Acts Chapter 20
Paul’s final visit to Troas:
(Read Acts 20:1-16)
We read about Paul’s third missionary journey from Acts 18:23 to 21:14. When the riot was over at Ephesus, Paul said farewell to believers and left for Macedonia to revisit and strengthen the churches there. He stayed there three months. Paul was preparing to return to Syria when he discovered a plot by some Jews to kill him. So, he decided to return to Syria through Macedonia. Several men accompanied him during this journey (Acts 20:4). Paul never worked alone. Upon their arrival at Philippi, Luke rejoined Paul. The team went ahead and waited for Paul and Luke at Troas. Five days later they joined the team at Troas and stayed there for seven days. On the first day of the week, they gathered with the local believers to observe the Lord's Supper. They remembered the Lord’s death and resurrection. It is a day of fellowship and worship in the early church. Since Paul was leaving the next day, his teaching continued until midnight. Being overcome by sleep tragically a young man named Eutychus fell down from the third story and died. Paul raised the young man alive to the amazement of all. Worship and fellowship are necessary for spiritual growth. Those who follow Christ must make the breaking of the bread meeting a priority in their lives (Hebrews 10: 25). It is to commemorate what Christ has done for us on the cross. The weekly Sunday gathering of the church is the most important gathering of the local church. The church is designed to be a place for spiritual growth, worship, and fellowship.
Paul’s Farewell to Ephesians Elders:
(Read Acts 20:17-36)
When Paul arrived at Miletus, he called the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet with them. Paul reminded them how God has enabled him to testify the gospel of grace. This is not only the saving grace but also the sustaining grace. Grace is powerful than the law because it transforms lives and motivates to serve Christ. Paul explained how he ministered among them. He taught them with humility and with tears. His teaching was in public and from house to house. Paul kept back nothing that was spiritually helpful to them. His message had twofold emphasis “Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ''. Repentance and faith are essential for salvation. We must have a changed attitude toward God to have genuine faith in Christ. Paul was a soul winner. He maintained a clear conscience before God and man. He used every opportunity to witness Christ. He declared the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). Paul was determined to finish the ministry that he received from the Lord with joy (Acts 20:24). He sacrificially served the Lord. Paul never coveted money or celebrity status. Paul worked with his own hand to support himself and others. Paul was mindful of the words of Christ ``It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
(Read Acts 20:36-38)
Paul reminded the elders to guard themselves against false teachers and pay careful attention to the ministry the Holy Spirit has given them (Acts 20:28). The nature of pastoral care is clearly placed in the hands of leadership in the church. Christ is the head of the church, and He purchased it with His own blood. He invests His authority on the under-shepherds to oversee the direction of the church. Their responsibility is to lead believers by example, feed them by the ministry of the Word and guard them from errors. Paul warned them that after his departure, false teachers will enter the church (1 Timothy 1:3-4). They will distort the truth and draw away disciples to themselves (Acts 20:29). Paul finished his discourse with the elders by entrusting them to God and to the Word of his grace. He knelt and prayed with them. They embraced Paul and kissed him good-bye. They were sad that they would not see Paul again and accompanied him to the ship. Their loyalty to Paul was based on his ministry of truth rather than his personality. Pray that God would produce and sustain a Christ centered community in your location. Do you appreciate the ministry of the elders in your church?