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Acts 20:7-37 – The Final Movement in Acts

In Acts 19:21 the Holy Spirit who had directed Paul’s movement into Asia and then Paul’s movement around the Aegean Sea now initiates Paul’s third movement to Rome. As Jesus’ final ministry in Luke was his journey to Jerusalem, so Paul’s final ministry in Acts is his journey to Rome. Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem culminated in Jesus speaking to his disciples, then a trial before the Sanhedrin and finally standing trial before the Roman authorities. Likewise, Paul will have a final discourse with disciples before being put on trial before the Sanhedrin and the Romans authorities.

Before we come to Paul’s final discourse to the believers Luke includes a story of Paul’s speaking to a group of Christians in Troas and a young buy falling asleep. We learn that the early Christians met on the Lord’s Day, broke bread, and had an exhortation from the Scriptures.

Paul spoke for a long time – until midnight. The post-sermon talking went for a long time too – until sunrise. Why did Paul speak so long? He did not expect to see them again. Why does Luke record that Paul spoke so long? It illustrates that Paul desired to share with the Church all God’s words and everything that wild be useful.

When Eutychus fell from the third story dead – a slave, long day, late at night, lamps burning – Paul restores his life. If this is the last time, they will see Paul then they are encouraged by the gospel that proclaims the resurrection – the end is not the end.

At Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. Paul himself is a model for how the Ephesian elders should behave. He had given the Ephesians the whole word of God. (verse 20 – not shrink or pull back from declaring everything that is profitable; verse 27 – declaring the whole counsel of God). Luke used Paul’s preaching at Troas to illustrate this. Paul also highlighted his willingness to suffer for the gospel – “not knowing what will happen to me, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Next Paul described the work of the Ephesians elders. They are called elders because they are mature and experienced in the faith. He urges them to pay attention and care for the flock (the Church). In this sense they are shepherds (pastors). The Holy Spirit has made them overseers (bishops) entrusted with watching over God’s people. Elders, shepherds (pastors), overseers (bishops) all refer to the same office. Whereas wolves do not spare the flock but take life from the sheep, shepherds will preserve the life of the sheep. Foe example, by chasing away wolves who speak twisted things i.e. false teaching.

Ultimately, shepherds build up God’s people – not for their own gain in silver and gold – but that God’s people might be sanctified and receive and inheritance at the resurrection.