Read Acts 20:25-31. What did Paul warn the Ephesian elders about? What were they to do to prevent this from happening?
During his ministry Paul often faced opposition, and he knew that it would be difficult to preserve the purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In his farewell to the Ephesian elders he drew from the watchman analogy in Ezekiel 33:1-6 to tell fellow leaders that they were also responsible for safeguarding the Gospel. They were to be faithful shepherds of their congregations.
Paul’s use of the expression “savage wolves” to describe false teachers (Acts 20:29, NKJV) is reminiscent of Jesus’ similar warning that false teachers would disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). These false teachers did arise soon after Paul spoke this warning, and they preyed upon believers in the Asian churches that he had established. In Ephesians 5:6-14 and Colossians 2:8, we see some of Paul’s warnings to churches in Asia Minor.
In his Second Epistle to Timothy, Paul also warns Timothy, who is responsible for the church at Ephesus, against errors in the church and godlessness in the last days.
First, Timothy should know his Bible, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, NKJV). The antidote to these useless disputes and speculations is to correctly understand and teach the word given by God. The truths of the Bible must be rightly interpreted so that no part of the Scriptures will be set in opposition to the entire picture presented in the Bible, and also to prevent misinterpretations that may cause one to lose faith in Jesus. Irrelevancies and secondary issues are to be subordinated to the principles of God’s Word that actually will prepare believers to live a victorious life in Christ. Paul’s second recommendation is for Timothy himself to “shun profane and idle babblings” (2 Tim. 2:16, NKJV). Trivial and speculative topics are not to be part of Timothy’s teaching ministry if he is to be considered a worthy and faithful minister. These types of conversations lead only to more ungodliness and do not edify the faith of believers (2 Tim. 2:16). Truth alone leads to godliness and harmony among believers. The reason Timothy must avoid and urge his people to avoid such errors is that they sweep through the church like a disease (2 Tim. 2:17). In the end, obedience to the Word of God is the antidote to false teaching (2 Tim. 3:14-17) that could threaten the unity of the church.
|How can we, as a church, protect ourselves from similar kinds of people who, through false teachings, could bring divisions among us?|