7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.” (Acts 20:7-12)
As Paul preached to the believers in Troas, a young man named Eutychus, who was sitting at the window in the meeting room, sank into a deep sleep during Paul’s message. Remember, it was midnight and the apostle had preached for some time.
Aside from any stereotypical comments about preachers putting people to sleep during their messages, there may have been another reason for Eutychus’ slumber. Luke mentioned that there were many lamps in the upper room where the believers gathered. This is not surprising, given that that oil lamps were the primary source of lighting rooms at night during the first century. However, the lamps gave off fumes and these fumes may have contributed to Eutychus’ falling asleep.
Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “The presence of many lamps would contribute to a soporific, or sleep inducing, atmosphere because the lamps consumed oxygen. Probably crowded conditions exacerbated the condition.”
Luke states that, “And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.” Even today in the Middle East, it was normal for large meeting rooms to be on the top floor of buildings. Large groups would normally meet in the upper stories because the lower stories had smaller rooms in order for the walls to bear the weight of the upper stories.
Eutychus died from his fall. However, Paul went down to where the body was and taking him into his arms said, ““Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” The text goes on to say, “And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.”
The gathering continued until daybreak. Whereupon, Paul and his companions departed. Eutychus was alive and the church was greatly encouraged and comforted by the miracle. More than likely, following the events of the evening, neither was anyone sleepy.
It was at this time that scholars believe that the Apostle Paul wrote his magnum opus: the Epistle to the Romans. When next we meet we will examine this rich doctrinal epistle.
Soli deo Gloria!