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Christ Church—Radford

6226 University Park Drive

Radford, VA 24141

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From: Paul, To: Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38)

From: Paul, To: Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38)
(Sermon Link)

Past Experience (verses 17-21)

Paul was bidding farewell to people he loved and would never see again. He had spent three electrifying and edifying years with them, and he now gives a word for the leadership of the church. Paul calls attention to their past ministry experience with him, mentioning both his manner of living and also the message he preached. First, he mentions his manner of living by pointing out that he was with them “serving the Lord” (v. 19). Paul understood that how he lives among his hearers will make or break the usefulness of what he says. His ministry was personal (“with you”), it was not proud (“with humility), and it involved both tears and trials. Paul also calls attention to the message he preached. His message was profitable, public, and private (v. 20). His message was the proclamation of Christ and repentance and faith (v. 21), and it included the entire counsel of the Scriptures (v. 27). Paul didn’t shrink back from proclaiming any portion of God’s word. He didn’t cave or compromise in order to accommodate. He wasn’t interested in pleasing people with his eloquence. Instead, he was “determined to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

Future Exhortation (verses 22-31)

Paul’s selflessness is further exhibited by his determination to fulfill his ministry, no matter the cost to himself (v. 24). Paul recognizes that his ministry isn’t about him, but about the gospel. Referencing Ezekiel 33:1-6, Paul boldly declares that he has so fully presented the purpose of God in the gospel, that he is innocent of the blood of all people (v. 26). And now, he gives his parting counsel to the elders, that they pay heed to themselves, provide for the flock, protect from the enemy, preach profusely, shepherd the sheep, and keep watch for wolves (vv. 28-31). They were to follow Paul’s own pattern of continual admonishment to the church (v. 31). With sincere warnings and compassionate pleas, they were to instruct the minds of God’s people so that they might think and act appropriately. It was Paul’s preaching, his admonishment to the church, that allowed him to say, “I am innocent of the blood of all men.” His preaching served as the primary means of shepherding. He could give the elders no greater incentive to shepherd in this way than to remind them that the church of Christ they serve was “purchased with His own blood” (v. 28).

Present Expectations (verses 32-28)

Finally, Paul commends them to God. He places them under the word of God, assuring them that His word is able to build them up and give them inheritance along with all those that are sanctified (v. 32). In other words, Paul’s final exhortation to these elders is that they presently make it their ambition to look to God continually by looking to His word. Their ministry should be placed in entire subjection to the revelation God has given in the Scriptures. 

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