Acts 20:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 20:3, NIV: "where he stayed three months. Because some Jews had plotted against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia."

Acts 20:3, ESV: "There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia."

Acts 20:3, KJV: "And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia."

Acts 20:3, NASB: "And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia."

Acts 20:3, NLT: "where he stayed for three months. He was preparing to sail back to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews against his life, so he decided to return through Macedonia."

Acts 20:3, CSB: "and stayed three months. The Jews plotted against him when he was about to set sail for Syria, and so he decided to go back through Macedonia."

What does Acts 20:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul is finally back in Corinth. He had planted the church there during his second missionary voyage (Acts 18) and he had planned on returning directly from Ephesus (2 Corinthians 1:15–16). Unfortunately, he heard disturbing things about them; this may have inspired him to wait to cool off first (1 Corinthians 1:11–17; 5:1–8; 2 Corinthians 1:23). He wrote them a strongly worded letter—1 Corinthians—but felt sorrow over whatever hurt feelings it may have caused (2 Corinthians 7:8). Paul spent days worrying about how they would respond before Titus brought news of their repentance and desire to see him (2 Corinthians 7:5–9). Luke doesn't tell us about the reunion, however, and it's unlikely he is there. Some believe his reference to a "painful visit" in 2 Corinthians 2:1 was between the writing of those letters, others are not so sure.

Paul had written his letter to the church in Rome while still in Ephesus (Acts 19:29; Romans 16:23). Although he wants to go to Rome, it isn't the right time (Acts 19:21); he feels compelled to visit Jerusalem for Pentecost (Acts 20:16). He needs to collect money from the churches and take it to Jerusalem to help afflicted believers there (Romans 15:26). And the Holy Spirit has been warning him that when he returns to Jerusalem, he will be imprisoned (Acts 20:22–23).

Paul could take an easy voyage from Corinth to the port at Caesarea Maritima in Judea, but the leaders of the synagogue thwart his plan. Instead, Paul retraces his steps, going north to Macedonia, back east to Troas, and south past Ephesus to Miletus (Acts 20:6, 15). Shortly after he reaches Jerusalem he is arrested and spends two years under house arrest in Caesarea Maritima before sailing, finally, to Rome.