Exhortation of the Ephesian Elders

Witness to the world: Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  57:01
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Travelling man

The 3rd missionary trip continues as Paul’s purpose, strengthen and encourage the brethren, and to be part of bringing the gift to the church at Jerusalem.
Acts 20:13–14 NASB95
13 But we, going ahead to the ship, set sail for Assos, intending from there to take Paul on board; for so he had arranged it, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene.
Mission team went by ship from Troas to Assos. (v.13)
Paul travelled by foot to meet the team in Assos. (v.14)
I think I mentioned last week why Paul may have travelled by foot was to have some alone time with the Lord or time of reflection before the busyness of the mission trip came again.
The journey between Troas to Assos was about 20 miles.
In Assos Paul meets us the mission team and the set out from there together.
From Assos to Mitylene, then the next day opposite Chios to Samos and then stayed in Trogyllium (v.15)
From Trogyllium the next day came to Miletus (v.15)
While in Miletus Paul wanted to go past Ephesus so he could be at Jerusalem, if possible, by Pentecost (v.16)
Paul loved Asia and love the church at Ephesus but did not want to spend time there for had a plan to be back in Jerusalem, then set out for Rome then Spain.
(Transition) so we have a pretty eventful few days and now we get to where I want us to spend our time tonight in looking at the exhortation of the Ephesian elders. So here is tonight in a nut shell
Paul reviews history, the past (vv.18-21)
The testimony of the present (vv.22-27)
The warning about the future (vv.28-38)

A history reminder

Paul knew what was coming, difficult times when he got to Jerusalem. He was not going to slow down or be hindered in making it there by Pentecost.
Time was of the essence for there is only 50 days between Passover (Act20:6) and Pentecost (Act20:16)
From Philippi to Troas took up 12 of those days (Act20:6), another 4 days to Miletus (Act10:13-16)
Paul decided not to go to Ephesus for timing purposes
And he invites the Elders to come the 30 miles to him.
In the book of Acts there are 8 messages given that are recorded by Luke and the one before us tonight we see the heart of an Elder, more-so than that of an Evangelist or apologist defending the Christian faith.
Elder is “presbutos” a mature person selected to serve in office (Act14:23)
Also called overseers “epitiritís” (Act20:28)
Also go by word “episkopos” which is bishop Act20:28) chosen to feed the flock.
The names elder, shepherd, pastor, overseer or bishop are synonymous.
In our first part of the message as Paul looks back and gives some history with a focus of looking at his faithfulness to the Lord and to the church that he ministered to for 3 years
Acts 20:18–19 NASB95
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them, You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;
Acts 20:20–21 NASB95
20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
What do you see, what do you notice, what sticks out to you?
Gleaning from the scripture:
Let me ask a question, do you like that we go and glean from the scripture and pull out points before we discuss things? Do you find it beneficial to you and your walk with Christ and the understanding of His Word?
Question: When did Paul start serving with all humility and tears the church at Ephesus (vv.18-19)?
From the first day that he set foot in Asia.
Question: What did Paul do, even though there were trials and tears that came because of the plots of the Jews? (see v.20)
He did not shrink from declaring anything that was profitable.
Question: What did Paul testify and to who in (v.21)?
He testified repentance, and faith. To both Jews and Greeks.
Paul was not the type of man who gradually did things, he went at things with a zeal (Php3:5-6; Gal1:14) and it was from the first day that he did not shrink from declaring. Paul was an ambassador not a diplomat and you can see that further in (Gal1:10ff) He was not worried about pleasing man but God. There are some things that we can see, learn from this portion of our passage.
The motive of Paul’s ministry (Act20:19)
Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears.
He was not about the money (Act20:33)
He did not covet anyone's silver or gold
He was not about an easy life (Act20:34-35)
By the work of his own hands he provided for himself
He was a bondslave, a servant of Jesus Christ (Act20:24)
For what he received from Christ he testified to the gospel of the grace of God.
His motive for ministry was spiritual and not selfish (Act20:33, 34-35, 24, 1The2:1-13)
Take the time when you can and read 1The2:1-13 there is some great truth, revelation of Paul’s heart, Paul’s motive for ministry there.
The manner of Paul’s ministry (Act20:18-19)
The manner was exemplary. Paul lived a consistent life and ministered the same, consistently, in all the churches
He served in humility; he was not like the Pharisees who wanted to be seen, to be noticed, to be pampered, or like some religious celebrity.
His humility was not a weakness but a strength to face the trials, tribulations, persecutions with courage without quitting. Remember it is always too soon to give up!
The message of Paul’s ministry (Act20:20-21; Ref: Act19:9; 1Cor15:1-8; Gal1:6-12)
The Message was announced and taught (Act19:9) - as in the school of Tyrannus
In the houses as noted in our passage (v.20)
The message was of repentance (v.21)
The message was of the Gospel of the grace of God (v.24)
It is the only message that can save the sinner (1Cor15:1-8; Gal1:6-12)
Paul said it was of first importance the resurrection of Jesus Christ
For there is no other gospel and anyone or anything that preached anything else was to be accursed.
There was no hold back from Paul, anything that was profitable (v.20), or in (v.27) the whole counsel of God.
The message had a mixture, a balance of doctrine and duties, privileges and responsibilities. Uncompromising but not legalistic it was a balanced message. And it was to the Gentiles and the Jews.

Testimony of the present

From the history, showing the faithfulness of Paul there is a shift to the present and what is going on, or in store for Paul.
Paul is going to share his heart and his view of the present situation with the elders of Ephesus, his friends whom he served with for three years.
Acts 20:22–23 NASB95
22 “And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.
Acts 20:24–25 NASB95
24 “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. 25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.
Acts 20:26–27 NASB95
26 “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.
What do you see, what do you notice, what sticks out to you?
Gleaning from the scripture:
Question: What did Paul know and not know when you look at (vv.22-23)?
He knew he was bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem.
He did not know what was going to happen there.
Question: What did Paul preach (v.24)? What about the preaching in (v.25) what did he preach? And finally what did he testify in (v.26)?
Preached the gospel of grace (v.24)
Preached the kingdom (v.25)
Testified of his innocence of the blood of all men (v.26)
Question: This one is very important, what did Paul not shrink from declaring (preaching, proclaiming (v.27)?
The whole purpose of God
Paul knew that there was danger, or as he said in (v.23) bonds and afflictions that were awaiting him, he did not quit and in this passage notes a few different graphic pictures of why he would not quit.
Paul saw himself as:
An accountant (v.24)
As an accountant he looked at his assets and liabilities. He chose to put Jesus as his biggest asset and before all other things.
A runner (v.24; Php3:12-14; 2Tim4:8)
As a runner he wanted to finish race, to press on toward the goal, to finish the course in joyful victory
Notice in (v.24) the personal pronouns
My life, my my race, and my ministry (implied)
The life he had was a life that God gave him and he knew it, do we? Do we live our lives today as a runner? As an accountant?
A steward (v.24; Gal1:12; 2Cor4:2)
His ministry was something that he had received from the Lord, not from man
He was careful not to walk in the craftiness of man or adulterating the word of God but by being a steward of the manifold wisdom of God proclaimed that a protected that
A witness (v.24, 2Cor2:15-16; Act20:18)
What does a witness do, he testifies, Paul testified of the gospel ofthe grace of God. It was a matter of life and death (2Cor2:15-16)
We too are witnesses of God’s grace, for we are recipients of it, and the gospel of grace is a matter of life and death as noted in 2Cor2:15-16, having said that do we treat it as such?
Paul was an effective witness of this grace by how he lived and what he preached, so can we, so should we!
A herald (v.25)
A herald is one who proclaims the message from the king. He does not originate the message. He has no authority to alter the message either.
Paul was a herald of King Jesus, and so are you! Be sure you know and understand the message so you can herald the given message, the gospel of the grace of God!
A watchman (v.26, 31; Eze3:17-21, 33:1-9)
This is a transition verse, a very dramatic verse
Acts 20:26 NLT
26 I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault,
Paul entrusted with the gospel, a steward of the gospel, a witness to the manifold grace of God and a herald of it, watched over it, like a watchman on the wall as seen in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 3:17–18 NASB95
17 “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. 18 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.
Ezekiel 17:19–20 NASB95
19 Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “As I live, surely My oath which he despised and My covenant which he broke, I will inflict on his head. 20 “I will spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. Then I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there regarding the unfaithful act which he has committed against Me.
Ezekiel 17:21 NASB95
21 “All the choice men in all his troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to every wind; and you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken.”
What a calling, hey want you to be a watchman, it is an awesome responsibility, so stay awake, stay alert. Be ready to sound the alarm. Be faithful not fearful
(Transition) Paul had been a faithful watchman not holding back from declaring the whole counsel of God (v.31) and that sets us up to the warning about the future.

The Warning about the Future

There were problems in and around the church then and problems trying to come in the church then and there are today too. Paul is giving a strong warning to the spiritual leaders (Elders) of the church of Ephesus. For it is a serious thing to be a spiritual leader in the church of the living God.
I know our time is limited by now so let’s read and look at the dangers noted and instructions given.
Acts 20:28–29 NASB95
28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for 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. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
Acts 20:30–31 NASB95
30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
Acts 20:32–33 NASB95
32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.
Acts 20:34–35 NASB95
34 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. 35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Acts 20:36–37 NASB95
36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,
Acts 20:38 NASB95
38 grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.
Be on guard for the church of God (v.28)
The church bore the name of God and is important to Him. So important that He sent Jesus to shed his blood for it. So important that He sent the Holy Spirit to equip the people to accomplish His will.
Savage wolves will come in among you (v.29)
Savage wolves that want to ravage the flock are the false teachers, the counterfeits that want to exploit the church (note down Mt7:15-23; 2Pt2:1-3 in your notes)
So church, it is important that we know the truth, the Word to be able to detect and defeat these savage wolves, or as one commentator said modern day religious racketeers.
Men will arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. (v.30)
So from the outside then Paul turns to the inside, those within the body, within the church. People who are ambitious for position power and prestige. (a few more scripture you can note down; 2Jn9-11; 1Jn2:18-19)
Staying with the from the inside, dangers within there are some characteristics he names
The careless (v.31) - the ones who forget the price that people paid to have the freedom, liberty you have in Christ Jesus, so Watch and remember.
The shallowness (v.32) - We cannot build the church unless God is doing it in our lives daily. The balance between prayer and the Word must work together. The Word alone is able to edify and enrich the church. The spiritual leader must spend time in the word and in prayer daily .
Next Covetousness (v.33) - a consuming and/or controlling desire for what others have more than for what God has already provided. - - - covetousness is idolatry (Eph4:4; Col3:5) - spiritual leaders are not to covet (1Tim3:3)
Laziness (v.34) -Paul worked for his keep, and yes we know that the worker is worthy of his hire (1Tim5:18) -The spiritual leader is not to be lazy but to work at shepherding the flock
Last one for tonight is selfishness (v.35) - true ministry is giving not getting. It means following the example of Jesus. - leaders should be about serving not being served.
A few quick things to ponder tonight
Do we carry out our work, whatever our duties are within the body?
Do we take the danger of apostasy seriously?
Do we remember and apply the principle that is is more blessed to give than to receive
Are we learning and applying the principles Paul displaying in his discourse with the Ephesian elders?
As Paul finished off with a prayer for them and with them may we close in a like manner, in prayer (Prayer) (Exit)
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