Skip Heitzig - Acts 19:23-20:16
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We are in chapter 19 of the book of Acts. If you would turn to Acts chapter 19, we didn't quite finish it last week, little surprise. Can we pray together first?
Father, we know that tomorrow is a National Day of Prayer, and though we pray every day, there's something about gathering together with others and praying with them for our nation. We believe you hear that. We believe you want that. And so, Father, whether it's with a few coworkers or family members tomorrow. Whether it's in a home group, or on a phone call, or at the plaza. Father, we pray that you would prompt us to get on our knees, just to humbly approach you. Father, we also just want to thank you that you've gathered us here, for this little break in the middle of our week, to enjoy one another, to enjoy your presence among your people, and in the words of scripture. Help us, Lord, to get interested in the things of the Bible, that we might know your mind and know how to respond to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I have been to Ephesus on a few different occasions. I always like to go there, because it is one of the best archaeological finds and best preserved ancient cities that we have. Imagine being able to walk down the streets, the very streets, not around the same area, but the very pavements that Paul walked down on the Arcadian way, down toward this Library of Celsus. And imagine looking into some of the ruins of the shops and seeing the original mosaic tile that Paul would have seen as he was sharing his faith on that street. Now, in Ephesus, I never saw the patron deity of that city named Diana.
But once when I was in Rome, actually three times when I was in Rome, and we went to the Vatican museum. As we're walking through the halls of the Vatican, just imagine how stunned I was in the Vatican to turn, look up, and see this in the Vatican. So I just wanted you to see the grotesque nature of this statue, this multi breasted depiction of Diana of the Ephesians, here made out of marble, discovered and now is in the Vatican in Rome. Not in Ephesus, in the Vatican. That's interesting. But Diana, this statue or a statue like it, this multi breasted statue of Diana, was said to have fallen from heaven to the earth. Well, I wouldn't want it in heaven either. I'd want to get rid of it too, so...
Maybe it was just trash. Take out the trash. Dump that thing. It was the belief that Diana was born just outside of Ephesus. Thus, the temple of Diana was real close to Ephesus, just on the outskirts, this massive place of worship. Diana is the Roman name. Her Greek name was Artemis, and she was the goddess of wild animals. She was born in the woods. She was the goddess of wild animals. The goddess of the hunt. But also, the protector of young women, according to their false ideologies. So, often times, young women would pray to her. They would give up their maiden cloth and lock of their hair, I mentioned, as they got older. But, also, when young, married women wanted to get pregnant, they would pray to that patron deity of Ephesus, Diana, that they would get pregnant.
Now, I mentioned that the temple was quite large. We'll get to that as we go through this. But according to ancient mythology, Diana was the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. The goddess of fertility, as well as the goddess of the hunt. There were in the Roman Empire 39, 39 different shrines, temples, to worship her. So she is one of the chief ancient cults, worship cults, religious cults in the Roman world. 39 different sites. However, the chief one, the big one, HQ, headquarters for Diana worship was Ephesus. So much so that Ephesus was called the official guardian of the temple of Diana. Because she fell out of heaven, or the statue did, she was born there. The temple there was larger than any worship site.
The guardian of the worship of that cult lay at Ephesus. The temple was one of the seven wonders of the world. Huge. And when I say huge, I mean huge. The pillars in that temple stood 60 feet tall. So I know there's lights, but if you were to look up at the very center of our auditorium and double that, and go a little higher than that, that's how tall one of the pillars was. 127 pillars on an area of building that measured 425 feet long by 220 feet wide, or four times the footprint of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece on the Acropolis. Which is of itself a massive, It was one of the seven wonders of the world. There, in the center of that temple, was some depiction like that gross image that you saw on the slide a moment ago, that multi breasted, weird looking trash...
Thrown out of heaven to earth. Now, in verse 23, because Paul has been in Ephesus, and he spent some time there. Verse 23, it says, "and about that time, there arose a great commotion about the way." There's that little description of the early church, and I just want you to make note of it. The way is what early Christians were called. They were not called Baptists, or Methodists, or Calvary. They didn't go by different genres like that. Or Calvinists or Armenians. They were just the way. And I love that, actually, because it is the way. It's the only way. It's not a way, one of many ways, it's the way. And Jesus said in John 14, "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." So I love the fact that in the book of Acts, one of the earliest depictions of New Testament Christians was the way. So a great commotion...
It will get into a riot, but confusion and commotion over the way. For, and here's why, we find out was an economic reason. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who had made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsman. If you travel today to Rome, and you go to the Colosseum, just outside the Colosseum, they have these little tchotchke shops, these little gift shops, where you can buy junk, tourist junk. And you can buy a little, tiny Colosseum that you can take home, give to your kids and they could put it on the shelf, or you could put it on your desk. If you go to the Parthenon in Greece, same thing. You go outside, there's these little shops, and you get a tiny, little model of the Parthenon. You go to Paris, Eiffel Tower. You go to Caesarea in Israel, you get a little depiction of the theater at Caesarea.
Well, there were tourists back then too who wanted souvenirs whenever they would visit Ephesus, so little, silver shrines were made. But it was more than just a tourist souvenir. It was used for one's private worship. It was like having personal idol. It was a depiction of the temple, but a little, rounded structure on these shrines, because archaeologists have discovered terracotta ones of these. So the silver was melted off of these terracotta, little depictions of this encircled shrine. And right in the middle, a depiction of Diana. So people could buy them and take them home. Now, Demetrius was a businessman in Ephesus. In fact, it looks like, it sounds like, it could be that he was like the president of the silversmith's union. He was notable. He was noteworthy. He had influence. He had stature. He speaks here. He gets the people together, and it will ensue into a riot.
He, verse 25, called them together. That is the rest of the union workers, who make these little idols shrines. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation and said, "Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade." Now, he's getting honest Now, he's revealing motive. The reason he is upset is because the gospel is going out causing people to turn from idols. If you were with us last week, people who saw the power of God brought their occoultic books to one huge bonfire and burned all of those false religious parchments and books right there in Ephesus. So people are turning away from idols and turning to the Lord, which means those that make little idols are losing profit, and that's his point.
"We have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover, you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute but also the temple of the great goddess, Diana. It may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship." Now, when they heard this, they were full of wrath, and they cried out saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." So the whole city was filled with confusion and rushed into the theater with one accord, and one Prius. There were a couple different cars there, perhaps.
Having seized Gaius, and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companion. You can never step on a man's wallet without hearing him cry, ouch. The most sensitive part of a person's anatomy is their pocketbook. And Paul just touched that How? Just by simply spreading the gospel. Not by picketing against Diana worshippers, not by holding out signs. He just simply spoke the positive truth and let the negative consequences happen to the false religion. But Demetrius is mad, and he knows that his pocketbook is being touched. And so, he wants to spread a zealous fervor around the workmen, the craftsmen, to get Paul out of town. What I love about this is it affirms Paul's testimony. There is never a stronger testimony than when one's critics admit the success of their adversary.
Paul, wherever he goes, this stuff happens. People are turning away from idols. Hallelujah. What a great testimony when you don't say that, but somebody else speaks highly of you like that. Now, he wasn't trying to give him kudos. He was trying to cut him down and start a riot. But nonetheless, he had to make that admission. Now, it mentions here the theatre at Ephesus. They all rushed into the theater. I've been in this theater. I've been in a lot of ancient Roman and Greek theaters around the area of Turkey, Asia Minor and the Middle East. But this was known as the largest theater, Greek theater, in the ancient world, and it's preserved. In fact, the entire Arcadian Way, Library of Celsus, the cross streets that face out to the ancient harbor with the theater which, by the way, faced out to sea toward the harbor, it's preserved to this day. And so, when we take groups to Ephesus, we go in this theater.
And I don't care how big your group is, it looks like a drop in the bucket, because it sat 25,000 people. Enormous. And so, they're all going into the theater. And they seize these men, Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's traveling companion. So it's getting hot, spiritually, in Ephesus. He found favor in Ephesus. He'd been there a couple of years. He went from the synagogue. They were interested, until they got disinterested. They wanted to hear him, until they didn't want to hear him. He got out of that, went to the school of Tyrannus, spoke there a couple of years. All of Asia heard the word from that vantage point. But things were getting hot. It's tough to be in Ephesus now for Paul after a couple of years. It's interesting. And my heart is burdened over this, but some of you have gone with us on these journeys of Paul tours, where we have gone to Ephesus. And, now, cruise lines, the ships that take passengers in that part of the world, refuse to go to Ephesus today.
And that is because the threat is high, the religious threat is high in Ephesus, and it's not safe for travelers, and Turkey is turning more and more radicalized. Now, the threat is not the worship of Diana anymore. It's the worship of Islam. And Ephesus, that once saw great revival, you can't find a Christian church in that city. In fact, so many of these areas that had the gospel penetrate them, like the seven churches of Asia mentioned in Revelation chapter two and three, and Colossae, Hierapolis, Laodicea, all of these places that had great movements. The churches vanished, virtually vanished. Now, there are believers in modern day Turkey, but like 0.2%, and that's all different varieties of churches. For the last 800 years, that has become the case. And I was it was dawning on me this week, as I was just studying something else, but I realized just how desperate it has become. It has become as vacant of the Christian witness as it was during the time before Paul.
So I just found myself this week daily praying for believers in Turkey, and for more believers in Turkey in these areas, for revival to break out. You may want to make that a point, as well. But as we go through this, keep in mind, something great happened there, but that witness is long gone. So in verse 30, when Paul wanted to go to the people. That is, he wants to go into theater, he wants to speak to the people. And this is Paul's style. You remember, Well, we haven't got there yet, but I know you've read it, so I'll say, you remember. You remember later in the book of Acts, when Paul goes to Jerusalem gets arrested in the temple, they bring him into the Roman garrison. The mob is outside in the temple courts wanting to tear him to pieces. And Paul says to the Roman guard who has him, let me go out and speak to the people. He said, they're going to tear you to shreds.
He said, oh, but I'm one of them. They'll understand my, And this is Paul. Don't have somebody go for me, let me speak to them. Let me go into this theater where people hate my guts, let me just have a few words with them. But notice that when Paul wanted to go to the people, the disciples would not allow him. It was dangerous. It was too dangerous, and they didn't want to place him in unnecessary danger. Hence, they want to protect him. They want to keep him from that. Nothing wrong with that. That's wisdom. And it's interesting, coming up, what we read in the next verse. Then, some of the officials of Asia, I'll get back to what that means in a second, who were his friends, that is friends of Paul, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.
Now, you see in verse 31, officials of Asia. These were called asiarchs. You've heard of patriarchs, oligarchs. These are asiarchs. And they were called asiarchs, because they were elected officials of prominence, notoriety, influence, and wealth, yearly elected to these ancient cities. And they were given the term asiarchs because of Asia Minor, that the area was called. Now, it's interesting to me that these men have influenced these secular, governmental rulers in this city are friends of Paul. And Paul decided to get out and about. He's not like cloistered. He's going to make friends in the community. He's high profile. He'll meet these guys and be friends with him. And what this shows, and it's important to make a note of this, is that at first, when Christianity made its debut, the secular world had no qualms with it. The religious world did. The Jewish world certainly did.
Paul was on the hit list ever since he was converted, and there's a great persecution in Jerusalem from the beginning. But when it comes to the secular world, the governments never saw Christianity as a threat, even in Rome. It wasn't until Caesar Nero came on the scene, and subsequent rulers of the Roman government decided to focus their attention. And Nero did it, because history says he burned Rome, or a part of it, and he needed a scapegoat, so he turned to Paul and the early Christians in Rome. But at first, no problems. Paul is our buddy. Hey, don't let Paul go into the theater. So it's just interesting that Paul made friends with these government asiarchs. Verse 32, some, this is in the theater, therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them didn't know why they came together. Come on, that's funny. I don't even have to say anything about it. That is, in and of itself, is hilarious. This is mob mentality. Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah rah. What are we mad at?
What are we protesting? I think a lot of protests that hit the streets are like this. Hey, we're going to protest. Come down. OK, man. I've got nothing to do. Woo. And they'll whoop it up. They'll do the march. They'll get their selfies. They'll get their pictures, but they don't really know why. They don't, certainly, have abreast of the depth of the knowledge of the issue, necessarily. But it's like a bar fight. You have one, and then another, and then a group. And you don't know who's on which team but, hey, everybody's fighting just, It's sort of like an ancient bar fight in the Ephesus theater. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. Alexander was obviously a leading Jewish citizen of that city. Jews, ancient Jews, in ancient cities like this did have a problem, and they had problems with Jews. Why? Because Jews didn't believe in depictions of any sort of any thing, animal or human.
You never have any statue, or any painting, or anything, especially in worship. It was forbidden in Judaism, second commandment. So in a town like Ephesus, where there's lots of idolatry, the Jews would be opposed to it. And this leading spokesman, Alexander, is drawn out of the crowd to speak. Now, we don't know for sure if this is the same Alexander, but he definitely is against Paul. He's against the idols, but he's against the Christian movement. The Jewish synagogue has become thus in that city at the time. But In first Timothy chapter one, Paul mentions a guy named Alexander, the copper smith. And it could be, since he's writing that letter to Timothy, who pastored in Ephesus, it's a letter written to Ephesus. It could be this Alexander. This Jewish citizen could have been a copper smith. But it's interesting, Paul says, Alexander, the coppersmith, has done me much harm. Let his reward be according to his deeds.
We don't know if it's the same Alexander. It could be. It may not be. It was a common name, but it could be that's who he is referring to. But, most certainly, the riot that breaks out in Ephesus during the latter days of Paul's ministry there, is what Paul referred to in first Corinthians 15. He said, I fought with the beasts at Ephesus. That doesn't mean he was in a Colosseum fighting wild animals. It was metaphoric for the riot, probably, that broke out in that theater. I fought with the beasts at Ephesus, he writes to the Corinthians. So they're crying out. They're in a fervor. Alexander motions with his hands to give a defense to the people. Verse 34, and when they found out that he was a Jew all with one voice cried out for about two hours, great is Diana of the Ephesians. Great is Diana of the Ephesians. Great is Diana. That's the only thing on their music sheet. That's the only verse, and there's not a second verse. It's just the refrain over and over. Two hours. They're just kind of shouting like, hurrah, hurrah.
And when the city clerk quieted the crowd, he said, "Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly. For you have brought these men here, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemies of your goddess. Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls." We have judges for this. "Let them bring charges against one another. But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly." As if to say, this is an unlawful assembly. This is a riot. "For we are in danger of being called in question for today's uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering."
And when he had said this, or when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. If you ever do make it to Ephesus, and I do hope it reopens for tourists and cruise lines, though you don't have to take a cruise ship. You can drive there, if you have a lot of time. You will see that Diana of the Ephesians is gone. Her temple, gone. The temples to Zeus and the many other temples that dotted that landscape, they're gone. Demetrius is gone. The silversmith's union, gone. It's all ancient history. It's now just an archaeological dig and a place for tourists to come. It's magnificent, but that's all that's left. However, what we do have remaining from Ephesus are four letters in your New Testament.
The book of Ephesians, first Timothy, second Timothy, and the Book of Revelation, chapter two That little, first section, a postcard I would call it, of Jesus writing to the Ephesian church. And that is noteworthy because something great happened in Ephesus. There was a generation where people turned to the Lord, got excited about the word of God, had Paul teaching them in their midst, uncovering the meaning of the texts, going through the scriptures, and then Timothy took over for him. But just about 40 years later, already, there were problems. For Jesus, in that letter to the Ephesians, Revelation two I'll just read it to you. It's so short. "To the angel of the church at Ephesus write, these things says, He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands.
I know your works, your labor your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars. And you have persevered, and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake, and have not become weary," Straight A's so far. You've done great. I know that. I know your labor. I know your discernment. I know your heart. Nevertheless. Nevertheless, but, I have this against you. You have left your first love. Literally, you have left your love, the first one. You have left your love, the first one. You have left your priorities of loving Jesus first, loving God first and eventually, as the years went on, today the Christian testimony in that city is absolutely vacant.
Quite a lesson. Quite a lesson from history. Jesus didn't say you have lost your first love, because you don't lose it. You've left it. You've left it. I know your works. I know you're busyness, but you've left your first love. Remember what our Lord said to Martha. Martha, Martha, you're so busy and distracted with so many things. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from her. She's sitting at my feet Martha, you're not. You're busy. You're working. Good, that's good. Good meal, Martha. But you do need to balance the work with the worship. You need to sit at my feet before you get on your feet to go work for me. So leaving your first love is seldom a blow out. It's usually a slow leak, like that front left tire on your car.
You pump it up, and a couple weeks later, you've got to pump it up again. Eventually, you'll get it fixed, but it's just that slow leak. It's not a BAM blowout. And so it is in our priorities with the Lord, that we can leave slowly, get distracted slowly, to where we leave that love, the first one. Well, that's the church at Ephesus. Now, as we continue in chapter 20, after the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced, them and departed to go to Macedonia. Now, stop right there. Didn't Paul just say in this chapter, and didn't we read it last week, that Paul said, I want to go to, I want to go to Rome, but first I have to go to Jerusalem. That's right. He wanted to go to Rome, but he goes, first I got to go to Jerusalem. He had been to Jerusalem. He's taking his third trip. But he says, I got to go to Jerusalem. So Jerusalem from Ephesus is east.
He says, he departs from Macedonia. He's going west. Sorry, I pointed wrong directions geographically. He went that way, and he said he's going to go that way. So question. Why does he go backwards to go forward? What does he go all the way across the seas back to Macedonia? Come on, we gave you the answer last week. He is taking up a financial offering of the Macedonian churches to support the mother church in Jerusalem that had fallen under hard times. So instead of going to Jerusalem, he has to go back to Macedonia. He has sent people in advance to collect it. He didn't want an offering taken. He wants the money ready that he can pick it up and take it to Jerusalem. So he's going to Macedonia before he goes. And then, the rest of this book is going to chronicle Paul moving toward Jerusalem. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to draw a parallel that I think Luke himself draws. Jesus went to Jerusalem.
He had his heart set on it. His gait, his face was set toward Jerusalem. He announced he was going to Jerusalem. He had been a few times, but he had one special, final trip to make to Jerusalem Paul also has to go to Jerusalem, and I believe Luke parallels, or draws the parallel, between Jesus going to Jerusalem, which Luke wrote about in Luke volume one, called the Gospel of Luke, and Paul going to Jerusalem, which Luke writes about in Luke volume 2, or the Book of Acts. What are those parallels? First of all, Jesus went with disciples. Disciples went with. Him disciples also went with Paul the Apostle. Number two, Jesus was opposed by hostile Jews on his way to Jerusalem, throughout his ministry but especially those last few months. Paul the Apostle, is also opposed by hostile Jews, especially on this trip, and once he gets to Jerusalem.
Number three, Jesus and Paul both made predictions that when they get to Jerusalem, they're going to face suffering. In fact, it gets even more interesting. Jesus made three predictions that that would happen when he goes to Jerusalem. Guess how many Luke wrote that Paul records? Three. Same. Four, both Jesus and Paul were determined to go to Jerusalem. Jesus had his face set for Jerusalem. The Samaritans even noticed that he said, I'm going to Jerusalem. I can't spend much time here. They took umbrage to that. Paul's going to Jerusalem. Everywhere he goes, people are warning him not to go. Chains and tribulation await this man who owns this belt, et cetera, et cetera. Paul is determined to go. And finally, both Jesus and Paul are ready and willing to die, if need be, for the cause of Christ in Jerusalem. It's just interesting that the author, who writes both Luke and Acts, includes those facts about it.
And I think it's important, because what is the main theme of the book of Acts? You remember? It's how the gospel goes from Jerusalem to Rome. From Jerusalem to Rome. It's showing how the gospel message penetrates the very center, the very heart, of the Roman world, into Rome itself. That's the theme of the book of Acts. So, naturally, Luke would probably follow that outline. Verse two, now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece. How did Paul encourage them? With words. Not just with words, with many words. He believed in teaching, obviously. You're going to see that in a few verses. This boy, give him a chance to talk, and he'll talk. He'll give you the words. The more words the better. He wants really to encourage people, so he encouraged them with many words. And there is nothing like being encouraged over the word of God. It encourages us.
And he stayed, verse three, three months. And when the Jews plotted against him, Now he, stayed three months. Why? Well, probably, I'm guessing, it's wintertime. Not a good time to travel on the sea, even the Mediterranean. That can be quite treacherous, especially going west. It would take you so long. So he's waiting, probably, till the three months of winter subsides, and it gets into fairer sailing weather. He stayed three months, and when the Jews plotted against him. There's the hostility. As he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia, also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas. Now, those verses don't mean much to us, because most of us have no idea who these people are. But, probably, these are the representatives of the various churches that Paul had taken an offering from, so they get to represent their congregation.
They're accompanying Paul to Jerusalem to offer this great financial encouragement to the church. So they came, part of the team, and you know Paul rarely traveled alone. You know that. He always had a team. Sometimes, he traveled alone but he didn't like it, and he often got discouraged when he was alone. And he got encouraged when people were around him. And if he was absent too long from fellowship, he would even say, due diligence to come to me shortly. And so, he has this gang, this group, these representatives of those generous churches going to Jerusalem. But they go to Troas first. And I've been to Traos.
I always wanted to go there and, every guide, I've told you this before, said don't go there. There's nothing there. I go, I know, but I just have to see it. Because to me, it was such a pivotal point for Paul, as we discussed earlier. But we sailed verse six, we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, which takes place after Passover. And in five days, joined them at Traos where we stayed seven days. Now, on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread. Just make a note of that. It was the first day of the week, a Sunday, that the disciples gathered together to break bread. Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them. He's teaching them. Now watch this. He spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. Now, you see where I get it.
It's Paul's fault. This is where I take my scriptural authority for many words to encourage you. I believe in expositional teaching and biblical preaching. And I believe that you have to lay a foundation, and get background, and give context and talk about the words, and talk about the history to get someone to really understand the biblical text. Now, I know some people don't like that. They think that I preach too long, and they don't want sermons. They want sermonettes Paul didn't do sermonettes. He's going til midnight. And, likewise, I don't like sermonettes. Sermonettes are for christianettes. You're Christians. You can take a sermon.
You can take an hour of Bible study. Heck, our kids go to school, and they have to take integrated zoology, or applied biology, or English for an hour. They can do it. You can do the Bible. You don't need a sermonette. So Paul spoke until midnight. But notice when they met and what they did. First day of the week, it's Sunday, they gather together to break bread. That is to have the Lord's Supper, communion, preceded by a love feast. A love feast was an ancient meal, like a potluck. People brought food, ate together, then shared the elements of communion, the Lord's Supper, afterwards. That was called the agape feast, the love feast. In fact, for many poor slaves, who were believers at that time, it was the only real meal like it that they got all week. People brought sumptuous food and shared it together, and it was a way to help bear the burden, bear the load, for the needs in the early church.
So that's what it means. They got together, they broke bread, and they did it on the first day of the week. A question I have gotten asked a lot over the years is, when did the Sabbath day change? And my answer is always the same. It never did change. The Sabbath is still the Sabbath. It's Saturday. That is the Sabbath, that has always been the Sabbath, it will always be the Sabbath. Well, why don't Christians worship on Saturday? Why Sunday? It's mentioned here, it was the first day of the week. Now, we who worship on Sundays and by, the way, we have a Saturday night service if you are a devoted sabbatarian. No problem. We got you covered.
But we get accused by people who are strict sabbatarians, who worship only on Saturday. And there are some Christian groups that do that. And what they say is is that Sunday is a pagan day to worship. It's like the name implies, Sunday, or worshipping the sun. Ancient peoples used to worship the sun on that day of the week. Well, perhaps they did. I don't, but perhaps they did. But you should also know that Saturday was Saturn's day. It was the ancient day when pagan peoples worshiped saturnus, a god depicted by a planet in our galaxy. Saturn, part of the ancient mythology. Well, it was Constantine that changed the Sabbath to make it Sunday in 321 a.d. No, he didn't change the Sabbath. He may have said, that's the day we're going to worship now, but nobody changed the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the Sabbath. We don't necessarily worship on the Sabbath. Now, if you want to worship on the Sabbath, the Bible says keep the Sabbath. That was a covenant for Jews, not Gentiles. Feel free. But you don't have to do it.
In fact, if you do a serious study of Paul the Apostle, he calls worshipping on holy days and Sabbath days, and going through those rituals, he calls that in Galatians, the beggarly elements of this world. That's his description. Then, he says this, and I am doing what he says in Colossians chapter two. He says, let no one judge you in food or in drink. You want to eat that cheese burger and fries? It's not good for you, but you want it? Feel free. Let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival, or a new moon, or Sabbaths. Paul says don't let anybody judge you on the Sabbath, so I don't let them judge me on the sabbath. They don't like it, they can lump.
I'm not going to let them judge me about that. And he says, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Why did early Christians meet on the first day of the week? What happened in the first day of the week? The Resurrection of Jesus Christ happened on Sunday, early morning first day of the week. That's why they met on the first day of the week. It was celebrating a finished redemption. The seventh day celebrated a finished creation, and God rested on the seventh day. That became the pattern picked up later by the Torah, by Moses, and God gave that to Israel as a covenant to Israel. Jesus, Paul, the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, none of them said you have to keep the Sabbath.
In fact, it says you can basically keep any day you want to worship. Romans chapter 14, one man esteems one day of the week over the other days. One man esteems another day of over the rest of the days of the week. Let each one be persuaded in his own mind. So are you persuaded Saturday is the day to worship? Then worship on Saturday. Are you persuaded Sunday is the day to worship? Worship on Sunday. I like every day. I think they're all great days. It's Wednesday, and we're worshipping him today. Don't tell anybody. Don't let anybody judge you. OK.
So here's Paul he's preaching to midnight. He's going for many words, many words, many, many words. All night, he's speaking. And after supper, he's talking, verse eight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus. Now, young man is the Greek word, neaniskos. And neaniskos, young man, translated in English here. Neaniskos described somebody between the ages of 8 and 14, typically. So a youth, a young teenager, perhaps. He was sinking into a deep sleep, verse nine tells us. He was overcome by sleep. And as Paul continued speaking, he just keeps going. Ever ready bunny. There goes Paul. Keep going. Keep going. It's midnight. He keeps going. He fell down from the third story. So he falls out the window onto the street below, and was taken up dead. Now, who wrote the book of Acts? Luke. What was his profession? Doctor. So if the doctor pronounces him dead he's probably, He's probably dead. He's probably not mostly dead. He's all dead.
He would know. So kid falls out, and he's dead. What a night. An unforgettable message, right? They had eaten a big meal. There's not great ventilation. They're on the third story. Heat rises. BTUs increase on the upper level. There's a lot of oil lamps burning. Low ceiling, probably, in those days. So it's just kind of stuffy, and the heat is accumulating with the oil lamps, so this kid is smart. He's going to go by a window, where there's some fresh air and cool. But he just gets drowsy and just and falls out the window. I take great comfort in this text. I take great comfort, because I've had people fall asleep on me... As I give many words. So I go, oh, hallelujah. It happened to Paul too. That's awesome.
Thanks, Paul. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves for his life is in him." Now, if you remember your old testaments, Elijah the prophet. There was a young boy who is also dead. Elijah the prophet stretched himself over the boy three times and prayed to God, that God would raise him up back from the dead, and it it happened. There was a resurrection. Likewise, Paul, no doubt taking his cues from scripture, does the same thing. Embracing him, falls on him, embrace him. Don't trouble yourselves for his life is in him. Now, when he had come up and broken bread, that is he's having a late night snack now. It's after midnight. He'd eaten, give him some strength, and talked a long while, even until daybreak. He departed. So Paul preaches, guy falls out of the window, dies. Paul raises him from the dead, feeds a meal, and keeps talking.
I'm not done with my Bible study yet I'll leave in the morning, but it's not morning yet, so he just keeps on talking. Fascinated. Again, I'm comforted. By the way, Eutychus is a name that means, wait for it, fortunate. Well, he had a very unfortunate thing that happened to him, Mr. Fortunate did that night. It reminds me of that ad in the newspaper that said, lost, a dog with a broken leg, blind in one eye, deaf in both ears. Answers by the name lucky.
This is Eutychus, lucky, fortunate, falls down dead. They raised him back to life. Now, verse 13. Then, we sailed ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos. That's 20 miles away from Ephesus. Intending to take Paul on board, for so he had given orders in tending himself to go on foot. Now this is interesting. It's a 20 mile walk Paul goes, you sail. I'll walk. What kind of a guy preaches all night, raises a kid from the dead, keeps preaching till morning, then decides, let's go for a 20 mile walk? Why would he do this? I can only guess. I can't tell you why. The text doesn't tell us why. But I'm guessing, Paul believed in what he wrote when he said to the Ephesians, redeeming the time because the days are evil.
Paul knew, I may never see these people again. These are disciples of Christ. They are still eager to hear. Let's take a walk. I'll spend more time with you in the fresh air on the way to the next city, and my discipleship will continue. So verse 14, and we're only going to do a couple of more verses, then we're going to stop, because I want to leave the speech to the Ephesian elders for one sitting. And verse 14, he met us at Ossos. We took him on board and came to Mitylene. So they come to an island, a prominent Greek island. The island of Lesbos. It is still there. And they go to the place, incidentally, the city where Homer, the Greek poet and author, was born. Just a little bit of FYI. We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. Now, that happened to be where Pythagoras, the mathematician, was born. But, again, just a little FYI. Tidbits of info along the way.
The following day, we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day, we came to Miletus. Now, Miletus is 30 miles away from Ephesus, so here's what he's doing. He's going from Macedonia, now back past Ephesus toward Jerusalem. He has a small window of time. He doesn't want to go back up into Ephesus, because that would probably take just a little too much time. But he wants to meet the leaders of Ephesus, so he's going to have them go here to Miletus, and he'll give them a final word of encouragement before he goes. We're going to get to that next time. I've also been to Miletus. This is also one of the places I've always wanted to go, because I absolutely love what he shares with the Ephesian elders, which we'll talk about next time. But let's finish this time out and pray.
For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost. So what an interesting time Paul had, right? Just in Troas. Speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking, people dying, raising them, speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking, speaking. Mr. Many Words. Now, I kind of kidded that I've had people fall asleep on me, and that that I'm comforted by Paul. Now, I have, And from my vantage point I can see pretty well. And that I know where the people sit who fall asleep. And I'll watch them after they just sort of get drowsy. And I've seen some with mouths like this. Sleeping. And I don't want to disturb them. If I am helping cure insomnia, hallelujah. That could be a ministry God has given me.
And, by the way, I also know there are many reasons that people can fall asleep. It could be they've worked all day, or they worked all night, and they come to a service at the tail end of that. They're exhausted. I understand that. They're in church. Thank God for that. They're falling asleep. They caught part of the message. I don't care. Could be they're on medication that causes them to be drowsy. They could have narcolepsy. Or I could just be boring. All of those are plausible.
And I'm good to go with any of them. And honestly, I'm not bothered by sleeping bodies as much as by sleeping hearts. What bothers me is people who occupy chairs. Their bodies are there, but their hearts are far from God. They're there because a cute girl is there, a business opportunity is there, a number of other reasons. Their heart isn't in it. Eutychus fell asleep where the heat was hot and the light was bright. And if we just gather together, and let our light shine only when we're together, and let our fire burn only when we're together, we're going to be like what Keith Green said, that great songwriter of the 70s. I remember him. We fall asleep in the light. We're in the light, and we fall asleep in the light. And so we have to guard ourselves. Paul said, it's high time he wrote to the Romans. It's high time that you awake from your sleep. And so if you found yourself drifting away from the Lord, now's the time to make it right with him.
Father, we want to close on that note. We don't blame or fault Eutychus, even though it was Paul the Apostle who was speaking. This young man was tired. It was hot. He was probably a young, zealous disciple wanting to learn as much as he could, probably having the right heart, far worse than that. Are people who draw near with their lips, like Isaiah said, but their hearts are far from you. I pray, Lord, if like that church that Ephesus, we have left our first love, we might return and fall again in love with Jesus, because he is so wonderful. Lord, we just use this time to commit our way to you, and to rededicate ourselves to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.