Daily Devotional

October 14, 2019

Daybreak: Acts 20:1-38

“And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.” (Acts 20:36-38)

Effective spiritual leaders hold a special place in the hearts of the people in their congregations. This can be seen in the attitudes of the leaders of the Ephesian church toward Paul. And it can also be seen in the testimony of Jung Ok You regarding Harold and Sally Barrett, who were missionaries to Korea.

Jung Ok’s father was a merchant mariner, and she says, “Every time his ship pulled into the Portland harbor, Apostolic Faith people visited and invited the crew members to church and to their homes. My father wrote letters, telling us that these people were wonderful and very kind to all the Koreans.

“In 1967, missionary ‘Papa’ Harold Barrett and his wife, ‘Mama’ Sally, moved to Korea to preach this true Gospel. They began holding church services in a second-floor room of their house. The room was about ten by fifteen feet in size, and it became a small sanctuary that was called the ‘Upper Room Church.’ When I was sixteen years old, my family went there because my father wanted us to go.

“At the time, I didn’t know about the Gospel or Jesus. I only wanted to learn English from Mama Barrett. However, one day the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and I realized I was a sinner. That day I confessed and repented of all my sins, and God saved me. I was one of the first converts in the Apostolic Faith Church in Korea.

“In time, my mother was saved. About one year after that, my father repented of his sins and was saved too. My younger brother and sister also were saved.

“In 1975, Papa and Mama Barrett left Korea to return to Portland, and most of the church members went to the airport to say goodbye. We were crying when they left, and we were so sad. We felt like children without a mother or father, so when they were gone, we went back to the church and prayed to the Lord. Then the Holy Spirit began to fall on the people. Day by day, the revival continued. During that time, I received my sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The revival went on for some weeks, and around fifty people received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. That really established the church and gave it a strong foundation.”

Similarly, the elders from Ephesus were sad when the Apostle Paul told them he would not see them again. He had labored in Ephesus for about three years, preaching, instructing, and nurturing. The believers were understandably sad at saying goodbye.

In the course of life, separation comes to us all. Mentors and teachers are called to other locations or on to their rewards in Heaven. Parents, grandparents, or others who have been strong spiritual influences in our lives will move or pass away. Yet when we turn to God for comfort and guidance in our sorrow, He can use the situation as an opportunity for spiritual growth. Like the people in Korea and Ephesus, we want to determine to let God use the circumstances in our lives to His full purposes. 

Background

Today’s text details Paul’s travels from the city of Ephesus in Asia, through the Roman province of Macedonia, to the city of Corinth in Achaia and then back toward Jerusalem on his third missionary journey.

After the riot in Ephesus, Paul moved forward his planned travel through Macedonia. It appears that he may have gone first to Troas, still in Asia, hoping to meet Titus, whom he had sent with a letter to Corinth (see 2 Corinthians 2:12-13). When Titus did not come, Paul went on to visit and encourage the Christians at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea in Macedonia. Titus did meet up with Paul there, bringing news of the church in Corinth. It is thought that Paul wrote the letter of 2 Corinthians at this time, and sent it back to Corinth with Titus. After exhorting the churches in Macedonia, Paul traveled on to Achia (today’s southern Greece), and probably spent the next three months in Corinth, writing the Epistle to the Romans during that time.

Perhaps in the springtime when sailing was better, Paul planned to set out for Jerusalem. However, he learned of a plot against him. The Jews may have determined to arrest or kill him while on the ship or to throw him overboard. To thwart their plan, Paul traveled by land, going back the way he had come.

Some of the men who were to travel with Paul went on by ship and waited for him at Troas. The men of this group are thought to have been carrying money donated by the churches for the persecuted believers in Jerusalem. Sopater of Berea may have been the same person as Sosipater mentioned in Romans 16:21. If so, he was a relative of Paul. Aristarchus and Gaius are mentioned in Acts 19:29. Timotheus is Timothy of 1 and 2 Timothy. Tychicus (see also Ephesians 6:21-22) and Trophimus (see also 2 Timothy 4:20) were from Ephesus.

In verse 6, Luke wrote “we,” indicating that he had again joined Paul’s traveling team. Not long after the church in Philippi had been established, Paul had left Luke there, probably to be the pastor of this new group. Now he sailed with Paul from Philippi to Troas, where they spent seven days.

Verse 7 says that the believers assembled on “the first day of the week,” which could be an indicator that they had changed their meeting day from the Jewish Sabbath to Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the dead. “To break bread” may mean that they celebrated the Lord’s Supper. The word preached means “discuss, reason with, speak,” and the service was long. The room was lit with lamps that were no doubt smoky and added to the stuffiness.

The window may have been just an opening covered with lattice, or if there were shutters, perhaps they were open for ventilation. Eutychus sat in this opening, and sleep overcame him. He fell from the third floor. Some have suggested that Eutychus only had his breath knocked out, but Luke was a physician, and he wrote that the young man was dead. God’s miraculous power was demonstrated once again when he came back to life.

Paul went by land and the others by ship from Troas to nearby Assos, where Paul went on board. The specifics of their stops in verses 13-16 are typical of Luke’s attention to detail. The goal was to be in Jerusalem by Pentecost, which would have been the last part of May or the first part of June.

Verses 17-38 give Paul’s farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus. The distance between Miletus and Ephesus was about thirty miles. When the elders arrived, Paul eloquently exhorted them. His concern for these people was evident as he reviewed his years at Ephesus and how he had lived among them. He had preached publicly and privately (in homes), to Jews and Gentiles (Greeks), the message of repentance and faith.

Paul knew difficulties were ahead of him, but he felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem. He urged these men to be good and watchful leaders, and then he commended, or committed, them to God’s sovereign care.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

IV.    The witness “unto the uttermost part of the earth”
    D.    The third missionary journey of Paul
        3.    The ministry in Macedonia and Achaia (20:1-5)
        4.    The ministry in Troas (20:6-12)
        5.    The ministry in Miletus (20:13-38)
            a.    His journey to Miletus (20:13-16)
            b.    His message to the Ephesian elders (20:17-35)
                (1)    Concerning his ministry (20:17-27)
                (2)    Concerning the church (20:28-35)
            c.    His farewell to the Ephesians (20:36-38)

A Closer Look

  1. What did Paul expect would happen to him once he arrived in Jerusalem?

  2. What are some ways it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (verse 35)?

  3. How can we know that we are doing God’s will even though we experience difficulties?

Conclusion

Perhaps someone who has been a strong spiritual help to you is no longer available. God is still with you, and you can commit yourself and your ways to Him. He has good planned for you.

Reference Materials