Acts 20 The Voice (VOICE)
The message of Jesus not only has the power to annihilate economic supremacy, but also turns the world upside down in the process. In the kingdom of God, a worker is always paid a wage worthy of his work: anyone who works has enough to eat, and no one is left out of the profitable bounty of God. No longer do businesses profit from dishonesty, manipulation, or selfishness.
20 As soon as the uproar ended, Paul gathered the disciples together, encouraged them once more, said farewell, and left on foot. He decided to pass through Macedonia, 2 encouraging believers wherever he found them, and came to Greece. 3 He spent three months there, and then he planned to set sail once again for Syria. But he learned that a group of Jewish opponents was plotting to kill him, so he decided to travel through Macedonia.
4-5 There was a large group of us traveling with him at this time, and we decided it was best, in light of the plot, to split up and then reunite in the city of Troas. This group included Paul, a Berean named Sopater (son of Pyrrhus), two Thessalonians named Aristarchus and Secundus, a Derbean named Gaius, two Asians named Tychicus and Trophimus, and Timothy. 6 Some of us waited until the Days of Unleavened Bread were over; then we went to Philippi where we boarded a ship for Troas. The other group left immediately on foot, passing through Macedonia. When my group landed in Troas five days later, Paul’s group had already arrived. We stayed in Troas another week.
7-8 The Sunday night before our Monday departure, we gathered to celebrate the breaking of bread.
Many wondrous events happen as Paul travels, ministering among the churches. One evening a most unusual event occurs.
Imagine you are celebrating with them:
We are in an upstairs room, with the gentle light and shadows cast by several lamps. Paul is carrying on an extended dialogue with the believers, taking advantage of every moment since we plan to leave at first light. The conversation stretches on until midnight. 9 A young fellow named Eutychus, seeking some fresh air, moves to an open window. Paul keeps on talking. Eutychus perches in the open window itself. Paul keeps talking. Eutychus drifts off to sleep. Paul continues talking until Eutychus, now overcome by deep sleep, drops out of the window and falls three stories to the ground, where he is found dead. 10 Paul joins us downstairs, bends over, and takes Eutychus in his arms.
Paul: It’s OK. He’s alive again.
11 Then Paul goes back upstairs, celebrates the breaking of bread, and—just as you might guess—keeps on conversing until first light. Then he leaves. 12 (I should add that Eutychus had been taken home long before, his friends more than a little relieved that the boy was alive!)
This may be one of the strangest stories ever told. Paul was talking about faith while one young man dozed off and fell out the window. Many a pastor has secretly prayed that slumbering congregants would fall out of their chairs. It might have been funny had he not died; instead, it was a scene of great horror. That is, until God used Paul to turn horror into celebration with a death-defying miracle. But the people were so enamored with Paul’s teaching about Jesus that they returned to their conversations, which continued until sunrise.
13 Again Paul wanted us to split up. He wanted to go by land by himself while we went by ship to Assos. 14 There he came on board with us, and we sailed on to Mitylene. 15 From there we sailed near Chios, passing by it the next day, docking briefly at Samos the day after that, then arriving at Miletus the following day. 16 This route kept us safely out of Ephesus and didn’t require Paul to spend any time at all in Asia, since he wanted to arrive in Jerusalem quickly—before Pentecost, he hoped.
17 In Miletus he sent word to the church in Ephesus, asking the elders to come down to meet with him. 18 When they arrived, he talked with them.
Paul: We will have many memories of our time together in Ephesus; but of all the memories, most of all I want you to remember my way of life. From the first day I arrived in Asia, 19 I served the Lord with humility and tears, patiently enduring the many trials that came my way through the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 I did everything I could to help you; I held nothing back. I taught you publicly, and I taught you in your homes. 21 I told everyone the same message—Jews and Greeks alike—that we must turn toward God and have faith in our Lord Jesus the Anointed. 22 Now I feel that the Holy Spirit has taken me captive. I am being led to Jerusalem. My future is uncertain, 23 but I know—the Holy Spirit has told me—that everywhere I go from now on, I will find imprisonment and persecution waiting for me. 24 But that’s OK. That’s no tragedy for me because I don’t cling to my life for my own sake. The only value I place on my life is that I may finish my race, that I may fulfill the ministry that Jesus our King has given me, that I may gladly tell the good news of God’s grace. 25 I now realize that this is our last good-bye. You have been like family in all my travels to proclaim the kingdom of God, but after today none of you will see my face again. 26 So I want to make this clear: I am not responsible for your destiny from this point on 27 because I have not held back from telling you the purpose of God in all its dimensions.
28 Here are my instructions: diligently guard yourselves, and diligently guard the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has given you oversight. Shepherd the church of God, this precious church which He made His own through the blood of His own Son. 29 I know that after I’ve gone, dangerous wolves will sneak in among you, savaging the flock. 30 Some of you here today will begin twisting the truth, enticing disciples to go your way, to follow you. 31 You must be on guard, and you must remember my way of life among you. For three years, I have kept on, persistently warning everyone, day and night, with tears.
32 So now I put you in God’s hands. I entrust you to the message of God’s grace, a message that has the power to build you up and to give you rich heritage among all who are set apart for God’s holy purposes. 33 Remember my example: I never once coveted a single coin of silver or gold. I never looked twice at someone’s fine clothing. 34 No, you know this: I worked with my own two hands making tents, and I paid my own expenses and my companions’ expenses as well. 35 This is my last gift to you, this example of a way of life: a life of hard work, a life of helping the weak, a life that echoes every day those words of Jesus our King, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
36 Once again, imagine this scene:
As Paul finishes speaking, he kneels down; and we all join him, kneeling. He prays, and we all join him, praying. 37 There’s the sound of weeping, and then more weeping, and then more still. One by one, we embrace Paul and kiss him, 38 our sadness multiplied because of his words about this being our last good-bye. We walk with him to the ship, and he sets sail.