Summary: To establish that Paul’s farewell was one of kindness and deep concern for the leaders of the church at Ephesus; and all ministers and elders should aspire to foster this same spirit in their work of Christ everywhere.
1. Paul’s Commitment To Ephesus
2. Paul’s Commission to Ephesus
3. Paul’s Character in Ephesus
1. This lesson outlines Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the Ephesian’s church who came in haste to see him before his journey to Jerusalem. These elders had traveled from Ephesus to Miletus some twenty miles away; just to see him and hear his words of encouragement before he began his last missionary journey. This journey would take him from Jerusalem unto Caesarea, and then ultimately unto Rome, to appear before the seat of Caesar.
2. First, Paul speaks of his commitment to the church in Ephesus while he was among them some 3 and ½ years. He reminds them of his work of preaching Christ and the grace of God among the Jews and Gentiles; and how God has granted them “repentance unto life, those that believed in Jesus.” He tells them also how he had “kept back nothing that was profitable to them; but taught them publically and from house to house.” He did not shirk his apostolic duties in declaring unto them “the whole counsel of God.” I would like to think the same has been true of our work among you here in Baton Rouge.
3. Secondly, he commissions them to be unwavering in faith and in their devotion to the church. He explains that the Holy Spirit “had made them overseers” or to see over the flock; and “to feed the church of God, which He had purchased with his own blood.” He warns them of pending invasion of “grievous wolves who would enter in among them not sparing the flock; and how even some of their own leaders would rise up speaking perverse things in order to draw away disciples after them.” I would like to think these are the things I reminded you of while I laboured here with you in Baton Rouge.
4. Lastly, he reminds them of his character (manner of life) while he was among them in Ephesus. “How he had coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.” He pointed out that there were times while there he had to “work with his own hands to provide for his necessities; as well as for those that laboured with him.” Working he says: “to support the weak and remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give then to receive.’” This farewell address ended with him and the elders on their knees and in solemn pray and in tears at the sea side. “Sorrying most of all at the words which he spake, that they would see his face no more.” It is my sincere prayer that God will grant Carolyn and I many opportunities to revisit you after our departure – that we may reflect in great joy of our time among you here in Baton Rouge. We shall surely miss you all just as these elders were going to miss the beloved Apostle Paul. With this, let’s notice what he says regarding his “commitment to the church at Ephesus.”
BODY OF LESSON
I PAUL’S COMMITMENT TO EPHESUS
A. He sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the Church. These elders, Acts 20:17; are also called bishops, Acts 20:28. By the presbyters or elders, here, we are to understand that these were men of authority in the church; they were bishops or overseers in their work. The words are used interchangeably in this office of service. I should note that they are the same person (elder or bishop), 1 Timothy 3:1-10; Titus 1:5-9.
1. One describes the person – the elder; the other describes their service (shepherd or tender of the flock) – the bishop. Those who were elders – were also overseers of the church of Christ. Paul did not have time to meet with them in Ephesus; he thought it best to have the leaders of the church, meet him at Miletus, that he might present unto them his farewell address.
2. He first reminded them of his “commitment” to them while he laboured among them in Ephesus. This is the city where the temple of the “great goddess Diana” was erected. A metropolitan like the city of New York is today, a place of banking, commerce and trade.
B. After what manner I have been with you. He describes what manner of person he was among them “from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons.” For three years, and even more, you know what type a person I was among you at all time, Acts 19:1ff, Acts 20:31. “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews,” verse 18.