King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 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)

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Paul’s journeys

1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece,

3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia.

4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.

6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.

Eutychus restored to life

7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

8 And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

9 And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

11 When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

12 And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

Paul travels towards Jerusalem

13 And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.

14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene.

15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.

16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

Paul’s discourse to the elders of Ephesus

17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,

19 Serving the LORD with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:

20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,

21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Their farewell

28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

36 And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.

37 And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,

38 Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 6. We. From the change of the narration to the first person again, it would appear S. Luke had rejoined the apostle. This writer modestly omits the reason of his accompanying S. Paul, who tells us it was at his own request, (2 Cor. viii. 19.) that no suspicion might be entertained that he applied improperly the money, which he was commissioned to carry to the distressed brethren in Jerusalem. Tirinus.

Ver. 7. On the first day of the week.[1] The interpreters generally take notice with S. Chrys. that the Christians, even at this time, must have changed the sabbath into the first day of the week, as all Christians now keep it. Which change (even as to the manner of keeping one of God’s ten commandments) was made by the Church. — To break bread, meaning the blessed sacrament, as it is commonly expounded. Wi. — S. Paul did here break bread on a Sunday, as it is broken in the sacrament of the body of Christ, and delivered a discourse to the people, both before and after the celebration of the divine mysteries. S. Aug. ep. lxxxvi. ad Casulanum. Ven. Bede in xx. Act.

Ver. 10. His soul is in him. He was taken up dead. v. 9. These words then of S. Paul, may either signify that now he is again alive, or will be in a very short time, as when Christ said, (Matt. ix. 24.) The girl is not dead, but asleep. Wi.

Ver. 12. Alive. This accident, which gave occasion to a great miracle, was ordained by the particular providence of God, in order to confirm the preaching of S. Paul, and to fix more deeply in the hearts of his disciples the words of their dear Master, who was just going to leave them. Admire likewise the apostle’s solicitude for his neighbour’s salvation, in prolonging his instructions through the whole night, which preceded his departure. D. Carthus.

Ver. 17. He called the ancients of the Church. We might translate the bishops, as the very same persons in the 28th verse are called bishops. Wi.

Ver. 19. With all humility; that is, of heart, or mind, as the Greek word signifies. He knew, says S. Chrys. how necessary this virtue of humility was for the ministers of the gospel. — With tears of charity and compassion, under temptations, trials, and persecutions. Wi.

Ver. 20. I have kept back, &c. I have discovered to you every thing which can be useful to your salvation. Neither fear, nor any human considerations, have prevailed over me to disguise or suppress the truths, which might be serviceable to you. This is the model of a good pastor. Full of doctrine, and of zeal, he communicates what God puts into his heart, and charity inspires him to speak, with abundance, with discretion, without jealousy, without fear. A good shepherd, S. Bernard used to say, has always bread in his scrip, and his dog in his keeping. The dog is his zeal, which must be chained, governed and moderated. His scrip, full of bread, is his mind, filled with all knowledge, which he is always in the state of dispensing as food to his flock.

Ver. 22. Bound in the spirit, led by inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Wi. — Chained, and forced, as it were, by the Holy Spirit, who offers me a sweet violence; or I am so strongly persuaded of the chains, which await me at Jerusalem, that I already feel myself bound in idea. Calmet. — I now go to Jerusalem for the fourth time, attracted by the Holy Ghost, who is the author and governor of all my actions, that where I have shewn myself the greatest enemy of the Church, there I may suffer tribulations in defence of the same Church, and for Christ, her divine spouse. Tirinus.

Ver. 23. In every city. There were in every city Christian prophets, who foretold to Paul the tribulations which awaited him. It appears, then, that the apostle did not know these things by immediate revelation made to himself, but by that made to the prophets. Of this we have a proof in the next chapter.

Ver. 24. Neither do I count my life (lit. my soul ) more precious than myself, having consecrated all my endeavours, my thoughts, my life, my whole self, body and soul, to God’s service. Wi.

Ver. 25. I know, &c. It appears sufficiently evident, from many parts of S. Paul’s epistles, that he not only designed, but likewise, according to the opinion of most able critics, actually did revisit the churches of Asia. Of this occasion, then, he only expresses his belief, his conviction, that he should see them no more, judging it impossible for him to escape all the dangers that were prepared for him. Calmet. — All you. Although S. Paul might return again to the same place, he might truly say of so great an assembly, that all of them should not see him again. Wi.

Ver. 28. Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock. The ministers of the gospel must in the first place take care of the salvation of their own souls: and in the next place of the salvation of their flock, of the souls committed to their care, and to the Church; especially such ministers of God as are bishops,[2] placed, by divine institution, to govern the Church, or the churches under them. The word bishops, by its derivation, signifies overseers, or superintendants; but the signification is to be taken and expressed by the custom and ecclesiastical use of words. Wi.

Ver. 32. To the word of his grace, to the protection of God’s grace, given to those that preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments instituted by Christ. — Who is able to build up, to finish that building, of which the foundation is laid by my preaching. Wi.

Ver. 34. These hands have furnished, by labouring to maintain myself, &c. Wi.

Ver. 35. It is more blessed to give than to receive. We find not these words of Christ in the gospels. S. Paul might have them from the apostles. Wi. — Among the many excellent good things our dear Lord said, and which are not mentioned in the gospel, this is one: “it is a more blessed thing to give, than to receive;” which did men justly weigh, they would be more ready to give alms, were it only for their own account. Thrice happy then are they who assist their indigent neighbour to the utmost of their power, and for the pure love of God! A.

Ver. 37. They kissed him. These marks of tenderness are dictated by nature, and have always been used between friends, who were separating from each other, or who meet after a long absence. The Scripture furnishes us with numberless examples of it. Calmet. — He likewise prayed, as he usually did, when he bade his last farewell. See his last adieus with the Tyrians, (c. xxi. 5. 6.) where they all kneeled down to pray on the shore. This is also reasonable, and becoming a Christian. It is a sign of communion and mutual charity, and implores a prosperous voyage for those who were departing, whilst those who remained, cherish in their mind the remembrance of the virtues of their absent friend. Menochius. — The mind of man cannot conceive a finer subject for the painter than this melting separation. After the discourse, we see S. Paul falling on his knees, and praying with them all for the last time; an general burst of tears takes place, when they are told that they are to see their father’s face no more; they fall upon his neck and kiss him; and with hearts full of grief and gratitude, they accompany him on his way to the very ship which is to transport their father, friend, and benefactor, to other souls, who wanted the charitable assistance of the man of God.

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[1] V. 7. Una Sabbati; that is prima sabbati, en te mia ton sabbaton. S. Chrys. says hom. mg. kuriake en, erat dies Dominica.

[2] V. 28. Episcopos, episkopous, from episkopein, or episkeptesthai, diligenter inspicere, &c.