This sermon has nothing to do with falling asleep under your pastor’s sermons – just in case you wanted to know in advance! J
In Acts 20 Paul is on his third and last missionary journey, having spent almost three years in Ephesus, a strategic city in Asia minor. His letter to the Ephesians is so very helpful in terms of understanding the nature and power and also the application of the gospel.
In Ephesus Paul first preached the gospel for three months in the local synagogue (19:8), after which he left there to preach the gospel daily in the hall of Tyrannus for two years … so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks (19:9,10). What an astonishing statement!
We saw that the preaching of the gospel bore fruit and we saw that it produced resistance, both in the synagogue and in the city. I often marvel that the preaching of the Gospel (i.e. Good News) is very often not received as such, but rather in a hostile manner. I had such an experience recently when preaching the gospel at a funeral of a man with no church connections. I don’t think that the congregation expected to hear a gospel message, and when it came, the faces froze. Apart from the fact that I could have been more thoughtful and more mindful and more prayerful for the grieving people that sat before me, I had to remind myself that the gospel does not enter heads and hearts naturally. Man’s sinful nature opposes the gospel, since the gospel demands that man must lay down his claim to autonomy, and that the gospel demands a man to confess his sin and that the gospel demands that a man must return to his Creator.
I needed to remind myself that while the preacher can prepare well, only the Holy Spirit can make a person love the gospel of Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit knows who the true sheep of Christ are, and even though it is the work of the church to participate in the finding of the lost sheep of Jesus, we do not know who they are, until we see it in the fruit of true conversion.
We use the means given to us. We pray for the harvest, and we preach for a verdict. We present the gospel message on every occasion, in formal settings like Paul in the synagogue and in the hall of Tyrannus, but mostly in informal settings. And since God has granted a people to hear and believe the gospel in every generation, we, like the apostle Paul must expectantly use daily opportunities to proclaim the gospel. But we must also be ever prepared for resistance from the beasts of Ephesus (1 Cor.15:32 cf. 2 Cor. 1:8)
And so, seeing that the work was done (Acts 19:10) and following a severe upset and riot in Ephesus, Paul leaves here, crossing the Aegan sea, entering into Macedonia, and down to Greece, and probably to Corinth.
We remember that Paul had a difficult relationship with the church at Corinth (e.g. see the painful letter in I Corinthians 5:9-10 and the mentioning of the painful visit in 2 Cor. 2:1). He spent three months there, and again he hears of a plot against him by the Jews (20:3). Instead of sailing back to Syria , he changes plans and goes back up to Macedonia, and again across the Aegan sea and then to Troas, accompanied by the 7 people mentioned in 20:4 plus Luke, the writer of the book of Acts. They stayed in Troas for 7 days.
V.7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread….”
The Christian church maintained the practise of keeping the 7th day of public worship, but now on a Sunday, from the reckoning of the Jewish calendar, the first day of the week. The practise of gathering on the 7th day with the breaking of bread was begun in Acts 2:42 along with the preaching of the Word of God. He doesn't mention all the activities of Acts 2:42ff here, but we may assume with fair certainty that fellowship and prayer were part of the meeting.
Concerning the breaking of bread we can say this. From 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 we know that the breaking of bread was done in the context of a fellowship meal , a supper- akin to the Passover meal – but it was really a ‘perfected Passover’, since the true Lamb of God was slain. In the context of an evening meal the gathered church would take some time out to remember and celebrate what became known as ‘the Lord's Supper’. The Lord’s supper does not only anticipates all that Jesus accomplished in His death and resurrection, but it also anticipates that great feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7 cf. Matt. 22:2) when all God’s elect people, the sheep of Jesus Christ shall finally be gathered at that great wedding feast in the presence of our great King Jesus, forevermore.
But before that fellowship meal happens, Paul has much to say. He knows that he may not be back for a long time … if ever. And so he takes time to pour out that which the Lord has laid on his heart for the church in Troas. I wished that we had a record of what he said, but we can safely assume, that all that he said has been written in the Bible. He has a very long list of things to say, and so “he prolonged his speech (Gr. dielegeto) until midnight.”
In this context we find the story of Eutychus, a young man, sitting on the window sill of the upper room of a three story house. And as ’Paul talked still longer’ he ‘sank into a deep sleep‘ (20:9). In this case it is deadly. He falls out of the window ‘and was taken up dead’. In a manner reminiscent of Elisha who was used of God to raise from the dead the young son of a widow (2 Ki. 4:18-37), “Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, ‘ Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him’”. The same is reported of the ministry of Peter who by the power of God raised Tabitha/ Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-43).
Luke records that this young man was picked up dead (20:9). Luke, the writer of the 'Acts' , being a physician was surely qualified to say this. Some commentators  say that he wasn't really dead following the fall. He was merely unconscious and when Paul said, “his life (psuchē) is in him”, they think that he is simply saying, ‘Praise God…he wasn’t really dead….this is lucky fellow survived this fall from a three story building’.
There is no reason not to believe that this young man was dead. Paul was after all an apostle attested with miracles (see 19:11), and this happening at midnight would have served further authenticate the gospel that Paul was preaching, and it created a buzz and it certainly gave the Christian community in Troas the impetus to stay awake until daybreak, and the youth being alive, we are told, brought not a little comfort to the community (20:12)
[Please note that the breaking of bread, or the Lord’s supper (20:11) happened only after the incident at midnight. ]
So why do we find this remarkable story here? What did the Holy Spirit intend to achieve by having this recorded? What do we learn from this?
· Is the point of this message that preachers should not kill their people through preaching long sermons?
· Is this story proof that some people would rather die than listen to long sermons?
· Or is this story a warning to preachers that, unless you have the gift of raising the dead, keep your people from window sills and awake at all costs?
The answer is, ‘None of the above!’ My sermon title is actually deceptive, but I did that intentionally to show you what preachers can do with such texts, and you need to be awake enough so that when that happens to challenge the preacher.
So, what then is the point of the passage? It surely is a demonstration and authentication of kingdom power, and specifically of resurrection power. This text, I would argue is a repeat of John 11- the raising of Lazarus from the dead. That story was recorded by the Holy Spirit to show us that the Jesus whom Paul preached is the One who has the power over life and death. He is the resurrection and the life [Jn. 11:25].
I would not be surprised if Paul, following the miraculous raising of Lazarus, followed by the breaking of bread spoke until daylight about the work of Jesus in the context of man's sin and the curse of death, and about the resurrection of the body, and the life to come. When I read Paul’s letters I certainly see him addressing these subjects again and again. Surely he must have used this incident as a powerful illustration to that end.
We also take note of the fact that this incident came in the middle of the night, at midnight, the darkest, most vulnerable time when we are just not in control of ourselves. Paul and Silas in Acts 16 had another midnight experience in which they were in prison, having been severely beaten in Philippi, but their hearts were in God’s hands, and at midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God …. And suddenly there was the deliverance… at midnight!
David says in Psalm 18:4-6, expressing the same thought :
“The cords of death encompassed me;
The torrents of destruction assailed me;
The cords of Sheol entangled me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the LORD
To my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
We are not a little comforted when we read passages like this.
 Timothy from Lystra; Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica in Macedonia; Tychicus comes from Asia; Sopater comes from Berea; Trophimus from Ephesus; Gaius from Derbe; Luke from Antioch. Notice the ‘we’ in 20:6 as Luke includes himself again in the narrative .
 E.g. William Barclay thinks so in his commentary upon the passage