Lesson 45: Paul's 3rd Missionary Journey (Continued/Troas/Paul Called for the Elders At Ephesus)
This is Acts, Lesson #45. O.K., what about your mental visit to Troas? Lefs review what we learned. They met on the first day of the week (v.7). Have you got a calendar? Take a look - that's Sunday. Now ifs not my purpose to disparage anybody. But we have people in the country where I live that do not meet on that day. As a matter of fact, they say and teach (make a doctrine out of it) that, that is the wrong day to worship God. Now, someone may argue the usual day was changed to accommodate Paul or something like that; but that certainly is not borne out in this passage. Paul was there for 7 days. Why change? My friends, it was just that usual day: "When the disciples came together." The first day of which week? Now, if your employer told you: "You will get paid on the first day of the month." Would you ask, "Which month?" Of course not! That would be stupid. Every month has a first day. Every week has a first day...called Sunday. And, that's when they met. V.7 says that. Now, you can generalize and theorize and close your eyes all you want to, but that verse nails it down hard and fast. If you change that day you will not be following an approved example. It will be your doctrine and your commandment, not God's. I know! They worshiped on the Sabbath day under the law of Moses. That's Saturday. It was the fourth commandment. But circumcision and keeping the law of Moses are not for us. We've covered that. Remember the Galatian letter, the Roman letter, that little letter (first ever written - in Acts 15), and the whole N.T. It all correlates. Now, I've got another question for you: Why did those disciples at Troas come together on the first day of the week? Play bingo? No sir! Then why? The answer is so obvious, you couldn't possibly miss it, right? To break bread...see that? That was their purpose, partake the Lord's Supper - established by Jesus in Matt. 26:26-29 and discussed by Paul in I Cor. 11:23.26. Some religious people do this once a year. Some once a month. Some on Thursday night. Some not at all. Re-read v.7! When did the people at Troas come together to break bread? Now, that's not my opinion; it's God's book and God's way.
Now, what else happened at this worship service in Troas? Paul preached! O.K., so they had the Lord's Supper and preaching. Some of my brethren think it's unscriptural to preach longer than 30 minutes. But, does this mean the brethren at Troas started at 11:30 p.m.? I doubt that. Paul preached long sermons. That's quite evident. Can you visualize the place where they met? Let's see. It was a big brick building, all on one floor, with a lot of shrubbery all manicured to a "T" and a big 35-foot pointed spire up on top. What about the bell tower? The pipe organ? or the art fixture? It's unscriptural to meet in a store-front, and especially one that's upstairs. I hope you know I'm being facetious. What about air conditioning? chandelier? padded pews? stained glass windows? Let's face it, most of the criteria that people today use in selecting a church were missing at Troas. Now, this does not mean it is wrong to have padded pews and air conditioning. But there is a higher purpose. And Troas qualified in that purpose. Not everything in the 20th century qualifies. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter time some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats..." That's I Tim. 4:1-2-3 - Paul speaking. Now, here's Peter's version of it: "...there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom die way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you." II Pet. 2:1-2-3. Well, there's more to it, but, we can't read it all.
Jesus said: "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt. 7:14). Hey! Go to the church of your choice, man! The church of who's choice? Think about it friend! Not everything religious is righteous. Eutychus! Sleeping in church? He didn't just nod a little with heavy eyelids. He fell into a deep sleep, see that? While Paul was long preaching. Three stories up in a window-sill. Can you picture that? And, what about that preacher? You mean, he didn't hold their attention any better than that? Where did he go to school anyhow? Well, I think you get the picture. Those disciples at Troas were just plain people. Working, ordinary people! People just like you know today. People that Jesus died for.
You and I would walk 100 miles and pay $1,000 to hear that long sermon Paul preached that night, but, here's a boy who had the opportunity but couldn't stay awake. And, you know most people today wouldn't even walk across the street to hear a sermon, even if their T.V. set was broken. Eutychus fell three stories! Can you imagine that? At the calm of midnight? Luke has said several times: signs and wonders followed the apostles. When Paul restored that boy; his word was confirmed. And, then did you notice? Paul went back upstairs and had a midnight lunch. Can you imagine that? Eating in the church building? What a desecration! In all fairness, I must tell you J.W. McGarvey believed v.l 1 means they partook of the Lord's Supper after the death and resurrection of Eutychus. Alexander Campbell thought it was just an ordinary meal. Now, it could mean they took the Lord's Supper after the boy fell out of the window, I don't know. But, if it is translated anywhere near correctly (and, all the translations I have all seem to agree on the translation). Then it must include a common meal of some kind even if the Lord's Supper was taken after they went back upstairs. Isn't that typical preacher conduct...Paul, Timothy, Luke and the other visiting men, as well as, the more dedicated disciples at Troas to sit up and talk and discuss the rest of the night? Dawn probably came before they expected it. I've done it, you've done it..then sit around like Eutychus for a week. Eutychus couldn't stay awake during the sermon, but after his fall and restoration he was probably part of that conversation til sun up. I would say, neither that young man nor his parents ever forgot that night. The word "alive" in v.12 establishes Eutychus did die. This gives us one more example of how the word was confirmed in the first century before the bible was written; and how the apostles used that power they were given.
Are you ready? Let's read some more...v.l3-16. "And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia; for he hasted, if it were possible for him to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost." All the towns and stops mentioned in these verses are scattered along the western shore of Asia between Troas and Miletus. Miletus was 30 miles south of Ephesus. This trip down the coastal waters of Asia took about four days. For some reason, Paul took a little side trip on Monday, but rejoined the ship at its first stop, Assos. I would assume this ship was loading or unloading cargo, taking on and letting off passengers which accounts for the time and number of stops. Assos is city #37 on your map and Miletus is city #38. The others, we won't take time to post. These verses need no explanation, but, you might make note in v.16, it was Paul's intention not to stop at Ephesus but to stay on the go, so as to make the Pentecost schedule at Jerusalem.
Let's read v.17 and the first part of v.l8. "And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them." Alright, this seems to be a last minute change of plans; possibly because of weather or ship schedules. Most likely, there was some uncertainty about when the ship would leave Miletus, so Paul sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus rather than to go to Ephesus himself. Sickness or something else could have accounted for this request. Paul had been away from Ephesus for just about a year, as I have already pointed out. This is the first mention of elders at Ephesus. Thus we may assume most all congregations that had been established for very long had elders. Now, we are most fortunate, in that this speech has been preserved for us -18 verses long. Longer than the sermon at Athens, which was 10 verses long. But shorter than the sermon delivered in the synagogue at Anioch of Pisidia, which was 16 verses long. Thus, this is the third major address recorded from the lips of this apostle. We've run across several short excerpts, e.g., the Philippian jailer, and the twelve men who knew only the baptism of John.
O.K., let's remember Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders. Let's read. Beginning in the middle of v.18, "Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward out Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the council of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to ah" the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man's silver, or gold or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support die weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive." O.K., that's the end of Paul's sermon. Ordinarily, it has been our pattern to analyze the sermon as our next step. But, I think this case deserves an exception. Let's read the last three verses (36-37-38) before we try to analyze. "And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more, and they accompanied him unto the ship." A very touching scene. We don't know how many elders were in this crowd. Luke and the other men in that party, no doubt, attended this meeting. Possibly a few more. Most likely the meeting took place hi open air, on the beach, under a tree, or the most natural convenient place. Probably hi full view of the ocean and the ships with a lot of sky showing. And it would appear the whole meeting; address and prayer and parting took place hi a very short time; possibly a half hour or less. The scene closes with Paul getting on the ship. Grown men, standing there by the seaside, waving goodbye, it says: "they all wept sore." Not a dry eye hi the crowd. Paul's sermon had ended hi a dramatic sort of way, by blending it into his prayer. But floating on top of everything he said was those words hi v.25, "ye...shall see my face no more." And, no doubt this thought had been mentioned again hi the prayer. It had already been revealed to Paul by the Holy Spirit that evil would befall him hi Jerusalem, that's v.22-23. The Spirit was preparing Paul for the ordeal, psychologically. Why didn't Paul just get off that ship and catch another ship headed for Rome? Christians cannot run from their responsibilities. "Be thou faithful unto death" (Rev. 2:10). Paul was ready! Jesus had said: "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body hi hell" (Matt. 10:28). And, Paul was obeying orders from King Jesus. He was "pure from the blood of all men" (v.26). He had "not shunned to declare...all the counsel of God." (v.27) What a great lesson! Pointed, but loving and affectionate. Humble, but bold to earn and impress these men to do their duty. Don't do as I say, do as I have demonstrated to you by my conduct. He said: "...the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (v.31).
A well known creed book today says: "faith only is a wholesome doctrine." Faith only? James says: "Show my thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my work" (Jas. 2:18). Paul appealed to his own works, his own example. He says hi v.20, "I ... have showed you, and have taught you." ...publicly and privately. Does that sound like faith only to you? Mental assent? Come on friend! Read Paul's address to the Ephesian elders one more time. The theme of the whole speech is: I've done it! You can do it! Faith, yes! You better believe it! But, faith that demonstrates itself by words and deeds. Paul gave a little prophecy in v.28-29-30. "After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock..of you own selves shall men arise..." See that (v.30)? "Speaking perverse thing, to draw away disciples after them." "Take heed, v.28 says. "Watch and remember," v.31 says. Warning after warning! But it happened! False teachers, claiming to be apostles, found to be liars. You can read about it hi Rev. 2:2. Jesus revealed it from heaven. It happened at Ephesus. Elders are shepherds of the flock See that figure hi v.28? "...the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God." And, don't overlook that last phrase hi v.28. Which says, Jesus purchased the church with his own blood. Purchased? That means he paid the price. What God and His Son paid for belongs to them. It's not Luther's church, Calvin's church, or even the Christian's church. It is Christ's church! Jesus said: "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18). Now, let me ask you a question. If a man can be saved outside the church of Christ, then WHY did Christ die for it? Why? Where do people get such naive and unscriptural ideas? Some preachers are bold enough and brazen enough to get on the radio and say, "there is no connection between the church and salvation." They say, "Christ yes! But the church no!" My friends, the saved is the church. Do you remember Acts 2:47? "And the Lord added to the church daily (who did he add?) such as should be saved." The very thing that Jesus died for, some say is not necessary. Doesn't it make you just a little bit weak in the knees to think about such flagrant language?
Finally, let's look at v.35 just a minute. The last sentence hi Paul's sermon was a quotation, which he attributed to the Lord Jesus. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." We know not when Jesus made that statement. It is not part of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Yet, we should not doubt that Jesus said it. Paul says Jesus said it. It IS more blessed to give than to receive. A little tid-bit of wisdom. And, how appropriate for a closing thought! In v.34 Paul said, "...these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me." Can't you just see Paul holding up his hands, as a visual; and them remaining upright possibly a few seconds as that last sentence of quoted wisdom falls from his lips and Paul begins to bow himself for prayer? Do you see any connection between this and Paul's mission to help the poor disciples in Jerusalem and Judea? Who would not be touched by this scene and these thoughts? OH! If we could only get the world to see real Christianity, that church Jesus bought, and the power and love therein; it would cause every thief to return his goods, every drunk to part with his bottle forever, crime to become an endangered species, neglected and battered families to enjoy life, and life after death would become a security, not a threat. Can you imagine the solemn thoughts of these elders as they traveled back to Ephesus? And then, doesn't it just blow hour mind to realize, hi v.30, some of these men became false teachers and had to be removed from office as apparently the reference hi Rev. 2:2 implies? O.K., no church at Miletus that we know about. As a matter of fact this seaport city is mentioned only once more hi the N.T. In closing out the book of II Tim. (many years later) Paul said he left Trophimus at Miletus sick That's interesting since Trophimus was one of those men here accompanying Paul. Trophimus was from Asia according to v.4; and Ephesus according to Acts 21:29. So Trophimus returned here to preach many years later. Trophimus must have been well acquainted with those Ephesian elders. O.K., Paul was accompanied to the ship v.38. We'll start Ch. 21 in Lesson #46.