Jerusalem To Rome

The Acts of the Apostles

By Charles Fremont Sitterly


Advance from the Capital of the Province to that of the Empire A. D. 44 To A. D. 62

Chapter 20

The Third Missionary Tour Continued


Paragraph 1. PAUL'S SECOND VISIT TO GREECE. Verses 1-6.

When the uproar had ceased Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had encouraged them he took formal leave and set off for Macedonia. Moreover, after he had gone through those districts and had comforted them with many a word, he came to Greece, where he stayed three months. As he was about to sail for Syria, the Jews planned to waylay him, so he decided to return through Macedonia. There accompanied him as far as Asia Sopater, son of Pyrrhus, from Berœa; Aristarchus, and Secundus, from Thessalonica; Gaius, of Derbe; and Timothy, as well as Tychicus and Trophimus, from Asia. These, however, had gone on and were waiting for us at Troas. So after the Passover, we set sail from Philippi and five days later joined them at Troas where we remained a week.  


Paul makes immediate arrangements for sailing to Neapolis. Calling together his faithful disciples, a large and most important body of very able people, he commends them to God, lays out any needed plans of action in view of the local situation, no doubt urging even more aggressive diligence in evangelism than ever, and takes his departure. The testimony of his enemies, of his Epistles written from Ephesus and of those written to Ephesus and the neighboring cities, together with the fact of so large a group of Christian churches being known in western Asia Minor from this time on, proves sufficiently the success of his Ephesian campaign. His churches in Greece, however, and especially in the Peloponnesus, had meanwhile been a constant source of anxiety to him and now he goes for a time to visit them. Passing through Macedonia, probably crossing it to Illyricum (Rom. xv, I9), he comes at length to Corinth and spends three months there, to the great advantage of that strategic center. We incline to date the letter to the Romans from this time and city. Finally he books his passage by sea for Syria. Though a good delegation of trustworthy friends were to accompany him, it leaks out that there are some fanatical Jews who have also taken passage with sworn intent at some opportune moment during the voyage to take his life. No doubt the ship was to take away a large lot of pilgrims for the annual Passover at Jerusalem, and Paul and his party at the last moment fail to embark, and so his fanatical antagonists are avoided until they should meet later in the Holy City. Learning of the murderous plot, Paul postpones his plan of observing Passover, as intended, in favor of Pentecost and decides to spend the interval of nearly two months in journeying overland to Philippi and making a slower voyage from point to point along the coast

of Asia Minor. Luke names the strong bodyguard who traveled with him, and thus we get another glimpse at the personnel of his supporters. From the Epistles it is clear that these men also served as bearers and trustees of large funds which Paul had been collecting to take up to Jerusalem. As no names are given from Corinth, that committee may have gone on by ship as intended. There were men of Berœa, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Galatia, making with Paul a company of seven, while two more of Province Asia were to join them at Troas. He spends Passover doubtless very happily at Philippi and then begins a voyage of contrary winds and a series of altogether trying leave-takings that tested his utmost courage to the very end.


Paragraph 2. THE WEEK IN TROAS. Verses 7-12.

On the first day of the week when we had assembled to break bread, Paul, intending to leave the next day, began to preach and continued his discourse until midnight. Now, there were quite a number of lamps in the upper room where we met, and in the window was sitting a young man by the name of Eutychus, and as Paul kept talking still longer, he was gradually overcome by sleep and finally having succumbed, fell from the third story and was taken up dead. Paul, however, went downstairs, threw himself upon him and, taking him up in his arms, said,

“Do not be disturbed, his life is still in him.”

So he went upstairs again, broke the bread and ate and when he had talked with them a good deal longer until daybreak, he left them. The lad meanwhile they had taken home alive, and were comforted beyond measure.  


One episode only of a week in Troas is given. It is the first day of the week at evening. The party, now nine, are to leave at daybreak. The Feast of Love is spread in a large upper room, opening on the inner court of some wealthy patron’s house. The assembled disciples partake and, after a brief intermission, give attention to Paul, who begins one of his discourses of mingled reminiscence, exhortation, and appeal which continued until past midnight. It is early summer. The room is crowded. The lamps placed all about help vitiate the night air. The windows were wide open and most of them occupied, one by Eutychus, a youth who finally fell into a doze, then yielded to the demand for sleep. Those near him are not disturbed and do not notice his gradual relaxation until, sinking down completely, he loses his balance and falls to the flags below. Of course his friends reached him first, and they and Luke, who also goes down, quickly decide him dead. But Paul is not far behind and soon restores him to his mother, quite probably rescuing him from actual death. Dr. Luke rarely diagnoses a case incorrectly. The meeting proceeds. Now the Eucharistic loaf and cup are brought out and the Lord’s Supper celebrated with great joy. Soon, if not in connection with it, a substantial meal is laid, for Paul’s eight traveling companions must go to the wharf by the time the first breeze is astir, and Paul keeps the entire company interested until that moment. Only one fell asleep that night out of a hundred, and he was on hand with his parents when all moved to the pier.  

Paragraph 3. THE VOYAGE TO MILETUS. Verses 13-16.
The rest of the company had gone on to the ship beforehand, and we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there; he had himself so arranged it, desiring to cross to Assos afoot. So when he met us at Assos we took him aboard and went on to Mitylene. Sailing from there, on the following day we arrived off Chios. The next day we crossed over to Samos and on the following reached Miletus. For Paul had planned to sail past Ephesus so as not to spend much time in Province Asia, since he was very anxious to reach Jerusalem if he could by the day of Pentecost.


  Paul did not go on board, having no desire to round Cape Lectum under any likely stress of weather, and desiring a quiet talk and walk across the plain and behind the promontory between Troas and Assos. The language implies that he reached that town before the vessel and was rowed out and taken on board without any stop of the ship until they reached Mitylene, the chief port of Lesbos, where some of them went ashore. The next run was to Chios, where they lay to again. Then Samos, where they did not go ashore, preferring, according to an old reading, to cross the strait to Trogyllum. There they landed, possibly leaving the ship for one sailing directly to Miletus, not wishing to take the additional two or three days to run into Ephesus. Paul sends word ahead meantime to that city and asks his elders and particular friends to come down and meet them at Miletus while the coaster was changing cargo; having been prevented from reaching Jerusalem for Passover, he was determined that nothing should balk his spending Pentecost there, and he well knew that sailing on the Mediterranean sometimes demands considerable margin. Ephesus too could not well be visited and any justice done its demands under a week at least.



From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. When they arrived he addressed them.

“You well understand from the very first day of my setting foot in Province Asia how all the time I was serving the Lord in all humility amid tears and temptations which came upon me by the plots of the Jews, how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable or teaching you both in public and from house to house, solemnly urging both upon Jews and Greeks repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, as you see, constrained by the Spirit, I am starting for Jerusalem. What is going to happen to me there I do not know, except that the Holy Spirit from city to city keeps impressing upon me deeply that imprisonment and trouble are waiting for me. But 1 set no value on my own life as of any consequence if only I may complete my allotted course and the service which the Lord Jesus assigned me of testifying without stint to the gospel of the grace of God. And now I know that no longer will any of you see my face, you among whom I have gone in and out preaching the Kingdom. Therefore, I bear you witness this very day that I am not responsible for the loss of any one of you. For I did not shrink from proclaiming to you all of God’s purpose. Take heed to yourselves and to the entire flock among which the Holy Spirit has placed you as overseers to shepherd the Church of God which He has bought with His own blood. I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will get in among you who will not spare the flock. Even men from your own number will rise up who will seek by their corrupt teachings to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, guard yourselves and remember that for three years I never ceased night nor day to warn every one of you with tears. And now, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, to the One able to build you up and to give you your inheritance among the Holy Ones. I have never coveted any-one’s silver or gold or clothing. You know yourselves that these hands of mine have provided for my own necessities and for those with me. In everything I set you an example, how that by working just as I do you ought to assist those who are weak and td remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”’

When he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all, and with an outburst of weeping they all fell on Paul’s neck and lovingly kissed him, distressed chiefly because of his telling them that they would no longer look on his face. Then they went with him to the boat.  


There is a depth of pathos and a quaint flavor of unabashed self-disclosure interwoven with the deepest lessons of true wisdom and Christian prudence in this address which eludes analysis. It must have taken place just as Luke records it, or he, and certainly no other writer, would scarcely have put such a type of speech into Paul’s mouth. Luke was possibly not with Paul during these two and more years in Ephesus, and his account of that period may have failed properly to prepare us for its somber side. By reading the letters to the Corinthians freshly, we find how truly they fill in the background of this general review of the Ephesian experiences. Again, there is a uniqueness about the situation which has not before occurred, for Paul is only beginning to receive that long-continued series of warnings of impending trials at Jerusalem. By the time he has arrived there his spirits are again recovered and nothing can by any means move him. We must remember the sort of tenacity with which Paul held on to a project he once fully set his heart upon, and it is clear that for a long time he has had a fixed purpose to visit Rome, and go on to Spain. Now as he completes his plans to go to Jerusalem clouds of ominous blackness fill the Eastern sky. He no doubt dwells on his own unselfish services to one and all in every condition and under every limitation in order to impress more indelibly the minds of the elders or responsible leaders of the great field of Asia with the absolute necessity of walking and working by the same rule. His words, his spirit, his deep anxiety for the future of the church and the truest success of his disciples parallel so perfectly the words, spirit, and mind of Jesus on the night before His betrayal that we see no longer Paul but the Master himself. Paul’s quotation of Jesus’ saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” illuminates and lifts his address, as it does his whole life, into a plane of the first rank. With fervent prayers and affectionate salutations the travelers embark and the local brethren go back to their homes. Respecting Paul’s remark as to their “no longer” seeing his face, as the Greek reads in both verses 25 and 38, not “never again,” it were well for us to take it, in the light of the whole occasion, as expressed by Dr. Rendell: “. .. the real statement of the Apostle is that he was to remain no longer in these regions of Greece and Asia Minor, where he had spent the greater part of his last ten years.” It must be acknowledged that there is no convincing proof of Paul’s ever paying another visit either to Miletus or Ephesus. Even tradition connects his later labors in those parts with other Cities.