Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 20:21

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Testify both to - Jews and - Greeks - He always began with the Jews; and, in this case, he had preached to them alone for three months, Acts 19:8-10, and only left their synagogues when he found, through their obstinacy, he could do them no good.

Repentance toward God, etc. - As all had sinned against God, so all should humble themselves before him against whom they have sinned; but humiliation is no atonement for sin; therefore repentance is insufficient, unless faith in our Lord Jesus Christ accompany it. Repentance disposes and prepares the soul for pardoning mercy; but can never be considered as making compensation for past acts of transgression. This repentance and faith were necessary to the salvation both of Jews and Gentiles; for all had sinned, and come short of God's glory. The Jews must repent, who had sinned so much, and so long, against light and knowledge. The Gentiles must repent, whose scandalous lives were a reproach to man. Faith in Jesus Christ was also indispensably necessary; for a Jew might repent, be sorry for his sin, and suppose that, by a proper discharge of his religious duty, and bringing proper sacrifices, he could conciliate the favor of God: No, this will not do; nothing but faith in Jesus Christ, as the end of the law, and the great and only vicarious sacrifice, will do; hence he testified to them the necessity of faith in this Messiah. The Gentiles might repent of their profligate lives, turn to the true God, and renounce all idolatry: this is well, but it is not sufficient: they also have sinned, and their present amendment and faith can make no atonement for what is past; therefore, they also must believe on the Lord Jesus, who died for their sins, and rose again for their justification.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Testifying - Bearing witness to the necessity of repentance toward God. Or teaching them the nature of repentance, and exhorting them to repent and believe. Perhaps the word “testifying” includes both ideas of giving evidence, and of urging with great earnestness and affection that repentance and faith were necessary. See 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; where the word used here, and here translated “testify,” is there translated correctly, “charge,” in the sense of “strongly urging, or entreating with great earnestness.”

And also to the Greeks - To all who were not Jews. “The Greeks” properly denoted “those who lived in Greece, and who spoke the Greek language.” But the phrase, “Jews and Greeks,” among the Hebrews, denoted “the whole human race.” He urged the necessity of repentance and faith in all. Religion makes no distinction, but regards all as sinners, and as needing salvation by the blood of the Redeemer.

Repentance toward God - See the notes on Matthew 3:2. Repentance is to be exercised “toward God,” because:

(1)Sin has been committed against him, and it is proper that we express our sorrow to the Being whom we have offended; and,

(2)Because only God can pardon. Sincere repentance exists only where there is a willingness to make acknowledgment to the very Being whom we have offended or injured.

And faith - See the notes on Mark 16:16.

Toward - εἰς eisIn regard to; in; confidence in the work and merits of the Lord Jesus. This is required, because there is no other one who can save from sin. See the notes on Acts 4:12.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The elders knew that Paul was no designing, self-seeking man. Those who would in any office serve the Lord acceptably, and profitably to others, must do it with humility. He was a plain preacher, one that spoke his message so as to be understood. He was a powerful preacher; he preached the gospel as a testimony to them if they received it; but as a testimony against them if they rejected it. He was a profitable preacher; one that aimed to inform their judgments, and reform their hearts and lives. He was a painful preacher, very industrious in his work. He was a faithful preacher; he did not keep back reproofs when necessary, nor keep back the preaching of the cross. He was a truly Christian, evangelical preacher; he did not preach notions or doubtful matters; nor affairs of state or the civil government; but he preached faith and repentance. A better summary of these things, without which there is no salvation, cannot be given: even repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, with their fruits and effects. Without these no sinner can escape, and with these none will come short of eternal life. Let them not think that Paul left Asia for fear of persecution; he was in full expectation of trouble, yet resolved to go on, well assured that it was by Divine direction. Thanks be to God that we know not the things which shall befall us during the year, the week, the day which has begun. It is enough for the child of God to know that his strength shall be equal to his day. He knows not, he would not know, what the day before him shall bring forth. The powerful influences of the Holy Spirit bind the true Christian to his duty. Even when he expects persecution and affliction, the love of Christ constrains him to proceed. None of these things moved Paul from his work; they did not deprive him of his comfort. It is the business of our life to provide for a joyful death. Believing that this was the last time they should see him, he appeals concerning his integrity. He had preached to them the whole counsel of God. As he had preached to them the gospel purely, so he had preached it to them entire; he faithfully did his work, whether men would bear or forbear.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 352

Paul sometimes worked night and day, not only for his own support, but that he might assist his fellow laborers. He shared his earnings with Luke, and he helped Timothy. He even suffered hunger at times, that he might relieve the necessities of others. His was an unselfish life. Toward the close of his ministry, on the occasion of his farewell talk to the elders of Ephesus, at Miletus, he could lift up before them his toilworn hands, and say, “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:33-35. AA 352.1

If ministers feel that they are suffering hardship and privation in the cause of Christ, let them in imagination visit the workshop where Paul labored. Let them bear in mind that while this chosen man of God is fashioning the canvas, he is working for bread which he has justly earned by his labors as an apostle. AA 352.2

Work is a blessing, not a curse. A spirit of indolence destroys godliness and grieves the Spirit of God. A stagnant pool is offensive, but a pure, flowing stream spreads health and gladness over the land. Paul knew that those who neglect physical work soon become enfeebled. He desired to teach young ministers that by working with their hands, by bringing into exercise their muscles and sinews, they would become strong to endure the toils and privations that awaited them in the gospel field. And he realized that his own teachings would lack vitality and force if he did not keep all parts of the system properly exercised. AA 352.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 391-6

Sailing from Philippi, Paul and Luke reached their companions at Troas five days later, and remained for seven days with the believers in that place. AA 391.1

Upon the last evening of his stay the brethren “came together to break bread.” The fact that their beloved teacher was about to depart, had called together a larger company than usual. They assembled in an “upper chamber” on the third story. There, in the fervency of his love and solicitude for them, the apostle preached until midnight. AA 391.2

In one of the open windows sat a youth named Eutychus. In this perilous position he went to sleep and fell to the court below. At once all was alarm and confusion. The youth was taken up dead, and many gathered about him with cries and mourning. But Paul, passing through the frightened company, embraced him and offered up an earnest prayer that God would restore the dead to life. His petition was granted. Above the sound of mourning and lamentation the apostle's voice was heard, saying, “Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.” With rejoicing the believers again assembled in the upper chamber. They partook of the Communion, and then Paul “talked a long while, even till break of day.” AA 391.3

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 154

In many places self-supporting missionaries can work successfully. It was as a self-supporting missionary that the apostle Paul labored in spreading the knowledge of Christ throughout the world. While daily teaching the gospel in the great cities of Asia and Europe, he wrought at the trade of a craftsman to sustain himself and his companions. His parting words to the elders of Ephesus, showing his manner of labor, have precious lessons for every gospel worker: MH 154.1

“Ye know,” he said, “after what manner I have been with you at all seasons: ... and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.... I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:18-35. MH 154.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1064

19. Value of the Books Sacrificed—When the books had been consumed, they proceeded to reckon up the value of the sacrifice. It was estimated at fifty thousand pieces of silver, equal to about ten thousand dollars (Sketches from the Life of Paul, 137). 6BC 1064.1

33. See EGW on 2 Timothy 4:13, 14. 6BC 1064.2

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