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Acts 20:7-13

7. And upon one day of the Sabbaths, when the disciples were come together to break bread, Paul disputed with them, being about to take his journey on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8. And there were many lights in an upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 9. And a certain young man named Eutychus, sitting in a window, being fallen into a deep sleep, as Paul disputed long time, being more overcome with sleep, he fell down from the third loft downward, and was taken up dead. 10. And when Paul came down, he fell upon him, and embracing him, said, Be not ye troubled, for his soul is in him. 11. And when he was gone up, and had broken bread, and had, having had long conference until it was day, he departed. 12. And they brought the boy alive, and were not a little comforted. 13. But when he had taken ship, we loosed to Assos, thence to receive Paul, for so had he appointed, being about to go by land;

 

7. And in one day. Either doth he mean the first day of the week, which was next after the Sabbath, or else some certain Sabbath. Which latter thing may seem to me more probable; for this cause, because that day was more fit for all assembly, according to custom. But seeing it is no new matter for the Evangelists to put one instead of the first, according to the custom of the Hebrew tongue, (Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) it shall very well agree, that on the morrow after the Sabbath they came together. Furthermore, it were too cold to expound this of any day. For to what end is there mentioned of the Sabbath, save only that he may note the opportunity and choice of the time? Also, it is a likely matter that Paul waited for the Sabbath, that the day before his departure he might the more easily gather all the disciples into one place. And the zeal of them all is worth the noting, in that it was no trouble to Paul to teach until midnight, though he were ready to take his journey, neither were the rest weary of learning. For he had no other cause to continue his speech so long, save only the desire and attentiveness of his auditory.

To break bread. Though breaking of bread doth sometimes signify among the Hebrews a domestical banquet, yet do I expound the same of the Holy Supper in this place, being moved with two reasons. For seeing we may easily gather by that which followeth that there was no small multitude gathered together there, it is unlikely that there could any supper be prepared in a private house. Again, Luke will afterward declare that Paul took bread not at supper time, but after midnight. Hereunto is added that, that he saith not that he took meat that he might eat, but that he might only taste. Therefore, I think thus, that they had appointed a solemn day for the celebrating of the Holy Supper of the Lord among themselves, which might be commodious for them all. And to the end Paul might remedy after a sort the silence of longer absence, he continueth his speech longer than he did commonly use to do. That which I spake of the great number of men is gathered thence, because there were many lights in the upper chamber, which was not done for any pomp or ostentation, but only for necessity’s sake. For when there is no need, it is ambition and vanity which maketh men bestow cost. Furthermore, it was meet that all the whole place should shine with lights, lest that holy company might be suspected of some wickedness or dishonesty. Add also another conjecture, if the chamber had been empty, those which were present would not have suffered Eutychus to sit upon a window. For it had been filthy licentiousness in despising 403403     “Spernendae ac respuendae,” in spurning and rejecting. the heavenly doctrine to depart aside into a window, seeing there was room enough elsewhere.

9. When he was fallen into a deep sleep. I see no cause why some interpreters should so sore and sharply condemn the drowsiness of the young man, that they should say that he was punished for his sluggishness by death. For what marvel is it, if, seeing the night was so far spent, having striven so long with sleep, he yielded at length? And whereas, against his will, and otherwise than he hoped for, he was taken and overcome with deep sleep, we may guess by this that he did not settle himself to sleep. To seek out a fit place wherein to sleep had been a sign of sluggishness, but to be overcome with sleep, sitting at a window, what other thing is it but without fault to yield to nature? 404404     “Naturae infirmitati,” the infirmity of nature. As if a man should faint through hunger or too much wearisomeness. Those who being drowned in earthly cares come unto the word loathsomely; those who being full of meat and wine are thereby brought on [to] sleep; those who are vigilant enough in other matters, but hear the word as though they did not pass [care] for it, shall be justly condemned for drowsiness; but Luke doth in plain words acquit Eutychus, when he saith that he fell down, being overcome with deep sleep after midnight.

Moreover, the Lord meant not only by the sleep, but also by the death of this young man to awake and stir up the faith of his, that they might more joyfully receive Paul’s doctrine, and might keep it deeply rooted in their minds. It was, indeed, at the first no small temptation, but such as might have shaken even a most constant man full sore; for who would have thought that Christ had been chief governor in that company wherein a miserable man through a fall became dead? Who would not rather have thought this to be a sign of God’s curse? But the Lord, by applying a remedy, doth forthwith rid the minds of his of all perturbation.

10. He lay down upon him. We know that the apostles, in working miracles, did sometimes use certain external rites, whereby they might give the glory to God, the author. And now, whereas Paul doth stretch himself upon the young man, I think it was done to no other end, save only that he might more easily stir up himself unto prayer. It is all one as if he should mix himself with the dead man, 405405     “Perinde agit, acsi se misceret cum mortuo,” he acts just as if he were mixing himself up with the young man. And, peradventure, this was done for the imitation of Elisha, of whom the sacred history doth report the same thing (2 Kings 4:34). Yet the vehemency of his affection did more move him than the emulation of the prophet. For that stretching of himself upon him doth more provoke him to crave his life with all his heart at the hands of the Lord. So when he embraceth the body of the dead man, by this gesture he declared that he offered it to God to be quickened, and out of the text we may gather that he did not depart from embracing it until he knew that the life was restored again.

Be ye not troubled. We must note that Paul took great care principally for this cause, lest that sorrowful event should shake the faith of the godly, and should trouble their minds. Nevertheless, the Lord did, as it were, seal up and establish 406406     “Quasi insculpto sigillo apud eos sancivit,” did sanction to them as with the impress of the seal. that last sermon which Paul made at Troas. When he saith that his soul is in him, he doth not deny that he was dead, because by this means he should extinguish the glory of the miracle; but the meaning of these words is, that his life was restored through the grace of God. I do not restrain that which followeth, to wit, that they were greatly comforted through the joy which they had by reason of the young man which was restored to life; but I do also comprehend the confirmation of faith, seeing God gave them such an excellent testimony of his love.

13. When we had taken ship. It is uncertain why Paul did choose rather to go by land, whether it were because sailing might be to him troublesome, or that as he did pass by he might visit the brethren. I think that he did then eschew the sea for his health’s sake. And his courtesy is greatly to be commended, in that he spared his companions. For to what end did he suffer them to depart, save only that he might ease them of the trouble? So that we see that they did strive among themselves in courtesy and good turns. They were ready and willing to do their duty; but Paul was so far from requiring things straitly 407407     “Rigidus exactor,” from being a rigid exactor. at their hands, that of his own accord and courtesy he did remit those duties which they were ready to do; yea, setting aside his own commodity, he commanded them to do that which was for their comfort. It is well known that the city Assos is by the describers of countries 408408     “Geographis,” geographers. attributed to Troas. The same, as Pliny doth witness, was called Appollonia. They say that it was a free city of the AEtolians.


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