Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 20

Paul's journeys. (1-6) Eutychus restored to Life. (7-12) Paul
travels towards Jerusalem. (13-16) Paul's discourse to the
elders of Ephesus. (17-27) Their farewell. (28-38)

1-6 Tumults or opposition may constrain a Christian to remove
from his station or alter his purpose, but his work and his
pleasure will be the same, wherever he goes. Paul thought it
worth while to bestow five days in going to Troas, though it was
but for Seven days' stay there; but he knew, and So should we,
how to redeem even journeying time, and to make it turn to some
good account.

7-12 Though the disciples read, and meditated, and prayed, and
sung apart, and thereby kept up Communion with God, yet they
came together to Worship God, and So kept up their Communion
with one another. They came together On the first Day of the
Week, the Lord's Day. It is to be religiously observed By all
disciples of Christ. In the breaking of the Bread, not only the
breaking of Christ's body for us, to be a Sacrifice for our
sins, is remembered, but the breaking of Christ's body to us, to
be Food and a Feast for our souls, is signified. In the early
times it was the Custom to receive the Lord's Supper every
Lord's Day, thus celebrating the memorial of Christ's Death. In
this assembly Paul preached. The preaching of the Gospel ought
to go with the sacraments. They were willing to hear, he saw
they were So, and continued his speech till midnight. Sleeping
when hearing the Word, is an evil thing, a sign of low esteem of
the Word of God. We must do what we can to prevent being sleepy;
not Put ourselves to sleep, but get our hearts affected with the
Word we hear, So as to drive sleep far away. Infirmity requires
tenderness; but contempt requires severity. It interrupted the
Apostle's preaching; but was made to confirm his preaching.
Eutychus was brought to Life again. And as they knew not when
they should have Paul's company again, they made the best use of
it they could, and reckoned a night's sleep Well lost for that
purpose. How seldom are hours of repose broken for the purposes
of devotion! but how often for mere amusement or sinful revelry!
So hard is it for spiritual Life to thrive in the Heart of Man!
So naturally do Carnal practices flourish there!

13-16 Paul hastened to Jerusalem, but tried to do good By the
way, when going from place to place, as every good Man should
do. In doing God's work, our own wills and those of our friends
must often be crossed; we must not spend time with them when
duty calls us another way.

17-27 The elders knew that Paul was No designing, self-seeking
Man. Those who would in any office serve the Lord acceptably,
and profitably to others, must do it with Humility. He was a
Plain preacher, one that spoke his message So as to be
understood. He was a powerful preacher; he preached the Gospel
as a Testimony to them if they received it; but as a Testimony
against them if they rejected it. He was a profitable preacher;
one that aimed to inform their judgments, and reform their
hearts and lives. He was a painful preacher, very industrious in
his work. He was a Faithful preacher; he did not keep back
reproofs when necessary, nor keep back the preaching of the
Cross. He was a truly Christian, evangelical preacher; he did
not preach notions or doubtful matters; nor affairs of state or
the civil government; but he preached Faith and Repentance. A
better summary of these things, without which there is No
Salvation, cannot be given: even Repentance towards God, and
Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, with their fruits and
effects. Without these No sinner can escape, and with these none
will come short of eternal Life. Let them not think that Paul
left Asia for fear of Persecution; he was in full expectation of
trouble, yet resolved to go On, Well assured that it was By
Divine direction. Thanks be to God that we know not the things
which shall befall us during the Year, the Week, the Day which
has begun. It is enough for the Child of God to know that his
strength shall be equal to his Day. He knows not, he would not
know, what the Day before him shall bring forth. The powerful
influences of the Holy Spirit bind the true Christian to his
duty. Even when he expects Persecution and affliction, the Love
of Christ constrains him to proceed. None of these things moved
Paul from his work; they did not deprive him of his comfort. It
is the business of our Life to provide for a joyful Death.
Believing that this was the last time they should see him, he
appeals concerning his integrity. He had preached to them the
whole counsel of God. As he had preached to them the Gospel
purely, So he had preached it to them entire; he faithfully did
his work, whether men would Bear or forbear.

28-38 If the Holy Ghost has made ministers overseers of the
flock, that is, shepherds, they must be true to their trust. Let
them consider their Master's concern for the flock committed to
their charge. It is the Church He has purchased with his own
Blood. The Blood was his as Man; yet So close is the union
between the Divine and human nature, that it is there called the
Blood of God, for it was the Blood of Him who is God. This Put
such dignity and worth into it, as to Ransom believers from all
evil, and purchase all good. Paul spake about their souls with
Affection and concern. They were full of care what would become
of them. Paul directs them to look up to God with Faith, and
commends them to the Word of God's Grace, not only as the
foundation of their Hope and the Fountain of their joy, but as
the rule of their walking. The most advanced Christians are
capable of growing, and will find the Word of Grace Helps their
growth. As those cannot be welcome guests to the holy God who
are unsanctified; So Heaven would be No Heaven to them; but to
all who are born again, and On whom the image of God is renewed,
it is sure, as almighty power and eternal Truth make it So. He
recommends himself to them as an Example of not caring as to
things of the present world; this they would find Helps forward
their comfortable Passage through it. It might seem a hard
saying, therefore Paul adds to it a saying of their Master's,
which he would have them always remember; "It is more blessed to
give than to receive:" it seems they were words often used to
his disciples. The opinion of the children of this world, is
contrary to this; they are afraid of giving, unless in Hope of
getting. Clear gain, is with them the most blessed thing that
can be; but Christ tells us what is more blessed, more excellent.
It makes us more like to God, who gives to all, and receives
from none; and to the Lord Jesus, who went about doing good.
This mind was in Christ Jesus, may it be in us also. It is good
for friends, when they part, to part with Prayer. Those who
exhort and pray for one another, may have many weeping Seasons
and painful separations, but they will meet before the Throne of
God, to part No more. It was a comfort to all, that the presence
of Christ both went with him and stayed with them.