Farewell Address at Miletus

“I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:23-24)

Paul concluded his testament by sharing everything he has done thus far to the Ephesian elders who gathered in Miletus. Together, they shared tears through humility by serving the Lord by enduring the Jews’ deceit, preaching the word of the gospel to everyone, the acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah by the Jews, and the Gentiles testifying to return to Christ from idols. Paul’s role as Jesus’ disciple is quite significant.

Delegation of mission
Paul served most of his time at the Church in Ephesus. There, the Ephesian church elders received direct lessons from Paul, learned ministry through hands-on experience, and lived closely with him. Paul emphasized that the elders should share their experiences with everyone, and they agreed by following Paul and the activities he performed. Paul accepted his destiny and purpose that God has given him and saw that he was bound by the Holy Spirit. As a result, Paul fulfilled his duty as a disciple of Jesus Christ and became responsible for the church and all the church leaders.

Elder is a shepherd.
The Ephesian elders were called to serve as overseers. The Holy Spirit appointed them to serve this purpose. As shepherds of the flock, the elders participated in the messianic shepherding – which is like the duties that a bishop would hold. The main purpose of their duty was to protect the saints from false teachers, who entered the church to negatively influence beliefs and made strange claims that were blatantly contrary to the gospel. As Paul and the elders became aware of the false teachers, they expelled them from the church by becoming more devoted in the ministry.

Diligent ministry
Paul refers quite extensively to the matter of the livelihood of the elders. He gives an example of his own practice in this matter. The elders must know how to clearly distinguish false teachers even in matters of livelihood. False teachers come from the outside and appear from the inside to disturb the church. Their characteristic is that they owe others in the name of preaching the gospel and use their position to obtain money. But, importantly, elders should not give any excuse to be called lazy because of their way of life (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12).

Paul made many references to his experience with the elders and his own practices during this time. The elders were able to clearly distinguish the false teachers in the matters of livelihood. These false teachers were outsiders of the church and were determined to disturb the environment of the church. They took advantage of the people by preaching false prophecies and used that to obtain money from the victims they convinced. (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12)

Think about
When Paul’s discipleship ended in Ephesus, he knelt down with the elders and prayed with them. Paul announced that he would never see them again because his journey had to continue elsewhere, the elders and members of the church were distraught and wept bitterly. Paul was filled with so much anxiety from the pain in his heart of leaving them, that he couldn’t even take a step back from them until his ship departed Ephesus.