Acts 20:1

ESV After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.
NIV When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia.
NASB After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had encouraged them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia.
CSB After the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples, encouraged them, and after saying farewell, departed to go to Macedonia.
NLT When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the believers and encouraged them. Then he said good-bye and left for Macedonia.
KJV And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

What does Acts 20:1 mean?

Paul has been in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31), perhaps the longest he ever spends at a church he's planted. He knows it's time to leave, and he's already sent Timothy and Erastus to prepare his visits to Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 19:22). In Ephesus, idol and shrine craftsmen find their businesses interrupted by Paul's successful attempts to bring people to Christ. The craftsmen start a marketing campaign to remind the city of their loyalty to the goddess Artemis. When the protest turns into a riot, catching two of Paul's companions in its wake, Paul realizes he needs to leave now, although he had planned to stay until Pentecost (Acts 19:23–41; 1 Corinthians 16:8). He gathers those he has discipled in Ephesus and says his farewells.

The verse simply says that Paul left Ephesus, which is on the southwest coast of modern-day Turkey, and goes to Macedonia, which is the northeast port of the Aegean Sea. The background is more complicated.

On Paul's second missionary journey, he planted a church in Corinth and stayed for eighteen months, training the people and the elders (Acts 18:11) before returning home. During his stay in Syrian Antioch, between the second and third journeys, Apollos took Paul's place in Corinth. Later, while Paul ministered in Ephesus, he heard disturbing news. He has nothing against Apollos, but the people in the church in Corinth have divided into sects; some follow Paul, some Apollos, some Peter, and the rest Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:11–17). In addition, he heard a man was openly sleeping with his father's wife and the church leaders have not disciplined him (1 Corinthians 5:1–8).

Paul's displeasure is expressed in the letter we now refer to as 1 Corinthians. Although he had planned on going to Corinth right after Ephesus, he might not have been in a proper state of mind to see them. His reference in 2 Corinthians 2:1 might suggest he made such a trip, or it be on an unrelated matter. Eventually, Paul goes to Macedonia, (2 Corinthians 1:15–16, 23; 1 Corinthians 16:5). He sends the letter, probably with Titus, and travels north to Troas. By the time he reaches Troas, he is worried that he has been too harsh with the church in Corinth. Although Titus was to meet him in Troas, Paul can't find him. By the time Paul crosses the Aegean Sea to Macedonia, he is sick with fear. Fortunately, Titus meets him in Philippi with news. The church in Corinth is chastened and grieved into repenting. They have also expressed their zeal for Paul. Paul is beyond relieved and writes 2 Corinthians to them (2 Corinthians 2:12–13; 7:5–9).
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