“Paul’s Farewell, Part 3” – Acts 20:28-38
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Warning for the Future
In the final part of "Paul's Farewell" message, the Apostle warns the Ephesian elders of the dangers they will have to deal with to protect and lead the Church in the future.
Some current church leaders apparently have lost the understanding of how important the Church is to God.
The Church is important to God the Father because His great Name is on it:
"The Church of God"
The Church is important to God the Son because He died and shed His blood for it.
The Church is important to God the Spirit because He calls and equips His people to minister to it.
It is a most serious matter to be a spiritual leader in the Church of the living God.
* In Bible exposition, "therefore" always ties the current verse to the previous verses and line of thought (Vs. 26-27).
"...take heed to yourselves..."
* "Heed" - Prosecho (Gk.) - To pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to, beware. Primarily, a devotion of thought and effort to a thing. (Strong's 4337)
* Watch yourself and your actions.
"...and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit..."
* "The flock" - God's people, the Church.
* "The Holy Spirit" - The Holy Spirit is the true Leader of the Church. We are "under-shepherds" of His flock by His call.
1 Peter 5:1-4
"...has made you overseers..."
* "Overseers" - Episkopos (Gk.) - Bishop, superintendent, i.e.; a Christian officer in general charge of local church or churches. (Strong's 1885)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
"...to shepherd the church of God..."
* "Shepherd" - Poimen (Gk.) - One who tends flocks, used metaphorically of Christian "Pastors," (Eph. 4:11). Shepherds guide as well as feed and protect the flock. Exercising "oversight" with tender care and vigilance. (Strong's 4166)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
"...which He purchased with His own blood."
* At the highest cost.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace......who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
(Eph. 1:7, 14)
Paul has sought to impress upon the Ephesian elders the seriousness of their office, and ours!
The Lord Jesus commanded Peter to "feed My lambs," "tend My sheep" and "feed My sheep." (Jn. 21:15-17)
“For I know this…”
* Prophecy for the future. Paul is “bound in the Spirit.” (Vs. 22)
"...savage wolves will come in amongst you, not sparing the flock..."
* Paul understood savage wolves, not sparing the flock, for he had been one:
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
* But Paul also understood Christ's teaching:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
2 Peter 2:1-3
"...from among yourselves..."
* From within the Church, many false prophets/teachers got their start in the Church, then and now (1 Jn. 2:18-23).
"...speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves."
* "Perverse" - Misleading
* This applies to then, now and the future (Matt. 24:4-5, 11, 24).
* Satan's desire:
1. Keep men from salvation in Christ.
2. Men once saved to be drawn from Christ and made useless for the kingdom.
* "After themselves" - Another issue in the Church ("from among yourselves") are leaders desiring "preeminence" like Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9-11).
All of this demonstrates that believers must know the Word of God and be able to discern those who seek to mislead and control us, the danger around us ("false prophets") and among us (false leaders).
In the next passage (vs. 31-35), the Apostle will warn us “take heed” of an even greater danger to the Church:
The danger within us - SIN.
"...watch and remember..."
* Carelessness, the sin of the failing to remember the cost paid by believers that came before us, that we would have God's truth (Heb. 13:7), and that we fail to watch over and "warn" the flock of approaching danger (Ezek. 33:1-9, 34:1-3, 7-10).
"...I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up."
* Shallowness, the sin of failing to realize that we cannot build the Church unless God builds us up daily.
* Here, again, is "balance," prayer ("I commend you to God") and "the Word," Bible study (1 Sam. 12:23).
"...but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
"The Word of God alone is able to edify and enrich us, and the spiritual leader must spend time daily in the Word of God and prayer."
"I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel."
* Covetousness - The sin of a consuming and controlling desire for what others have and for more of what we, ourselves, already have.
* "Thou shalt not covet" - The last of the Ten Commandments. But covetousness will lead to breaking all the other nine.
* Covetousness is idolatry (Eph. 5:5, Col. 3:5).
* The qualifications for an elder in the Church specifically prohibit covetousness (1 Tim. 3:3).
"...these hands provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me."
* Laziness, the sin of not working to care for others and yourself.
* Paul was a tent maker and church leader (Acts 18:3). A bi-vocational pastor.
* Even though he had the right to receive support from those he ministered to for "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (Lk. 10:7), he did not avail himself of this right because of the Gospel:
If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless, we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.
(1 Cor. 9:11-12)
"...and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than receive.'"
* Selfishness, the sin of putting ourselves above others. The opposite of selfishness is service:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
* Nowhere in any other Scripture passage is Christ recorded as having said these words:
"It is more blessed to give than receive." Paul is speaking from personal recollection (Gal. 1:1, 11-12) as well as oral tradition (Jn. 21:25).
These five sins are especially destructive to the life and ministry of spiritual leaders in the Church of God.
True ministry means giving, not getting, it is following the example of Christ.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
Paul ends his message by kneeling and praying for his friends.
They all wept together.
It is a difficult thing to say goodbye to beloved brethren, especially when you know you will never see them again in this life.
We are children of God, and have a blessed assurance that we will be together again when the Lord returns, with Him and each other in eternity!
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
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