Acts 20: 1 – 12 Through Macedonia and Greece & Eutychus raised from the dead at Troas
When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonika, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days.
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third storey and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’ Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
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The last chapter was in Ephesus, and finished with an account of a riot instigated by the silversmith Demetrius against Paul. Although the civil authorities quelled the riot, it was clear that Paul’s presence was dangerous, so he encouraged the disciples and went to Macedonia. He spent some time there, going from place to place and encouraging the churches he had started, finishing in Greece where he stayed for three months.
He was about to travel by sea to Syria, but a plot caused him to change his plans and return via Macedonia.
“He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonika, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”
Why does St Luke give us a list of Paul’s companions on the journey?
Both St Luke’s gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, are addressed to Theophilus. The name Theophilus means ‘Friend of God’, or ‘Beloved of God’, or ‘Loving God’, and it could be either a form of address for anyone seeking the truth about God, or the name of a specific individual.
If it is the former, then the list of names in verse 4 may be Luke’s way of naming witnesses who could vouch for the truth of what he has written about Paul’s ministry. If the latter, Luke may be telling Theophilus that these people can be trusted.
It is important to remember that St Luke wrote his gospel and Acts in the expectation that Jesus would soon come again. He wrote for his contemporaries, and the people in this list in verse 4 would have been known to the other believers. They would have been alive and able to answer questions.
Eventually Paul and his companions reached Troas. The companions included Luke – note the word “we” in “But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread…”.
And in Troas, a significant miracle may have occurred. A young man named Eutychus started to doze during Paul’s preaching. He was sitting in a window on the third floor. Gradually he went sound asleep – and fell out of the window.
Being on the third floor, he must have fallen at least 6 metres. It’s hard to imagine that he wasn’t at the very least seriously injured. The first people to examine him pronounced him dead. Paul, though, “went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’”
Was Eutychus raised from the dead? It’s certainly possible that he wasn’t dead, and the text doesn’t say he was made whole, only that, “The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”
Paul makes no claims for the healing. Luke does not state that Paul healed him, or raised him to life. Other raisings to life – Lazarus, Jairus’s daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, Tabitha – were different. It was clear in each case that a miracle had happened.
I feel very doubtful whether this event was miraculous. I think Eutychus was just…fortunate.
You hold and sustain all life. Every day for every one of us is a miracle of life that you have given us. Thank you for my life, for the love that I have been fortunate enough to have been given and especially for the love of Jesus.
In Jesus’ name, Amen