Acts 20:17

East of the Cascades in Washington state.

Monday, 18 September 2023

From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. Acts 20:17

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 verse should read, “And from Miletus, having sent to Ephesus, he called for the elders of the church” (CG).

The previous verse noted that Paul was in a rush to get to Jerusalem by the Day of Pentecost. Because of this, he decided to sail past Ephesus. Instead, they stopped at Miletus, a port a short distance beyond Ephesus. With their arrival, Luke next notes, “And from Miletus, having sent to Ephesus.”

The distance to Ephesus is estimated to be about thirty to forty miles from Miletus. It would take some time to travel that far and then an equal amount of time for the messenger to return with those of the church. It would be a 10-to-15-hour journey for a healthy person to walk that far at a normal pace. With donkeys, it would be a bit faster. With horses, it could be done even more quickly.

No matter what, there would be at least a day of travel, spending the night, and then another day of travel back to Miletus. In a best-case scenario, they would not continue their travels until at least the third day after arriving.

It would seem that after such a long journey, waiting for these people would be contrary to his plans to reach Jerusalem quickly. From this, it is obvious that he knew he would get bogged down in a personal visit to Ephesus. Many days of fellowshipping would be the minimum. Therefore, he reasoned that the time waiting for the church to come to him would still be less than that. This then is actually the more expedient way of handling the situation. Therefore, “he called for the elders of the church.”

In this verse, the elders who are summoned are designated by the Greek word presbuteros, an elder. However, in Acts 20:28, the word used to describe these same men will be episkopos, overseers. Because of this, it is obvious that the titles were synonymous. Their state was that of being elders, while their duties were that of overseeing the church.

Life application: Thinking about what is recorded here, it is rather amazing to consider. Paul bypassed Ephesus, a good distance away, and then sent for the elders. It isn’t known if there were one or more churches in Ephesus. But even if there was only one, these men would have been called to drop everything they were doing and travel the long distance to Miletus on a moment’s notice.

Think of where you live and consider a location thirty miles away. Now imagine if someone came to you and said, “We need to leave right away and start walking to that place. Johnny Come Lately wants to see you and the other seven leaders of the church.”

This means a day of walking, a meeting, and then another day of walking back home. When looked at from this perspective, one can see how carefully Paul must have balanced things out concerning stopping at Ephesus or not. And more, consider the state of these men who were willing to drop everything and head to Miletus to see him.

Now, think about your own associations. Who would you be willing to do this for? Are the needs or desires of someone that important to you? Imagine if there is a natural disaster, maybe a hurricane, that has caused damage to a friend. Would you drop everything and say, “I’m going to help with this.” Let us be grateful to the Laborious Lee’s and Magnificent Mike’s who would do such a thing. Let us also consider if we too would be willing to do such in the time of other’s needs.

When the need arises, think about how you can meet it. In the case of Paul and the elders at Ephesus, the need arose, and it will be met in the verses ahead.

Lord God, help us to be attentive to the needs of others as they arise. May we be willing to extend our hand, if possible, to attend to the call or need of others. Thank You for those who willingly put forth of themselves in such moments. And above all, thank You for Jesus, who came to meet our greatest need, even while we were still sinners. Amen.







Acts 20:16

Passing a farm at high speed.

Sunday, 17 September 2023

For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost. Acts 20:16

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 last verse, the missionaries had left Mitylene and had wound their way as far as Miletus. Now, and from Miletus, Luke next records, “For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus.”

It is a pluperfect verb. He had decided before getting on the ship that they would not stop there, and upon having arrived further along the journey in Miletus, the matter was resolved. If he had stopped at Ephesus, it would inevitably have meant spending time there that he did not want to lose. Also, The KJV says “sail by” Ephesus. This is ambiguous. It could mean “sail to along the way” or “sail past.” The intent is the latter, as indicated by the Greek word parapleó. It is found only here in the New Testament. It signifies sailing near or past but without stopping. This was “so that he would not have to spend time in Asia.”

Both Miletus and Ephesus are in the region of Asia. But Miletus was a short distance past Ephesus on the way to Jerusalem. Not stopping in Ephesus via ship would avoid getting bogged down in a long visit, but it would still allow them to meet with members of the church. Verse 17 will further explain this.

For now, Luke explains the matter using the word chronotribeó, translated as “spend time.” It is also only found here in the New Testament. It comes from two words: chronos, time, and tribos, a worn path, a road, or a highway. It indicates to delay or waste time.

If he had stopped at Ephesus, he would certainly have gotten caught in a significant delay which he did not want. Instead, Luke next says, “for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.” Paul had his sights set on this and did not want to be deterred from it. Jerusalem is where the church began. Pentecost was both the timeframe when the law was received at Sinai, and it was also when the church began with the coming of the Holy Spirit upon believers.

He had left Philippi at Passover, and this only gave him 50 days to travel the entire distance. He probably wanted to be in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast with the brethren there as a memorial. It was also because it was a good time to pass on the gift from the churches to them. Along with that, it was a good time to meet family and old friends who would be in town. Likewise, it would be a good time to evangelize many who had come for the feast and who were curious about The Way.

Life application: In Galatians 4:9-11, Paul writes –

“But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.”

Also, in Colossians 2:16, 17 he writes –

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

In both, he is alluding, among other things, to the Feasts of the Lord recorded in Leviticus 23, of which Pentecost (Shavuoth/Weeks) was such a feast. Paul calls that bondage. He also says these things were mere shadows of the reality found in Christ. He says these things because they are a part of the Law of Moses which anticipated the work of Jesus and which were fulfilled by Him. Further, being Gentiles, the Galatians and Colossians had never been obligated to the law. The law was given to Israel alone.

Likewise, Paul had entered the New Covenant and was no longer bound by the Old. However, being a Jew, it was still a part of his culture. It was a time when the multitudes would gather and celebrate. There is no contradiction in Paul’s words and his actions. His intent to be in Jerusalem was not because the Law of Moses demanded it. It was because it was an opportune time for him to carry out many affairs.

Quite often, Hebrew Roots adherents and others will try to influence your thinking by noting that Paul was an observant Jew in all ways, including the Feasts of the Lord, the Sabbath, dietary restrictions, and so on. From that springboard, they will then attempt to impose on you the exact same bondage. Don’t be led astray by this false teaching.

The Law of Moses, of which the Gentiles were never under, was fulfilled and set aside in Christ. You never were under it, and you remain free from it, completely and entirely. Live out your life in Christ, understanding the grace that has been bestowed upon you. Don’t set that grace aside for the sake of false humility. The cross is sufficient to restore you to God. Don’t mar the grace of the cross.

Glorious Lord God, thank You for the freedom we possess in Christ. You sent Jesus to accomplish all things, and He did. What can we add to that? Rather, help us to live our lives in gratitude for what You have accomplished in Him. Be glorified as we praise You, O God, for the giving of Your Son to bring us back to You! Amen.










Acts 20:15

Houses in eastern Washington State

Saturday, 16 September 2023

We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus. Acts 20:15

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 difficult to directly translate, but they can be more closely rendered as, “And thence having sailed the following day, we arrived opposite Chios. And the other day, we cast-aside at Samos, and having remained in Trogyllium, the adjoining day we came to Miletus” (CG).

In the previous verse, Paul was taken aboard. They then sailed to Mitylene. Now, the voyage continues, saying, “And thence having sailed the following day.” Here and in the final clause, Luke will use present participles to describe the passing of time. This time, it is from the verb epiousa, or next. Being a present participle, “following” gives the needed sense. From one day leading to the next, they have gone from Mitylene where Luke next says, “we arrived opposite Chios.”

Chios is about halfway between Lesbos and Samos. It is an island about five miles off the coast. They would have sailed through this narrow straight but stopped on the eastern side for the night, opposite Chios on the mainland.

The name Chios is found only here. Its meaning is uncertain. Also, the word antikrus, or opposite, is also found only here. It means opposite, over against, or off when used in a nautical sense. Luke next says, “And the other day, we cast-aside at Samos.”

Using a different word, heteros, or “other,” Luke describes the next day’s travel where they neared Samos. This is an island south and east of Chios, also mentioned only this one time. Abarim says that most commentators state that the name means “high place” because it has Greece’s fifth highest place, being 1434 meters high.

The word translated as “cast-aside” is paraballó. It is also a unique word found only this once. It is directly translated as “cast aside.” In other words, they neared there, merely bringing the ship alongside the island. From there, they crossed over to Trogyllium. As it says, “and having remained in Trogyllium.”

This clause is not found in some manuscripts, rather simply noting the journey going from Samos to Miletus. However, it is likely Trogyllium was included in Luke’s original words. Trogyllium is “the rocky extremity of the ridge of Mycale, on the Ionian coast, between which and the southern extremity of Samos the channel is barely a mile wide” (Speaker’s Commentary).

Of the name Trogyllium, Abarim says, “To an average Greek speaker, the name Trogyllium probably sounded like Place For Things To Nibble On or The Hole That Gobbles Up.” Of this location, Hastings Dictionary of the New Testament says –

“Trogyllium was a promontory formed by the western termination of Mt. Mycale, on the coast of Asia Minor, about equidistant from Ephesus and Miletus. It runs out into the sea just opposite the island of Samos, from which it is separated by a channel less than a mile wide (Strabo, XIV. i. 12, 13). Its present name is Santa Maria.”

Concerning which manuscript is right, Hastings continues, saying –

“This in itself is likely to have happened. … The reason for their omission may have been either the mistaken idea in the mind of the copyists that the text located Trogyllium in Samos, or the difficulty of imagining two night-stoppages, one in the harbour of Samos and another at Trogyllium, which is only 4 or 5 miles from Samos. But a night spent at Samos is quite imaginary, for the nautical term παρεβάλομεν [parebalomen] does not mean ‘arrived at’ (Authorized Version) or ‘touched at’ (Revised Version). All that it implies is a crossing from one point to another; and, while Samos was merely sighted and passed, Trogyllium was the resting-place. An anchorage just to the east of the extreme point of Trogyllium now bears the name of ‘St. Paul’s Port.’”

With this understood, Luke finishes the verse with, “the adjoining day we came to Miletus.” Luke again uses a present participle, coming from the verb echó, to describe the day. It means to have, hold, or possess. In this case, “adjoining” gets the point across. The days adjoin. Thus, they hold together.

Miletus is further south and east of Trogyllium. It is on a large promontory in modern Turkey. The area they landed at is now called Gundogan. The name Miletus is from an uncertain origin. Thus, it is not known what it means.

Life application: As has been seen, Luke has used a variety of terms in this one verse to describe the travels. It is inexcusable to not at least attempt to translate them in a variety of ways so that the reader can get the flavor of what is being said. However, the Pulpit commentary says the following concerning the King James Version’s failure in this regard –

“The A.V., [meaning the King James Version] which often gives a varied English for the same Greek, has here for varying Greek given the same English [next] three times over.”

If translators are not going to at least attempt to rightly translate a verse, they shouldn’t be translating. The word is so rich and varied, and yet so much is lost when the necessary time and effort is not put into giving the flavor of what is being conveyed.

For this reason, be sure not to get captivated by a single translation. Refer to several or many. Also, be sure to read commentaries on the things that pique your interest. You will get out of your studies what you put into them.

Thank You, O God, for the wonderful detail and delight that is found in Your precious word. May we be careful to attend to it daily, reading it, studying it, and cherishing its contents. In doing so, we will be blessed in so many ways. Yes, Lord, thank You for this marvelous word! Amen.









Acts 20:14

Rocky hills, eastern Washington State.

Friday, 15 September 2023

And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. Acts 20:14

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 Greek reads, “And when he met with us at Assos, having taken him up, we came to Mitylene” (CG).

In the previous verse, the missionaries were set to sail for Assos while Paul took the journey on foot. Now, Luke’s words continue with, “And when he met with us at Assos.”

Without any comment as to why the two parties traveled separately and without any details of their meeting up, other than that they met, it is apparent that it occurred as planned. It isn’t even sure which arrived first. The words simply indicate that they came together. With that, Luke next records, “having taken him up, we came to Mitylene.”

Paul got on board, and they departed. Their first stop is noted as Mitylene. This was, and still is, the capital of the island known as Lesbos. It is about 30 miles south of Assos and just off the west coast of Anatolia. The island is one of the largest in the Aegean Sea and is the seventh largest in the Mediterranean. Its total circumference is about 168 miles. As for the name of the location, Abarim says –

“The name Mitylene comes from the adjective μιτυλος (mitulos), which in turn is related to the familiar Latin word mutilus, from which comes our English verb ‘to mutilate.’ How and from what the Greek language derived our word μιτυλος (mitulos) isn’t clear but from its sparse usages it appears that it was solely used in the meaning of hornless.”

This location, Hornless, is noted only this one time in the Bible.

Life application: Paul spent the entire last night at Troas talking to the disciples there. He then got up and walked the distance from Troas to Assos. As those on the ship met him there, it is apparent he didn’t sleep the entire time it took to meet up with them. It makes guessing why he determined to walk all the more curious.

It is, however, good to stop and consider such things because we can then evaluate our own paths that we decide to take. Paul may or may not have walked that particular area before, but he knew that Mitylene awaited him. It is good to set out on a new path at times, but there has to be a reason for doing so. There also needs to be a goal at the end that is expected. If not, you will be ambling blindly.

This doesn’t mean we control our steps at all. We may not make it till tomorrow morning. But if we do, we should at least have a plan for when we get there. In the meantime, we should include the Lord in the process. The words of James instruct us on this –

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” James 4:13-15

Heavenly Father, direct our steps according to Your wisdom. We do have to plan them, but our plans are still at Your allowance. So, Lord, may the two be harmoniously put together through Your guiding hand. We look to You for each breath, so if it is Your will, may our plans be in accord with what You would have us do. Amen.



Acts 20:13

The mountains have turned into hills. Washington, East of the Cascades.

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. Acts 20:13

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 of the NKJV need help, “And we, having gone ahead to the ship, sailed to Assos, thence readying to take up Paul. For so he had arranged, readying himself to hike” (CG).

In the last verse, Eutychus was taken home alive, and the people were greatly comforted. With that noted, the journey for the missionaries from Troas was set to commence. Therefore, Luke next says, “And we.”

The “we” verses continue, showing that Luke is with the missionaries at this time. Everything recorded here would be from his first-person perspective. Understanding this, he next notes, “having gone ahead to the ship, sailed to Assos.”

The missionaries, inclusive of Luke, are departing by ship. The first leg of the journey is from Troas to Assos. Assos is about 20 miles south of Troas, but for those who sailed, it was about twice as far as they had to go around a cape. Of this location, Albert Barnes notes –

“There were several cities of this name. One was in Lycia; one in the territory of Eolis; one in Mysia; one in Lydia; and another in Epirus. The latter is the one intended here. It was between Troas and Mitylene. The distance to it from Troas by land was about 20 miles, while the voyage round Cape Lecture was nearly twice as far, and accordingly Paul chose to go to it on foot.”

Assos is only found here and in the next verse in the New Testament. The meaning is uncertain, but Abarim says the following –

“The name Assos may derive from a rarely used adverb ασσον (asson) and revel in the fact that it’s Closer than some other place. Or it relates to the name of the local son and international hero king Assaracus, Number One and the patriarch of all things Rome.

“Even in 1000 BC, when there was no Rome yet, the preference would probably have inclined toward Assaracus. Assos means Number One.”

Of this trip to Assos, Luke next records that they left by ship. Once they had arrived, the plan was “thence readying to take up Paul.”

Luke notes that while he and those with him would sail, they would be ready at their arrival point to take up Paul at that location. The meaning is obvious. Paul would travel another way to Assos. That is then explained by the next words, saying, “For so he had arranged, readying himself to hike.”

Rather than sail, Paul desired to go by land. Luke uses a word found only here in Scripture, pezeuó. It is ultimately derived from pous, meaning “foot.” Being a single verb in the present tense, the word “hike” suffices. A hike is something conducted on foot and is a little less arduous sounding than “trek” or “trudge,” and a little more determined than “amble” or “saunter.”

Paul hiked to Assos. Quite a few reasons have been speculated as to why he did this. Some think he didn’t want to sail unless it was necessary. Others think that maybe he wanted to pray or contemplate life. Still, others suggest that he might have wanted to visit friends on the way. And yet, others think it might have been for health reasons. Maybe he wanted to race and see who would arrive at Troas first – the old competitive spirit and all. Only speculation can be made because Luke provides no further explanation.

Life application: The traveling noted by Luke as they sailed and Paul, as he walked, can be followed on google maps exactly. You can zoom in on even the minutest details, following along the ancient ports and paths that have been updated for modern shipping and automobiles. What is wonderful about doing this is that you can find assurance that what you are reading is reliable.

Luke didn’t just write a novel about the adventures of fictional characters. Instead, he has documented the exact movements of real people that really set out on these missionary journeys. If the locations, directions, time of travel, etc., are all reliable, why would anyone assume that the other details, such as the restoration of life to Eutychus are any less reliable?

It would make no sense to document the minutest details of one aspect of the narrative and then make up a bunch of fairy tales about the other parts. Rather, we have a sure and sound word that is backed up by facts and eyewitness accounts. Let us not doubt the accuracy of what we read. Instead, let us be firm and confident in what is recorded. This is the word of God, and it is reliable.

Lord God, thank You that Your word is so reliable and verifiable. Because of this, we can know that when things are recorded that are difficult to grasp because of their miraculous nature, we can still have faith that they are true. Because of this, we can also know that what is detailed for the times ahead is also true. We have a sure and grounded hope because of this precious word! Amen.