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“Plans Change” – Acts 20:1-16

Aug 9, 2020

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God is no respecter of "persons," nor of our plans:

 A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

(Prov. 16:9)

 There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the LORD's counsel--that will stand.

(Prov. 19:21)

This was true of the Apostle Paul also.  He had planned to leave for Jerusalem and Rome directly from Corinth after his three years of ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:21).

BUT GOD had a different plan, a better plan, and God's plan, for us is always best.

God's plan is always to get Himself the most glory, and us the most good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

(Rms. 8:28)

Especially, when we can't see or understand His plans.

Genesis 50:14-21


Changed Plans

Verses 1-3

Vs. 1

          "After the uproar..."

                * The riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-29).

           "...the disciples..."

                 * Paul's disciples- Followers, students.

Vs. 2

          "...he had gone over that region...he came to Greece."

                 * It seems that Paul is traveling alone at this point from Ephesus to Troas (that region).

                 * Not his choice, or the best ministry option, but:

                 * He had promised to collect a gift for the church in Jerusalem (Rms. 15:25-27).

            "...encouraged them with many words..."

                  * He preached the "encouragement" of the Gospel of Christ.

Vs. 3

          "...stayed three months..."

                * Corinth (Greece).

                * During this time, he wrote the Epistle to the Romans while staying with the Corinthians (Rms. 15:26, 16:1).

          "...the Jews plotted against him...as he was about to sail to Syria..."

                 * His estranged "brethren", the Jews, always at enmity with Paul  (Acts 19:8-10).

          "...sail to Syria..."

                 * On a "pilgrim ship" of Jews bound for Jerusalem and the Passover.

                 *  The "plot" was to kill him at sea and throw him overboard.

So, his plan was changed for him: 

          "...he decided to return through Macedonia..."

                 * On foot, in the other direction from Jerusalem.

                * Paul's original plan was to go from Corinth directly to Jerusalem by way of Syria, and then to Rome (Acts 19:21).

This was God's plan, to get Paul, and ultimately us, "the good" from this "changed plan."

 Ministry Companions

Verse 4-6

Vs. 4

          "...Sopater of Berea..."

                  * "They studied the Scriptures daily..." (Acts 17:10-12).

          "Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians..."

                 * Aristarchus would later be imprisoned with Paul in Rome (Col. 4:10).

          "...Gaius of Derbe..."

                 * Gaius, along with Aristarchus, were beaten by the Ephesians during "the uproar" (Vs. 1), (Acts 19:29).


                  * From Lystra, Paul's protégé (Acts 16:1-2).


                  * Paul's “beloved” brother and “faithful minister” in Ephesus (Eph. 6:21-22).

          "...Trophimus of Asia..."

                 * Eventually he would be left behind in Miletus sick before Paul's   imprisonment in Rome (2 Tim. 4:20). All these men were faithful servants of Christ, and co-workers with Paul in the Gospel's furtherance.  In addition, they were representatives of various churches sending the gift to the church in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:3-4).

No ministry operates successfully with a single person. 

Vs. 5

          "These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas."

               * "Us" - Dr. Luke is now rejoined with Paul.

               * "Troas" - Where Dr. Luke first met Paul and joined his ministry (Acts 16:8-11).

Vs. 6

          "But we sailed away from Philippi..."

               * Where had Dr. Luke been?

                  - Pastoring the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:12-40).

                  - Dr. Luke stayed in Philippi for the next 4.5 years (Acts 17:1-20:6). 

            "...after the Days of Unleavened Bread..."

                   * They had missed the Passover in Jerusalem as Paul had planned.

          "...in five days, we joined them in Troas..."

                 * Where Dr. Luke first met Paul.

                 * "Five Days" from Philippi to Troas, it took one day to go from Troas to Philippi (Acts 16:11).

Why?  -   Prevailing winds. 

The Troas Resurrection

Verses 7-12

Vs. 7

           "...the first day of the week when the disciples came together..."

                 * Christian's gathered for "church" on Sundays (Acts 16:2).

                 * Christ rose from the grave on Sunday (Matt. 28:1-2)

                 * The Church was birthed on Pentecost, the "first day of the week," First Fruits, when the Holy Spirit fell (Acts 2:1-4).

                 * Sabbath was for the Jews, part of the Old Covenant (Ex. 35:1-2).

                 * The Jerusalem council did not mandate keeping the Sabbath for the Church (Acts 15:28-29).

          "...to break bread..."

                 * It was usual for an Agape Feast, and remembering "The Lord's Supper" when gathering for worship (Acts 2:42).

          "...Paul spoke to them and continued his message until midnight..."

                 * The longest part of the worship service was the "message."

Vs. 8

          "There were many lamps in the upper room..."

                * "The upper room" - Most homes during this period had an open room on the top floor for eating and meeting (Lk. 21:11-12, Acts 1:13).

                * "Many lamps" - Oil burning, causing fumes and heat.

                * This may have caused Eutychus to seek a window and fall asleep (Vs. 9). 

Vs. 9

           "...he was overcome by sleep..."

                 * In ancient times it was considered rude and disrespectful to sleep during teaching.

          "...he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead."

                 * Dr. Luke certainly knew what "dead" was!


Vs. 10

           "But Paul...fell on him..."

                * Just as Elijah (1 Kings 17:20-24).

                * Just as Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-34).

          "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him."

                 * Paul raised Eutychus in the name, and by the power of Christ  (Matt. 9:23-26), bringing God the glory.


Vs. 11

          "...he...talked a long while...even till day break."

               * Paul wasn't going to let a little interruption, a death and resurrection, keep him from preaching the Gospel!

               * After he had “eaten” (Mk. 5:41-43).

Vs. 12

            "And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted."

                 * "...not a little comforted."- Dr. Luke's understatement to make a point.

 Further Travel, Plans Changed

Verses 13-16

 Note to reader: Please find a map of Paul's third missionary journey for this portion of the teaching. 

Vs. 16

           "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."

                - "...he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost."

                       * "If possible" - This trip had not gone as he planned it, and now he "waited on the Lord."

                       * "The Day of Pentecost" - The last day of the spring festivals of the Lord, as commanded for observant Jews.


As Paul, we need to learn to wait on the Lord.

Realizing that even though our plans seem best to us, God is omniscient and knows best.

As in the name of an old T.V. series: 

"Father Knows Best"


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