Paul Meets the Ephesian Elders
But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him. When they arrived he declared, “You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus. “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. “And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders. I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you. “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship.Acts 20:17-38
I know it is seemed an age to wait for the Ephesian elders. We don’t know just how long it took them to make the journey from Ephesus to Miletus. Probably in reality it took around 5 days walking 12 hours per day to walk the 60 kms. A fast walking pace per kilometre is around 7 minutes. A slower walking pace which would be needed to keep up the pace for a longer distance for an average person is around 12 minutes. 5 days would be the slowest time. I imagine the Ephesian elders could have walked faster than 12 kph and would perhaps have walked more than just 12 hours per day given the motivation of meeting with Paul at the end of the journey. So clearly in the time it took the elders to walk from Ephesus, Paul must have been waiting in Miletus. That seems to indicate the ship was laid over for at least that length of time.
It is always interesting to see what words are said at farewells. They are often the most poignant moments where we save our choicest comments given the fact that we are parting. Have a look at this speech carefully in the context of what was taking place. As we know from history this was the final meeting to take place between Paul and leaders of the church at Ephesus. They would not meet again. Paul has sown into these men and men and the people of Ephesus for a period of 27 months. It is clear that the relationship they shared was a significant one. It has to be like that given the fact that these men bothered to walk sixty kilometres to see him for a brief period of time. Likely as not their meeting took place at night on the day they arrived before Paul left early the next morning on the ship. So look carefully at the words spoken from that point of view.
If you were Paul what would you have said to the Ephesian elders on your last night with them? Think about that as you ponder these words. Let me remind you too that speeches are used by Luke in the Acts for a purpose. There are many of them. In Bible Gem 1336 – Speeches are a feature of the Book of Acts I commented on that fact and gave you a list of all the speeches in Acts. We will look at Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders using propositional analysis, which I will explain again at the time. In the meantime see if you can divide the block of text above into natural sections. I will give you my sections in the next Gem when we will begin our analysis of what Paul said to the Ephesian elders.
Have fun. As you read through this speech Luke has recorded for us remember to ask your questions. The questions that arise as you read Scripture are useful in your digging into the text in detail. As I have said to you before, feel free to send your questions to me and I will include them in my comments related to the text before us. If you register on www.bereaninisghts.org, which you can do now, you can get Bible Gems and / or Nuggets sent to you by email and be kept up to date with Online Deeper Bible news. There is now a new email for you to use to reach me at [email protected] to share any questions you want answered in the course of our investigation into Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders. I look forward to hearing from you. However I will still keep the Wycliffe email until I leave Wycliffe at some stage in the future.
The wonder of the depth of the Word of God becomes yours as you take the time to dig and ponder.Ian Vail
There is no substitute for hard work.Thomas Edison
The delight of discovering deeper truths in the Word of God and the manifestation of His presence is irresistible.Ian Vail
If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.Confucius