On his way to Jerusalem, Paul made another stop, this time at Miletus, where he had the opportunity to convey his farewell address to the Ephesian church leaders.
Read Acts 20:15-27. What was Paul’s emphasis in the introductory part of his speech?
Since he had already made plans for a new journey, which included Rome and Spain (Rom. 15:22-29), Paul believed that he would never return to Asia. So, he started his speech with a kind of accountability report of the years spent in Ephesus. Such a report, however, aimed not only at the past, that is, the way he had lived among the Ephesians, but also at the future, for he feared what could happen to him in Jerusalem.
Paul’s fear was not unfounded. The Jerusalem church viewed him with some skepticism, if not hostility, due to his past as persecutor and the circumcision-free gospel he preached (Acts 21:20-26). To the Jewish authorities, he was nothing but a traitor and an apostate from their religious traditions (Acts 23:1-2). By mid-first century, especially on account of Roman misrule, Judea was also gripped by revolutionary and nationalistic ideals. This atmosphere influenced all segments of Jewish society, including possibly the church. In such context, the activities of that former Pharisee among the Gentiles must have made him a figure of notoriety (Acts 21:27-36).
Paul also had more concerns. In Acts 20:28-31, Paul focused on how the church leaders in Ephesus should handle the subject of false teachers, whom he compared to savage wolves who would try to misguide and pervert the flock. So even in the church itself, and even in the earliest days of the church, the danger of false teachers was real. As Solomon said in another time and another context: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccles. 1:9, NKJV). A history of the Christian church reveals the incredible damages that false teachers have brought to the church. The problem will exist until the end (2 Tim. 4:3), too.
No question, Paul had a lot of things on his mind, a lot of concerns; and yet, his faithfulness and his diligence never wavered.
|Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-14. What is Paul saying here that we need to apply to ourselves, especially when trials come? Where does Paul put his ultimate hope?|