From Troas to Miletus
"Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.
The Ephesian Elders Exhorted
From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
"And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears".
"So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship. (NKJV)
Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey Continues: “The Road back to Jerusalem”
While preaching in Troas and spending 7 days in Troas, Paul through the power of the Holy Spirit brings a young man named Eutychus back to life, who sitting in an open window had fallen down 3 flights from an upstairs meeting in the building while in a deep sleep. After taking time to break bread and talking a long while that lasted in to daybreak, Paul now departs from Troas in an attempt to both meet up with the elders of the church in Ephesus and to arrive back in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost (Passover).
I. Paul: From Troas to Miletus (verses 13- 16)
Paul elects to meet the brethren who accompanied him at Assos, a seaport in Mysia,, a province in Asia Minor rather than travel with them in the ship. Rumor had it there was a plot by the “Judaizers” to ambush him the minute he boarded the ship to Assos. Also, it was a shorter distance by foot than by ship because the ship had to go around a cape to get there. While on foot he took the time to witness to the lost along the way, as well as encourage the believers who lived in the region. He joins up with Luke and the rest there and with them travels to Mitylene, a wealthy “chief” city of Lesbos, on an island off the western coast of Asia Minor. From there, leaving Mitylene, they traveled to 4 cities in 3 days: Chios, Samos, Trogyllium and finally to Miletus. When they got to Miletus, Paul decided he would not spend any time in Ephesus because he didn’t wish to risk starting another “riotous” situation in Ephesus like occurred the first time with the Romans concerning the worship of Artemus. (Diana)
A Footnote: Concerning Idol Worship
In Assos, they worshipped “Athena”. In Samos, they worshipped “Juno”. Nothing was said concerning Chios, probable because of it small size and it being obvious a fertile place, known for the growth of figs, wine, wheat and gum mastic.
Footnote: Paul Emulating Jesus through Example
Paul emulated Christ in doing this. In Mark 6:45-51, Jesus sent his disciples ahead in to Bethsaida, while he went up into the mountains to pray, joining them in the 4th watch of the night as they rowed in the middle of the sea confronted with “contrary winds” and a stormy sea. Jesus walked across on the water to meet them. Paul along with the witnessing and encouraging the people he met while walking apparently meditated and prayed as well.
Paul’s Farewell Address to the Ephesain Church Elders (verses 17-27)
Paul elected to bypass a final visit to Ephesus for expediency (to expedite time) to get to Jerusalem. He sends for all the leaders in the to come to Miletus to say his final goodbyes, and give them final ministry instructions.
His farewell Address: He gives his testimony of how he approached ministering to them: You all know how I carried myself from the first day I came to Asia (the 3 years) I was with you at all times.
Paul's Character and conduct:
I served the Lord with all humility of mind….with many tears and temptations (trials, persecutions, interference…etc..) from the Jews (unbelieving Jews concerning Jesus Christ as Messiah and the equality of the converted Gentiles in God’s kingdom) (vs. 19)
Paul served without arrogance, pride, or a spirit of a dictator; Paul had no desire to "lord it over God's heritage" He didn’t get the big head over the success the Lord gave him in ministry.
Paul experienced much opposition everywhere he went with the gospel message. Being run out of several cities in the process. The tears Paul shed were in the same manner when Jesus wept over the “sin” state of Israel. It grieved this apostle that the Jews who Jesus came to still rejected him even after it was proven in the scriptures (the Law and the Prophets) Old Testament that Jesus was the promised Messiah)
Important Point Concerning Success:
Success should never breed arrogance. Success should always breed humility and the firm acknowledgement of just how great and praiseworthy the Lord is for giving you the success. If it had not been for the Lord who was on your side, there would not have been any success!
If you truly love people and concerned about their soul salvation, it grieves you every time they reject Jesus or die without accepting Him as their savior and Lord
" I kept back nothing that was profitable to you but have showed you, taught you in public and from house to house" (vs. 20)
Paul didn’t withhold any sound doctrine, no admonition, no labor. Whatever he determined as given to him by the Holy Spirit that would promote their salvation, he faithfully and fearlessly shared with them. Paul did this in public preaching and those times when he had to make private visits to individual families. Paul shows us the true responsibility of a minister or teacher of the WORD of God:
The Responsible and Dedicated Minister of God:
A minister or teacher of the gospel must seek from the Lord through the Holy Spirit of what will be profitable to the people of his charge. Their aim should be to preach what will be profitable. Our objective is not be to “tickle their ears or, to gratify their taste, or pump up their pride, or to promote the minister’s or teacher’s own popularity.
2 Timothy 3:16 says: "All Scripture is profitable"; and it will be our aim to declare that only which will tend to promote their real welfare. Even if it be unpalatable; if it be the language of reproof and admonition; if it be doctrine to which the heart is by nature opposed; if it run counter to the native prejudices and passions of people; yet, by the grace of God, it should be, and will be delivered. No doctrine that will be profitable should be kept back; no labor that may promote the welfare of the flock should be withheld neither in public nor private.
Concerning Home Visitations: “Ground Rules” for Private Visitations:
Whenever ministers or a missionary team from the local church make home visits, they should do it for the sole purpose of ministering. That is, they should make the visit brief, bringing words of comfort and encouragement, sharing uplifting songs of praise to God to lift the spirit of the ones who are in convalescence. Finally, they should end the visitation with prayer for God to bless the home and strengthen and heal the one who is in recovery. Paul gives us in his final testimony to the Ephesians elders the assurance he did it the right way. Paul did not visit for mere ceremony; for idle gossip, or chit-chat; or to converse on the news or politics of the day. His goal was to show the way of salvation, and to teach God’s word in private the same of what he taught in public. Paul’s example should always be our example and purpose.
How much of this is to be done is, of course, to be left to the discretion of every minister. Paul, in private visiting, did not neglect public instruction. Paul’s public preaching was considered to be his main or chief business. While public preaching is the main business of a minister, and while their first efforts should be directed to preparation for that, they may and should find time to enforce his public instructions by going from house to house and often he will find that his most immediate and apparent success will result from such family instructions.
If it is their duty to make home visitations, it is the duty of is people in whom homes the minister(s) visits to receive them as becomes an ambassador of Christ. They should be willing to listen to his instructions; to treat him with kindness, and to aid their endeavors in bringing a family under the influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.(vs. 21)
Paul taught both Jew and Gentile the same doctrines that are essential to salvation:
a. Repentance toward God: "Repentance" is to be exercised "toward God," for the following reasons:
Every "SIN" we've committed regardless of who it affected has been committed against God. (see Psalms 51:4) and it is proper that we express our sorrow to the God because whenever we sin, we offend God. Jesus said whatever we do or fail to do to toward others, we do or fail to do towards HIM.
Only God can pardon AND FORGIVE SINS . Sincere repentance exists only where there is a willingness to make acknowledgment to the very Being whom we have offended or injured.
b. And faith toward Jesus Christ In regard to Jesus Christ because Jesus offer the ultimate sacrifice for the remission of our sins: His Blood. This means the sinner must believe and have confidence in the work and merits of the “cross work” of redemption through the Lord Jesus. This is required, because there is no other one who can save from sin.
Final Instructions to the Elders “Paul’s Departure” (verses 22-27)
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:
The meaning of the phrase: "Bound in the spirit": It means to strongly urged or constrained by no other reason .
"but the influences of the Holy Spirit on my mind to go to Jerusalem."
1st Point: When we are strongly urged by the convictions of duty, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, we should not shrink from danger or from death. Duty is to be done at all hazards. It is ours to follow the directions of God; results we may safely and confidently leave with him
Not knowing the things that shall befall me there
He knew that calamities and trials of some kind awaited him (Acts 20:23), but he did not know:
(1) Of what particular kind they would be; nor,
(2) Their issue, whether it would be life or death.
2nd Point: We should commit our way unto God completely, not knowing what trials may be before us in life; but knowing that, if we are found faithful at the post of duty, we have nothing to fear no matter what happens next. And even if death is at the end of the next assignment, we should be in THAT place in our walk with Christ that the only thing that mattered was we finished the assignment God gave us , and if we wake up the next day, it meant that there’s still more work to do on the battlefield.
Save (except) that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. (vs. 23)
Except that. This was all that he knew that bonds and afflictions were to be a constant part of his life. He was to suffer greatly for the cause of Jesus Christ. Anninias told him this in Acts Chapter 9 when Saul received his sight back and calling from Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost witnesseth that is, the Holy Spirit had deeply impressed the mind of Paul by his direct influences, and by his experience in every city, that bonds and trials were to be an integral part of his life and ministry.
This was certainly the case for the greater part of his ministry and experienced on every missionary journey he traveled. In almost every city where Paul had been, he had been subjected to these trials. He had been persecuted, stoned, and scourged. He approached Jerusalem, and every other city, with a confident expectation that such trials awaited him there.
Paul’s Attitude Toward What Awaited Him: (vs. 24)
"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God”. (vs. 24)
Paul here expresses his feeling concerning what cold possible happen to him as he’s determined to travel to Jerusalem:
a. The possibility that I might suffer persecution of experience harm doesn’t alarm me, or deter me from my purpose. These things aren’t worth consideration in regard to the great purpose to which I have devoted my life.
b. I do not consider my life so valuable that I must safeguard it by turning away from bonds and persecutions. I am certain I will experience bonds and afflictions. If it be necessary, I’ll lay down my life in prosecution for the preaching of the gospel and the saving of men souls.
Note: This was the spirit (attitude) of the Savior, and of all the early Christians. The belief was “duty” is of more importance than life; and when either duty or life is to be sacrificed,” life” is to be cheerfully surrendered.
- This is Paul’s main objective: “to finish my course with joy”.
Concerning how Paul saw his life on the missionary “battlefield”:
2 Timothy 4:6-9: Paul: as a “Drink Offering” having fought the “good fight” of faith.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure (the end of my life) is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, (at the Judgment seat of Christ) and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23: Paul said: I am a “Servant of God” to “all men
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ) that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
Concerning Paul seeing life as a “race” or “course” to be run:
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27: The Christian Life goal: Striving for a Crown
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified".
Life Application to Us:
With the clear conscience, a made up mind, and focus on the Christian mission, our ultimate goal in this life should be to strive to live for the Lord in ministry and in life that we will have nothing to regret when we lie on a bed of sickness unto death or whenever or where ever our life on earth should ends.
It is a glorious privilege to finish this life with joy. It is most sad when the last hours of a person are embittered with the reflection that their life has been wasted. The only way in which life may be finished with joy is by meeting faithfully every duty, and encountering, as Paul did, every trial, with a constant desire to glorify God.
Second, we are to fully discharge the duty of the gospel ministry.
The songwriter said it best: A charge to keep….a God to glorify…WHO gave HIS SON my soul to save and fit it for the sky…..To serve this present age….my calling to fulfill….Oh made it all…my power engaged… to do my master’s will.
Like the charge Paul gave to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5, we are to make full proof of our ministry to the extent it is the “ruling” principle of our lives. We live to minister and minister to live, to glorify God because the Lord has entrusted us with the preaching and teaching of His WORD. Both the office of minister and the WORD of GOD is sacred and neither is to be taken lightly. Remember, we are not our own and Jesus bought us with a great price, purchasing us with the shedding of His precious blood.
Paul: “Concerning His Purity and Faithfulness” (verses 25-28)“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. (vs.25)
"I don’t expect to see any of you again. I have every reason to believe this is the last time we will fellowship together. Paul knew the journey back to Jerusalem was a dangerous one and anything could happen as he travelled there because the Judaizers (Jesus and Gentile hating Jews) wanted him dead. He didn’t expect to visit Ephesus any more. The journey back to Jerusalem was dangerous, and Paul knew that there were still other places he needed to travel to spread the gospel message. As a footnote, Paul did return to Ephesus in Acts 28:11.
Point of Interest: If the pastor or minister in a particular church had an amicable ministry and fellowship relationship at the time it was that pastor or minister time to leave to pursue their next God given assignment, the parting of their ways is one of the most tender and affecting of the separations that occur on earth.
Paul's purity and Faithfulness:
“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God”. (vs. 27-28)
Paul said: in light of my past, let the record show among you that I’ve been faithful is declaring unto you all “the Counsel” (the will and purpose of God) IN REGARDS TO THE SALVATION OF PEOPLE Paul had made a full disclosure of that plan of the guilt of people, of the claims of the Law, of the need of a Savior, of the provisions of mercy, and of the state of future rewards and punishments.
Not only that, Paul shared with the people (Jews and Gentiles) the history, the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah, the revelation that He has already come in the person of Jesus Christ and every doctrine that reveals the will of God up to now.
“I have not held anything back I am pure from the blood of all men”.
In other words, if any man (Jew or Gentile) who heard Paul and failed to accept the Gospel and dies, their blood is not on Paul’s hands because through the preaching of the gospel and showing the Jews in particular everything written concerning the coming Messiah was fully fulfilled in Jesus Christ that he have fully shown them the way to salvation and reconciliation.
Paul says; “I take you to record”! In other words, I call you to witness. If any of you are lost and if you prove unfaithful to God, I appeal to you that it’s not my fault... It’s your fault. Paul echoes the same mandate God placed on the Old testament Prophet Ezekiel..
Ezekiel 3:16-19 God’s Mandate to Ezekiel
‘ Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul”.
Question: Why Must Pastors, Ministers, Teachers and Witnesses Declare God’s Counsel and not our own?
a. We must reveal the will of God for MAN, starting with the Gospel, because it’s not God’s desire that any man should perish eternally but all men repent and be reconciled to HIM.
b. Ministers must declare all that God counsels, because God commands it.
2 Timothy 4: 2- 4:
"Preach the WORD. Be in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke with all longsuffering, for the time will come (already has) when men will not endure sound doctrine, but shall heap unto themselves teachers having “itching ears”. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth to fables".
c. Because it is needful (necessary) for the salvation of people.
d. Because the message is not ours, but God's, and we have no right to change God’s message, disguise God’s message, or withhold (refuse to preach, witness to, or teach) God’s message.
Important Message: Since it is all of our duty of ministers to declare God’s counsel, it is equally important for the hearer to know it’s their duty to listen to it with respect and candor, and with a sincere desire to know the truth, and to be saved by it. Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. Remember, declaring the counsel of God will do the hearer no good unless it is received into honest and humble hearts, and with a disposition to know what God has revealed for salvation.
Warning: Division and Strife is coming when I depart (verses 28-31
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood”
First and foremost, "Watch yourselves": Watch your behaviors, attitudes and your habits. Scrutinize and censure if necessary what books, commentaries, or magazines you read or films and documentaries you view on media screens Live your life in such a way that you avoid those things that grieve the Holy Spirit. Preach and teach the oracles of God and not your opinions or personal commentary. Then, at the same time, watch the flock you are privileged to pastor or lead: Feed the flock of God. “They are God’s people not ours”. Jesus purchased everyone of them with His precious blood.
Second: The Holy Spirit placed you in the position of “overseer” not boss. God called and qualified and separated you to this sacred work.
Ministers are beset plagued with “unique” dangers and temptations in their personal lives. In addition to the temptations which they have in common with other people, they are exposed to those “special” temptations that are common to the execution of their pastoral and teaching offices that arise from flattery, personal ambition, and despondency (depressions from members you minister to and your own for loving and caring for them and worldly-mindedness..
(1) To “take heed” to the church; Take care of God’s people. We are to instruct, teach, and guide them and safe guard them from enemies and to make it their special object to promote its welfare. The Church’s Creed states: We are to strive for the advancement of the church in knowledge, holiness and comfort. We are to promote its prosperity and spirituality. And sustain its worships ordinances, disciplines and doctrines.
(2) To “take heed” to ALL the flock. Regardless of their state or stature; the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, the old and the young. It is the duty of ministers to seek to promote the welfare of every individual that is a part of the church without discrimination. We cannot ignore the poor because they are poor, or be intimidated by the rich because they are rich. A under shepherd must have regards to the interest of the weaker members of the fold as much as the strongest ones.
A faithful minister will seek to advance the interest of all. To do this they should make every reasonable effort to know the members in the flock. Get to know all the people. The Pastors/ ministers/ teachers should be acquainted, as far as possible, with the unique needs of the flock, their character, and dangers, and should devote themselves to their welfare as his first and main employment.
Remember, Jesus Christ purchased every member of the church with his own precious blood.
Literally, Jesus Christ shed His blood as the offering (sacrifice) for the redemption of every man who accepted Him as Savior and Lord and the only means whereby man could be saved. We have been bought with a price, that price being the blood of Jesus shed on Calvary.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.(vs. 29)
After my departure (After I leave you) grievous wolves” (false teachers so cunning, so hypocritical and theologically dangerous (Judaizers from the outside) will come to you with the sole purpose of seeking to destroy the church in every way possible, especially to turn you back to the Mosaic Law and away from Jesus Christ by defending the traditions of men and the Mosaic Law itself.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (vs. 30)
From within your own church, there will be those who profess to be Christians will rise up, causing a major division within the flock and split the church by introducing crooked, secular and inaccurate biblical interpretations of scripture
Literally true: Churches will either explode and evangelize the true Gospel to a sin-sick dying world and grow, or allow false teaching and false doctrine to cause it to implode and become ineffective in the gospel ministry of evangelism.
The most dangerous enemies the church has had “demonically speaking” have been everywhere Satan’s seat was allowed to nurture and have strong influence in the worship and in the administration areas of the local church. As dangerous as heresy is, it's most dangerous whenever members in the congregation are poisoned by it's lying venom as was exemplified by the Church of Pergamos in Revelation 2:12-17.
Many times, "Strife" and "false teachings" have been nurtured from within the “institution” church (that is the local congregation and/or convention) own bosom, Vivid examples of this show up in the church in a few of the following ways:
a. Those who have perverted the true doctrines of the gospel, that refuse to believe that Jesus is the only way anybody can be saved.
b. Like among the Ephesians, among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:11-13), There might be clicks and schisms formed within the fellowship.
1. People who are influenced by personal ambition and a quest for power of influence because they either have the largest family in the congregation giving thus giving them majority influence if they all unite behind the schism or cause.
2. There are also people who give large sums of money not out of love and compliance to giving tithes and offerings, but to gain certain favors from their giving.
3. Some members possess the “spirit” of Diotrephes in 3 John 9, or like Phygellus or Hermogenes in 2 Timothy 1:15 or like Hymeneus and Alexander in 1 Timothy 1:20.
Within every church there are people who are driven by personal ambition or the love of power and popularity. They will secretly and sometimes openly form parties (factions) in the church, for the sole purpose of creating divisions and distractions, and will do everything they can to block the prosperity and peace of the church if they cannot get things to go their way. The church of Christ would have a lot less to fear from external enemies if it didn’t allow the nurturing of internal enemies. There are “enemies” and there are “friend-a-mies”
Paul said for this reason…..
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (vs. 31)
Watch. Be on guard because you are faced with danger from without from the communities and from within from self promoting ambitious power hungry members. Opposition will come from the outside and schisms will come from “formed factions” within the congregation.
I’ve (Paul) have been teaching and warning of these possible dangers for 3 years day and night…..with tears. For 3 years, I counseled, I gave admonition, I taught and you saw for yourselves I experienced much opposition every opportunity I was given.
Paul’s Final Commendations to The Ephesus Leadership Delegation (verses 32- 35)
I commend you to God and the “WORD” of His grace
As Paul gets ready to leave them, believing this might be the last time he would ever see them again, he leaves them in the hand of the Lord God .(Jesus)
This is to say that he was leaving them in God's own hands under His divine protection and guardianship because he (Paul) would be no longer with them in person, yet always with them in spirit. He left them under the Word of God’s grace, that is the many promises the Lord had made to His church, the gospel message and the support they should expect from the comfort only the presence of the Lord could give them.
God’s WORD and grace is able to build you up.
Paul told them that the WORD of God has power to build them up in His most holy faith. It here means God’s WORD will establish, will make firm, or permanent, and hence, the WORD will instruct, will establish in sound doctrine and in hope.
The primary principle is, that the Word of God is able to confirm and establish them, amidst the many dangers they would be exposed to for their diligence in both living for Jesus and sharing the gospel message everywhere they would ever go. Paul said this in other places in the New Testament:
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account”.
“For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
God’s WORD will give you an inheritance.
Being made children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus, and sanctified by his Spirit, Paul said they have a right to the heavenly inheritance; for only the children of the family can possess the celestial estate.
Application to us: For this reason, we all must be saved by grace, and after salvation, be made children of God and having been sanctified by his Spirit; and, then, being prepared for, they are removed, in due time, into the heavenly inheritance. Because of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are heirs with God and joint- heirs with Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:17)
“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together”
Paul: You know how I have dealt with you concerning money (vs. 33-35)
"I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel" .(vs. 33)
Paul told them this so when the wolves came, this would be one of the ways they could be identified, because these grievous wolves (false teachers) teach for selfish gain. (Money) They would promote their own self interests and points of view, teaching the “doctrines of men”, whereas the genuine teachers and preachers of Christ neither coveted nor had worldly possessions. (during that time period in history) Paul didn’t preach or teach for selfish financial gain. Whenever he asked for money, it was a collection to take to the Jerusalem church to help the poor members
Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. (vs. 34)
I worked for a living.
The financial conditions of the church were such that it could not support him. Even in today’s society, many pastoring God’s churches are obliged to support themselves and their families, at least in part, in the same way, while indefatigably testifying the Gospel of the grace of God. Whatever it may be to the people, it is no cause of reproach to the minister, to be obliged thus to employ himself. Some pastors are and will always be “bi-vocational”.
I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (vs. 35)
"I have showed you all things
"I have lead by example and I remembered what Jesus said:. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
The giver is happier than the receiver. This sentiment is worthy of Christ. A truly generous person of faith rejoices in every opportunity they have to do good to somebody else and feels happy in having such opportunities. It’s an attitude of selflessness.
A man of an independent spirit, when reduced to poverty, finds it a severe trial to be obliged to live on the bounty of another, and feels pain in receiving what the other feels a happiness in communicating. It’s hard for many people who were once financially sound to ask for help when they are now dependent on the charity of others to help them stay afloat. Their pride gets in the way!
There are 3 great reasons why it is more blessed to be a giver
a. To be able to give is a blessing in itself. Giving is a condition for which we should be thankful when we are in a situation to promote the happiness of others.
b. There is pleasure in the act of giving when it is done with pure motives. It promotes our own peace; is followed by happiness in the recollection of it; and will be followed by happiness forever. That is the most truly happy man who is most benevolent. He is the most miserable who has never known the luxury of doing good, but who lives to gain all he can, and to hoard all he gains.
c. It is blessed in the reward that shall result from it. Those who give from a pure motive God will bless their giving.
According to Matthew 25:34-36,they will be rewarded, not only in the peace which they shall experience in this life, but in the higher bliss of heaven, Imitating his great example, and complying with his command, the church shall yet learn more and more to give its wealth to bless the poor and needy; its sons and its daughters to bear the gospel to the benighted pagan; its undivided and constant efforts to save a lost world.
The minister would it be very happy. Only if every Christian could leave the world with a like consciousness that they had been faithful in the discharge of his duty. So by dying, it will be blessed to leave the world; and thus would the example of the saints live in the memory of survivors long after they themselves have ascended to their rest.
Conclusion: Prayer and Farewell (verses 36- 38)
Paul kneels down and pray with the whole delegation (vs. 36-38)As he prepared to leave, Paul now kneel down to pray Kneeling while praying is a demonstration of reverence for God and humility for being chosen by God to serve.
The whole delegation began to openly cry as they out of their affection for Paul and embrace and kiss him in tenderness which was a common form of showing affection between the saints during this time in history.
The delegation experienced sorrow for what Paul had said concerning him possible not ever seeing them again. The last thing they did was to walk with Paul to the ship as he got ready to set sail from them.
Concerning whenever the pastor, lay minister or teacher leaves a congregation to a new assignment:
1. That the parting of ministers and people is a most solemn event, and should be one of much tenderness and affection. If the minister or teacher leaves in good standing, people who grew to love them for what God did through them to help the people become better and more mature in the Lord, there will be an outpouring of love affection and tears.
2. The purpose and effect of our relationship in Jesus Christ is designed to make the heart more tender, as well as make our friendships with one another more affectionate and sacred; and to unite us more closely in the bonds of love.
3. Paul gave us as ministers a great module to use and exemplify. As ministers of the Gospel, every ministers and teachers should be prepared to leave the people at their ministry assignments with the same consciousness of fidelity and the same kindness and love. We should live our lives in such a way that we can look back upon our whole ministry as pure and disinterested, and as having been employed in guarding the flock, and in making known to them the whole counsel of God. If we do this, when there is that time when we must separate from each other, we can do so in peace; and so living and acting, we will be prepared to give up our account with joy, and not with grief.
Dr. William Edward Boddie