Lesson 44: Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey (Continued/Again Through Macedonia and Greece)
This is Acts, Lesson #44. Back to the riot! We read all of Acts ch. 19 in our last lesson. But, before we begin ch. 20 let's notice another thing or two about the uproar brought about by the Diana-makers. V.32 said: "the assembly was confused; and the more part knew NOT wherefore they were come together." Isn't that typical of an unruly crowd? Confusion personified! V.33 seems to be an attempt by the non-believing Jews, i.e., those that oppose Paul to make the point that they must not be held responsible for Paul's actions. Claiming Paul to be a false teaching Jew. But, even the Jews who were non-Christians and opposed Christianity did not believe in idolatry. Bro. McGarvey says on this point: "the quick-witted in the crowd saw through the trick at once, and gave it the rebuke which it deserved by drowning Alexander's voice in their yells." This man Alexander is identified in v.33 and v.34 as a Jew. If we have rightly interpreted these verses he was a non-Christian Jew. This is all we know for certain. Yet, it is interesting to note, Timothy came to Ephesus to preach, possibly 10 years after the time discussed in Acts 19. Paul wrote Timothy two letters, known to us as the N.T. epistles, First and Second Timothy. Both of these letters mentions an Alexander (at Ephesus). In the first letter, Paul mentioned an Alexander along with another man named Hymeneous as an example of men who had made shipwreck of their faith. Paul told Timothy to deliver these men to Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme. That's I Tim. 1:20. In II Tun. 4:14, Paul mentions an Alexander (at Ephesus) who he identifies as Alexander the coppersmith. Paul said this Alexander did him much evil and he warns Timothy to beware. Whether this is the same Alexander or not, we cannot be sure. Now, I must say, that townclerk, v.35-41) sure did a slick-tongued job of dispersing the mob. He identified with their cause, praised the goddess Diana and although he distorted the charges of the silversmiths somewhat he dismissed the charges against the disciples. He insisted they use legal channels and not bring down Rome's fury on the city. And as soon as he got their sober attention, he dismissed the crowd and brought about an orderly dispersion. A somewhat happier ending than Philippi. O.K., can you visualize Ephesus? A large seaport city on the western shore of the Roman province of Asia; where the major inland roads connected with sea-travel on the Aegean Sea. The Ephesians gloried in this pagan goddess Diana, an idol, made by the craftsmanship of men. If you are interested, most bible dictionaries show a picture of this goddess - a woman with many breasts, we won't get into that. The church had now been planted at Ephesus and met with a good deal of success -enough to infuriate the Diana-makers.
Now, ch. 20, let's read v.l. "And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia." O.K., Paul had already planned to leave Ephesus and revisit those churches he had planted in Europe. After the riot, Paul must have deemed it a good time to leave before his presence provoked more trouble which would jeopardize the safety of the disciples at Ephesus - possibly leaving before Pentecost, contrary to his plans as stated in I Cor. 16:8. Paul called unto him the disciples. He embraced them! This must have been a touching departure sprinkled with prayers, tears, firm handshakes and much well-wishing.
Thus, Paul departed for Macedonia; most likely by a ship pushed along by great sails hoisted into the wind. And, as Paul listened to the flutter of those sails over his head; he must have had mixed emotions. Thinking of all his friends and all the good that had been accomplished in the last three years in the province of Asia. Yet, he must have been saddened by the circumstances of his departure and the prospect of more persecution to those disciples left behind. And his destination must have reminded him of that jail in Philippi, those stripes scarred on his back and that riot in Thessalonica. Luke paints the picture with one long sweep from Ephesus to Macedonia...no details, yet, we discover many details of this trip in the book of II Corinthians. As a matter of fact, the book of n Corinthians was probably written somewhere between Ephesus and Corinth on this trip -presumably at Philippi. In that book, we learn Paul stopped over at Troas, that's city #23 on your map. Do you remember Troas? That's where Luke joined Paul, Silas and Timothy on the second missionary journey and Paul received a vision in the night saying: "come over into Macedonia and help us." On this present journey, we learn Paul had hoped to find Titus at Troas. I would assume that same Titus who was the test case (so to speak) at the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15, also mentioned in Gal. 2:3. In Paul's planning he had undoubtedly sent word for Titus to meet him at Troas. This message was most likely sent by Timothy and Erastus in Acts 19:22. Paul had planned to do some preaching at Troas and found the door open. He says in II Cor. 2:12 the opportunity was afforded him. But, Titus didn't show up! Titus was to bring news from Corinth (we learn this in II Cor. 7:6-7). Paul was very anxious to hear from Corinth, for so many reasons it would take too long to discuss them here. They had many problems at Corinth. You will recall, Paul had already corresponded with the church in Corinth two or three times, (we know of) when he was at Ephesus. And, apparently his last communication from the Corinthian disciples had carried some very uncertain sounds. Thus, when Paul came to Troas and didn't find Titus, he must have feared the worst and became somewhat upset. His own words (in II Cor. 2:13) is this: "I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia." So, it seems Paul cut his preaching short at Troas and went on his way.
When he came into Europe, Titus was not there. But while Paul visited in Macedonia, he says; "we were troubled on every side" (n Cor. 7:5). Then Titus arrived from Corinth. And, get this, Titus carried good news. The church at Corinth had solved some of their problems. Some of the troublemakers had repented; when they had read Paul's last letter (that's II Cor. 7:8). And, when Paul received this word, he says: "Now I rejoice...that ye sorrowed to repentance" (II Cor. 7:9). This must have been the time that Paul sat down to write the II Corinthian letter. Titus took that letter and headed for Corinth along with a couple other brothers (not mentioned by name). Thafs in II Cor. 8:23-24. Now, I'm tempted to stretch this out into a study on repentance, i.e, how Christians (or baptized believers) receive forgiveness of sins when they err. We touched on that in Acts ch. 8. Remember Simon the sorcerer? It's very important that you grasp this. This is accomplished through repentance and prayer. But, here I'm going to leave it to you for private study. Paul covers the repentance aspect in II Cor. ch. 7 - the letter delivered by Titus. John covers the prayer aspect in I John ch. 1. When it happens to us, we must emulate those brethren at Corinth. They repented and were restored to fellowship.
But, right now, let's read some more of our text, ch. 20:2-6. Ready? "And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas. And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days." V.2 said Paul gave much exhortation in Macedonia. That was principally Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea; I would assume. From there he went on into Greece, i.e., Achaia; where he spent three months; mostly at Corinth, no doubt. Look at the time factor just a minute. From the time Paul left Ephesus until he finished his tour through Europe was just about one year. His plan was to stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, according to I Cor. 16:8. Now, he may have actually departed a little sooner than that because of the riot - possibly May or June. It was his plan to spend winter in Corinth, stated in I Cor. 16:6. That means the summer and fall were spent in Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and possibly other places in Macedonia; giving them that much exhortation mentioned in v.l. So, the three months at Corinth (v.3) must have been the winter following the year after Paul left Ephesus. V.6 of our text says they left Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, i.e., the time that the Jewish feast of Passover would be observed in Jerusalem.
Now, let's talk about that three months that Paul spent in Corinth and Achaia (v.3). It was during that winter that Paul wrote two books of the N.T - Romans and Galatians. You see, Paul's plans were to go from Corinth to Jerusalem and then on to Rome as stated in Acts 19:21. Paul had never been to Rome! We know this from Romans ch. 1. But, in writing to the church at Rome (that winter from Corinth about A.D. 57) Paul told the Roman brethren he planned after his trip to Jerusalem to go even beyond them into Spain and he wrote as though Rome was a stop-over on that journey. See Romans 15:24. Paul knew a number of people in Rome. It is generally thought Paul sent this letter by Phoebe, a member of the church at Cenchreae. In that letter Paul salutes or sends salutations to an impressive list in Romans (ch. 16) including Aquila and Priscilla who had apparently gone back to Rome and Paul sent greetings to the church that met in their house. As I mentioned before, Paul tells the Romans about his benevolent mission to help the poor saints at Jerusalem. And, of course, that letter contains a great deal more of a doctrinal nature. But apparently the basic reason for the letter, at that time, was to alert them of his plans to come and thereby to solicit their help in his plans to go on to Spain. As I said, the book of Galatians was probably written from Corinth that same winter. The Galatian letter is addressed to churches (plural) of Galatia. You will remember Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Derbe (Timothy's hometown) and Lystra where Paul was stoned and left for dead? Paul had visited these churches on all three tours and there were likely several other churches in that region by that whiter that Paul wrote the Galatian letter. It seems the Galatian churches had been infiltrated with Judiasizing teachers. That same doctrine taught at Antioch of Syria, which consummated in the so-called Jerusalem conference, recorded in Acts 15. Be circumcised and keep the old law - the law of Moses. That was the doctrine these false teachers taught. We went through that (hi great detail) hi Acts 15, so I won't burden you with it here. But that was the purpose of Paul's letter to the Galatians; to refute that doctrine. Paul said he marveled that they were so soon expoused to another gospel. There isn't another, he makes the point but some would pervert the gospel of Christ That's hi the first chapter. Paul also discussed circumcision in Romans ch. 2-3-4. As a matter of fact the word "circumcision" is used 35 times hi the whole N.T. (KJV) and 22 of those 35 times (or 62%) are hi Romans and Galatians. So you can see it was heavy on his mind that winter hi Corinth. The purpose of discussing it hi the Roman letter, no doubt, was to head off or prevent as many problems as possible hi the church at Rome.
Paul does not mention his benevolent project for the poor saints at Jerusalem hi the Galatian letter, at least not directly as he does hi the Roman letter. No churches were pressured to participate. This is stated hi a beautiful way hi II Cor. 8:10-15. This gives us somewhat of a precedent for congregational cooperation today and it also accents the fact that each congregation is autonomous, and not answerable to synods, councils, districts, conventions, state, national, internation, etc.; as we see practiced hi the denominational world today. In Gal. 2:10 Paul, indirectly, mentions hi discussing the Jerusalem conference that James, Peter and John had made the point "we should remember the poor." This is a fact we did not learn hi Acts the 15th chapter; but Paul adds there he was forward to do that, i.e., ever after he placed more emphasis on taking care of the poor. This of course dovetailed into the benevolent project at hand. You noticed, I'm sure, hi v.3, that when Paul left Corinth this last time he made a sudden change of plans, i.e., he came back through Macedonia rather than sailing directly to Syria. And the reason is there stated, "the Jews laid wait for him." Bro. McGarvey suggests he evaded robbers who had learned of the local project to send money to Judea. That was a lot longer route, but if it squelched such felonious intentions it was almost a necessity. It did give Paul an opportunity to give a brief, last minute, visit to Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi. And this may have put a crimp into their schedule. That probably explains why Luke emphasizes when they left Philippi, how long it took to get to Troas and how long they stayed (v.60- It was their intention to get to Jerusalem and Judea by Pentecost (according to v.16 down the page). That would have been seven weeks from the time they left Philippi.
V.4-5 establishes rune men were hi the group when they arrived at Troas. Luke mentions himself hi v.5 hi the word "us" as being hi the group. This is the first time Luke has mentioned himself since they were at Philippe during the second missionary journey. That was at least six years before this meeting at Troas. Where he was hi the interim, we do not know. It is generally assumed he stayed at Philippi and nurtured that church as their preacher, so-to-speak. You recognize Timothy hi that list (v.4) and Aristarchus you will remember from the riot at Ephesus. Now, Gaius listed here apparently is not the man by this name that was taken by the mob along with Aristachus hi Acts 19:29. That Gaius is from Derbe (Timothy's hometown). So, Gaius, Secundus, Tychicus and Trophimus are all new characters hi our narrative. These men were selected by their fellow brethren in the various churches to carry their donations to Judea. I would assume their gift has been reduced to gold, money, or other valuables that could be converted to food, clothing and similar items of utility hi Judea. With no paper money hi those days, neither bank checks nor electronic transfers as we know today; their job may not have been as easy as might appear at first. And, this may also have something to do with the number of men needed. This project had been hi progress for at least several months, possibly two or three years. The men hi v.4 can be conveniently divided into three groups. Group #1: three men from Europe - Sophater, Aristarchus and Secundus. Group #2 was composed of two men from the province of Asia -Tychicus and Trophimus. Finally, group #3 included Gaius and Timothy from Derbe hi Galatia. Now, whether this is purely representative of their mission or not we cannot tell. They were in Troas for a full week, according to v.6. We don't know why! It could have been bad weather for sailing and the ships delayed traveling. Or, maybe they needed to rest. But, I would prefer to think it was because of the church hi Troas. You'll remember several months before, Paul came to Troas; Titus was not there and Paul apparently left sooner than he had intended. We found a hint there was a church at Troas before; but, we really know nothing about that church until now.
O.K. we're going to read v.7-12. But before we do let me tease you a little. Do you like fantasy? If you could back up in time and observe some one event hi history, what would you select? Your first choice might be to talk with Jesus personally. Or, perhaps you would select 9:00 a.m. on Pentecost, or something else. But, as a Christian and as a preacher, one event very high on my list would be to simply sit hi on a typical worship service hi the first century. It's not that I believe we do it wrong; it's just that I would like to observe them. If everybody hi Christendom, was afforded this experience; I believe it would change at least 90% of the religious practices today. As I said, such an experience is fantasy; but perhaps one of the closest places hi the N.T. to fulfilling that fantasy is hi v.7-12 hi this chapter. Luke tries to give a peek at the worship service held there at Troas the Sunday this party visited hi that city. Many details are left out by the wide sweep of Luke's pen, that's his style. But, for that which he gives, I have great appreciation. Do your own observation! The attendance may have been a little larger than usual. Word had most likely spread that an out-of-the ordinary preacher was going to be mere that day. And, there was at least rune visitors from out of town. We don't know exactly what time the assembly was to convene. But, her we go, take a little mental visit to that service. What can we learn? Do a little home-work. When we read this, I'm going to lay down the microphone. But, between now and our next lesson try to visualize what happened here. Put your eyes on the text. Starting hi v.7, let's read: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights hi die upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat hi a window a certain young man name Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is hi him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even til break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted."