WVW: Bored to Death - Acts 20:7-12
Acts 20:7-12 (ESV)
7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.
Moral of the story: don’t fall asleep in church or else you’ll die. Thanks for tuning in! Okay just kidding, let’s examine this weird verse. What the heck is going on?
Did Paul raise Eutychus from the dead?
This question is up for debate, even within Christian circles. Obviously the skeptic will say otherwise, but that’s to be expected. It’s more interesting to talk about why believers would question the validity of this supposed resurrection. Let’s keep in mind the author and the context of this passage. The book of Acts was written by Luke; the same Luke that wrote one of the four Gospels found in the New Testament. Acts also takes place directly after Jesus’s ascension into heaven following his resurrection, so Luke and the rest of the apostles were no strangers to dead people coming back to life. Let’s also not forget about Lazarus, whom Jesus also raised from the dead during his ministry. The big question here is whether or not Paul actually carried out this resurrection over Eutychus. Isn’t this type of power only reserved for Jesus?
Some scholars believe that the original text never implies that Eutychus was found dead, but rather that he was badly injured. I find this difficult to justify because every translation, from the most literal to the most liberal, says that Eutychus fell to his death. It’s also extremely likely that falling three stories will do that to your body. That part of the story is certainly not hard to believe.
So why did Paul’s simple act of embracing Eutychus revive him? This doesn’t sound like a very miraculous gesture. At the same time, Paul never takes credit for this miraculous act. Instead, he finds Eutychus alive and rejoices out of being surprised, but also thankful that the Lord was with them. This miracle displays Paul’s true apostleship and helps give credit to his testimony. He writes this himself in his letters to the churches, such as in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 12:12 (BSB)
The true marks of an apostle—signs, wonders, and miracles—were performed among you with great perseverance.
Lastly, it was well documented that Luke was a physician (see Col. 4:14, as well as the extra biblical accounts of the early church historian, Eusebius). Luke’s gospel, when read in the original Greek, is littered with medical terminology that can’t be found in the other three accounts. Luke being the seasoned physician he was would’ve been well aware if Eutychus was indeed dead instead of being badly injured.
What’s the point of this story? Why include it at all?
This act of resurrection was a sign, wonder, and a miracle. Eutychus coming back to life gives weight and authority to Christianity, showing that God truly is all powerful and capable of the impossible.
Why does this story matter to us today?
I used to be Eutychus. No, I’m not saying that I’m a 2,000 year old dude who knew Paul personally. But what I am saying is that I used to fall asleep, metaphorically, at church while the very word of God was being preached. The same word of God - the gospel of Jesus Christ - that saves souls and renews hearts. The things of the Bible bored me. My soul was asleep, and it wasn’t until I fell from my lofty, carefree perch that I was awakened. For me personally, my faith was challenged for the first time when a close family member, who had been a devout Christian, told me that they no longer believed the Bible was a book to be trusted. This opened my eyes to want to actually study this book for myself. Needless to say, I did not come to the same conclusions as my family member. Many times we take our faith for granted until it’s finally challenged by a skeptic and we’re left speechless on how to defend the beliefs we were raised on. Upon further inspection and studying I came to know Jesus through the testimonies of the gospels, and you can know him too, so long as you go searching for him with an open heart.
Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Keep on seeking,