Paul's Final Words To The Ephesian Elders
Acts 20:17-38
Elders Lead & Guard The Church
Published July 12th, 2019
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Main point summary
Main point summary
Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders to imitate his godly life (v18c-27), vigilantly guard themselves and the flock (v28-31), trust God's word,work hard and be generous (v32-35)
Acts 20:17-38
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus
Once we had arrived in Miletus Paul sent word to Ephesus
and called i the elders of the church to come to him.
in order to call the elders of the church to come and see him.
And when they came to him,
And when the Ephesian elders arrived,
he said to them:
he said to them:
j “You yourselves know k how I lived among you the whole time j from the first day that I set foot in Asia, l serving the Lord
You know how I lived among you serving the Lord from day one,
m with all humility
[I served] with humility
and with n tears
and with tears
and with trials that happened to me through o the plots of the Jews;
and in the midst of trials (which were the result of Jewish plots);
how I p did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable,
Moreover , I did not shrink and hold back from preaching to you that which is profitable ,
and q teaching you in public
and teaching you in public
and from house to house,
and teaching you in private - in your homes.
r testifying both to Jews and to Greeks
I testified to both Jews and Greeks
of s repentance toward God
about repentance toward God
and of t faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem,
And now , you see, I am going to Jerusalem
constrained u by 1 the Spirit,
because I am bound /constrained by the Spirit to go.
not knowing what will happen to me there,
I do not know what will happen to me in Jerusalem,
except that v the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that w imprisonment and x afflictions await me.
but the Holy Spirit soberly warns me in every city that prison and persecution wait for me there.
But y I do not account my life of any value
Nevertheless, I do not view my life as having any value apart from Christ
nor as precious to myself,
nor is my life my god,
if only z I may finish my course
because my goal is that I might finish the course Jesus set me out on
and a the ministry b that I received from the Lord Jesus,
and complete the ministry that I've received from the Lord Jesus,
c to testify to d the gospel of e the grace of God.
which is to testify to God's gospel of grace
And now, behold, f I know that none of you among whom I have gone about g proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
And now , you see, I must say good-bye to you - those that I have been among preaching the gospel. None of you will see my face again.
Therefore h I testify to you this day that i I am innocent of the blood of all,
Therefore, if anyone fails to persevere in Christ, I am not to blame,
for j I did not shrink from declaring to you k the whole counsel of God.
because I didn't hold back from teaching you the whole counsel of God.
l Pay careful attention to yourselves
Likewise, [if you want to be blameless in ministry], you must be faithful in following the course and ministry you've received from the Lord. Be on guard
and to all m the flock,
and the flock
in which n the Holy Spirit has made you o overseers,
because the Holy Spirit has made you overseers / guardians ,
p to care for q the church of God, 1
so that you might shepherd/pastor God's church,
which he r obtained s with his own blood. 2
That is those Jesus has purchased with his own blood. [ Jesus died for the church and you must be - like Paul and Jesus - willing to give your life for God's people. Guard the church
I r know that after my departure t fierce wolves will come in among you, u not sparing the flock;
You must be on guard because I know after I leave savage wolves (false teachers) will come in among you, hoping to sink their teeth into the flock;
and v from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things,
and these false teachers will even arise from among your own congregations twisting God's word
to draw away the disciples after them.
so that they might win a following for themselves.
Therefore w be alert,
Therefore Be alert,
remembering that x for three years I did not cease night or day y to admonish every one z with tears.
remember ing that while I was with you I never stopped night or day warning and exhorting you with tears!
And now a I commend you to God
And now I entrust you to God
and to b the word of his grace,
and to the word of his grace [gospel of grace cf. v24]
which is able to c build you up
because it is able to build you up [in godliness]
and to give you d the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
and to give you the inheritance secured for all who God has set apart for himself.
e I coveted no one’s silver
I coveted no one's silver
or gold
or gold
or apparel.
or apparel.
f You yourselves know that g these hands ministered to my necessities
And you know by working with my hands I supported myself
and h to those who were with me.
and those who are with me.
In all things i I have shown you that j by working hard in this way we must k help the weak
I did this, so that, you would learn that we must work hard to help the weak among us,
and l remember the words of the Lord Jesus,
remember ing the words of Jesus,
how he himself said,
because ὅτι αὐτὸς εἶπεν he said,
‘It is more blessed m to give than to receive.’”
"It is more blessed to give than to receive."
And when he had said these things,
After he had said these things,
n he knelt down
he went to his knees
and prayed with them all.
and prayed with them all
And o there was much weeping on the part of all;
Then everyone wept;
p they embraced Paul and p kissed him,
and hugged and kiss Paul,
being sorrowful most of all because of q the word he had spoken,
because his words had filled them with sorrow,
that they would not see his face again.
that is that they would not see his face again.
And r they accompanied him to the ship.
Then they accompanied him to the ship.
The word, δεδεμένος, means to be bound. This anticipates Agabus's prophecy that Paul will be bound and the actual binding of Paul once he arrives in Jerusalem. cf. 21.11, 33
This passage makes clear both the pattern of church's being led by a plurality of elders and the fact that elders are pastors who are overseers. The varied language refers to one office.
It is the Word which builds up Christians, i.e. makes them mature (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9–15; Eph. 4:12), and gives them an inheritance among all his holy people (cf. Rom. 8:17). Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 354). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Love of money is something leaders should avoid (1 Tim. 3:3, 8; 6:3–10; Titus 1:7, 11; Polhill 1992: 429). Bock, D. L. (2007). Acts (p. 632). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
The responsibility of the elders is to preach/teach the whole counsel of God. If they fail in this task then they - unlike Paul - will be guilty to some extent if some fail to persevere in the faith.
Those who serve in the office of elder/pastor/overseer do so as a consequence of the Holy Spirit's work.
"28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ." - Col 1:28 Vigilance in caring for the flock is a relentless teaching of the word.
ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos), ου (ou), ὁ (ho): n.masc.; ≡ DBLHebr 7212, 7213, 7224; Str 1985; TDNT 2.608—1. LN 35.43 guardian, supervisor, keeper (1Pe 2:25+); 2. LN 53.71 church leader, overseer (Ac 20:28; Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:7+) Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
The church is infinitely valuable. God's love for his people is displayed in Jesus's laying down his life on their behalf as a substitutionary sacrifice. cf. John 10.11 Additionally, Jesus [and good leaders] are to be seen in contrast to self-interested wolves. Carson say, Jesus is not contrasting himself with temporal types, successful or otherwise, but with hired hands who have no real attachment to the sheep. Over against their deep self-interest, he is the noble shepherd. Carson, D. A. (1991). The Gospel according to John (p. 386). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans.
"My people's greatest need is my personal holiness" Notice also the charge is to guard yourselves (plural). The elders are to watch themselves and one another for the good of the flock. Paul is emphasizing not just personal accountability, but also mutual accountability. This is one of the rasons a plurality of elders is so important. via Tony Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Acts, page 316-17
Jesus modeled generosity in that he gave up everything in order to rescue the weak and the poor. The more we understand Jesus, the more generous we will become. cf. 2 Cor 8.9
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.