ACTS CHAPTER TWENTY


PAUL ENDS HIS THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY WITH EXHORTATIONS

Suggested Teaching Objectives

Introduction: To exhort means "to incite by words or advice; to advise or warn earnestly." After the uproar at Ephesus, Paul decided to go back into Europe and advise and strengthen the churches he had established on his second journey and then to go to Jerusalem for the Pentecostal feast. Paul always was concerned about the churches he had established and realizing he probably would never pass by Greece again wanted to advise them and help them once more. CF. II Corinthians 11:28. That churches be healthy and functioning properly is of great concern to the Lord and was to Paul, also. Paul's life was exciting and adventure-filled. Let's follow his travel and note his activities.

The Evangelist -- Vs. 1-5

Vs. 1-2 -- Paul left Ephesus, the city where he had obtained the greatest victory in his ministry to date, and went to Macedonia where the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea were. After advising and encouraging them, he went to Corinth. While here he wrote his epistles to the churches of Galatia and Rome.

Vs. 3-4 -- He was at Corinth for three months and then the Jews determined to harm him but he escaped out of their hand and went back through Macedonia (Philippi). These fellow-workers with Paul left Macedonia before Paul and sailed to Troas in Asia Minor. During Paul's labors on his 2nd journey and on this third journey, all of Asia Minor was evangelized, all of Macedonia, and all of Achaia was covered and these no doubt under Paul's leadership, had been his staff of co-workers who had led in these projects. Notice that they are all named in the Book of Acts. We can be assured that our activities for the Lord are being recorded in His Book of Acts in heaven even now. Romans 2:6

Paul met with trouble everywhere he went but he realized it was known of the Lord for God had said, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Acts 9:16. CF. II Corinthians 12:10. Paul took the hardships -- "For Christ's sake." Are you willing to suffer and sacrifice "for Christ's sake"?

The Embarrassment -- Vs. 6-12

Vs. 6 -- "We" refers evidently to Paul and Luke. "Them" refers to those named in Verse 4. Why they stayed seven days we are not told but possibly it was for the ship to change cargo or because of bad weather for sailing.

Vs. 7 -- The church of Christ uses this verse as proof that all churches should observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday. We would refute this by saying their doctrine is based wholly on supposition which when totally used never prove anything. They suppose the "disciples" mentioned are members of a church at Troas but there is no evidence in scripture nor in history that there was a church in Troas which was ancient Troy and an important city. They suppose that to "break bread" always refers to the Lord's Supper, but there is no proof of this and besides this was done either twice during this service (CF Vs.11) or the one time as recorded in Verse 11. If they participated in the Lord's Supper as is supposed (as recorded in Vs. 11) then they did it after midnight which, to say the least was most unusual.

It is more likely that these nine gathered together for the supper meal on Sunday and after eating, Paul preached to them and that there were some gathered there from outside of this number. These men, all workers with Paul, were no doubt soul-winners and they being there a week had probably witnessed to many and many gathered to hear Paul.

If there was a church there, it is a weak argument that they participated in the Lord's Supper every Sunday just because these gathered there on that particular Sunday for that purpose.

The Bible nowhere teaches that churches should participate in the Lord's Supper at any stated, regular time. "As oft as ye do this" is the statement in I Corinthians 11:25. There should be harmony in the church when the Lord's Supper is taken. I Corinthians 5:6-13. There should be a heart-searching by members of sin in their lives and a forsaking of that sin, I Corinthians 11:27,28, when this ordinance is observed. When these conditions do not prevail, the church should refrain from having the Lord's Supper.

Vs. 8-9 -- It can be embarrassing to fall asleep in church. Christians should be careful how they spend Saturday nights so they will be prepared to worship with alert minds on Sunday.

Vs. 10 -- God worked a miracle through Paul.

Vs. 11-12 -- Paul had much to say to these people and so exhorted them throughout the night. Paul would soon be leaving these disciples who had left Macedonia and gone before him, for after this they are not mentioned except in the plural (we -- Vs. 13) and we do not know who of these disciples that this "we" encompassed.

The Elders -- Vs. 13-35

Vs. 13-15 -- Think of the territory traveled. Paul walked to Assos some 25 miles. He wanted to be alone. There are times when we all should have our moments alone where we can meditate on the Lord and let Him speak to us. "Be still and know that I am God."

Vs. 16-17 -- Paul had his heart set on getting to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost, so determined not to go again to Ephesus. At Miletum, a coast town some 30 miles from Ephesus, they stopped and Paul called for the elders (overseers) of the church to come and see him.

Vs. 18-19 -- First, Paul talked of his own personal life among them. He said, "You know my life and what it's been for three years, you watched me under all conditions. You know I tried to exemplify Christ." How many Christians can say, "Look at my life -- it is what a Christian life ought to be?"

Paul talked about his compassion for them. We are too dry-eyed today. We need to care about others and their spiritual welfare. cf. Psalm 126.

Vs. 20-21 -- Paul talked about his message. Nothing profitable was kept from them when he came to Ephesus. What did they need to know as sinners? How to be saved! This Paul preached unreservedly and uncompromisingly! He preached the gospel message that all (Jews & Greeks or Gentiles) can only be saved by: Repentance toward God (Luke 13:3) and faith toward or in our Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Vs. 22-24 -- Paul felt he should go to Jerusalem. He had an offering from the saints at Corinth to take to the saints in Jerusalem. I Corinthians 16:1-8. He knew that afflictions would be his lot but he loved the Christians and the unsaved Jews at Jerusalem. He was dedicated wholly to ministering the gospel and the chance of suffering, danger, and afflictions would not deter him in any way. Oh! That we were so sold out to God and others!

Vs. 25 -- It was real heart pain that filled the hearts of the Ephesian elders as Paul announced to them "ye shall see my face no more."

Vs. 26-27 -- What a satisfying comment to make about one's life. That I am not guilty of anyone not being saved. I've given my all. I've not compromised my actions, nor my message. Paul was a great man and anyone would be great who could truthfully make such a statement.

Vs. 28-32 -- The apostle states many wonderful truths about the church:

"Grievous Wolves" from the outside entering in, not sparing the flock. False teachers "speaking perverse things" to draw away disciples after them on the inside.

Vs. 33-34 -- In Ephesus, for three years Paul worked and made money to supply his needs and those who labored with him and sought nothing freely from any man.

Vs. 35 -- With this testimony, he exhorts these elders to be willing to give their all for God and to see that the weak are supported.

This saying of Jesus is not recorded in the gospels but Paul rescued it for us and how true it is. The happiest (blessed) people are those who give to others.

The Embarking -- Vs. 36-38

Paul left these men with a great task. Dr. Hershel Ford, said, "I am sure that later on when they met Paul in heaven, Paul took them up to the Saviour and said, "Master, these are the men who carried on the work in Ephesus so nobly after I left them."

CONCLUSION: God has given us a great task. To grow into strong Christians (Ephesians 4:11-16), to build strong churches (Ephesians 4:11-16), to send out missionaries (Matthew 28:18-20). Are you doing all you can and should? Discuss how you can help.