We have here an account of what passed at Troas the last of the seven days that Paul staid there.
I. There was a solemn religious assembly of the Christians that were there, according to their constant custom, and the custom of all the churches. 1. The disciples came together, Acts 20:7. Though they read, and meditated, and prayed, and sung psalms, apart, and thereby kept up their communion with God, yet that was not enough; they must come together to worship God in concert, and so keep up their communion with one another, by mutual countenance and assistance, and testify their spiritual communion with all good Christians. There ought to be stated times for the disciples of Christ to come together; though they cannot all come together in one place, yet as many as can. 2. They came together upon the first day of the week, which they called the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10), the Christian sabbath, celebrated to the honour of Christ and the Holy Spirit, in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ, and the pouring out of the Spirit, both on the first day of the week. This is here said to be the day when the disciples came together, that is, when it was their practice to come together in all the churches. Note, The first day of the week is to be religiously observed by all the disciples of Christ; and it is a sign between Christ and them, for by this it is known that they are his disciples; and it is to be observed in solemn assemblies, which are, as it were, the courts held in the name of our Lord Jesus, and to his honour, by his ministers, the stewards of his courts, to which all that hold from and under him owe suit and service, and at which they are to make their appearance, as tenants at their Lord’s courts, and the first day of the week is appointed to be the court-day. 3. They were gathered together in an upper chamber (Acts 20:8); they had no temple nor synagogue to meet in, no capacious stately chapel, but met in a private house, in a garret. As they were few, and did not need, so they were poor, and could not build, a large meeting-place; yet they came together, in that despicable inconvenient place. It will be no excuse for our absenting ourselves from religious assemblies that the place of them is not so decent nor so commodious as we would have it to be. 4. They came together to break bread, that is, to celebrate the ordinance of the Lord’s supper, that one instituted sign of breaking the bread being put for all the rest. The bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 10:16. In the breaking of the bread, not only the breaking of Christ’s body for us, to be a sacrifice for our sins, is commemorated, but the breaking of Christ’s body to us, to be food and a feast for our souls, is signified. In the primitive times it was the custom of many churches to receive the Lord’s supper every Lord’s day, celebrating the memorial of Christ’s death in the former, with that of his resurrection in the latter; and both in concert, in a solemn assembly, to testify their joint concurrence in the same faith and worship.
II. In this assembly Paul gave them a sermon, a long sermon, a farewell sermon, Acts 20:7. 1. He gave them a sermon: he preached to them. Though they were disciples already, yet it was very necessary they should have the word of God preached to them, in order to their increase in knowledge and grace. Observe, The preaching of the gospel ought to accompany the sacraments. Moses read the book of the covenant in the audience of the people, and then sprinkled the blood of the covenant, which the Lord had made with them concerning all these words, Exod. 24:7, 8. What does the seal signify without a writing? 2. It was a farewell sermon, he being ready to depart on the morrow. When he was gone, they might have the same gospel preached, but not as he preached it; and therefore they must make the best use of him that they could while they had him. Farewell sermons are usually in a particular manner affecting both to the preacher and to the hearers. 3. It was a very long sermon: He continued his speech until midnight; for he had a great deal to say, and knew not that ever he should have another opportunity of preaching to them. After they had received the Lord’s supper, he preached to them the duties they had thereby engaged themselves to, and the comforts they were interested in, and in this he was very large and full and particular. There may be occasion for ministers to preach, not only in season, but out of season. We know some that would have reproached Paul for this as a long-winded preacher, that tired his hearers; but they were willing to hear: he saw them so, and therefore continued his speech. He continued it till midnight; perhaps they met in the evening for privacy, or in conformity to the example of the disciples who came together on the first Christian sabbath in the evening. It is probable he had preached to them in the morning, and yet thus lengthened out his evening sermon even till midnight; we wish we had the heads of this long sermon, but we may suppose it was for substance the same with his epistles. The meeting being continued till midnight, there were candles set up, many lights (Acts 20:8), that the hearers might turn to the scriptures Paul quoted, and see whether these things were so; and that this might prevent the reproach of their enemies, who said they met in the night for works of darkness.
III. A young man in the congregation, that slept at sermon, was killed by a fall out of the window, but raised to life again; his name signifies one that had good fortune—Eutychus, bene fortunatus; and he answered his name. Observe,
1. The infirmity with which he was overtaken. It is probable his parents brought him, though but a boy, to the assembly, out of a desire to have him well instructed in the things of God by such a preacher as Paul. Parents should bring their children to hear sermons as soon as they can hear with understanding (Neh. 8:2), even the little ones, Deut. 29:11. Now this youth was to be blamed, (1.) That he presumptuously sat in the window, unglazed perhaps, and so exposed himself; whereas, if he could have been content to sit on the floor, he had been safe. Boys that love to climb, or otherwise endanger themselves, to the grief of their parents, consider not how much it is also an offence to God. (2.) That he slept, nay, he fell into a deep sleep when Paul was preaching, which was a sign he did not duly attend to the things that Paul spoke of, though they were weighty things. The particular notice taken of his sleeping makes us willing to hope none of the rest slept, though it was sleeping time and after supper; but this youth fell fast asleep, he was carried away with it (so the word is), which intimates that he strove against it, but was overpowered by it, and at last sunk down with sleep.
2. The calamity with which he was seized herein: He fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. Some think that the hand of Satan was in it, by the divine permission, and that he designed it for a disturbance to this assembly and a reproach to Paul and it. Others think that God designed it for a warning to all people to take heed of sleeping when they are hearing the word preached; and certainly we are to make this use of it. We must look upon it as an evil thing, as a bad sign of our low esteem of the word of God, and a great hindrance to our profiting by it. We must be afraid of it, do what we can to prevent our being sleepy, not compose ourselves to sleep, but get our hearts affected with the word we hear to such a degree as may drive sleep far enough. Let us watch and pray, that we enter not into this temptation, and by it into worse. Let the punishment of Eutychus strike an awe upon us, and show us how jealous God is in the matters of his worship; Be not deceived, God is not mocked. See how severely God visited an iniquity that seemed little, and but in a youth, and say, Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? Apply to this story that lamentation (Jer. 9:20, 21), Hear the word of the Lord, for death is come up into our windows, to cut off the children from without and the young men from the streets.
3. The miraculous mercy shown him in his recovery to life again, Acts 20:10. It gave a present distraction to the assembly, and an interruption to Paul’s preaching; but it proved an occasion of that which was a great confirmation to his preaching, and helped to set it home and make it effectual. (1.) Paul fell on the dead body, and embraced it, thereby expressing a great compassion to, and an affectionate concern for, this young man, so far was he from saying, “He was well enough served for minding so little what I said!” Such tender spirits as Paul had are much affected with sad accidents of this kind, and are far from judging and censuring those that fall under them, as if those on whom the tower of Siloam fell were sinners above all that dwelt at Jerusalem; I tell you, nay. But this was not all; his falling on him and embracing him were in imitation of Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:21), and Elisha (2 Kgs. 4:34), in order to the raising of him to life again; not that this could as a means contribute any thing to it, but as a sign it represented the descent of that divine power upon the dead body, for the putting of life into it again, which at the same time he inwardly, earnestly, and in faith prayed for. (2.) He assured them that he had returned to life, and it would appear presently. Various speculations, we may suppose, this ill accident had occasioned in the congregation, but Paul puts an end to them all: “Trouble not yourselves, be not in any disorder about it, let it not put you into any hurry, for his life is in him; he is not dead, but sleepeth: lay him awhile upon a bed, and he will come to himself, for he is now alive.” Thus, when Christ raised Lazarus, he said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. (3.) He returned to his work immediately after this interruption (Acts 20:11): He came up again to the meeting, they broke bread together in a love-feast, which usually attended the eucharist, in token of their communion with each other, and for the confirmation of friendship among them; and they talked a long while, even till break of day. Paul did not now go on in a continued discourse, as before, but he and his friends fell into a free conversation, the subject of which, no doubt, was good, and to the use of edifying. Christian conference is an excellent means of promoting holiness, comfort, and Christian love. They knew not when they should have Paul’s company again, and therefore made the best use they could of it when they had it, and reckoned a night’s sleep well lost for that purpose. (4.) Before they parted they brought the young man alive into the congregation, every one congratulating him upon his return to life from the dead, and they were not a little comforted, Acts 20:12. It was matter of great rejoicing among them, not only to the relations of the young man, but to the whole society, as it not only prevented the reproach that would otherwise have been cast upon them, but contributed very much to the credit of the gospel.
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