly saved souls. We can still say, "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling." Eph. 4:44There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4).
In verse 30, he tells of another danger, and that comes from Christians themselves "speaking perverse things," and so succeed in making divisions-centers of themselves, which we may fitly call "men's tables." We find the first mention of such in "all Asia" turning away from the apostle's teachings. (2 Tim. 1:1515This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15)). Since then, it spread till all was lost as to divine ground of gatherings in confusion of sects. And since, in these days, God has recovered to many the truth that "There is one body," One Head, One Center for the Holy Spirit to gather His people to. We find the enemy has succeeded, as he did at the first, in again setting up "men's tables" in division, while still with the pretense of being gathered to the name of the Lord, they say, "We all have the Lord's table." Alas! What a contradiction to the truth, where they have not separation from evil, and the Unity of the Spirit, and are gathered in independency.
More than ever we need the apostle's word, "Therefore watch." We need to remember his tears, his warnings, and all the words the Holy Spirit ministered to him.
"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."
We do well to let our souls dwell on this-God, the living God; and the Word, the unchanging Word of His grace, a solid rock under our feet, an unfailing refuge from every storm that can arise. May He find our hearts simple, obedient, dependent on Him. And find an example in our blessed Lord, and in His apostles, in their walking in His footsteps, ministering to the needs of others as Paul did, caring for the weak and needy ones, and remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." What lessons for our souls to ponder!
Then Paul knelt and prayed with them all, and they all wept sore, and fell on his neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. They accompanied him unto the ship.
It is a serious question for every child of God in the present day to answer. Are you endeavoring to walk according to the truth of Paul's teaching? Have you found out that God has a center, where, if allowed, the Holy Spirit would gather you while you wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus? Do you know the approval of the Lord in your path? He will give it to you, if you seek His face. (Psa. 105:44Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. (Psalm 105:4))