Devotion 8-19-15

Acts of the Apostles 20:13 – 38

13We went ahead to the ship and set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there; for he had made this arrangement, intending to go by land himself. 14When he met us in Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15We sailed from there, and on the following day we arrived opposite Chios. The next day we touched at Samos, and the day after that we came to Miletus. 16For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.

17From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. 18When they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. 20I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus. 22And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. 24But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. 25“And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. 26Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, 27for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. 31Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. 32And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. 33I coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions. 35In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

36When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. 37There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship.

The disciples, including Luke, have gone on ahead, sailing to Assos, where Paul had agreed to meet them after going overland. (If you have a map in the back of your Bible, you might trace this journey better there than from the maps I have attached. It is a little confusing; I had to go back a couple of days to trace it out.) From there, they set sail for Miletus, because Paul did not want to stop at Ephesus. Paul has decided that he wants to take the gifts from the churches back to Jerusalem at Passover time, if at all possible, and so does not wish to spend a great deal of time in Asia. He knows that if he goes to Ephesus, he will feel compelled to stay with these people whom he grew to love during the years he was there. Instead, he sends for the leaders of the church at Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. There he gives a touching speech, telling them how much he cares for them but that somehow he does not expect to see them again. He tells them that he has done his best among them, but must go on, and he prays with them; there is much weeping among them all; they embrace Paul, and then they bring him to the ship. It is around 57 CE, 20 years, or more, since Paul’s Damascus Road experience. God has used this man to spread the message of Jesus across the Roman world of his day.

Leave a Reply