17. Acts 20
Whether our children grow up, we move away, or we lose a loved one, we all say goodbye. And goodbye can hurt. But adjusting to change is required for spiritual, mental and emotional health. In this passage, Paul models how to say goodbye. Ask God to show you what you need to learn. And remember, one of the blessings of heaven is that we never say goodbye!
After three years in Ephesus, Paul decided to return to Jerusalem, with a number of stops on the way. He revisited Macedonia and Greece (Corinth) where he spent three months. He was planning to sail from Corinth to Jerusalem, but discovered a Jewish plot to murder him onboard ship. As a result, he changed plans and backtracked through Macedonia by land and on to Troas where he was joined by a group of seven men, including Luke. As representatives of various churches, they carried monetary gifts for the Jerusalem church and planned to accompany Paul to Jerusalem. (20:1-6; Romans 15:25-27; I Corinthians 16:14)
Read Acts 20:1-12
SEVEN DAYS IN TROAS
1. A. On what day and for what purpose were these Christians gathered? Describe their meeting place. (20:7, 8)
B. (Digging Deeper) Verse 7 indicates that now Sunday was the normal meeting day of the Apostolic church instead of the Jewish Sabbath. Why might it be more beneficial to worship on the first day instead of the seventh?
C. How long did Paul talk? Why? (20:7) Why do you think they were willing to listen for so long? Would you have stayed until he finished?
2. A. Who fell out of the window and how serious was the fall? What was the probable cause? (20:8, 9)
B. Eutychus means "fortunate." In what way was this young man fortunate? (20:10, 12)
C. After the interruption in his sermon, how much longer did Paul talk? What does this reveal about Paul's emotional state and his relationship with these believers? (20:11)
D. Recall a time when you said goodbye. Were you leaving a child at college or camp? Were you embracing a close friend before you moved to another city? Were you sitting by the hospital bed of a loved one? Changing jobs? Leaving a ministry that drew you together? What were the circumstances? How did you feel? Share with the group healthy ways to handle separation.
Read Acts 20:13-38
ON TO MILETUS
After leaving Troas, Paul traveled down the coast past Ephesus where he asked the Ephesian elders to join him. If he had stopped in Ephesus to say goodbye to everybody again, his departure would have been delayed and he was in a hurry. (20:13-17) In verses 18-35, Luke records Paulâ€™s farewell speech to those he had ministered with so long and loved so deeply. The missionary journeys are completed and Paul's life will soon take a new direction.
3. A. Paul begins his farewell message by reviewing his time with them. (20:18) What did he do during those years?
B. Paul's heart attitude while he was there is revealed in 20:19. What do you think this verse means?
C. (Digging Deeper) What is servant-leadership? How was Paul modeling servant-leadership? (I Peter 5:2, 3)
4. A. Now where was Paul going? What premonition did he have regarding the journey? (20:22, 23)
B. Nevertheless, how did Paul face these prospects? What were his priorities and his life purpose? (20:24)
C. What was Paul able to say at the end of his life? (11 Timothy 4:7, 8)
D. What are your priorities? What is your life purpose? How will you measure whether you have "finished the race" or "completed the task"?
5. A. What startling statement did Paul make in 20:25?
B. When moving from one phase of life to another, why is it helpful to evaluate the past while looking toward the future? Discuss lessons you have learned when reflecting on the past.
6. Why was Paul's conscience clear? (20:26, 27, 3 1)
Now Paul instructed them about their future responsibilities.
7. A. Who does Paul say they must care for before they can minister to others? (20:28a) Why is this an important lesson for church workers?
B. (Summit) Paul paints a word picture of the church as a flock of sheep and the leaders as shepherds. (20:28) What do you know about the relationship of sheep and shepherds that would parallel the relationship of the church and her leaders?
C. Who will threaten the "flock"? How are they to deal with these dangers? (20:29-3 1)
8. A. In whose care did Paul actually commit the Ephesians? (20:32)
B. What could God's Word do for them? (20:32) Can you relate a specific time when the study and understanding of Scripture did that for you? If so, please share.
9. What was Paul's attitude toward money and possessions? Who benefited from his hard work as a tentmaker? (20:33-35)
10. Describe their parting. Envision the scene. How good was Paul at expressing his emotions? (20:36-38) How would you have felt?
11. Who is in your spiritual care? How are you preparing them for your departure? What would you say to them if you had to leave them now?
12. What have you learned from this text about saying goodbye? How will these lessons help you the next time separation is inevitable?
13. (Digging Deeper) Review chapter 19.What had Paul and the Ephesians experienced together? Why was their bond so tight?
14. (Digging Deeper) Read Revelation 2:1-6 to learn more about the future of the Ephesian church.
Every tomorrow has two handles; we can take hold by the handle of worry or by the handle of faith.