Eutychus’ Falls Out of The Window
On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper, and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved.Acts 20:7-12
I am so glad they did not have Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) back then when Luke wrote this account or we wouldn’t have this story recorded for us. Remember Luke was there at this meeting with Paul and recorded it first-hand. Likely this is the first meeting of the church of Troas. If the term “the first day of the week” is used in the Jewish sense it means the meeting occurred on Saturday night. If the term is being used as it later was in the Roman and Greek sense then the meeting was a Sunday night service. And what a remarkable Sunday night service it was. This is also likely to be the first reference to the believers meeting on a Sunday and calling it the first day of the week. By this time believers would meet to worship, break bread (in other words participate in communion) and remember the Lord’s death burial and resurrection and then listen to teaching or a sermon. Here we see a pattern of church established in those early years following Jesus departure. It gives us insight to the way in which the early New Testament church functioned, although by no means prescriptive.
We know already that Paul was eager to get to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival and so he was in a hurry. He was planning to leave early the next morning but had much to tell these new believers in Troas so he talked until midnight. There are times when I have asked audiences jokingly if it is alright to talk until midnight or beyond. Then I will sometimes ask if there was anyone named Eutychus in the audience. Some get the joke straight away; others have no idea what I am on about. [mesonuktion] means literally “the middle of the night”. It could mean that Paul talked until the wee small hours – perhaps until 2.00 am. Paul’s urgency was governed by all he wanted to tell them in order to strengthen their faith. This was the last time he would be with them and he was keen to strengthen the believers as was his custom.
Luke tells us they met in an upstairs room with many flickering oil lamps. Many residential homes were large enough to have a large meeting room on the upper floor. The lowest floor would have held the kitchen and bathroom facilities. The middle level would have housed the sleeping quarters and inner family sanctum while the upper level was set aside for larger meetings. The fact that oil lamps were burning would have meant after a while the room would have got rather fumy and stuffy with all those lamps burning. It is highly likely that the people who gathered brought their own lamps with them so lamps would have been scattered throughout the room to ensure it was well lit. The room was obviously closed in and not just an open space on the roof terrace, but had walls and “windows”. All that means is there were openings in the plastered walls for ventilation with a little sill or nib of plaster or dried mud brick acting as a ledge with a drop down to the ground outside. This is where the young man Eutychus sat, on the edge or extreme outside of proceedings as he was not likely high in the pecking order. Seating would have been carefully arranged in terms of those who were closest to Paul and those who were furthest away.
Given the description Luke has given us we can see why Eutychus would have fallen asleep. Even the flickering of oil lamps would have induced sleep. The words used are of a deep sleep. Likely he had been sleeping and making sleep noises for a while until suddenly he shifted or lean too far and fell to his death three stories below. The word used tells us he was either dead or in such a state that everyone took him for dead. He was picked up as though dead. He was in such a bad state that everyone assumed him to be dead. Paul bent over him or alternatively fell on him and embraced him or hugged the boy to his chest. Notice what Paul says: “Don’t worry, he’s alive”. The way Luke has written this account as a doctor is not to leave us with the conclusion that the boy only appeared dead and when Pail came close he realized Eutychus was still breathing – breath was still in him. No, the pronouncement is that he was dead, taken to be dead when Paul fell on him or smothered him and then pronounced him alive. Luke would not have written the account in the way he did if Paul simply realized the boy was still breathing. There are parallels to the story of the Elisha and the Shunamite’s son. The boy was dead and then he was brought back to life when Elisha lay on him. Paul effectively lay on or smothered Eutychus similar to what Elisha of old had done.
Then notice what happened. Everything went back as it was before Eutychus fell. It is all so “matter of fact”. A significant thing has happened and it’s like, “Let’s go back upstairs and carry on.” But they go back to the point of sharing the Lord’s Supper. It seems they had not got to that point before Eutychus fell. Now there is all the more reason to celebrate the Lord in their midst. God having healed Eutychus is a good reason to give thanks for the Lord coming to heal. It is clear that He has been present in their midst with Paul to bring the boy back to life again. That’s reason to celebrate – so immediately they break bread and remember His death until he comes again. After that they ate together a normal meal and Paul then talked until dawn. Well of course! Now he had so much more to explain.
When dawn came Paul left. Later than he expected I am sure but oh so excited at what had just happened. The prospect that lay ahead Paul of walking to Assos, 32 kilometres (20 miles) away may have been daunting when he hadn’t slept at all and had been involved in such a dramatic event. But I also think Paul would have experienced an adrenalin rush after such an event which carried him through. What a dramatic understated miracle. Again we have the litotes – and they were no little comforted at taking the boy home alive.
An eventful night indeed. I am sure Eutychus and his family were grateful. And I am grateful OSH were not there or Paul would have not got away from Troas for a few more days yet after all the red tape had been completed and procedures and reports were signed off to the nth degree.
Miracles can occur at any moment in the course of normal everyday life.Ian Vail
How do we react to them? With awe and wonder? As though nothing like that has ever happened before on the face of the earth. Or are you used to miracles occurring in your life? The answer will tell you how close you are walking with God.Ian Vail
Remember that hope is not a gift given to us, hope is a gift that we give to others by introducing them to Jesus.Ian Vail
The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter their life by altering their attitude of mind.Eva Gabor
The greatest discovery of my life is to realize that Jesus is just as alive and present now as He was in the days Luke records for us.Ian Vail