Bible Study of Acts: Lesson 19 - Paul's Travels to Jerusalem (Acts 20)

Bible Study of Acts – Lesson 19

From Ephesus to Jerusalem (Acts 20 & 21)


Welcome to Lesson 19 in your Bible Study of Acts.  In this lesson we want to take a closer look at Acts 20 & 21 and Paul’s final voyage to Jerusalem.

From the perspective of the book of Acts as a whole, chapter 20 marks an important transition in Paul’s life.

He is traveling from Ephesus to Jerusalem but in a very symbolic these two cities represent Paul’s transition from full time missionary to full time prisoner.

From this point forward, Paul will no longer plant churches.  He will no longer preach the gospel as a free man.  Rather, he will be imprisoned and face many trials on his ultimate journey to Rome.

Anticipating Paul’s Trip to Ephesus

It’s important to note a few things before proceeding.

In Acts 19:21, Paul had already purposed to travel to Jerusalem.  He was interested in traveling to Rome, something that he confirmed in his letter to the Romans (Rom 1:15; 15:24, 28).  He was supposed to head straight to Jerusalem but he got wind of a plot to take his life and thus decided to return via Acaya and Macedonia.  Paul planted churches in these regions on his second missionary journey including Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea.

Paul’s trip to Jerusalem is an extensive narrative (Acts 20:1-21:17) and includes five distinct episodes:

  1. Paul exhorts the churches in Macedonia and Greece (20:1-6)
  2. Paul travels to Troas where Eutychus falls out the window (20:7-12)
  3. Paul’s farewell speech to the elders of (20:17-38)
  4. Paul travels to Tyre where he is warned not to go to (21:3-6)
  5. Paul travels to Cesarea where Agabus makes a somber prediction about (21:8-14)

Read the story of Eutychus in Acts 20:7-12

  1. What actually occurred in this episode?  How did Paul react?  What were his words and what was the result?
  2. How often does the Bible relate someone coming back to life after their death?

There are three stories in the Old Testament and six in the New Testament including this one in Troas.  Can you name them all and who performed the miracle?  What does the rarity of this event say about Paul? 

Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders

Acts 20:17-38, represents Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian elders.  In tone, mood and content, it is a kind of verbal last will and testament from the apostle to the leaders of the church.

Read Acts 20:17-38

  1. Why do you suppose Paul recounts the quality of his ministry among the Ephesian elders?  How did Paul actually perform his work?
  2. From the speech, pick out all the terms having to do with the proclamation of the word of God.  How many times and in different ways does Paul repeat this task? What does that tell you about Paul’s priorities?
  3. Why does Paul use the image of the shepherd to talk about the responsibilities of the church leaders?  What does Paul state the elders are to do?
  4. How does Paul describe the church in his speech?  What terms and affirmations does he make?  What do these things communicate about the relationship between the church and its leaders and between the church and God?
  5. What does Paul mean by savage wolves?  Who are they and what will they do once Paul is gone from the scene?
  6. What elements of the speech can church leaders today emulate based on Paul’s examples and on his exhortations to the elders?  State as many principles as possible.