Engaged in Worship – Acts 20:1-12

So, in Troas, Paul stayed a week encouraging and ministering to the church. This was not a church Paul had planted, and we don’t know who planted it. As it was, it seems Paul felt he had much to say to them in the short time he had.

Which brings us to vv. 7-12. Notice the worship context the passage describes. The church met together on Sunday, the first day of the week. The day of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection. They met in the home of a person there in Troas, possibly the home of Carpus, mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:13, meeting in the large room on the third floor. They met at night. As Sunday was a work day in their culture, they met after most folks got off from work, probably tired and grimy after a long day. They had numerous torches, or lamps, lit, which would have made it hot and stuffy with all folks packed in there, especially in the hot climate. They gathered together to break bread, which included a celebration of the Lord’s Supper along with a fellowship meal. So food was either being cooked below during the service, or it was ready to go—but either way, the smell probably had some bellies rumbling. Their service included the ministry of the Word of God—a sermon (with of teaching and exhortation) also dialogue, with a back and forth conversation of questions and answers. And, although it’s not mentioned, there would most certainly have been prayer. Thus, various key elements of worship were present, much like what was mentioned in Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

We still do these things, my friends, along with Christians all over the world: Sunday worship, preaching, teaching, fellowship, celebrating the Lord’s supper, fellowship meals, and prayer. Furthermore, considering the circumstances of the church in Troas’ worship context, our own worship context is put into perspective. We’ve got it easy.

Along those lines, Lord willing, it won’t be long until we get our Wednesday fellowship meals back up and going, having taken a break from them due to Coronavirus concerns. As it is, I’m looking forward to our tail-gate fellowship time tonight in the parking lot.

So, considering the worship context that Sunday night in Troas, perhaps we won’t be so hard on Eutychus, whom the language describes as struggling to stay awake until he succumbed. I mean, Paul had been ministering the Lord’s Word for hours and hours by that time. Luke even emphasizes Paul’s prolonged speech in vv. 7 and 9. On top of that, it’d been a long day. It was hot and stuffy inside. So, it’s easy to see how a young man sitting in a window, maybe trying to catch a breeze, could conk out and fall out. Verse 9:

And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.

Some folks wonder if Eutychus was really dead. Maybe he was just knocked out, and looked like he might have died? Well, the Bible says he was dead. That’s what “taken up dead” means. Luke, the author of Acts, was also a physician. He was there. He saw the body, and he certainly thought Eutychus was dead. Language gymnastics and unbelief can’t change that fact. Eutychus was dead.

Now, if that was the end of the story, it would have been a tragic ending for Paul’s time at Troas. It could have even discouraged the church to the point of dissolution. They could have taken Eutychus’ death during Paul’s prolonged message as an omen, bad juju, towards Paul at the least. Yet the Lord had other plans, and he maneuvered Eutychus’ death into a time of comfort, praise, and great encouragement for the church. Vv. 10-12:

10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.

Can you imagine the distress and horror of the people, seeing Eutychus dead? And the circumstances, my goodness. Perhaps they erupted in chaos, even wailing; maybe his mom went into shock. So Paul, alarmed at what all was happening, or, well, maybe not so alarmed, considering what happens … Paul went down, and (like Elijah in 1 Kings 17:17-24 and Elisha in 2 Kings 4:18-37) he raised the boy from the dead.