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Paul raiseth Eutychus to life, from Figures de la Bible, 1728.
Not to be confused with Eutychius or the early Christian theologian Eutyches.

Eutychus was a young man (or a youth) of Troas tended to by St. Paul. Eutychus fell asleep due to the long nature of the discourse Paul was giving and fell from a windowsill out of the three storey building.[1] Paul then embraced him, insisting that he was not dead, and they carried him back upstairs alive; those gathered then had a meal and a long talk which lasted until dawn. This is related in the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles 20:7-12.

Though some (e.g. William Barclay, F. F. Bruce), do not believe that Eutychus died, Wayne Jackson observes the following facts: 1) the author Luke, a physician (Col. 4:14), plainly states that Eutychus was "taken up dead" (Greek: ἤρθη νεκρός, erthe nekros); 2) after Paul embraces Eutychus, he says, "Trouble not yourselves, for his life is in him" (Greek: ἡ γὰρ ψυχὴ αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐστιν, he gar psuche autou en auto estin), not "still in him" as the Weymouth translation erroneously interprets; 3) Eutychus was then "brought alive" by which the others were "not a little comforted," which words would make no sense if Eutychus had not died; and 4) Luke was fully capable of describing someone as only being "supposedly dead" (Greek: νομισαντες αυτον τεθναναι), as he did of Paul in Acts 14:19, but he did not do so here.[2]

The name Eutychus means "fortunate".


The writer Jonathan Swift, who was Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, used this incident in a sermon 'On Sleeping in Church' to challenge what he called 'the great neglect of preaching now among us', whereby preachers 'may exceed St. Paul in the art of setting men to sleep, [but] do extremely fall short of him in the working of miracles'.[3]

Following the "source critic" theory of the historical-critical method of higher criticism, Dennis MacDonald, writing for the Institute for Higher Critical Studies, rejects the historical veracity of Luke's written accounts as described in his Gospel (Luke 1:1-4). McDonald postulates that the Eutychus account might have come from the pseudepigraphal The Acts of Paul, or - more likely in his view - it is a retelling of the story of Elpenor from Homer's Odyssey. He also notes the account's resemblance to numerous other stories from Greco-Roman mythology, such as Misenus, Palinurus, and Thespesius.[4]


Further reading[edit]

  • Barclay, William (1955), The Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press).
  • Bock, Darrell L. (2007), "Acts: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament" (Ada, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group)
  • Bruce, F.F. (1977), Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
  • Oster, Richard (1979), The Acts of the Apostles, Part II (Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company).

External links[edit]