Acts 20 Lesson: Paul's Farewell Journey Begins

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The following lesson is a continuation of the journey through the Book of Acts.  The lesson covers Paul’s farewell to believers as he heads toward Jerusalem and the story of Eutychus following to his death during Paul’s late night preaching.
From Paul’s life the students will be challenged to live a trustworthy life before others.  The lesson was prepared for older elementary students but can be easily modified. This is only a suggested guide to help you teach your students. Click here to see all the lessons in this curriculum series.

Bible Story: Paul’s Farewell Journey Begins
Scripture: Acts 20
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List:  Bibles, Map of Paul’s journey, visuals for story, two sets cards (index cards or cut squares of construction paper) with the letters that spell TRUSTWORTHY with phrases from Acts 20:24 on the other side of each card,
Learning Goal:   Students will learn that followers of Christ must live trustworthy lives.
Learning Activity #1: Trust acronym.  Students will brainstorm ways followers of Christ build trust before others.
Learning Activity #2:  Have students act out the scene where Eutychus falls from the window.
Memory Verse: Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Memory Verse Activity:  Have a relay race using two sets of cards (I used square pieces of construction paper) with letters that spell the word trustworthy.  The back of these cards will have the phrases for the memory verse.  Divide class into two teams.  Have them race to the stack of cards taking one card and returning to tag the next student in line.  When all the cards are retrieved the students figure out what the letters spell.  Once they spell trustworthy have them turn each card over to discover the memory verse and have them recite it.

Bible Lesson: Paul’s Farewell Journey Begins

(Introduction to Bible Lesson)
The only One who can be fully trusted is God Himself.  Besides God can you name anything or anyone you trust? (Allow responses)  (We trust that a chair is going to hold us when we sit on it.  We trust that when we turn the faucet on water will come out.  There are people we trust because we have built a relationship with them and know that they are trustworthy.)
Let’s think about followers of Christ and how their lives are an example of building trust.  We are going to use an acronym of the word trust and think of ways a follower of Jesus models a trustworthy person. (Let students share their responses.  The following is an example to help if they get stuck and need some guidance.)
T-teach God’s Word, take the Gospel, truthful
R-reach out to those in need
U-uphold others in prayer, understand God’s Word
S-share the Gospel with others
T-turn others to Jesus
We have been on a journey through the Book of Acts.  We met Paul when he persecuted believers.  We travelled with him on the road to Damascus where he met the Lord Jesus Christ and became a follower of Christ.  As we have read about his life from the pages of Scripture we have an excellent example of a trustworthy follower of Christ.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 20.  (Briefly review what took place the last time you studied from Acts 19-Riot in Ephesus.) Choose a volunteer to read verse 1.  Paul is still in Ephesus and is preparing to leave.  Before he leaves he sends for the disciples.
From this chapter we are going to highlight Paul’s example of a trustworthy follower of Christ.
1.   A trustworthy believer encourages other followers of Christ.
Since Paul was leaving Ephesus what are some things he may have told the disciples to encourage them?  (Allow responses) After Paul encouraged the disciples he said, “Good bye” and travelled to Macedonia.  (Show map and have students trace the direction Paul would be going)
As we look at the map of Macedonia which places do you think Paul stopped in as he passed through?  (Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica)
As we have followed Paul we have seen his great love and care for the believers he met in each place he taught.  Let’s read the first part of verse 2.  What did Paul do as he travelled through Macedonia?  (Spoke many words of encouragement).

  • Do you know any believers who need encouragement?  How can you be an encouragement to them?

Paul travels from Macedonia to Greece (show on map).  He stays for 3 months.  What do you think Paul did during those three months?
Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem and after visiting the believers in Greece he was going to get on a ship that sailed toward Jerusalem (Syria). (Show map)  However, when he learned that a group of Jews were waiting for him at the docks to harm him he travelled back toward Macedonia and would get to Jerusalem a different way.  Paul had some travel companions, each from a different area where he shared the Good News and taught God’s Word.  (Berea-Sopater, from Thessalonica-Aristarchus and Secundus, from Derbe-Gaius and Timothy, and from the province of Asia-Tychicus and Trophimus)
From Macedonia the 7 men who were travelling with Paul and Luke got on a ship and travelled to Troas and waited there.  Paul and Luke stayed in Philippi to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Five days later they joined the others in Troas.
Let’s read verse 7.  In this verse we see another example from Paul’s life as a believer that we have seen consistently as he traveled from place to place
2.   A trustworthy believer faithfully shares God’s Word.
The believers were gathered together in an upstairs room of a house to take part in the Lord’s Supper.  Paul taught the people for hours.  It was getting very late but the people were listening to Paul’s teaching and were eager to hear what he was teaching them about Jesus.
That night a young man (he was possible between the ages of 8-14) named Eutychus was sitting in a window sill.  He sat there listening to Paul teach.  There were many lanterns burning and it was possible very warm in the room where they met.  Eutychus got very drowsy and began to fall asleep while sitting in a window sill.  Let’s read what happens to Eutychus in verse 9.
Paul ran down the stairs and put his arms around Eutychus.  The power of the Holy Spirit healed the young man and he was raised back to life.  Once Eutychus was back on his feet Paul returned upstairs where the believers took part in breaking bread (the Lord’s Supper).  Paul continued to teach until daylight and then he left Troas.
(If you have time you can trace Paul and his companions’ journey to Miletus.)
Paul and his traveling companions arrive in a place called Miletus.  Paul didn’t have a lot of time left to get to Jerusalem in time to celebrate the day of Pentecost.  He knew if he went into Ephesus he would want to visit the families and that would keep him from being able to make it to Jerusalem in time.  He sent a message to the elders (leaders over the church (body of believers) in Ephesus) to meet him in Miletus.
Paul shared a message with them.  The things he shares with them are reminders to them of his trustworthy life that he lived before them.  Let’s briefly look at the things he reminded them about his life:

  • Paul served the Lord with great humility and tears. (Verse 19)
  • Paul was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. (Verse 19)
  • Paul faithfully taught everything he could to help other believers. (Verse 20)
  • Paul shared the Good News with Jews and Greeks telling they must repent and believe in Jesus. (Verse 21)

Paul told the Ephesian elders that the Holy Spirit was leading him back to Jerusalem and he was going even though he didn’t know what was going to happen to him there.  He only knew that in every city the Holy Spirit warned him that he would face prison and hardships.  Paul told them that they would never see his face again.
Since Paul knew that he would not see these believers again he gave them instructions to take care of the followers of Christ that these elders would be responsible for.  Paul said that teachers would come to Ephesus and try to lead people away from God’s truth.
Paul’s final words were about how he set an example to work hard to earn money and help the weak because Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
It was time to say farewell to these believers from Ephesus.  They all knelt down to pray.  After praying the Ephesian elders hugged Paul and wept as they said good bye.  Their hearts were saddened because Paul said they would never see his face again.  They loved this man who faithfully served them and earned their trust by the way he lived.
Although it was a very sad day for these Ephesian elders they could go home and know that if they lived a life as Paul modeled they could live a life that is trustworthy and one that pleases Jesus.
How about us?  If others lived the way we do in speech, attitudes and actions would they be living a life that is trustworthy and one that pleases Jesus?
Close in prayer.
Review Questions:

  1. True or False:  Paul spoke many words of discouragement to the believers as he traveled.  (False-Encouragement)
  2. True or False:  Paul stayed in Greece for 18 months.  (False-3 months)
  3. True or False:  Paul avoided a plot by the Jews by not sailing to Syria. (True)
  4. True or False:  Timothy was one of Paul’s traveling companions. (True)
  5. True or False:  Paul and Luke celebrated the Feast of Booths in Philippi.  (False-Feast of Unleavened Bread)
  6. True or False:  Eutychus fell out a window and died.  (True)
  7. True or False:  Paul taught for a few hours that night in Troas.  (False-he taught all night until daylight)
  8. True or False:  Paul met with the Ephesian elders in Miletus. (True)
  9. Why was Paul going to Jerusalem?  (The Holy Spirit was telling him to go there)
  10. What did Paul know was going to happen when he got to Jerusalem? (Prison and hardships)
  11. What can we do to be more trustworthy in our example to others?

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