BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 4: Acts 20:1-12

Summary of passage:  Paul heads out to Macedonia encouraging the people and then arrives in Greece where he stayed 3 months.  Intending to sail back home but having to change plans because of a plot against him by the Jews, Paul travels back through Macedonia overland.  He was accompanied by representatives of various churches since he was purportedly carrying a large amount of famine relief money with him.

Paul arrives in Troas where he speaks all night to a group of people before his final departure to Jerusalem.  A young man named Eutychus was seated in a window when he fell out of it during Paul’s long sermon and dies.  Paul then throws himself on the man, wraps his arms around him, and brings him back to life.  Then Paul continues with his sermon until daybreak.

Questions:

10)  God ultimately.  Then to encourage believers and the churches he had established and spread the Good News.

11a)  He sunk into a deep sleep and fell from a third story window and died.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Eyes on speaker.  Ears open for God to speak to you.  No outside distractions or speaking.

12)  Paul threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him and Eutychus was brought back to life. He continued on as if nothing odd had just happened.

Conclusions:  I completely disagree with the interpretation here on Question 11b.  I don’t blame the guy for falling asleep.  I probably would.  I don’t know many of us who can sit through a 6 hour sermon until midnight after having been up since daybreak working in the fields performing manual labor as we have to assume Eutychus was (that’s why Paul was preaching at night because everyone worked during that day).

We are also told there were many lamps.  Lamps in Paul’s time were oil lamps and gave off a lot of smoke and fumes (unhealthy to breath).  We’re not talking kerosene here.  The fuel was most likely olive oil.  We can also assume there’s a lot of people packed into a tiny space to hear Paul before he leaves (another reason Eutychus may have been sitting on the window).

So here’s Eutychus breathing in all these fumes, probably sweating from all the people and the heat from the lamps, being lulled to sleep by Paul because he’s exhausted, and he falls out the window.  I would have too!

Why wouldn’t Paul show compassion?  What’s he gonna do?  Blame the guy?  Doubt it.  Eutychus died because he was eager to hear the word of God and couldn’t overcome his exhaustion that was not caused by any fault of his own.  It was the times he lived in.  Naps were non-existent back then for most people.

In the end, God made humans and humans require sleep.  It’s not something we can go without.  Trust me, I’ve pulled enough all-nighters in my college days to know this is horrible for the body.

I see no fault here whatsoever with Eutychus falling asleep and I believe Luke told the story either as a diligent reporter who was recording Paul’s travels or to show the dedication of believers.  I don’t think he ever intended it as a warning that “If we fall asleep in church we’re doomed to Hell.”

I don’t like the word “motive” either in Question 10 merely because this word is used almost exclusively in the US when someone commits a crime or has a hidden agenda.  In actuality, it means according to Webster’s Dictionary “moving or tending to move to action.”  So Paul’s motive overall is God and then we can break this down into spreading the Good News and encouraging his churches.

Question 10 also makes it seem as if Paul’s motive has changed when it hasn’t.  This has always been his motive since he was first called by God.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_03.htm

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