The precision and chronological exactitude with which this journey is recounted is amazing. F. F. Bruce says,
The description of this critical journey of Paul and his disciples to Jerusalem is given in considerable detail; some have compared the detailed description in the Third Gospel of Jesus’ critical journey to Jerusalem with His disciples. But the kind of details is different; the chronological exactitude of this second “we” narrative of acts is due mainly to the fact that Luke was one of the party and kept a log-book. (The Book of Acts in the NICNT, 407).
Acts 20:6 — Paul left Philippi “after the days of Unleavened Bread”(Passover). He was hurrying to be in Jerusalem “on the day of Pentecost” (20:16). This would be 50 days after Passover. He had been in Ephesus on Pentecost one year earlier (1 Cor. 16:8).
Acts 20:6 — Paul came to Troas within 5 days. Tarried 7 days. A “door” had been opened for Paul at Troas less than a year earlier, but he was not able to enter it (2 Cor. 2:12).
Acts 20:7 — On the first day of week — gathered together with the disciples to break bread.
Acts 20:11 — Monday (or ? Sunday) — Paul departed. This depends on whether they followed the Jewish practice of sundown beginning the new day, or the Roman practice of mid-night to mid-night.
Acts 20:13-14 — Assos. Paul’s companions went by boat from Troas to Assos. Paul traveled overland.
Acts 20:14 — Mitylene (on the island of Lesbos).
Acts 20:15 — Following day — opposite Chios.
Acts 20:15 — Next day — Samos.
The photo below was made from a ship after it passed from north to south through the narrow strait between Samos (on the left) and the Turkish coast (on the right). The ancient site of Trogyllium is located on the small peninsula extending into the Aegean Sea.
View north of the Samos-Turkey Strait. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Acts 20:15 — Tarried at Trogyllium. (Appears in Western and Byzantine texts and in the KJV and NKJV.) The omission of the name in most manuscripts is explained by Bruce M. Metzger:
“Chiefly because of superior external attestation, a majority of the Committee preferred the shorter text” (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 478).
Ramsay points out that the information is,
“in itself highly probable, for the promontory of Trogyllian or Trogylia projects far out between Samos and Miletus, and the little coasting vessel would naturally touch there, perhaps becalmed, or for some other reason” (The Church in the Roman Empire, 155).
Acts 20:15 — The day following — Miletus.
This photo shows some standing water in the Lion Harbor of Miletus.
Ruins of the Lion Harbor at Miletus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Acts 20:16 — Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus — to be in Jerusalem on Pentecost (fifty days after leaving Philippi).
From Miletus Paul sent for the Ephesian elders. Consider the distance. How long would it take the courier to go to them and for them to come to him at Miletus? The distance was 63 miles by land or 38 if they went across the gulf of Latmos. This gulf is now silted up, leaving only a small inland lake.
The photo shows the site of the Gulf of Latmos which is now silted up. Turkish farmers grow rice in the area. The Meander River flows to the left of this photograph.
Site of the Gulf of Latmos, now silted up, within 2 miles of Miletus. Photo: F. Jenkins.
Acts 21:1 — Set sail on a straight course to Cos.
- Next day to Rhodes. Tradition identifies this stop at St. Paul’s Bay at Lindos.
- Patara to Tyre. According to Chrysostom this trip took five days (Homily XLV.2; cf. Bruce, The Book of Acts in NICNT 421). They were always at the mercy of the wind. When they came within sight of Cyprus they sailed past to the south of the island as they headed to Syria (21:3).
Acts 21:4 — Tyre — Paul tarried 7 days (note 20:6-7).
Acts 21:7 — Ptolemais [modern Acre in Israel] — stayed one day.
Acts 21:8 — Caesarea. They arrived the next day. The text does not say whether they went by boat or land. At Caesarea they stayed with Philip for “many days” (21:10).
Acts 21:15-17 — Up to Jerusalem of Judea (cf. 21:10).
Acts 21:18 — The following day Paul and the others visited James and the elders.
If our study of the Book or Acts, or any book of the Bible, is only a cursory one without attention to details, we miss much of what was intended for us.
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