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Paul’s Last Words to the Ephesian Elders Paul’s Last Words to the Ephesian Elders Acts: The Unfinished Story of the Church Series  Acts 20:17-38 December 16, 2012 Pastor Paul K. Kim
THE UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS FAREWELL MESSAGE Its audience is Christians (first time in Acts’ sermons). Its message is specifically for the leaders of the Ephesian house churches. Its style is testimonial and confessional about Paul’s own life and ministry. Its nature was prophetic about what lies ahead for Paul and the Ephesian church.
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. (v.17)
* Source: ESV Study Bible Online (www.esvbible.org/) PAUL’S THIRD MISSIONARY JOURNEY * Source: ESV Study Bible Online (www.esvbible.org/)
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS TO LEADERS? 1) Learn from how I lived among you and taught you (vs. 18-21). 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs. 18-21) Paul’s farewell charge begins with his weaknesses as the true mark: (1) humility, (2) tears, and (3) trials/suffering. In all this, Paul gave it all sacrificially in teaching everyone, any where, and any time about “repentance and faith.” We must also learn and follow the true marks of a spiritual leader in Paul’s example in humble life and selfless teaching.
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS TO LEADERS? 2) Learn from how I am finishing my course in Christ, faced with suffering that awaits me (vs. 22-27). 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. (vs. 22-23)
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS TO LEADERS? 2) Learn from how I am finishing my course in Christ, faced with suffering that awaits me (vs. 22-27). 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. (vs. 24-27) Paul has been warned about future suffering but this doesn’t stop him from the Spirit’s leading to go to Jerusalem. Why? Paul’s goal and passion is to finish the course Christ gave him. Like Paul, we must also be willing to suffer in order to finish the course that Christ has given us for the Kingdom of God.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS TO LEADERS? 3) Remember my words about your role and responsibilities as leaders/shepherds (vs. 28-30). 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (vs. 28-30) Paul’s first charge for a leader’s role is twofold: (1) pay close attention to yourself first and the flock; (2) shepherd them. Paul warns them about two dangers: (1) false teaching from outside (“wolves”) and (2) divisive leaders within. In following Paul’s charge, we are to lead those who are under our care well by teaching the Word, protecting from the lies.
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS TO LEADERS? 4) Remember my example as a leader/shepherd when I was with you all (vs. 31-35). 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (vs. 31-32)
WHAT ARE THE KEY MESSAGES OF PAUL’S LAST WORDS TO LEADERS? 4) Remember my example as a leader/shepherd when I was with you all (vs. 31-35). 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (vs. 33-35) Paul’s second charge to the leaders is his threefold example: (1) shepherding with love/tears, (2) entrusting people to the Word & the Spirit, and (3) selfless giving to the flock. This threefold example was Paul’s following Jesus’ words. In our own leadership, we are to cultivate godly character, relentless commitment to the Word/Spirit and selfless giving.
36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. (vs. 36-38)
THREE PRACTICAL QUESTIONS FOR OUR EVERYDAY LIFE 1.How can I follow Paul’s example in how he lived among the Ephesians? 1.How can I follow Paul’s example in finishing the course that Christ gave me? 1.What specific exhortation of Paul’s charge for spiritual leadership hit home for me? What will I do about it?
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