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Acts 20 v 1 - 16

Luke seeks to emphasise the movement and challenges of these missionary journeys and the number of men accompanying Paul continues to grow. With the addition of Luke and Silas to those mentioned here there are at least a group of ten. It is quite possible that Paul would have spotted amongst new believers in the towns and cities he frequented, people who had special gifts which could be useful to him.

In the midst of this travelogue we have a vivid story which is clearly an eyewitness account and which gives us one of the first accounts we have of what a Christian service was like. Curiously, it speaks twice of breaking bread: this would have been because there would have been a Love Feast, which was a bring and share meal and this was particularly enjoyed by converts who were slaves who often were given little to eat where they worked; and then the Lord's Supper, observed immediately after the Love Feast. We may still celebrate the Lord's Supper, but we have lost the sense of fellowship around a table of the Love Feast.

All this happened at night, the only time that slaves might be free to join in. Eutychus felt the effects of a long day at work and the heat of the many lamps and the length of Paul's sermon and he fell out of the window-which wasn't made of glass but probably a wooden shutter which could be opened. However, Paul embraced him, perhaps in a similar way to Jesus and Jairus' daughter to be found in Mark 5 v 21-24 and 35-43 or Elisha and the woman's child- 2 Kings 4 v 18-37-and he was restored to life. What a beautiful picture of a small group of people worshipping God from all classes! Perhaps more of a family meeting than our idea of a church service!

Luke identifies different towns along the route Paul and his companions took on the way back to Jerusalem. It was a mixture of foot travel and sea travel, perhaps similar in that way to coastal walks along South Cornwall!


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