Acts xx.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 6. We. From the change of the narration to the first person again, it would appear St. Luke had rejoined the apostle. This writer modestly omits the reason of his accompanying St. Paul, who tells us it was at his own request, (2 Corinthians 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 St. Chrysostom, 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. (Witham) — St. 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. (St. Augustine, ep. lxxxvi. ad Casulanum.; Ven. Bede, in xx. Act.)

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

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 St. 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. (Denis the Carthusian)

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. (Witham)

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

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, St. 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. (Witham) — 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 shown 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 (literally, 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. (Witham)

Ver. 25. I know, &c. It appears sufficiently evident, from many parts of St. 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 St. 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. (Witham)

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. (Witham)

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. (Witham)

Ver. 34. These hands have furnished, by labouring to maintain myself, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 35. It is more blessed to give than to receive. We find not these words of Christ in the gospels. St. Paul might have them from the apostles. (Witham) — 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! (Haydock)

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, (chap. 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 St. 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.


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

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

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Paul passes through Macedonia and Greece: he raises a dead man to life at Troas. His discourse to the clergy of Ephesus.

1 And after the tumult ceased, Paul calling to him the disciples, and exhorting them, took his leave, and set forward to go into Macedonia.

2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had exhorted them with many words, he came into Greece:

3 Where, when he had spent three months, the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria: *so he took a resolution to return through Macedonia.

4 And there accompanied him Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus, of Berœa; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus, and Secundus, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy: and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

5 These having gone before, waited for us at Troas.

6 But we sailed from Philippi after the days of the azymes, and came to them to Troas in five days, where we abode seven days.

7 And on the first day of the week, when we assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow, and he continued his speech until midnight.

8 And there were a great many lamps in the upper chamber, where we were assembled.

9 And a certain young man, named Eutychius, sitting on the window, being oppressed with a heavy sleep, as Paul was long preaching, by occasion of his sleep fell from the third loft down, and was taken up dead.

10 To whom, when Paul went down he laid himself upon him: and embracing him, said, Be not troubled; for his soul is in him.

11 Then going up, and breaking bread and tasting: and having talked a long while to them until day-light, so he departed.

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

13 But we going on board the ship, sailed to Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so he had appointed, himself purposing to travel by land.

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

15 And sailing from thence, the following day we came over against Chios: and the next day we arrived at Samos: and the day following we came to Miletus.

16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, lest he should be delayed any time in Asia. For he hastened on, if it were possible for him to keep the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem.

17 And sending from Miletus to Ephesus, he called the ancients of the church.

18 And when they were come to him, and were together, he said to them: You know from the first day that I came into Asia, in what manner I have been with you all the time,

19 Serving the Lord with all humility, and with tears, and temptations, which befell me from the snares of the Jews:

20 How I have kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have preached it to you, and taught you publicly, and from house to house,

21 Testifying both to Jews and Gentiles penance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

23 Only that the Holy Ghost in every city witnesseth to me, saying: That chains and afflictions wait for me at Jerusalem.

24 But I fear none of these things: neither do I count my life more precious than myself, so that I may consummate my course, and the ministry of the word, which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

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

26 Wherefore I take you to witness this day, that I am clear from the blood of all.

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

28 Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

29 I know, that after my departure, ravenous wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 And of your own selves will rise up men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

31 Therefore watch, keeping in memory, that for three years I ceased not night and day, with tears admonishing every one of you.

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

33 I have not coveted any man’s silver, gold, or apparel, as

34 You yourselves know: *that as for such things as were needful for me, and for them that are with me, these hands have furnished.

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

36 And when he had said these things, kneeling down, he prayed with them all.

37 And there was much weeping among them all: and falling on Paul’s neck, they kissed him,

38 Being grieved most of all for the word which he had said, that they should see his face no more. And they conducted him to the ship.



3: about the year A.D. 58.

34: 1 Corinthians iv. 12.; 1 Thessalonians ii. 9.; 2 Thessalonians iii. 8.