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1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. 2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece 3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. 6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

 

Chapter 20 is a highly compressed narrative that covers many places not named in this account. Second Corinthians 1:8-2:13; 7:6,16, 17, 18, 22, 15-16 give a more-detailed report of this period.

20:1

After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.

After the commotion in Ephesus, Paul gathered the believers in the city to inform them about his departure and to encourage and embrace them. His concern was for them, not for his welfare.

20:2

Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece

Paul planned to go to Macedonia, Achaia, Jerusalem, and Rome (Acts 19:21). He moved to Greece from Ephesus through the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia.

After leaving Ephesus, Paul arrived in Macedonia via Troas (2 Co 2:12). He may have traveled to Illyricum (Yugoslavia) during this timeframe (Ro 15:19). The time between his departure from Ephesus and leaving Macedonia for the province of Achaia (Greece) encompassed stopping at Troas and ministering in Macedonia. The timeframe may have been a protracted period, maybe a year and a half–somewhere between summer A.D. 55 and late A.D. 56.

Paul hoped to meet Titus in Troas, who would tell the apostle about the state of the church in Corinth. He had written a letter of harsh rebuke to the church, and he hoped Titus would give him a good report about the situation. Titus was not in Troas, so Paul sailed to Macedonia hoping to connect with Titus there (2 Co 2:12f). He probably met with Titus in Philippi, where his associate gave him a favorable report of how the Corinthian church received his harsh letter (2 Co 2:5-11; 7:5-13).

Paul ministered during this period in Berea, Thessalonica, and Corinth, covering Macedonia twice. His travels took him to the city of Corinth, Greece. This verse briefly covers Paul’s third missionary journey, not detailing the trip. The first seven chapters of 2 Corinthians describe more of this period. It would be the last time the apostle would see the churches in Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia (Acts 20:25).

During his travels, Paul encouraged new believers “with many words.” The Word of God is the primary means of comfort, consolation, exhortation, and encouragement. Paul’s preaching was not perfunctory (2 Ti 4:2).

20:3

and stayed three months.

After traveling through Macedonia and Illyricum, Paul made his way to Corinth. He stayed probably in Corinth for three months (winter of AD 56-57), where he wrote Romans (Ro 15:23-16:2). The apostle also wrote 1 Corinthians shortly before leaving Ephesus again (1 Co 16:5-8), where he challenged the Corinthian church to give to poor saints in Jerusalem (1 Co 16:1-4).

And when the Jews plotted against him as he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.

After discovering that the Jews were plotting to kill him, he changed his plans to go to Syria by sea from the port of Cenchrea of Corinth to a port further north in Macedonia. He retraced his former travels by land through the province of Macedonia, from which he had come three months prior.

20:4

And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.

This verse lists seven of Paul’s traveling co-laborers. Their locations were places where Paul had ministered. Aristarchus and Gaius came under attack in Ephesus (Acts 19:29). Luke mentioned Tychicus and Trophimus in Acts 21:29 and Timothy in Acts 19:22. These seven men protected both Paul and the contributions from Gentile churches for poor believers in Judea.

20:5

These men, going ahead, waited for us [including Luke] at Troas.

Paul’s seven companions, having gone ahead of him, waited for the apostle and Luke in Troas, a major port city in Roman Asia on the Aegean Sea. They were to deliver funds collected from Corinth and Macedonia to the poor saints in Judah (Ro 15:25-29). The seven number ensured protection on their travels (1 Co 16:3; 2 Co 8:18f). Luke waited in Philippi until Paul returned to the city.

Second Corinthians 2:12-13; 7:5-7 covers this previous visit to Troas. Eventually, the apostle met Titus in Macedonia, where he wrote 2 Corinthians (Acts 19:21).

20:6

But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread,

Paul and Luke departed from Philippi in Macedonia by sailing to Troas. Paul waited until the days of unleavened bread (Passover) were complete.

and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

After sailing for five days, for a week they joined the group that went ahead in Troas.

PRINCIPLE:

People in leadership should involve others in their ministry.

APPLICATION:

Paul’s long list of companions represented the churches that gave gifts to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Any minister worthy of his salt will involve others in ministry. The various lists of the apostle’s friends in Scripture are extensive. His model reminds us of our responsibility to involve as many people in ministry as possible.

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