Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.
And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep; and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.
And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.
Paul was on his third missionary journey, returning to Jerusalem. Along the way he stopped at Troas. Paul had been in Troas on his second missionary journey. However, he had not labored there because of the Macedonian call he received in a vision. Since that time a church had been established in Troas. Paul now stayed in Troas for seven days, laboring in this young church.
The incident of the raising of Eutychus is the only detail given of Paul’s stay in Troas; and it took place the last evening of his stay.
The resurrection of Eutychus provided great comfort for the little church in Troas. It also is a source of great comfort for the church today.
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”
There are several things worthy of note here.
First, the members of the church of Troas are called disciples. They were disciples of Jesus Christ. This is what makes one a true member of the church.
Secondly, these disciples came together to break bread. That means that they were partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The church of Troas was therefore gathered for worship.Thirdly, the church gathered for worship on the first day of the week. This was done at the direction of the apostles. Here is a principle we must remember. Whatever the early church did under the direction of the apostles is the rule for the church today. Hence, we too are to have a weekly Sabbath day as did the apostolic church; and it is to be the first day of the week.
Finally, Paul preached to the disciples of Troas. And because he was to depart the next morning, Paul preached until midnight. Obviously the preaching was the most important part of worship for the apostle, as it must be also in our worship. This is in keeping with the nature and power of the preaching, as we shall see presently. How many congregations today would bear with a minister who preached until midnight? Most become fidgety after 20 minutes. Not so the members of the church of Troas. They were disciples of Jesus Christ. True disciples are eager to hear the Word and do not soon weary of it.
This brings us to Eutychus.
Eutychus was a young man. How old he was we do not know. Probably late teens, early twenties.
The disciples were worshiping in the upper room of a home on the third floor level. The room was full as the disciples listened to Paul’s inspiring words. Eutychus found a seat in one of the windows. This was merely an opening in the wall, normally covered with a cloth but now open for ventilation.
And Eutychus fell asleep. Was it the “many lights” (v. 8), creating a lack of oxygen in the room, that caused Eutychus to slumber? Whatever the reason, Eutychus fell deeper and deeper into sleep….
Suddenly Eutychus fell from the window. Three stories! And he was taken up dead.
What an uproar. Women were crying. Men were shouting. There was confusion.
Paul fell upon Eutychus and embraced him. “Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.”
What an astounding miracle. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead! The dead had come back to life!
The raising of Eutychus points us to a greater resurrection in Christ Jesus that is our salvation.
We are all born spiritually dead, dead in sin. This means that we are so controlled by the power of sin that all we can do is sin. Our whole life is given over to sin so that we are the very image of the devil himself. This spiritual death comes to us as a consequence of our original sin in Adam. And what a dreadful consequence this is. For it robs us of God’s friendship; it brings upon us the bitter wrath and judgment of God, both in this life and eternally.
The good news of God is that there is a resurrection from this death in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus Christ there is life, spiritual life. This life consists of a wonderful transformation of heart and soul that leads us to serve God willingly according to His commandments. In the way of obedience to God there is the joy of God’s fellowship and companionship, as the ever blessed God draws near to us in friendship. In Jesus Christ there is a wonderful, eternal life with God.
This life comes to us through the power of Jesus’ own death and resurrection. We begin to enjoy this new life now. It will be made perfect in heaven.
And when we receive this new life in Christ, we are risen from the dead. This is a resurrection not of the body but of the heart. It is the same reality as the new birth in Christ.
This spiritual resurrection from death to life is our salvation. This resurrection is far more wonderful than the resurrection of Eutychus, for Eutychus’ resurrection only served as a picture of this resurrection unto life eternal.
Of significance is the fact that the miracle of Eutychus’ resurrection took place in the context of the preaching of the gospel. It must be born in mind that Paul was a great preacher of the gospel, the apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Furthermore, Paul had been preaching the gospel to the disciples of Troas during the course of the evening. This Paul raised Eutychus as he fell on him and embraced him.
We are reminded how Elijah, the great messenger of God in the Old Testament, raised the son of the widow of Zarephath, stretching himself upon the child three times (I Kings 17:21). Similarly, Elisha, another prophet of God, raised the son of the Shunammite woman when he lay upon the child and put his mouth, eyes, and hands upon the mouth, eyes, and hands of the child (II Kings 4:34).
The meaning is essentially the same in all three miracles. The spiritual resurrection depicted in each miracle takes place only by the power of the preaching of the Word.
How the preaching of the gospel is despised. The Greeks in Paul’s day considered the gospel to be foolishness (I Cor 1:23). No, they did not minimize the power of the tongue. All but the very stupid understand full well the power of the spoken word. Words eloquently spoken can sway the multitudes and move nations to action. What the Greeks considered foolishness was the message Paul brought. He preached Christ crucified. He proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus. What a pathetic, uninspiring message! Only a fool thinks he can influence others by such nonsense. That was the reaction of the Greeks in Paul’s day to the preaching of the gospel. It is also the reaction of many in the church world of our day. To preach the cross is folly. Instead,preach social action, preach education, preach politics….
Now let’s hear from the One who made the tongue. The preaching of the gospel of Christ is the power of God to save (I Cor 1:18). Through the gospel of Christ crucified God raises the dead to life. Who among the scoffers ever considered a power that would make the dead to live? But that’s exactly what God accomplishes through the preaching of the gospel of Christ crucified. Through the power of the preaching, God irresistibly brings His own to faith in Christ. And being joined to Christ by faith they find the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the power that brings them from death to life.
This is the great reality depicted in the raising of Eutychus by Paul, the great preacher of the gospel.
What a great comfort this was for the church of Troas.
Evidently the disciples had not yet celebrated the Lord’s Supper. Paul had begun the service with preaching and only now came to the Lord’s Supper.
After this, Paul talked with the disciples until dawn. No doubt he spoke to them about the meaning and significance of the miracle of Eutychus’ resurrection.
And the disciples were not a little comforted. Certainly they were comforted by the fact that Eutychus was alive and well. But more, they were comforted by the meaning of the miracle. Troas was evidently a small and struggling church. This is suggested by the fact that they were only a house church. What comfort, then, they derived from this miracle! For it showed to them very graphically the power of the preaching. God would certainly use the Word to preserve them in their new life. Even though Satan and the unbelieving community sought to destroy what they had in Christ, God in the power of the preaching that raises the dead to life would certainly preserve them. And God would use the preaching also to raise others from death unto life, beginning with their own children and extending not only into their community but into the whole world.
This miracle serves also to give comfort to the church today.
The church of Christ today is small in comparison to the world. And much that goes by the name church is false. What a comfort the church finds in the preaching of the gospel. It is the power of God to raise the dead to life. Certainly the church that preaches the gospel of Christ crucified is safe. And her labor in the gospel will never be in vain.