What does Acts 20:16 really mean?

Acts 20:16 is about the apostle Paul in a hurry to reach Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, reflecting his dedication to spreading the message of Christianity despite challenges and time constraints.

16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.


Setting the Scene for Acts 20:16

In Acts chapter 20, we find the apostle Paul on his third missionary journey. The scene is set in the city of Troas, a port city located in modern-day Turkey. Paul had been traveling through various regions, preaching the gospel and strengthening the believers in the faith.

In this particular verse, Acts 20:16, we see that Paul had decided to bypass Ephesus in order to reach Jerusalem in time for the day of Pentecost. However, he wanted to spend some time in Troas, a bustling city known for its commerce and cultural diversity.

Paul was accompanied by several of his companions, including Luke, the author of the book of Acts, and other believers who had been traveling with him. The group had likely gathered in a meeting place or a home in Troas, where they would have shared meals, prayed together, and discussed matters of faith. The atmosphere would have been filled with anticipation and a sense of urgency as Paul prepared to continue his journey towards Jerusalem.

What is Acts 20:16 about?

Oh, what a powerful display of dedication and unwavering faith we see in this verse! Picture Paul, fervently rushing to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost. His urgency is not fueled by fear or haste but by a deep sense of purpose and determination to spread the priceless message of the gospel. It’s as if he has a burning desire in his heart to ensure that nothing stands in the way of sharing the good news with others. We, as teachers and disciples ourselves, can learn so much from Paul’s actions in this verse. It serves as a reminder of the passion and zeal we should have for our own beliefs and teachings. How do we approach our responsibilities in spreading knowledge and wisdom? Are we as committed and focused as Paul, eager to fulfill our mission no matter the obstacles in our path? Let us draw inspiration from Paul’s example and strive to mirror his steadfast dedication in our own endeavors.

Understanding what Acts 20:16 really means

Paul, in Acts 20:16, is depicted on his third missionary journey, journeying back to Jerusalem with a sense of urgency. His desire to reach Jerusalem by the day of Pentecost, a significant Jewish festival, underscores his dedication to his mission and the importance he places on this religious event. The phrase “Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus” reveals his intentional choice, showcasing his strategic planning and ability to prioritize effectively. By choosing to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, Paul demonstrates his awareness of time constraints and his unwavering focus on his mission.

The urgency in Paul’s journey, as he hurries to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost, highlights the significance of this festival in his faith and community. This sense of purpose and commitment resonates with believers today, urging them to reflect on their own priorities and the dedication required to fulfill their spiritual obligations. Acts 2:1-4, which describes the day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church through the Holy Spirit’s descent, further emphasizes the importance of this event in the early Christian community.

Drawing parallels with 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Hebrews 12:1-2, where Paul speaks about running the race to win the prize and encourages perseverance in faith, we see a consistent theme of dedication and focus in Paul’s teachings. These passages inspire believers to stay committed to their faith, run their race with perseverance, and fix their eyes on Jesus, mirroring Paul’s resolute mission towards Jerusalem.

In today’s fast-paced world, the lesson of prioritization and focus from Acts 20:16 remains relevant. It serves as a reminder for individuals to set clear priorities, stay focused on their goals, and make sacrifices when necessary to achieve significant outcomes. By reflecting on Paul’s example, we can learn the value of strategic planning, dedication to our faith, and the importance of staying true to our mission amidst distractions and competing demands.

Consider a student preparing for a crucial exam who sacrifices social events and leisure activities to focus on studying. Similarly, Paul’s choices illustrate the need to prioritize what truly matters and make sacrifices to fulfill our missions. This anecdote underscores the importance of aligning our actions with our values and goals, even when it requires difficult decisions.

Acts 20:16, through Paul’s journey to Jerusalem, serves as a powerful reminder of the essential elements of dedication, strategic planning, and prioritization in both our spiritual and everyday lives. By internalizing these principles and following Paul’s example, we can navigate our own paths with clarity, purpose, and unwavering commitment towards our goals and faith.

How can we serve the Lord with humility?

We can serve the Lord with humility by recognizing our own limitations and weaknesses, understanding that it is only through God’s strength that we are able to accomplish anything. Humility involves acknowledging that we are not in control and that we depend on God for guidance and support in all that we do. We demonstrate our trust in His plans and surrender our own desires to His will by approaching our service to the Lord with a humble heart.

Humility also involves putting others before ourselves and considering their needs and well-being above our own. When we serve with humility, we are willing to take on roles and tasks that might be seen as lesser or less prestigious, knowing that every act of service, no matter how small, is valuable in God’s eyes. Setting aside our pride and ego allows us to serve with a pure heart, free from any selfish motives or desires for recognition. Serving the Lord with humility ultimately requires a deep sense of reverence and awe for His greatness and glory. When we approach our service with a posture of humility, we are able to honor and glorify God in all that we do, recognizing that He is the source of all goodness and the reason for our ability to serve others. Humility becomes a key component of our worship and devotion to the Lord in this way.


Embrace the fervor and dedication of Paul in spreading the message of love and hope. See each moment as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around you. Move with purpose and determination, just as Paul did in his ministry. Will you answer the call to be a beacon of light in a world that needs it now more than ever?