Acts 20:22

Heading west along the Columbia River.

Saturday, 23 September 2023

“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, Acts 20:22

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The words bear more of an emphasis than the NKJV provides – “And now, behold, I – bound in the spirit – go to Jerusalem, not knowing what will befall me in it” (CG).

The previous verse includes Paul’s words concerning “repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.” Now, he speaks of what lies ahead for him, saying, “And now, behold, I – bound in the spirit.”

These words are curious when taken in connection with the words of Agabus in verse 21:11. Paul says he is “bound” in the spirit. The word is deo and is used often concerning binding someone up, such as binding the strong man in Mark 3 or the demoniac in Mark 5. When a donkey is bound to a post, this word would be used. If one is bound in prison, this word is used.

Paul feels “bound in the spirit,” not knowing what he will next speak of. Scholars vary on whether they believe he is referring to the Holy Spirit or simply being constrained in his own spirit. Based on what Agabus says, it is most likely his own spirit, not the Holy Spirit. This will be seen as the verse continues.

Paul next says that he will “go to Jerusalem” in this state of being bound in the spirit. This is the path set before him and his traveling companions. He is so determined to get there that he has called these elders of Ephesus to come a considerable distance for this short meeting. Despite this determined trek to Jerusalem, he next says, “not knowing what will befall me in it.”

These words tell us that Paul is most likely referring to his own spirit. This is because the Holy Spirit does know, and it will be altered more fully to Paul at the meeting with Agabus. This seems more likely because it appears that Paul is drawing a contrast between his own desires and efforts and what he says in the next verse concerning what the Holy Spirit is revealing to him –

Paul is bound in his spirit to accomplish his mission.
The Holy Spirit testifies that chains and tribulations await.

For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit did not reveal everything to him directly, but rather, He will do it more fully through Agabus. It is a remarkable testimony concerning the reliability of the Book of Acts as a true account.

Life application: It is important to not mix our desires with claims of divine leading. And yet, it is as common as signs on a highway for people to do it. “I think the Lord is leading me to marry this woman.” What if someone else says the same thing? God is not in the business of causing contradictory desires in people. “I think the Lord is leading me to open this business.” What if the business fails the first year it is opened? Did the Lord lead this person to bankruptcy?

“I think the Lord is leading me to stop paying on my house and to move to Franklin, Tennessee.” The Lord tells us to pay our debts. People may do these things because they are bound in their spirits to take certain actions. And yet, they claim that it is God, the Lord, or the Holy Spirit who is directing them.

We should be careful to not make such claims. Later, when it is discovered that the thing doesn’t come about, or it turns out in a negative way, we will either have to admit we were wrong or implicitly pass the blame onto God for what happened. Rather, let us state our desires as such, pray about what we intend to do, and then acknowledge, “If it is the Lord’s will.” If what we desire doesn’t come about, or if it proves to have been the wrong decision, we will find that out in due time.

Lord God, help us to carefully consider our words and to never make claims concerning Your presence in our lives that are not in line with reality. Instead, we can acknowledge Your presence and ask for Your guidance but not bind our words so that what later transpires could possibly tarnish what we have stated about You. Help us in this, O Lord. Amen.








Acts 20:21

Columbia River, Washinton state.

Friday, 22 September 2023

“testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Paul continued his words to the elders of Ephesus concerning his teaching and how he withheld nothing from those he spoke to, both in public and in private settings. Now, that continues further, saying, “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks.”

The word translated as “testifying,” diamarturomai, means more than that. It signifies “fully testifying.” The prefix dia gives the sense of “through.” Thus, it is thoroughly testifying. Paul spoke out his witness in a full and complete manner, and he did so to all people, without distinction, meaning to both the Jews and the Gentiles.

His words are intended to mean all people of the earth, of whom the Greeks represent the whole. In both categories, he next notes the need for “repentance toward God.” This is the only time that Paul will tie in repentance in quite this manner, although it is similar to what he says in 2 Corinthians 7:10 –

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

The meaning of the word must first be explained. It means “change of mind” and nothing more. Paul says that we must have a change of mind toward God. This does not, in any way, mean what people think it means today, as in, “You must repent, or turn from, your sins.” That is not what the word means.

Paul’s words now refer to an evangelical type of repentance, not a legal form. One cannot at first legally repent of what they do not understand. We cannot repent of a law or custom which we have violated until we know what that law or custom is.

Therefore, we cannot say that Paul is speaking of the standards of the law. Rather, it is speaking of who God is, what our relationship to Him is, and who Jesus is in relation to us in that context. From there, we are to repent (change our mind about who He is) and turn toward Him in faith.

His words have nothing to do with the issue of sin, except that we recognize that we are sinners before God, without dealing with any specific sin that must be first ended before we can be saved. If we tie works into the process of this verse, then we are putting the horse before the cart.

If a Buddhist is to be saved, he must repent of what he thinks about God, turn from that incorrect thinking, and put his faith in the true God through Jesus. The same is true with a Muslim or an atheist. The mind must be changed about what “god” is being pursued and then combine that with turning to the true “God.”

Only after we are saved can we then learn the laws, grow in conformity to what is expected, and be obedient to the Lordship of Christ, not before. This may sound obvious, but it is one of the chief points of incorrect doctrine among almost all legalistic churches. They tie legal repentance, rather than evangelical repentance, in with this verse.

Paul next continues with, “and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” This explains the first part of the equation more fully. God is God. There is one God. However, there must be a means by which He is approached. It is not through Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, or any other expression than through His Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Note how Paul opened his words of this thought with “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks.” This means, without any ambiguity at all, that Jews must come through Jesus as well. Judaism, as it is defined today, is not an acceptable approach to God. The Messiah has come. Any Jew who has not come to God through Him is in the exact same position as a Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, etc.

Remember: Repent means “change of mind.” Repentance toward God means “change your mind about God.” Repentance at this point (meaning in order to be saved) does not mean “stop all your sinning.” It means to acknowledge you are a sinner and that as you learn what things displease God, you will then turn from those things. Finally, no person can be saved, Jew or Gentile, unless he turns to God (repents of his incorrect notion about God) by coming to Him through Jesus Christ.

Life application: Dual Covenantalism is a doctrine that says Jews can be saved by adherence to the Law of Moses. John Hagee teaches this. It is the official stand of the Roman Catholic Church and others. And it is a heresy. This is a great lie from Satan, and those who teach it are condemning unsaved Jews to eternal separation from God because of such teaching. They will be held to account.

Do not waffle in your convictions about Jesus Christ. Be firm and ready to defend what you believe by properly presenting it to those you talk to. Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word. He is God who came to dwell among His people. He fulfilled the law, He died in fulfillment of it, and by faith in His death, burial, and resurrection, people will be saved. There is no other path to God available to man.

Get the word out! God has done it! Jesus has prevailed, and salvation is a gift of God’s grace to any who will simply believe.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the sure hope we possess. Through Jesus Christ, You have accomplished all things necessary to reconcile us to Yourself. We acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that through Him we are restored to You. Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.




Acts 20:20

Fruit on a Washington state fruit farm (the edible, not political, kind).

Thursday, 21 September 2023

“how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, Acts 20:20

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The words are more closely stated, “how I withheld nothing of things that are profitable, not to declare to you and to teach you in public and among houses” (CG).

The words continue from the previous verse, “And when they came to him, he said to them, ‘You know from the first day in which I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, how I withheld nothing of things that are profitable, not to declare to you and to teach you in public and among houses.’”

With that context, we see that Paul’s words could not be made unless they were true. He is speaking to the people among whom the claims he is making pertain. Therefore, what he says must be the way things were. He is merely reminding them so that he can then encourage them based on what he says. And so, he continues by saying, “how I withheld nothing of things that are profitable.”

Hindsight is 20/20, but that is not what Paul speaks of here. Now, he says that he “withheld nothing.” We now welcome a new verb to Scripture, hupostelló. It will be seen just four times. According to Vincent’s Word Studies, “A picturesque word. Originally, to draw in or contract. Used of furling sails, and of closing the fingers; of drawing back for shelter; of keeping back one’s real thoughts; by physicians, of withholding food from patients.”

Ellicott thinks he used it specifically as a sailing metaphor where he “seems to say of himself, had used no such reticence or reserve, but had gone on his course, as it were, before the wind, with all his canvas spread.” This very well could be because he uses sea-related metaphors elsewhere, including Ephesians 4:14, 1 Timothy 1:19 and 1 Timothy 6:9.

No matter what his intent for using this word, it is clear that he was unafraid to teach them every doctrine and every counsel in accordance with the truth, regardless of whether they might find it offensive or unpalatable. Everything that was profitable was openly and fully shared with his disciples. From there, he turns to a negative clause to reiterate the point he has just made.

He said, “how I withheld nothing,” and now he says, “not to declare to you and to teach you.” The meaning is that instead of not declaring and not teaching, he did exactly the opposite by declaring and teaching. He did so without reservation and in a manner that was open to any and all. As he next says, “in public.”

Here is a word used for the last of four times, démosios. It is an adjective translated by most as publicly. But that is an adverb. Therefore, to retain the flavor of the original, “in public” more reasonably matches the intent. The word is derived from demos, a noun signifying “the people.” One can see the etymological root of the modern word democracy. As for the word démosios, you can wave it goodbye as it departs.

As for Paul, he was willing to speak about Jesus, the faith, holiness, righteousness, keeping from uncleanness, etc., all in the open and without shame or peevishness. He was bold and confident that his words were fully in line with the faith he professed. But, added to that, he next says, “and among houses.”

This would have been his talks and instruction in private settings. But don’t some people speak one way in public and another in private? Paul refused such a tactic. He spoke in the same manner when in a public forum and when in private. His words were not two-faced but always in accord with what the Lord had set before him from the start.

Life application: How nice it is when preachers continue to follow this same pattern today while we live in the face of ever-increasing wickedness. Who will be willing to unfurl the sails of proper doctrine and let the winds carry the whole counsel of God to every shore, despite the dangers? Who will teach publicly the doctrines that are found offensive to today’s sensitive and dull ears?

Jesus spoke in this manner, setting an example for us two thousand years ago. Paul was a man who did likewise, and many have since followed suit. We know that the Lord is pleased with any and all who are willing to take such a stand. As it says in Matthew 10:27 –

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.”

In Genesis 31:39, Jacob told Laban that he bore the cost of any lost sheep himself rather than having it charged to his master. Considering the value that Jesus places on the souls of men, as noted, for example, in Matthew 16:26, Paul felt the cost of losing any for his Master. He was willing to expend himself to ensure those who heard and accepted the word would be kept safe from the ravages of the world around him.

And more, he did all he could to glorify God through evangelism and teaching. In verse 27 of this chapter, he will say that he did not shun to declare to his hearers the whole counsel of God. Let us be willing to hold fast to this word and to never waffle on what it proclaims, and to declare it in its fullness. This life is temporary. We might as well please God now with our conduct because eternity is a long time to regret not having done so.

Glorious Lord God, You have given us instruction through Your word, and You have provided examples of how we are to share that through the actions of the apostles. May we be willing to expend ourselves in the furtherance of the gospel and in the necessity of living in accord with the word that You have blessed us with. Help us in this, O God. Amen.




Acts 20:19

Washington State apples. mmmmm.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

“serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; Acts 20:19

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Although a bit clunky, the words more correctly say, “serving the Lord with all mind-abasement, with many tears and trials occasioned me by the ambushes of the Jews” (CG).

The words continue the thought of the previous verse. Taken together, they would say, “And when they came to him, he said to them, ‘You know from the first day in which I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all mind-abasement, with many tears and trials occasioned me by the ambushes of the Jews.’”

With that noted, the words of this verse begin with, “serving the Lord with all mind-abasement.” It is a single noun first found here, tapeinophrosune. It is derived from tapeinos (humble, lowly, etc.), and phrén (mind, intellect, etc.). And so, as a single noun, “mind-abasement” exactingly translates it. It will be used by Paul five times and by Peter twice. Paul continues by saying, “with many tears and trials.”

Some manuscripts omit the word “many,” but it is likely original. Paul’s use of the word would fit perfectly with the events of his time in Ephesus. He labored vigorously, cared deeply, and faced trials repeatedly. And these were “occasioned me by the ambushes of the Jews.”

The word translated as “occasioned” means to come together or come to pass. These things befell Paul personally and they were instigated by the Jews. As for the word translated as “ambushes,” it is a plural noun signifying a plot, but it also carries the sense of the plot being put into action. Some translations say, “plots.” This gets half of the idea. Others say, “lying in wait,” but that is a paraphrase that is singular in nature. A single word that carries the whole intent would be the plural “ambushes.” In this, there are the plots which are combined with the actions of carrying them out.

Life application: Paul’s words are not boasting through self-piety. The things he said are simply the manner in which he conducted himself. This is perfectly evident from the fact that he is saying them to the very people who saw how he conducted himself. He is laying out the foundation for his words of admonishment, and it is appropriate that he sets this groundwork down in the exact manner in which he conducted himself.

This is a good lesson for each of us. If we act in a pious manner to ingratiate ourselves to others, that is not an acceptable way to conduct our affairs. However, if we live in an attitude of self-abasement as our regular conduct, it is an acceptable and noteworthy choice. Paul says as much to us in his epistles, such as –

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3


Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3, 4

This was Paul’s attitude and conduct, and it should be ours as well. In this, we will be living properly before the Lord.

Heavenly Father, help us to consider others before ourselves, deeming them as valuable people in Your eyes. Jesus came to save others, even while the world was sold to sin. We were once in that state, and they still are. The only difference between the two is Jesus. How can we look down upon others when – without Him – we would still be just as they are? Help us to have this mind. Help us to care about their state and to pity where they are. Soften our hearts to their plight, O God. Amen.





Acts 20:18

Japanese lady picking apples. Washington state.

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, Acts 20:18

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The words need to be more precisely aligned with the Greek, “And when they came to him, he said to them, ‘You know from the first day in which I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time’” (CG).

Paul had just sent an emissary from Miletus to Ephesus to gather the elders of the church at Miletus. Now, with their coming, Luke records, “And when they came to him.” As noted, this would have been at least a day later, maybe even two. The men would have had to have walked or rode about thirty miles to Ephesus, gathered the elders, and then made the return trip. Despite the distance, the men came. With that having transpired, “he said to them, ‘You know.’”

The word “you” is in the emphatic position. To highlight this, the YLT says, “Ye – ye know.” Paul is declaring in their presence, and with their knowledge to support his words, the truth of what he will say. Next, he says, “from the first day.”

These words speak of a period of three full years, as will be noted in Acts 20:31. There was sufficient time to come to know Paul and to evaluate his conduct and his character. Therefore, they will know that what he has called them for is based on that knowledge. His words will need to be considered and accepted because of this. He next says, “in which I set foot in Asia.”

The word translated as “set foot” is epibaino. It is used just six times in the New Testament. It means to set foot on, mount, or board (as if boarding a boat). It is derived from epi (on, upon, etc.) and basis (a step). Paul notes that, from the first step of his foot among them, what he will convey was the case. As they are the witnesses to the matter, it must be a true proclamation concerning it, which is, “how I was with you the whole time.”

The words are singular, “the whole time.” There was no lapse in how Paul conducted himself from beginning to end. Concerning such steadfast conduct, the Geneva Bible says, “A graphic image of a true pastor.”

Life application: Out of all of the speeches made in Acts, this one stands out as certainly being one where Luke was present. The style of his words shows the first-hand knowledge of what was said. Also, it closely mirrors Paul’s words in his epistles.

Everything about it shows evidence of a faithful recording of what Paul actually said rather than a second-hand account. The other speeches are true representations of what was said, but this one indicates the careful detailing of the deep emotion and heartfelt love that Paul and the elders shared.

As they are analyzed, remember this and think of your own times when you were closely bonded with others in the fellowship of Christ. And this doesn’t have to just mean in one another’s presence. In our modern world, communication and fellowship can take place over vast distances. And so, think about what Paul emphasizes to these men.

Consider his words and develop the same passion as he had for what he will convey. Spoiler alert: Paul will implore these men to hold fast to what is good and sound, and to guard against those who would come in and pervert the church. He knows these will be his last words to them, and so he begs them to remain sound in their lives, conduct, and doctrine before the Lord.

Glorious God, may we consider our walk before You, hold fast to what is good, and emphasize to others the importance of holding fast to what You have set before us in Scripture. Help us to rightly divide it, to faithfully live by it, and to be willing to instruct others in it. To Your glory and for the edification of others, we pray. Amen.