Monday, March 10, 2008

Eutychus, Part III


In my last post, I asked you why Luke included the story of Eutychus in Acts 20:7-12. To be honest, I think Luke included the tale partly because it was funny! But Luke intended the story of Eutychus to show us what the church can be like. Notice the following connections between Luke's ideal church qualities (from Acts 2:42-47) and Eutychus' church in Troas:

Ideal Church----------------------Church at Troas
devoted to learning from the apostles ---believers learned from Paul all night
genuine and generous community ------believers gathered for a meal
the visible power of the Holy Spirit ------Paul raised Eutychus from the dead
spontaneous worship and prayer --------sharing of communion
constant conversion------------------------???
glad and sincere hearts -------------------believers were greatly comforted

The only one of Luke's themes that isn't obvious in the story of Eutychus is constant conversion. And there is even a hint of that here: the church at Troas has sprung up with no account of the proclamation of the gospel there. Eutychus is a pagan name, which hints that he was born a pagan and converted to Christianity. So the story of Eutychus' raising is another of Luke's illustrations about what the church was and can be.

There's another reason Luke included this story. Shortly before this journey, Paul wrote to the Romans that "it has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known," but that for now "I am... in the service of the saints" (Romans 15:20-25). Acts 20 contains three accounts describing this mission of service. In Acts 20:1-6, Paul exhorts or encourages (parakaleo) the churches in Macedonia; in Acts 20:7-12, the raising of Eutychus comforts (parakaleo) the church at Troas; and in Acts 20:17-38, Paul exhorts the elders of Ephesus.

So the story of Eutychus, in addition to giving us a good chuckle, has two central messages. The church as it ought to be: devoted to learning, genuine community, worship, the power of the Spirit, constant conversion, and glad and sincere hearts. Paul as a model apostle: he would rather just plant new churches; but in obedience to the Spirit, Paul also strengthens the established churches.

7 comments:

  1. Good to know Eutychus isn't the Jar Jar Binks of scripture.... just there for comic relief!

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  2. So are you saying that your wife got it right? Juice!

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  3. Actually, she got it totally wrong, but in order to save my marriage, I had to come up with a way of making it sound right. Don't tell her, though.

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  4. Just kidding. Barbie got her second-hand degree while I was going through seminary. Every day when I came home from school, she had to listen as I told her all the exciting things I had learned. She does a great job evaluating and re-working the Scripture interpretation that shows up in the children's curriculum at our church.

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  5. Very interesting. . .I often wondered why that little story was there about Eutychus. . .good to have a scholarly son! I taught him everything he knows.

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  6. I really enjoyed your posts on Eutychus! Thank you for sharing!

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  7. I want to say, that in order to fall out the window, he had to be halfway in and halfway out. Sort of sitting on the fence. This is seen in the church of laodocia as lukewarmness.

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