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The Second Visit to Europe and Return
Summary —Paul Departs to Macedonia. And to Greece. Paul at Troas. The Meeting on the First Day of the Week to Break Bread. The Meeting with the Elders of the Church at Ephesus. Paul's Affectionate Warnings. The Sorrowful Farewell.
1–6. After the uproar was ceased. It had been his purpose to go into Macedonia (19:21), but to remain at Ephesus until after Pentecost (1 Cor. 16:8), and that time (about the middle of May, a.d. 57 or 58) had probably come. Hence, having exhorted the disciples (Revision), he departed. It was on his way to Greece that the Second Epistle to the Corinthians was written. He speaks in 2 Cor. 12:14 and 13:1, of coming “the third time” to Corinth. Hence, Hackett supposes that during the three years at Ephesus he made a flying visit to Corinth by sea to correct disorders in the church there. When he had gone over those parts. Visited Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea at least, and possibly other Macedonian churches. He came into Greece. To Corinth. During the three months that he remained in Corinth, he wrote the greatest of all his letters, the Epistle to the Romans. The Jews laid in wait. We have no further details, but it was, no doubt, a murderous plot. To prevent it, his plans were changed, and instead of sailing to Syria, he again took the route to Macedonia. There accompanied him to Asia, Sopater. The Revision, based on the oldest MSS, calls him “the son of Pyrrhus.” He is otherwise unknown. Aristarchus. See 19:29. Secundus is not named elsewhere. Gaius of Derbe. So named to distinguish him from another Gaius (19:29). Derbe was in Lycaonia. See 14:6. Timotheus. This celebrated disciple was of Lystra near Derbe. See notes on 16:1–4. Tychicus. Supposed to be an Ephesian. See Col. 4:7, 8; Eph. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:12. Trophimus. He attended Paul all the way to Jerusalem. See Acts 21:29 and 2 Tim. 4:20. These going before. Paul evidently tarried with the church at Philippi, while they went on to Troas. Us. Luke was now a companion. When Paul first passed into Europe, six or seven years before, he was with him (16:12), but there are reasons for thinking that he had remained and 505labored in Philippi until this time. Henceforth he attends the great apostle. Came to Troas in five days. The winds must have been contrary. Formerly (16:11) the voyage was made in two days. For Troas, see note on 16:8.
7–12. On the first day of the week when, etc. The language shows that it was the custom to meet on the first day of the week, and shows the leading object of that meeting. This was not a farewell meeting for Paul, for then the day of the week would not have been mentioned, but the regular weekly assemblage of the saints. They came together, primarily, to break bread, i. e., to observe the Lord's Supper. Dean Howson says: “We have here an unmistakable allusion to the practice, which began evidently immediately after the resurrection of our Lord, of assembling on the first day of the week for religious purposes.” He also shows that the Lord arose on the first day of the week, showed himself to the apostles a second time one week later on the first day of the week, that the church was founded and the Holy Spirit shed forth on Pentecost, which was on the first day of the week. On the same day the disciples at Troas meet to break bread, the Corinthians meet, take collections (1 Cor. 16:2) and eat the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:20), and the Lord on Patmos reveals himself to John (Rev. 1:10). In addition to this, the early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all with one consent, declare that the church observed the first day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord's Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week. Paul preached. Though it was the special object of this weekly meeting to break bread, preaching was a part of the worship. Continued his speech until midnight. About to depart, probably never to see them more, all were anxious to hear the great apostle, and he had much to say. There were many lights. This is mentioned to show how they could meet at night. In those time public meetings and even the games of the theatre were by daylight. Means of lighting were very imperfect. Eutychus. Sitting in the window, and at last overcome by drowsiness, he fell to the earth, three stories below. The language implies that he was killed by the fall, and restored by the Divine power, exercised through Paul. The history is plain, simple, and easy to understand. Compare 2 Kings 4:34. When he … had broken bread and eaten. Opinions are divided whether the Lord's Supper had been celebrated before his long discourse and this was a common meal just before his departure in the early morning, or whether these words allude to the celebration of the Lord's Supper. I incline to the last opinion. The fact that the same phraseology is used in both places shows that they refer to the same thing. Some, however, insist that if this be true, the Lord's Supper was celebrated on Monday morning before day. This does not necessarily 506follow. The Jews began their day at sunset. Sunday began at sunset of what he call Saturday. The early churches, composed in large part of Jews at first, often followed the Jewish custom. It is probable that this meeting at Troas began at the close of the Sabbath, in the evening, was continued through the night, the Lord's Supper being celebrated in the latter part of the night, before dawn of Sunday, and that at daybreak Paul departed. He had remained over a week to have the privilege of observing the Lord's Supper with them. So, too, he remained a week with the disciples at Tyre (21:4) and with the brethren at Puteoli (28:14).
13–16. Sailed unto Assos. The distance from Troas to Assos by sea, round Cape Lectum, was about forty miles, while across by land it was only half as far. Paul, probably attended by a number of brethren, chose to walk across. Vast ruins now mark the site of the seaport of Assos. Mitylene. The next stopping place, about thirty miles from Assos, still the capital of the island of Lesbos. It is now called Castro. Sailed to Chios. A populous island near the Asiatic coast, famed for its wine. In 1822, the Turks almost exterminated the inhabitants in a frightful massacre. Samos. All these islands are celebrated in Greek history. Samos is separated from the coast only by a narrow channel. Trogyllium. A promontory not far from Ephesus. Came to Miletus. A city famous from the time of Homer, but at this period sinking in importance on account of the prosperity of Ephesus, only thirty miles away. A swamp and a few ruins now mark its site. Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus. If he stopped at this scene of three years' labor, he felt that he could not tear himself away without a considerable stay. But it was his plan to be in Jerusalem at Pentecost, now not far off. Hence, instead of stopping at Ephesus, he sent for the elders to visit him at Miletus.
17–27. Called the elders of the church. No mention has been made before of their appointment, but it was Paul's custom to “ordain elders in every church” (14:23). These elders were also called “bishops” (see verse 28, Revision). In apostolic days there was a plurality of elders in every church; these elders were “bishops,” or overseers. There was no distinct episcopal order. This is admitted even by the advocates of an episcopate. Dean Howson, of the Church of England, declares (Acts, p. 475) that 507no special order of bishops was created in the lifetime of Paul, or the apostles, but he dates their origin about the close of the first or beginning of the second century. Prof. Rothe, of Heidelberg (quoted by Lightfoot on Philippians), supposes that after the martyrdom of Paul, Peter and James the necessity was felt for a general supervision, and that this gave rise to the appointment of diocesan bishops. By the admission of all scholars, the episcopal order is post-apostolic. Ye know. This is a pastoral address, worthy of the closest study by all pastors and elders. First, the apostle calls attention to his own example. Every elder ought to be an example. Taught you publicly. Three months in the synagogue at Ephesus; two years in the school of Tyrannus, besides his teaching in the church assemblies. Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord. These items embrace the sum of Christian doctrine. Repentance of our sins against our Creator, the resolve to turn from them; then faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, by trust in his grace and obedience to his will. Now I go bound in the spirit. Urged by a sense of duty, yet knowing from the premonitions of the Holy Spirit that bonds and afflictions awaited him at Jerusalem. Ye shall see my face no more. Paul does not state this as a revelation, but as his conviction. He then thought it not improbable that he would soon die for Christ. Many think that he was released from his first imprisonment in Rome. Dean Howson says: “It is almost certain that Paul, after his liberation from the imprisonment spoken of in Acts XXVIII., did revisit the Asian churches (see notices and greetings and directions in 2 Tim. IV. and in Tit. 1:5, especially the words, 'Trophimus I have left at Miletum sick').” Pure from the blood of all men. Not responsible, if they are lost, for he had declared “the whole counsel of God.”
28–31. Take heed. Here begin the special admonitions to the elders. To yourselves. Their own lives must be the first subject of watchfulness. No man can be so exalted that he does not need to watch and pray. The flock. The church, the fold of the Good Shepherd, of whom they were under-shepherds, or pastors. To feed the church. “On the sincere milk of the word, that it may grow thereby.” Grievous wolves. The figure of the flock is still kept up. The “grievous wolves” were false teachers, 508and the special reference is to the Judaizing teachers, who taught that the Gentile Christians must keep the Jewish law. Paul's ministry was a long battle with the schismatics. See 1 Tim. 1:3, 4, 20; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2:17; also 1. By turning to these references the names of some six of these “grievous wolves” will be found. Also in Rev. 2:6 we learn that there were false teachers at Ephesus.
32–35. I commend you to God. In their weighty responsibility he commends them to God. And to the word of his grace. The word will be a guide in all their difficulties and is able to build them up and give them an inheritance among the sanctified. If it is followed, they cannot stray. Sanctified. All Christians are spoken of as sanctified. See 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:9–11. I have coveted no man's silver. No motives of self-interest could induce him to labor in the work to which he was called. It offered no earthly emoluments. We have found that at Corinth he worked with his own hands for support. We here learn that he did the same thing at Ephesus. See 18:3; 2 Thess. 3:10–12; 1 Cor. 4:11, 12. He also warns Timothy to flee from the love of money as hurtful, an admonition that should never be forgotten. It is more blessed to give than to receive. These words, quoted by Paul, as well known are not found in any one of the four Gospels, but are none the less genuine. They only preserve a fragment of the sayings and doings of our Lord (John 21:25). Giving, even here, secures more real happiness than receiving, and besides, is Godlike and blesses forever.
36–38. He kneeled down, and prayed. This was the most appropriate parting for these ancient men of God. Fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him. An Eastern custom of exhibiting great affection. That they should see his face no more. This thought caused their greatest sorrow, but we have seen that it is probable that they did see him again. It was not, however, until after Acts was written. See note on verse 25. 509
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