Acts 20:13-38 (JDV)
Acts 20:13 We went on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we were going to pick up Paul, because these were his instructions, since he himself was going by land.
Acts 20:14 When he met us at Assos, we picked him up and went on to Mitylene.
Acts 20:15 Sailing from there, the next day we arrived off Chios. The following day we crossed over to Samos, and the day after, we came to Miletus.
Acts 20:16 You see, Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, because he was hurrying to make it to Jerusalem, if he was capable, for the day of Pentecost.
Acts 20:17 Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the congregation.
Acts 20:18 When they came to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,
Acts 20:19 slaving for the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews.
Acts 20:20 You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching you publicly and from house to house.
Acts 20:21 I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
Acts 20:22 “And now, notice – I am on my way to Jerusalem, tied up by the Breath, not knowing what I will encounter there,
Acts 20:23 except that in every town the Sacred Breath warns me that chains and troubles are waiting for me.
Acts 20:24 But I consider my throat of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.
Acts 20:25 “And now, notice – I know that none of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will ever see me again.
Acts 20:26 In view of the fact that I declare to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you,
Acts 20:27 because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God.
Acts 20:28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Sacred Breath has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with his own blood.
Acts 20:29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts 20:30 Men will get up even from your own number and distract from the truth to withdraw the disciples into following them.
Acts 20:31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I never stopped warning each one of you with tears.
Acts 20:32 “And now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified.
Acts 20:33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.
Acts 20:34 You yourselves know that I worked with my own hands to support myself and those who are with me.
Acts 20:35 In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
Acts 20:36 After he said this, he knelt down and prayed with all of them.
Acts 20:37 There were many tears shed by everyone. They embraced Paul and kissed him,
Acts 20:38 grieving most of all over his statement that they would never observe his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
As confident as Paul was that he was serving God by proclaiming his word and strengthening his congregation, he still had a lot of things about his future that he did not know. He was honest about that not knowing when he said his farewell to the elders at Ephesus.
Loving the church leaders as he did, it would have been tempting to respond to their pleas by agreeing to stay on at Ephesus. He could have been assured of a successful ministry among people who loved him and had his best interest at heart. He could even have convinced himself that their needs required his prolonged ministry, because he knew that there were going to be problems in the churches after he departed (29-30). But he had unfinished business that was drawing him to Jerusalem. The different drummer to whom he marched forced him ever onward, in spite of the danger and uncertainty.
LORD, give us the courage to follow you, even if it means leaving a sure thing to face the unknown.