My Thoughts. . .
“And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6).
Luke informs us that the group he was traveling with arrived in the city of Troas and spent seven days there. In verse seven he and Paul met with the Troas disciples upon the first day of the week.
“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” (Acts 20:7).
Apparently, the Troas church did not have mid-week services since Luke does not mention it. If they did have such, Luke didn’t believe it to be important enough to record. There is a system of belief by some that if the Bible is silent, one may not add other actions which are not mentioned.
The church did have Sunday services but since “many lights” are mentioned (v. 8), it indicates a Sunday evening meeting. If they were using Jewish time, Sunday began at sundown one day and ended at sundown on the next one. Since they were meeting after sundown, the Jewish Sunday or first-day-of-the week was beginning. In our reckoning of time, it would start at 6:01 pm Saturday evening and end on our Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Today most Bible students would read our system of time into the passage making this meeting fit our way of observing Sunday from 12 midnight and end at 12 midnight the next evening. This time difference is ignored by some and debated by others.
Luke mentions the sole purpose of the Troas brethren meeting in that home. They came together “to break bread.” Most assume this expression means “communion” or “the Lord’s supper.” The expression “breaking” and “bread” is found in Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; and 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, referring to that purpose. However, it is also found in the Passover meal where that breaking of bread was done prior to Jesus referring to his body or blood and was part of the Passover bread and drinking the Passover wine.
Acts 20:7-11 first mentions “break bread” and then follows with “Paul preaching.” Luke does not indicate in the expression “disciples came together to break bread” whether it was performed before or after Paul spoke. While he is speaking, one member goes to sleep, falls out of the third story window, and dies in the fall. Paul stops preaching and all go to the courtyard to find the young man dead. In verse 11, Paul restores life to Eutychus. Luke states, “When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten” (v. 11). Luke uses the expression “broken bread” again. They are the same words used by Jesus as he instituted the communion and the same words contained in Acts 20:7 prior to Eutychus’ falling from the window.
The only two activities mentioned in that assembly was preaching and breaking bread. We may believe and claim that they prayed, sang, and gave, but that would be classified as assumption. Since Luke tells us what was done, do we really have the authority to add other actions when scripture is silent? It is interesting that singing is not mentioned until Paul writes to the Ephesian and Colossian congregations in 60-61 A.D. Those letters were written 12 years after Paul’s visit to Troas. Most add singing, prayer, and giving to the Troas meeting because it is what we do, not what Luke wrote. What if Luke is correct and our additions are nothing but assumptions? Is the doctrine of Christ built upon what inspiration specifically says, or what we assume what must be added?
Acts 5 talks about the contribution with a man and his wife lying about what they have given. Did they also have several songs, a prayer or two, passing the plate, and Peter preaching? None of that is mentioned. Some do not believe it was a church “worship” assembly because of that silence. What if the only thing being done was giving? It may not follow our actions in our assemblies, but what did Luke write? Verse 12 does follow, but it is Peter and the other apostles miraculously healing people. We don’t substitute a nursing or clinical program as part of our services, but the first century brethren did. We add when scripture does not and subtract when inspiration adds. If we stopped adding our assumptions to what is inspired, or subtracting what inspiration does add but we do not, would we be more like the New Testament church?
Man has been “improving” the New Testament church since before the beginning of the second century. Those improvements have gained acceptance through centuries of practice. That acceptance often makes restoration impossible because our modifications are taught as customs based upon biblical “inference” and “expediency.” This causes any deviation to be viewed as liberalism or being too “ultra” conservative. When Jewish brethren began complaining about Gentile believers not being circumcised, the “liberal” vs. the “ultra conservative” problem began. It continues even today. It is what it is!