Paul’s Final Charge to Ephesus

Acts 20:17-38

Paul’s Final Charge to Ephesus


NOTE: Blogs written on Sunday are notes that go along with the preaching of our worship service. Not everything spoken appears in the notes and not everything in the notes will be said in the sermon. The notes are a guide, so use them to your benefit and enjoy.


Paul has invested blood, sweat and tears in the work of the gospel.


This glorious good news that God has provided rescue from the curse of the rebellion that has caused all of creation to break, and it brought about the death of man and his death toward God.


God has sent his eternal Son, Jesus, to come and live perfectly to take on himself the guilt of sin and receive the punishment of God through his death on a Roman cross, be buried and on the third day rise to secure salvation for all who will repent and believe this good news.


Jesus ascended to the Father where he sent the Spirit to take up residence in and empower and gift all those who believe this good news thus marking them as his adopted children, heirs of God.


Jesus has sent his church with this good news to disciple the nations by going, baptizing and teaching obedience to Jesus.


This work of the kingdom has cost Paul a great deal. The gospel of the kingdom is always free to the receptor and never free for the giver. The gospel cost the Father his Son, cost the Son his life and costs us who take it the price of laying down our agendas and priorities and even our lives by taking up the cross to follow Jesus in obedience.


Paul has received the love of God and therefore loves those whom he has served by bringing them the love of God.


What we get to see in our text today is Paul’s passionate final teaching opportunity for his Ephesian children in the faith.


Paul is going to summarize his ministry in a threefold manner: 1. Paul’s reflection on the past, 2. Paul’s instruction for the present and, 3. Paul’s teaching for the future


What do we see? What does it mean?


Paul reflects on the past 20:18-21, 26-27, 31, 33-35

  1. Paul reminds Ephesus of his uncompromising work 20:18-21, 31

Paul did not “shrink”, referring to the lowering of a sail, from declaring anything profitable. A relevant word since they were on the coast and he had been on board ships making his way to Jerusalem.


Verse 20 is not a prescriptive strategy. This is Paul’s practice of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and evidence that he views this church as his children in the faith.


Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”


  1. Paul reminds them of his faithful work 20:26-27

Paul did not pick and choose his favorite passages. Paul gave the Ephesians everything.


  1. Paul reminds them of his unselfish work 20:33-35

Paul’s unselfish work was to be imitated.


They were to help those who were weak not shut them out or shut them down because it is better, according to the Lord Jesus in Matthew 10:8, to give than receive.


(Note: if you look up Matthew 10:8 you will read this: “Matthew 10:8 (ESV) Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”


Luke is exegeting Jesus’ teaching that you got it free, so give it out free.


Blessed meaning the mark of having the fullness of God, so to give away is evidence one has all of God they can handle and they have to be a giver. Don’t think mere money. Think like the text, power from God to do supernatural work. Thus, helping the weak as Luke records Paul teaching.


But the purpose of this “note” is to draw your attention to the fact that Luke is referring to Matthew. So, Matthew was already in writing or done. Thus, we have evidence the gospels are earlier not later and this is a big deal in manuscript studies and accuracy.)


Paul instructs the Ephesians for the present 20:22-25, 28, 32

  1. Paul explains how the Spirit has made clear that difficult challenges are ahead 20:22-23


  1. Paul explains how the goal is to complete the mission not save his own life 20:24


  1. Paul instructs the leaders to keep themselves in check and lead the church well 20:28

How are they to care for the church? Look back at verse 27 then forward to verse 39-30.


  1. Paul commits the church to God and his word containing the message of his grace 20:32

This grace is “able”…powerful (dunamai) to build up and give the inheritance.


Paul instructs the Ephesians about the future 20:29-30

  1. Paul warns them about false teachers that will come from without 20:29


  1. Paul warns them about false teachers that will come from within 20:30


Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”


How do we obey?

  1. We must be people who love well.


  1. We must never “lower the sail” when it comes to teaching the “whole counsel of God”.


  1. Let’s be a church of givers not takers.


  1. Let’s commit to finish the mission given without flagging in passion for the missisn.


  1. Pastors, interns and future leaders, care for the church by teaching and protecting from false teaching by holding to the word of the gospel.


  1. Hide the word deep in your heart so you may not sin and so you can know the wolves from the sheep.


  1. Deal harshly and swiftly with the wolves and love the sheep.

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