An Acts 20:7-12 Commentary: Eutychus Resurrected

The Book of Acts is one of the great literary works of history. It is a historical document found in the New Testament Bible. It has a spiritual anointing that teaches us about the history of the Church. Centering around the happenings of the early Christians and the church leaders, the book of Acts tells the story of the spreading of the Gospel and the miracles that took place during that time. One of the miracles that happened during the book of Acts was the story of Eutychus, which is found in Acts 20. It can be difficult to determine what that portion of the Word of God means, so I will be giving you Acts 20:7-12 commentary to break down the meaning of this story. 

Context of Acts 20:7-12

An Introduction to the Events of Acts

To get a great Acts 20:7-12 commentary, we first have to look back in the Book of Acts to get context for what is going on. Before any of this can happen, we have to understand that Paul was converted, he was on a missionary journey, and he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

Before Paul converted to Christianity, we see that he was a Pharisee. Pharisees were the Jewish keepers of the law, who opposed Christians. In Acts 9, we see that Paul was traveling, as a Pharisee, but he had an encounter with Jesus that converted him. He went from wanting to persecute and kill Christians, to being one. 

After that moment, Paul was living for Jesus rather than the Pharisees, he went from town to town preaching the Gospel. Eventually, Paul gained the trust of the disciples and became friends with Christians. 

Moving onward to the text directly before Acts 20:7-12, we see that Paul is on a missionary journey. Paul is in the region preaching the Gospel. In Acts 19, Paul is in a town called Ephesus, where people start to riot at his preaching. Paul was forced to leave the region and continue to the next area, where he would be preaching. 

The Beginning of Acts 20

The Apostle Paul traveled with a group of other Christians, who were witnessing everything he was doing. That can remind us that although Paul had the power of the Holy Spirit, he still surrounded himself with other Christians. Paul didn’t do life or ministry alone. He was with a man named Sopater of Berea and others during his travels. 

Eventually, in Acts 20, we learn that Paul met up with all of the disciples in Troas, modern-day Turkey. He had been in ministry for a while now and was close friends with the remaining disciples. That sets the stage for the Acts 20:7-12 commentary that I will be giving you today. 

Verse-By-Verse Acts 20:7-12 Commentary

Verse 7

“7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

In Acts 20:7, the disciples are meeting together. This is the first example of Christians meeting for fellowship on the first day of the week. The story set the precedent that the Lord’s day is the first day of the week. They are meeting in the evening, however, not the morning. 

During their time together, Paul was preaching for a long time. Paul is utilizing the Holy Spirit to empower him to speak for hours about God’s truth. According to scholars, Paul preached for about six hours. 

Paul knew he was going to leave the next day, so he wanted to impart as much teaching as he could because he did not know when he was going to see the disciples next. He didn’t take their time for granted but used the time to preach what God was giving him. 

The Lord Jesus Christ taught about using our time well when he spoke about His second coming in Matthew 24:36. He said, “36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Paul seems to be employing this type of urgency by not wasting the time that they have together. He didn’t hold back because he didn’t know if he would get another opportunity to meet with them. Paul gave it everything he had. 

Verse 8-9

“8 There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. 9 Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.”

While Paul was preaching for a long while, there was a boy named Eutychus who was seated at a window sill of the upper chamber in the house. They were in the upper room of a house, so they were high off the ground. It was not like a modern window, but it was an open window that Eutychus was seated on. Because Paul had been preaching for so long, and the boy probably had a long day at work, he got sleepy. Sleep eventually subdued Eutychus and he fell asleep and out the window. 

Although many preachers might use this to illustrate the perils of falling asleep during long preaching, Eutychus was justified in falling asleep. There is even evidence that Eutychus attempted to ward off his sleepiness. The original Greek word used to describe Eutychus suggests that he was overcome with tiredness. Eutychus fought the urge to fall asleep, but he eventually lost to the hypnosis of his tiredness. 

Verse 10

10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man, and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 

In verse 10, Paul goes, embraces Eutychus’ dead body, but declares that Eutychus is alive. This might be a confusing sequence because in the verse prior it said that Eutychus was picked up dead. Now, Paul is declaring that Eutychus is alive, so what happened?

In this moment Paul is using the power of the Holy Spirit to discern that God would raise Eutychus from the dead. It might seem that Eutychus might have simply survived the fall, but Paul was speaking at that moment that Eutychus was going to be alive. 

Verse 11

“11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left.”

There are a few things to note at this moment. First is that, following the miracle that took place, the disciples of Christ went back and had communion together. When great things happen, it is hard to remember to take a moment to thank God. The disciples were remembering Jesus by taking the Lord’s supper together after the resurrection of Eutychus.

In Matthew 26, Jesus sets the example of communion as an act of remembrance of the things that he did. The breaking of the bread was a moment to remember the breaking of Christ, so we could be healed. Eutychus also experienced a physical healing, because of his relationship with Jesus, which makes this moment reflect the power of God. 

Another thing to note at this moment is that Paul continued to preach. Many people would call it a night after someone fell asleep during their preaching, but Paul had a sense of urgency with the things that he was teaching. Even though there was a distraction, Paul didn’t let it stop him from preaching and teaching the good news. 

We can get distracted easily, but we should follow Paul’s example and not let interruptions determine what we do. If we are called to something, we should do it. Plain and simple. There may be a thousand excuses and distractions, but ultimately we should be like Paul and pursue our callings in spite of those things.

The Importance of Keeping Your Word

Beyond that St. Paul kept his word by leaving at the break of day. He didn’t get any night’s sleep and was preaching a long sermon, but he still kept his word that he would leave in the morning. This also points to the sense of urgency that Paul had to fulfill the good works he was doing.

He wanted to get back to Ephesus to talk to even more of God’s people. Paul was so focused on the Kingdom of God that he denied himself sleep for the sake of spreading the Gospel. That passion is a good example of how we should go all in with God. It can be easy to get discouraged and want to give up when following God is difficult, but Paul sets the example that serving God is the most important thing. 

Verse 12

“12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.”

In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Comforter by Jesus, so the Holy Spirit’s nature is being made known here. We don’t know the people’s response to Eutychus falling out the window, but we do know they were comforted by something that the Holy Spirit did. 

Although the Holy Spirit might not always provide miracles for us, we should always be comforted that the Holy Spirit is with us and has the power to help us in every situation. Just like these Christians, we should place our trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual life is enhanced when we realize that the Holy Spirit is in control. 

Following Acts 20:7-12

After this moment, we read that Paul left in daylight. He kept his word and sailed to Assos. After that Paul went and talked to the leaders at the Church of Ephesus. Paul’s life was coming to an end, and that moment is foreshadowed through the end of the chapter. 

Ultimately Acts 20:7-12 is an intriguing story in God’s word that can teach Christians about the power of the Holy Spirit and the importance of persistence in the midst of distraction.