Acts 20:7-11 reads (NKJV, emphasis added):

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, "Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him." Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.

Who would be the subject(s) of the last verse in this passage (emphasized in bold above)? Is it Paul, or is it Eutychus? While it would seem the two he's in this verse would be the same, the God's Word (GW) version renders verse 11, "Then Eutychus went upstairs again, broke the bread, and ate. Paul talked with the people for a long time, until sunrise, and then left" (emphasis added).

Based on verse 7 saying that Paul was "ready to depart the next day" (NKJV), I would be inclined to think Paul is the one who departs in verse 11. However, something about "he had come up" makes me think of Eutychus, who fell. Can 20:11a refer to Eutychus and 20:11b to Paul, or are the antecedents the same?

1 Answer 1


Here is my overly literal translation of Acts 20:10, 11, which in the Greek says this:

καταβὰς δὲ ὁ Παῦλος ἐπέπεσεν αὐτῷ καὶ συμπεριλαβὼν εἶπεν Μὴ θορυβεῖσθε· ἡ γὰρ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐστιν. ἀναβὰς δὲ καὶ κλάσας τὸν ἄρτον καὶ γευσάμενος, ἐφ’ ἱκανόν τε ὁμιλήσας ἄχρι αὐγῆς, οὕτως ἐξῆλθεν.

I would translate this as (emphasizing the succession of verbs)

And having come down, Paul fell upon him, and having embraced [him] said, "Be not alarmed; for the life of him is in him." Then, having come up and having broken bread and having eaten and having talked so long until dawn, thus, [he] departed.

Observe several things about this account:

  1. The only explicit pronouns are in the third person and apply to Eutychus only
  2. The subject of all the other verbs is Paul
  3. There is also a natural down-up sequence with the "mirror" verbs: καταβαίνω (go down), vs, ἀναβαίνω (go up) - both have the grammatical subject of "Paul".
  4. The descent verb for Euthychus in found in V9 which is ἔπεσεν (fell) followed by ἤρθη (picked up).
  • Thank you for your reply, and sorry for taking so long to read this. Are you saying that Paul is the subject of verse 11 since, in Greek, no pronouns are used for him? (You don't explicitly say, "Therefore, Paul is the subject of verse 11," but I take it that you mean this in saying that all the verbs without pronouns are of Paul.)
    – The Editor
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 17:04
  • @TheEditor - correct - see my points #1 & #2 above. The only explicit pronouns are referring to Eutychus.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 20:00
  • In that case, if I may ask a separate question, would the fact that Paul intended to depart the "next day" (Acts 20:7, NKJV) and then departs after midnight (verses 7 and 11) suggest that Acts is using our method of determining days, where each day starts and ends at midnight, as opposed to the Jewish method of days changing at sundown?
    – The Editor
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 1:39
  • @TheEditor - good question. In deed, there has been some debate about this with the REV translating Acts 20:7, "On the Saturday night ..." Thus, we might understand Paul to preach on Saturday night until after midnight (v7) and then leaven soon after day-break. But this might be the subject of another question.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 2:49

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