Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Acts and Mission 82

TroasTemple.jpgPaul left Ephesus and went to Macedonia, spent 3 months there, and then began a trip back to Jerusalem, but the focus of Luke’s narrative is on Troas (picture of some temple ruins there). Here’s the basic report from Acts 20:

20:1 After the disturbance had ended, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left to go to Macedonia. 20:2 After he had gone through those regions and spoken many words of encouragement to the believers there, he came to Greece, 20:3 where he stayed for three months. Because the Jews had made a plot against him as he was intending to sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 20:4 Paul was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, and Timothy, as well as Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 20:5 These had gone on ahead and were waiting for us in Troas. 20:6 We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and within five days we came to the others in Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul began to speak to the people, and because he intended to leave the next day, he extended his message until midnight. 20:8 (Now there were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.) 20:9 A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, was sinking into a deep sleep while Paul continued to speak for a long time. Fast asleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. 20:10 But Paul went down, threw himself on the young man, put his arms around him, and said, “Do not be distressed, for he is still alive!” 20:11 Then Paul went back upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he talked with them a long time, until dawn. Then he left. 20:12 They took the boy home alive and were greatly comforted.

Paul’s companions in missional work are often little more than names, and that’s the case here. These may have been involved in Paul’s collection for the saints as they represent different churches in Paul’s mission. Makes me think of the many who actively involved in mission but whose names are not known to most.

Paul had much to say … so much that he seems to have preached from dinner to midnight, then some more dinner (?) and preaching until dawn. The meeting was on “Sunday” (first day of the week). An early indicator of worshiping together on Sunday.
So much preaching that dear Eutychus fell asleep, fell out of a window and apparently died, but Paul got to him soon enough and announced he was not dead in fact and they went back upstairs and Paul resumed preaching. 
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posted January 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I had the joy of ministering in Papua New Guinea. One of my favorite stories I continuously tell is one where I hiked out to a local church, over ten miles one way from my house. When I got there we had worship, and I was told they liked long preaching, so I preached for almost an hour. I sat down, and we sang together again. Then a local Christian brother stood up and said, “We are going to take a short break, then Brother Daniel will preach to us again.” Now, I had only prepared for an hour, so I was shocked. I had approximately 15 minutes to throw more information together, and I was able to preach for another hour. That same brother then stood up and said, “We will stop and share in a meal, and then Bro. Daniel will preach to us again…” When it was all said and done, I had preached for almost four hours, then had to walk back home…
I wonder if Americans could do the same? We start staring at our watches if service runs five minutes over, and get really bent out of shape if we get out more than 15 minutes “behind schedule.” We simply can’t sit and focus that long, even those of us that love God.
For my PNG brothers and sisters, many of them had walked farther than I had. If they were going to come to church it might as well be an all-day affair. I had traveled thousands of miles to be there, and they wanted to show me respect and love through their time. (But their services normally lasted about that long anyway!) It is simply a different cultural standard.
Ever since my time in PNG, I approach this passage in Acts in a different manner. These Christians got the chance to hear one of the great missionaries and apostles in person, and they were willing to worship late into the night in order to learn from his experience and wisdom. And Paul really wanted a chance to share love and fellowship with these Christians…
This passage sounds so strange to American ears, but for countless others around the world it makes total sense.

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