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Acts of the Apostles: 39 - Acts 20:3-38

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Acts of the Apostles

39 - Acts 20:3-38

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Acts of the Apostles: 39 - Acts 20:3-38

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.71 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.03 GB)
MP3 Audio (32.25 MB)

In this class we will discuss Acts 20:3-38 and examine the following: Paul spends three months in Greece, preparing to sail to Syria. As he leaves, a plot against him by the Jews prompts him to change his plans and return through Macedonia. In Troas, Paul preaches until midnight, and a young man named Eutychus falls from a window but is miraculously revived by Paul. Paul then meets with the elders from the church in Ephesus, delivering a farewell message. He recounts his ministry, warns them of future challenges, and commits them to God's care. Tearful goodbyes are exchanged, and Paul continues his journey towards Jerusalem.


[Darris McNeely] All right. We are in Chapter 20, and at Chapter 20, we find Paul going up to Macedonia and then coming to Greece, where he stays for three months. And it is during this period of time that he's in Corinth that he's going to be collecting what is something that's very important to him, and that is an offering for the saints and the members in Judea, Jerusalem. This seems to be kind of a recurring theme we've talked about in Acts, and there were hardships that Paul wanted the gentile Churches to take a part in and to help alleviate, to show their solidarity with the Church in Jerusalem and their appreciation for what the Church in Jerusalem was and meant in terms of the story of the Church and during this time. And there is a need. And so he is going to be doing this. It's while he's in Corinth here at this time, this three-month period that Paul writes the letter to the Romans. And we know that from the internal evidence of Romans 15.

And I think what is important to note is, as you've gone through Romans in your study, you understand how deep the subject matter is within Romans. Very high theology about God, about the Jews, the gentiles, the baptism, the work of the Spirit of God, and all that is involved with the story of salvation. There are several just great themes in Romans, and it's probably Paul's most thorough exegesis and or description laying out of his theology. And the timing of the Book of Romans, being written during this stay in Corinth after three years in Ephesus and the flowering of the work there, his teaching, daily teaching in the School of Tyrannus and all, has given Paul an opportunity to, in a sense, work out the teaching, the theology that he's known from the moment that he was struck down on the road to Damascus about the resurrected Christ. But through these years of his ministry, and work, and teaching, as with any teacher, the more you go over it, the more you refine your presentation, you refine your thinking. And that's probably, no doubt, happened here. And then God is able to inspire through Paul this remarkable Book of Romans, this Letter to the Church in Rome, that comes off of his most productive period of ministry in Ephesus and in Asia during this time.

And so, it's important to recognize that because with what's going to begin to develop here in Chapter 20, as Paul now will begin to make his way to Jerusalem, he will be arrested in Jerusalem. And that will conclude the chapters, the remaining chapters of Acts. Because after Chapter 22, he will be under arrest. And what we read from that point to the end of the Book of Acts will be his time appearing before certain magistrates, making his trip to Rome, and will leave him there. And he will not, at least in the narrative of Acts, have the freedom that to this point, he has had. And so, he writes this very important letter to the Romans. And then it's his intent to go to Jerusalem, as we're going to see, to keep the feast, to fulfill a vow, likely a Nazarite vow. And he has probably other things in mind because he tells the Romans he's going to come to them at the end of Romans, if you remember. Well, he is going to go to Rome but not on his timetable. It's going to be on God's timetable, which we will see as we get into this. So, let's pick it up in verse 3 of Chapter 20 that he stays here in 3 months in Corinth, in Greece.

Acts 20:3 “And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.”

Now, here's what he does. He's going to sail and his intent is to book passage and sail across the Mediterranean. But he's now going to go back up through Macedonia. So, he'll retrace his steps back through the areas toward Philippi and then he's going to come down here. You'll see Troas right here, which we'll see as an interesting story when we get to it. And he does this to avoid a plot against his life, against him from the Jews. Again, this deep-seated feeling against Paul and who he was and what he was doing, never died, never went away. We'll see it in full bloom in Jerusalem. And so, he's got to kind of do an end run around the Jews to keep from being captured by them. So, he returns through Macedonia. So, he retraces his steps.

Acts 20:4 Says, “And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia. Also, Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians.”

So, he picks up two people from Thessalonica. He picks up a person from Berea when he goes back up there. So, he goes to Berea, he goes to Thessalonica. And then it says that there is an individual, a Gaius of Derbe. Now, here's the only mention of anybody from the little village of Derbe way down here in Cilicia where Paul first went. Remember, he went to Derbe after he had been stoned nearly to death in the city of Lystra. He gets up and he walked on down to Derbe. And then, so here's a disciple from Derbe named Gaius. Was he the pastor there? Was he a deacon? Was he a leading member? Possibly all three. If you were to, you know, that would be choice D on a test, possibly all the above. But he becomes a traveling companion. So, Paul, he's got this plus Timothy, Tychicus, and Trophimus. So, here's a party of at least six that are with him at this time.

Acts 20:5 He says, “These men going ahead waited for us at Troas.”

And so it's at this point that we get then, Luke seems to rejoin Paul at this point. He's not been with Paul. So, it seems like at least seven people plus Paul, eight total in this traveling party that are moving at this time. And these men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. So, Troas is right here. It's north of Ephesus. It's on the Asian continent. They wait for him there.

Acts 20:6 “But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days,” stayed for a week.

And so, we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread. But Luke uses the Holy Days as a marker. This is one of those places where we find a reference, the first holy day we have a reference to in the Book of Acts. Remember, was what? Pentecost. Yeah, Pentecost.

So, here's another reference that Luke just puts in, and he's writing. Remember, Luke is a gentile and they're in a gentile party. And he's writing this to a man named Theophilus. Remember, the Book of Acts is written to Theophilus who is a gentile as well. And he throws in and he just mentions as a point of time reference the Holy Days. He doesn't go into a theological discussion about the Holy Days. It's not his intent. We might also add that there's not a need to. And sometimes people want to rip the Holy Days out of Pauline theology, but I think that those are always steps too far. And even some scholars today realize that as well. He taught the Corinthians to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread, 1 Corinthians 5, “Let us keep the feast.” And Chapter 10 and 11, he talks about the Passover and how to come together to keep the... Remember, the death of Christ, we've used those verses as we do every year at the Passover, to focus in upon Christ's death and how we are to remember Him and take the symbols of the bread and wine.

And so Paul's teaching that. He's teaching it to gentile Churches. And Luke is using these references scattered throughout the Book of Acts. Well, when Paul is on a ship going to Rome, he'll reference that on the day of atonement will be mentioned. So, we see these along there and that's important to note. And again, the absence of large theological discussion is not proof that the Holy Days were not important or they were fading, or whatever from the...and not a part of Paul's teaching or the early Church practice. That's reading far too much into it. And again, honest scholars and teachers will know that and will understand that. So, something happens now in the city of Troas, that is both humorous and instructive. Let's look at it, beginning in verse 7.

Acts 20:7 “Now, on the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread.” But keep in mind we're kind of in this period between Unleavened Bread and Pentecost. “And so on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”

That's a long sermon, isn't it? That's no break there for water or whatever. I mean, he goes till midnight. I've been in a few Bible studies that went close to midnight in my time in the Church, but I don't think I've ever gone as far as midnight with that. Although with my young thinking and the way I looked at things at age 18 or 19, or whenever, I probably thought it was midnight and thought it was time to pack it in. Things have been said. I got to go home, I'm tired. But Paul just keeps talking.

Acts 20:8 “Now, there were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.”

They were in a multi-story building where people lived, and again, in the Roman world, any sizeable city, it had what we might call apartments or multi-level residential places for people. They were built out of wood, they were not very safe. There were no building codes. In Rome and in these cities, they would very frequently have fires and they would catch on fire and they would burn down a whole block of buildings very quickly. Water would have been carried by pail from the nearest aqueduct or large reservoir in a city or well. And before that, you know, could have been probably organized and effectively managed. The whole building could have gone down.

The lamps that it refers to here are oil lamps, and I don't have any pictures of an oil lamp to bring in, but many of them were rather small or larger sizes. But think about this, oil lamps. Have you ever looked at a kerosene lamp? You got your Harmony of the Gospels there. Yeah, right there. Somebody bring that up to me real quick. Okay, here we go. Here's an oil lamp. Here's a typical ancient Middle Eastern oil lamp. Okay. Actually, it seems to be working. You can buy these anywhere you go in Israel, and I have one in my office someplace. And the oil would have gone in here and a wick would have come out of a little hole here at the end. You light it and it burns, and it gives off smoke, heat. Look at that. They are in an upper room, verse 8, it tells us. Is it the second floor, the fourth floor? Just an upper room. Heat rises, doesn't it? Now, keep in mind the time of year, this is early to mid-spring, and it's in the Mediterranean world, so a little bit warmer than where we are right now. And so it's been a warm day. Heat collects in a building like this. You fire up a few oil lamps, probably a lot of oil lamps to keep the lights going. And you've got heat being generated, you got smoke moving around and the heat goes up, not the beat goes on, but the heat goes up here and it gets hot. And Paul keeps talking, okay? Kind of, like, ministers do, they just sometimes keep talking, don't they?

Acts 20:9 “In a window, sat a certain young man, Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep.”

It's 2:33 at ABC. Sometimes you sink into a deep sleep. I sink into a deep sleep. Some sermons at 2:30, 3:00, 3:15 as well. Yes, I know. It seems to be amazing, but we're all human, aren't we? I usually tell my friends that are speaking in the afternoon service on a holy day to keep it interesting, make it exciting, because I need to stay awake and I've got my lemon drops or whatever it is that I use to do so. This is what's going on. He was overcome by sleep.

Acts 20:9-12 “And as Paul continued speaking,” wouldn't stop, “he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him and embracing him, said, ‘do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.’ And when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten and talked a long while, even till daybreak.” So, he continues on. “He departed, they brought the young man in alive and they were not a little comforted.”

And so, they probably took him someplace and he rested. He just kind of recovered a few hours later. And before, you know, everybody broke up, the meeting broke up, they were encouraged to see him and just slapped him on the back. And Eutychus lived, probably a long, full life and told stories about the night that he fell out of a window, listening to the Apostle Paul preached to midnight and beyond, and that he was... Maybe he told the story, and maybe it got embellished through the years. Who knows? But it says, “Paul embraced him and took him in his arms.” Maybe he felt a pulse and whatever. We're just not given any details, so I don't want to read too much into it, but he determined his life was in him. Here's this interesting story. And we are told that they break bread and they continue to daybreak, and they were gathered here on the first day of the week.

But go back to verse 7. Now, here's what happens with this particular story. In Protestant commentaries and language, this is used to justify or to explain and say that the Church is already meeting on the first day of the week or Sunday. They break bread at the very end of this. And so this is used, believe it or not, as a proof text for keeping Sunday by many. And you can pull any one of the commentaries off of the shelf in the library or anywhere else, and you will see this being explained by many but not all commentaries. I mean, there are some who understand that, as you parse these words and you put it together that it's not a justification or even an explanation of keeping Sunday, even though the breaking of bread is not communion service. It's not a Eucharistic service to use the Catholic or Protestant terminology, it's a meal. And it is what has been used all along to describe breaking bread. Here, in about in a few minutes, when we gather for lunch, we'll say a prayer and we will break bread together. And it's still a common usage. It just means to sit down and have a meal, to share a meal.

And frankly, that's what this is describing here. It is not a Sunday worship service, but it is on the first day of the week. It is on what we would call Sunday. You cannot get away from that. And what it likely is "On the first day of the week when they came together to break bread, Paul ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued till midnight." It's probably very likely. And one commentator, Craig Keener, in his commentary on Acts, puts it this way, they had a service on a Sabbath and then they just continued going, they just continued talking after sundown. And by the Biblical reckoning, which Luke does use throughout his gospel. And the timing of God in His Holy Days, Luke is consistent in the scriptures of using God's method of reckoning time. You see this in the Gospels, the chronology of the death of Christ, and we see it here in Acts, references to the holy day, references to the Sabbath. And he's not using a Roman methodology, which would start the day at midnight. He's using the Jewish, Hebrew, let's say, God's form. And so what is being described here is a meeting on Sunday, but begins on the nighttime portion after the Sabbath. In other words, they had a Sabbath service, but just kept on talking. And Paul kept preaching and he kept teaching. Why? Because he hadn't been there for a long time, may not have ever been there, we don't know. And he knew he may never come back through there. And so, he was using the time.

I spoke till Friday night. My Bible study to Myanmar started at 10:30, but I guess I was done about midnight. So, I went to midnight, but it was the next morning for them, so they were bright-eyed and ready to go in Yangon when they were listening to me. And so, this was just an extended meeting of members after the Sabbath then ended and Paul preached into the night, kept talking and teaching past midnight. And Eutychus, just being normal human being, got tired. He probably had too many chicken and dumplings at the potluck they had after the afternoon service. And you don't think it had chicken and dumplings there, Jonathan?

[Jonathan] No, that sounds very logical.

[Darris McNeely] Yeah, chicken and dumplings back then. Yeah. Whole wheat dumplings, do you think? Yeah, even probably so. But beyond Unleavened Bread, so they'd have leavening in them. Yeah. So, anyway, Eutychus ate too much, and the smoke, and everything from the oil lamps, and the upper stories, he just fell asleep. And he lived to tell that story. Now, this is, let's say in the early '50s AD. And I brought in some commentary from Craig Keener's, commentary on Acts. And he goes through several pages on this particular story, and he shows that at this time in Church history, nobody had gone to Sunday, probably not even in Rome. Rome was where the Sabbath was changed from the 7th day to the 1st day, probably first, and that would have been into '60s, and into '70s, and '80s when that began to develop in Rome and then gradually would have spread to other Churches. But it seems from what histories we can gather, and Samuele Bacchiocchi in his book, Bacchiocchi being a Seventh-day Adventist historian, theologian who we relied on quite heavily during the period of the 1994-'95 era when the Sabbath was being debunked. He shows in his extensive research that it seems to begin very early and first in Rome. But not this early. Not as early as this account here in Luke. So, again, Keener brings that out in his commentary. And so, any attempt to shoehorn communion keeping first day of the week into this story is just not being honest with the text, it's not being honest with Luke's style of writing, and it's not being honest with the known history of the changes on the Sabbath that we know from the history of the time. And so Paul continues moving on.

Acts 20:13 “The next day, he went ahead to the ship and he sailed to Assos,” or we did, Luke writes, he gets inclusive here. “We went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board, for so he had given orders intending himself to go on foot.”

So, what Paul did was, and this particular map doesn't show it, Paul walks overland for a short distance, about a day's walk to another port and the others, Luke and the others get on a ship and they sail around and they meet him at this place called Assos, A-⁠S-⁠S-⁠O-⁠S here.

Acts 20:14 “And then Paul comes on board and came to Mitylene. We sailed from there.” So, they're making their way down the coast of Asia. “And we sailed from there, from Mitylene. We came the next day opposite Chios. The following day, we arrived at Samos.”

These are islands off of the coast of Asia. Those of us that are going on the trip here in a few days, we're going to sail very near these particular spots on the day we go out to Patmos, part of our trip takes us to the island of Patmos and we'll sail close to these as well. And Paul then comes and stayed at Trogyllium.

Acts 20:15 “And then he comes down, it says, the next day we came to Miletus.”

Now, Miletus is just below Ephesus, and it was a significant city with a port. And in other words, Paul does not... He bypasses Ephesus. That's the important thing to note in what Luke is telling us. They came to Mitylene, they sailed opposite Chios, arrived at Samos, stayed at Trogyllium, and then came to Miletus. See, if I've got Miletus here on a map. We do. Miletus is right here. Here's Ephesus, and here's Miletus. Paul doesn't go back to Ephesus. Why? That's the question that people ask. Why didn't he go back to Ephesus? Why didn't he put in there? There was a harbor at that time. He could have got off, and as he got off the ship, he would have seen the theater and walked up Broad Street. And he had a sizable group there, many people, number of elders, as we're going to find out. Why didn't he stop at Ephesus?

Acts 20:16 Says, “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”

There's another reference, again, to a holy day, the Day of Pentecost right here. You might want to note where these are in your notes, or however you're taking notes or not taking notes, or daydreaming, or whatever else, and kind of remember where these references are in the Book of Acts. You just never know where they might show up on a test sometime because they're pretty important. But this gives us a little bit of a clue as to why Paul didn't stop at Ephesus. He seems to be in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost, so he did want to spend time. So, time may be a factor. I mean, that's what Luke says. Again, go back to the theory that Paul had been in Ephesus, in prison at the end of his ministry there, and maybe he didn't want to bring any notoriety to himself and step foot back in Ephesian soil and be subject to arrest again, or “What are you doing back here? We told you to leave and stay gone.”

Possibility. Luke does put the focus upon the timing. And if he had stopped at Ephesus, a lot of people there, a lot of members, and he would have had to have spent time in order...some people probably would have come in from some of the other cities. Keep in mind that Paul's time in Ephesus, you got all these congregations from all the way up in Pergamum down to Colossae and around cities that are not even mentioned on a map here that held probable congregations. There's probably a congregation in Miletus. Miletus was a sizable port city. I made a trip there back a year ago. We stopped in Miletus and they have a big theater there as well. And you can actually see where Paul would have come in. It's quite interesting to get a view of all of that. But what happens here, in verse 17.

Acts 20:17 Paul puts in and he stays and “He sends to Ephesus and called for the elders of the Church.”

And he wanted them to come down. He didn't want to stop where they were, but he wanted to meet with them. And so, he probably sends runners from Miletus around, there's a mountain there, and they would have gone through Magnesia and then down to Ephesus. It would have been a day or a day and a half for a runner. Probably some part of his traveling group here, maybe Trophimus. Some say it was Trophimus of Asia. Again, it doesn't say that, but he's mentioned back in verse 4, as part of his traveling party. But Paul sends somebody to Ephesus and says, “Look, we're all down here at Miletus, Paul wants to meet with you.” And he gathers the elders and then they go on a return trip. So, a minimum of three days Paul stays at Miletus. What did he do there? We don't know. I don't think he was probably inactive, but he calls them together.

And so here in Miletus is a gathering of the ministry. And what Paul says here is one of the most poignant scenes in all of the Book of Acts as Paul is going to rehearse to them his story, what he did, the time that he was with them, and he's going to give them certain warnings. So, let's go into that here in the time we have remaining in the class and read what he says.

Acts 20:18-19 He says, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials, which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews.”

And so in one sentence, he talks about probably working with his hands, teaching publicly, you know, the tent-making years, supporting himself. “I lived among you in this way with many tears and trials, which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews.” What's he referring to during this time? Unknown events not always referenced. In 1 Corinthians 15, remember when you were there? Paul uses a phrase. He said, “I wrestled with beasts at Ephesus.” I wrestled with beasts. What does that mean? Lions, tigers, bears, oh, my? What did he wrestle with? Well, it's pretty well understood that he wrestled with what he says in Ephesians 6, against spiritual wickedness, principalities, powers of the air, not against flesh and blood, but that it's the Jewish opposition, the Roman opposition, you know, evidenced by the riot. This is all part of the background here that he says, “I dealt with when I came to Asia,” in verse 18, and what I had to deal "with many tears, many trials." And he specifically mentions the plotting of the Jews.

Acts 20:20 “How I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you and taught you publicly and from house to house.”

And so he's opening himself up. He's saying, “I didn't keep anything back from you. I gave you the whole gospel, all the truth. Nothing but the truth, the whole truth. I gave you everything and proclaimed it to you in a public setting, School of Tyrannus from house to house.” Would that mean a house Church? More than one Church? Maybe in Ephesus or some of the areas covered by this? Possibly. But a gathering of people in a home, that may be invited for a meal and then it just goes into a Bible study and he would teach as there.

Acts 20:21 “Testifying to Jews and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Repentance and faith, two elements of salvation, repentance, the metanoia, whole turning around of life, and faith. Right there you have the elements that lead to baptism, the receipt of the Spirit, and testifying to Jews and also to Greeks.

Acts 20:22-23 “And see now I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.”

Now, keep in mind that he had to change his route because of a plot. And word was, no doubt, beginning to come to him of his enemies and those that were against him, plotting and setting traps to deal with him. But none of these things move me. None of these things move me. In other words, he wasn't so frightened that he just was going to run and go to ground and not continue with what his mission was and his purpose.

Acts 20:24 “These things didn't move me nor do I count my life dear to myself so that I might finish my race with joy and the ministry which I receive from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

And again, pretty succinct statement of an intense faith and of an intent on his part to continue to the last breath that he would have to finish his race, to do it with joy in his ministry, knowing full well the problems and what he would deal with if he's already been thrown in prison. I mean, at least he was. We know that in Philippi, he was beaten in Philippi. He was beaten in Lystra. Other things have gone on that are not even recorded. He records this, again, in the letter to 2 Corinthians, even shipwrecked. And we haven't got to the shipwreck that is a part of his trip to Rome. So, he's referring to some other incident where he was shipwrecked in his work and his travels. So, again, just keep in mind that a lot took place in Paul's life outside of what Luke records in Acts. Remember, there's a 10-year gap from the time he goes back to Tarsus to when Barnabas goes from Antioch to bring Paul into the ministry. We don't know from the Scriptures what he was doing during that time. Again, that feeds a lot of speculation in terms of a ministry, and it could very well be. I cannot see him being idle for 10 years. But some of the things that he references in 2 Corinthians about his trials and tribulations could fit into the situation of that timing there but none of it deterred him.

Acts 20:25 he said, “Indeed now I know that you all among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God will see my face no more.”

If you're an elder that's come down from Ephesus, and he comes to that statement, I'd probably be thinking, "What does he mean by that?" I will see his face no more. Wait a minute. We have plans for this or that. And we were planning further evangelistic efforts and maybe meetings of the disciples and the ministry. We'll see your face no more?

Acts 20:26-27 “Therefore,” he says, “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

Again, a reference to the fact that he's given them all that is necessary to understand about the truth, salvation, the way to salvation. Nothing has been held back. And keep in mind, he's telling this to a group of ministers and close traveling companions, Timothy, Luke, unnamed elders from Ephesus. We don't know how many three, six, a dozen, we don't know. But enough that he's having a full-blown conference with them here in some public location in the city of Miletus. And he's giving them a rehearsal of what he has done and a bit of a warning about his own life and now other things.

Acts 20:28 He says, “Therefore, take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”

Now, verse 28 gives us then a clear reference to the name of the Church, the Church of God. But that it is not Paul's Church. It is not their Church, these elders, it is the Church of God, purchased with His own blood, purchased with the blood of Christ. And that's what every elder, every minister, every pastor of God's Church, through the ages then, and certainly today, must know from verse 28, this is not our Church. A minister that stays in a congregation for, 5, 10, 15, 20-plus years in some cases, you know people. And a good pastor is going to be taking care of his people, giving them good sermons, visiting, anointing, marrying, burying, baptizing, laying hands on children, the whole life cycle of a Church. And as the years go by, every pastor feels a deeper calling. But then to the people that you have been joined with for a number of time, every pastor's got to recognize at some point you're going to leave.

I pastored in Indianapolis for 23 years and in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for about that long as well. And you go through different cycles, you go through a lot of emotion, and events that draw you together. And sometimes there's abrasion and problems, and not everybody gets along, and not everybody likes you, the pastor, and you cycle even through. I found that in Church life, you can have somebody go off and they don't like you. And then in time, one of my early mentors told me, “Time wounds all heels.” You've heard the phrase, “Time heals all wounds.” Turn it around, “Time wounds all heels.” A heel being somebody that makes a mistake or acts like a heel. And time can wound a heel. In other words, people can, "You know, I shouldn't have said that to them. I shouldn't have got that bent out of shape." And they come back and they apologize. And I've had that happen with people, and toward people, and people toward me. Those things happen. But above it all, you have to realize you're working with God's people purchased with the blood of Christ. They were never mine. Today, they're not pastor so-and-so's. You love your pastor, and hopefully, you're sad to see them go when they will be transferred or whatever. But to the degree that we recognize that it is the Church purchased with Christ's own blood, keeps it all in perspective.

Acts 20:29 “For I know this, that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”

What a strong statement to make. Savage wolves. I've seen a wolf in a zoo. That's about as close as I've ever been to a wolf. I've never encountered a wolf in the wild out in the open. That would probably be a chilling experience. But Paul likens those who would ravage the sheep as a wolf, and they will come in not sparing the flock. The analogy of the sheep.

Acts 20:30-31 “And from among yourselves, men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore, watch. Remember that, for three years, I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”

This is where we get the idea by this reference, for three years, I didn't cease to warn everyone in terms of the length of Paul's ministry there. And he says, “Watch. Watch this.” And he's speaking to the ministers, and he's saying, “From among yourselves, some are going to tear at the fabric of the fellowship of the Church.” And that happened. You will be going through Timothy, yet you haven't gone through 1 or 2 Timothy or Titus, I understand starting that this week.

The pastoral Epistles give us a rather grim scene of events in these Churches in Asia, Ephesus, and others. Keep in mind, 1 and 2 Timothy is written to Timothy, who was the pastor of Ephesus. And so what Paul describes there will develop, from this point of this encounter here in the years to come. And it seems that, as the years went by, the problems got bigger, heresy kept coming in, the Church got divided and Timothy had his hands full. And what Paul warns about came to pass. When you come to the end of 2 Timothy, Paul says that everyone in Asia has forsaken me. And you begin to realize that the apostasy that must have spread through those Churches representing Paul's prime years of ministry and life, ripped his own heart out as people turned on him. But he's giving the warning here, and that's why Chapter 20 is so important to understanding that but also on our own life.

Look, I went into a congregation 12, 13 years ago that was being ripped apart in a division in the Church. And I preached out of this Chapter 20, and I called the pastor that was ripping the Church apart and dividing it. I called him a wolf. Actually, I didn't call him a wolf, Book of Acts calls him a wolf. I just read the Book of Acts. Some people didn't like me that day who were there to listen to me, but I said it anyway because that's what was happening. And I've been a part of divisions from the very first months of my time in the ministry when the Church I was in, 60% of the Church was ripped away by a wolf. And it's never good. There's no good fruit from it, no matter what the justification can be. And so, that's why the latest one that we've had to deal with was so insidious and unnecessary. And frankly, a pack of lies and a ripping of the body of Christ. But Paul calls them wolves, savage wolves. And people will speak perverse things. That's a lie. So, if I hide behind that, I think I'm safe to describe what people have done through the years. I've witnessed it firsthand more than once in my 50 years in the ministry. And if any of you ever become a minister or ministers that are listening to this, this is a pretty strong teaching as to what not to do in order to preserve the unity of the faith and the fellowship within the Church. And so verse 32 comes to a very poignant statement.

Acts 20:32 He says, “Now, brethren, I commend you to God and the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

That's my favorite verse in the whole Book of Acts, if you want to know. Verse 32, he said, “I give you to God.” He's done all he can do. He's now given them a warning, and he gives them over to God. And that's the best place to be. And He's able to build you up, to give you an inheritance.

Acts 20:33-35 And he says, “Look, I've coveted no one's silver, gold, or apparel. Yes, you know that these hands,” and he probably held his hands up, “have provided for my necessities and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way by laboring like this that you must support the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Remember, he worked as a tent-maker during this period of time.

Acts 20:36-38 “And when he had said these things,” so he comes to a conclusion, and I like to imagine there was a pause and he finished. “He knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him.” Quite an emotional scene of men praying on their knees and hugging one another in a right way, but it's an emotional reaction. “Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.”

And so these elders went back to Ephesus, and Paul's little traveling party takes him down to the ship, and he gets on the ship, and he then begins a journey to Jerusalem that is going to result in his arrest. So, that takes us through Chapter 20 and sets us up to pick it up in the next class with Chapter 21. And we'll get into then Paul's journeys to Jerusalem and what happens at that point. So, we'll pick it up there.