In today's study, we find Paul still in Ephesus ministering to both Jews and Gentiles, taking a closer look at the word church and its uses, a riot, the Feasts of Israel, a sleeping Eutychus, his address to the Ephesian elders which included words of endearment and warning, and Paul's determination to make it to Jerusalem by Pentecost.
Note the word churches. He is obviously not talking about Kingdom or Grace churches as that would not have even been his frame of reference as an unbeliever. A better translation would be temples. Further proof that the word always needs context. Remember that the word church simply means a called-out assembly.
There are four churches identified in the Bible and we also run into problems when we try to combine them. 1. Historically, there was the church in the wilderness mentioned in Acts 7:38 by Stephen, which was the assembly of the children of Israel that were called out of Egypt and assembled in the wilderness. 2. Then there was the Jerusalem church which was made of none but the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proselytes. This is the Kingdom Church. No one is a part of this church today. It stopped after the rejection was complete. 3. And today, we are a part of the Body of Christ made up of Jew and Gentile that was the mystery revealed to Paul. This is the Mystery Church that was revealed through Paul who are justified freely by grace (Col 1:18; Rom 11:25; Rom 16:25; Eph 3:1-2). 4. And finally, there is the Tribulation Church which is made up of those who sealed their fates in their own blood by not accepting the Mark of the Beast which is made up of the congregations mentioned in Revelation 2-3. It is those who overcome and sit with him on his throne. That is not us. We are already sitting in heavenly places (Eph 2:6). Those who eat of the Tree of Life (Rev 22:14) will be the reward for those who make it through the Tribulation. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached again by the 144,000 according to Mat 24:13-14. To interpret the churches any other way, as I did for years, is allegorizing the text which is exactly what dispensationalists do not do.
VERSES 38-41: Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. (39) But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. (40) For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. (41) And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly. The townclerk further warns them that if they did not handle this correctly, Rome would come down on them and dismisses the assembly. Again, assembly is ekklesia which is also translated as church. Further proof that we have to be careful with that word, even the pagans were a church!
VERSES 1-2 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, It is from Macedonia that Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans. He also wrote 2 Corinthians from Greece.
VERSES 3-6: 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. Unbelieving Jews still stirring up trouble against him. Notice that Luke mentions the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The feast lasted seven days and commemorated Israel's flight from Egypt (Exo 12:17-20; Exo 23:15). It spoke of the fact that the Israelites had no time to put leaven in their bread before their hasty departure from Egypt.
There were Spring feasts and Fall feasts for Israel. The Spring feasts consisted of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. All fulfilled at Christ's 1st coming. Passover = Crucifixion; Unleavened Bread = Buried; First Fruits = Resurrection; Pentecost = The Holy Spirit.
The Fall feasts are Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. These will be fulfilled at his 2nd coming. Trumpets = Rapture? Regathering?; Atonement = Judgement; Tribulation; Tabernacles = Millennium.
It is said that the Body of Christ lives in the gap. Summer, if you will. Where we get into trouble today in the church is that we try to tie these feasts to us, when in reality they are all a part of the prophetic program for Isreal. No one today is required to keep the feast days because we have the Lord himself and not just the shadow of him in the feasts. However, they should be studied with great interest in that they are Israel's prophetic program, past, and future. Notice, I left at present.
Notice Paul's traveling companions. The ones we are most familiar with is Tychicus (Eph 6:21; Col 4:7, 2Ti 4:12, and Tit 3:12). And also Trophimus from Act 21:29 and 2Ti 4:20. These went ahead of Paul and met up in Troas.
VERSE 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. Bear in mind that we are in the midst of the Feast of Passover.
Nisan 14 is Passover; Nisam 15 is Unleavened Bread; Nisan 16 is First Fruits; 50 days later was Pentecost. So, the phrase first day of week is speaking of the first of seven sabbaths that had to take place until Pentecost (Lev 23:15-16).
So, Paul, the night before he was to head out for Jerusalem, preached until midnight.
VERSES 8-9: 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. Well, ol' brother Eutychus was sleeping in the wrong place at the wrong time!
Now, there has been some dispute about this event in that some say that the text does not specifically say that he was dead, they just supposed that he was based on what Paul says in the next verse.
VERSE 10: And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. Either way, Albert Barnes says, "The late hour of the night, and the length of the services, were the excuse. But, though the thing is often done now, yet how seldom is a sleeper in a church furnished with an excuse for it. No practice is more shameful, disrespectful, and abominable than that so common of sleeping in the house of God."
VERSES 11-12: 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. When the young man is revived, Paul eats and talks until daybreak and everyone was not a little comforted.
VERSES 13-16: 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. Notice that Luke says we went before to ship, but they were pressed to make it to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost.
VERSES 17-20: 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 publickly, and from house to house, Paul calls for the elders in Ephesus to express how he served them with tears, temptations, and the Jews who spoke against him.
VERSE 21: Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Some will point to these verse to say that Paul ministered to both groups; Jews and Greeks. Also, the phrase repentance toward God for the Jew and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ for the Greeks. Either way, many apparently responded positively and a church was started.
VERSES 22-23: 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. Now Paul tells them that he is going to Jerusalem bound in the spirit. Albert Barnes says of this verse, Paul is being "strongly urged or constrained by the influences of the Holy Spirit. Not by any desire to see the Jersusalem, and not urged merely by reason, but by the convictions and mighty promptings of the Holy Spirit. Some translations capitalize spirit in this verse which would make this the third person of the Trinity. The words abide me mean await me or facing me.
VERSE 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. But Paul says nothing that awaits him will stop him because he does not count his life dear unto himself. The same thing came to be said for his when we are walking in obedience. Why? Because what he is doing and preaching had been received of the Lord Jesus which is to testify the gospel of the grace of God. I believe this is Paul stating once again that what he preached did not come from the other apostles, but from Jesus himself: the gospel of the grace of God today.
VERSE 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. Now he pivots back to the fact that he had preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the Ephesians though. The only assumption we can come to is that while Paul was given the Gospel of Grace (v.24), he still preached the Gospel of the Kingdom (v.25) because the Kingdom was still on the table at this point.
Of course, today these two gospels are mixed because "evangelicals" have attempted to mix covenant and dispensational theology instead of rightly dividing the Word of Truth as they were told to.
Notice and you shall see my face no more. Interesting that Paul knew that he would not see these people again in this life, and he also knew that he had honestly given to them the entire counsel of God.
VERSE 26: Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. Some commentators say this blood that Paul is speaking of here is a reference to the second death. However, I believe that he is referring to them physically now that they are rejecting Christ and his Kingdom offer (Act 18:6).
Ezekiel said something similar in Eze 33:1-9. Pretty sure that is physically blood and not spiritual. He is merely warning them, or just emphatically saying, I can not be blamed for what is going to come upon you because of your lack of heeding the message.
VERSE 27: For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. This verse would seem to indicate that Paul shared with them everything that he knew, both national and personal salvation. It is obvious to me that he did just that in that he preached both a Kingdom (v.25) and Grace Gospel (v.24). Therefore, v.26 I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. v.27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Sounds like he was preaching both. This will become important to remember when we study the book of Ephesians, i.e. pronouns. We will even see it before we finish this chapter.
VERSE 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. This reference to the flock here sounds like a distinctive Jewish analogy. If so, he is referring to Jewish leaders in this verse. Remember that the little flock is the one that is going to receive the kingdom and not the Body of Christ (Luk 12:32). Again, the shepherd and flock analogy refers to the Jews.
By the way, the word shepherd does not appear in the Pauline epistles. Also, the word flock only occurs one time in the Pauline epistles, yet in context has nothing to do with Israel (1Co 9:7). Therefore, the church of God spoken of here would be the remnant of Israel, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Let's talk about words. Personally, I am starting to be very careful with my words when referring to Scripture. Remember that to purchase is to redeem or to ransom. Salvation on the other hand is a gift that was given as a result of what Christ did on the cross. Redemption is a purchase and salvation is a gift. I am beginning to believe that redemption refers to Israel and salvation refers to the Body of Christ.
As a matter of fact, Paul only uses the word redeemed one time in his epistles (Gal_3:13) and it is referring to the Jews. We know this for a few reasons. 1. He uses the word us and instead of you. In the book, just like in Ephesians, he uses we/us to refer to Israel and you/ye to refer to the Gentiles. 2. We have never been directly under the curse of the law because it was given to Israel. Instead, the Gentiles were without hope in the world because we were aliens to the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12).
So, the context dictates, at least to me, that Christ redeemed the Jews from the curse of the law by taking the curse on himself (Gal 3:14). Therefore, I don't think that we, the Body of Christ, should be quoting this verse as a reference to us.