Strengthening The Brethren

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Strengthening Brethren In Miletus

Book of Acts Chapter 20

No matter how successful our work may be, it will one day come to an end.

The ministry of “spreading the gospel” by the Apostle Paul in Ephesus, had gone on unto the entire region of Asia.

Today we will see Paul’s farewell address to the Elders of the Ephesians church.

Paul was going to Jerusalem and his ministry would take him away from Asia but he would always keep them in his heart.

The Apostle Paul had a great respect for all who spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

AND, We can see this great concern for the church in the book of Ephesians and the letters to Timothy.

The Apostle Paul is therefore our example of a church planter and of a missionary of the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ.

But before we get into Paul’s example let’s take a quick look at Paul’s farewell.

After the riot that had come about in the city of Ephesus, Paul left and headed toward Macedonia. Paul had expected to meet Titus at Troas, and to get a report of the things that were happening at the Church in Corinth.

The Apostle Paul had spent three years ministering the “gospel” in Ephesus but he had also requested a love offering to be gathered for the poor, excommunicated saints in Jerusalem. (Excommunicated by Judaism)

Under his direction, the churches of Macedonia and Achaia were to collect money to be used to help those that were in poverty in Jerusalem.

But Titus had not come and Paul would not see Titus until he reached Macedonia.

Our lesson does not begin today until we get to verse 18 but I think it is important that we take a look at a few verses before that verse.

*****Act 20:7  And upon “the first day of the week”, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

Act 20:8  And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

Act 20:9  And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

In this verse we see the first mention of the church meeting on the first day of the week but it seems to have soon become a regular practice.

We can see this verified in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

1Co 16:2  Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

The first day of the week was already kept sacred by Christians, because it was the day of the Lord’s resurrection. (John 20:1)

And, this day was referred to as the Lord’s day in the Book of Revelation!(Rev 1:10)

We should also realize that the first day of the week was the day that God began the physical creation of this world we live in. (Gen 1: 1-5)

But also the first day of the week represents the beginning of the Church and also the “Church Age”.

It is very appropriate that we remember the first day of the week as a day to gather in the Lord’ name.

If we remember that the Jewish day began at 6 PM, then the phrase “at evening time” helps us to understand how Paul preached the gospel until midnight.

When Luke wrote about this in verse 9, he said the Apostle Paul was “long preaching”.

Paul’s sermon was long because this was also his farewell address to these people.

At this time, Sunday, the first day on the week, was not a day in which people were free of daily employment.

So the church began with an evening service.

And, it was during the Preaching service that this young man Eutychus fell asleep and fell from that third loft, which would make this building a three-story building.

This the last instance of someone being raised from the dead, by an Apostle in the Bible.

Whenever Christians assemble, the Word of God should always be heard and it should always include some reading of the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul did not hesitate to stop preaching but went down to this young man and we can say that he raised him from the dead because that is exactly what happened.

In verse seven we saw that the Apostle Paul observed the Lord’s supper but in verse 11 we can see that this group of people took time to eat a meal and the Apostle Paul talked with these people until daybreak.

*****Act 20:11  When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.

Act 20:12  And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

Act 20:13  And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.

The Apostle Paul chose to walk from Troas to Assos which was about 20 miles. This gave him more time to spend with the saints.

It would take two days for a ship to sail this distance but probably only about 10 hours to walk this distance.

The Apostle Paul probably also needed some time alone with the Lord as we all do.

There are 50 days between Passover and Pentecost. Paul’s trip from Philippi to Troas had already consumed 12 of those days.

It took Paul 4 more days to get to Miletus so Paul decided he did not have time to make it to Ephesus.

So he invited the leaders of the church of Ephesus to travel the 30 miles to meet him in Miletus. This is where the ship would wait to unload its cargo.

And this is were we will pick up our lesson for today:

Verse 18:

*****Act 20:18  And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,

Act 20:19  Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 

The Apostle Paul began his remarks to these elders by reminding them of his faithful service even in the face of adverse circumstances and much persecution.

The Apostle Paul was not ashamed of the gospel.

 

Paul had spent three years in Ephesus and had to endure fierce opposition much of this time. He had had much trouble with the Jews. He had battled with the labor unions and even had some problems with the local

government.

Despite all these things, Paul serve the Lord with all humility of mind and with many tears and temptations.

The Apostle Paul did not exalt himself above others.

The Apostle Paul was a humble man in his life but very bold when preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There had even been many attempts on his life by men from his own nation.

*****Act 20:20  And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

Act 20:21  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

In addition to his teaching in the synagogues, Paul had actually went house to house which led to churches being established in individual homes.

We know that the church in Corinth began in the home of Aquila and Priscilla.

We know that it is very possible that the Colossians church met in the home of Philemon.

And it is also very possible that the Laodicean church first met in the home of Nymphas.

Both repentance and faith were the central message of the Apostle Paul to all non-Christians.

Paul preached to whosoever would listen which included Jews and Gentiles.

Repentance toward God and faith in Christ are like two sides of the same bread.

Both sides are distinct but there can be no true repentance without true faith, one cannot exist without the other.

*****Act 20:22  And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

Act 20:23  Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.

That phrase “and now” shifts the emphasis from the past to the present as the Apostle Paul opens his heart and tells his friends just how he feels.

He did not hide the fact that he was bounded his own spirit to go to Jerusalem and even though he knew that danger and possibly death awaited him there.

The Holy Spirit had witnessed this message to him in city after city.

*****Act 20:24  But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul explained why he would not quit the gospel.

Paul had decided to put Jesus in front of everything in his life.

Paul was not a quitter and wanted to finish all the things that the Lord had given them to do.

Paul had received his ministry from the Lord and he knew that the Lord required his faithfulness and he also knew that one day he would have to give account for the message he preached.

Paul knew that the message of the gospel is a matter of life or death to those that hear it and Paul was a fighter, with both the life he lived and the message that he preached.

Paul was a preacher. He was commissioned and called by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul was a watchman. He had to be faithful and was not fearful, because the safety of many people rested with him.

Paul had to declare to sinners and saints all the counsel of God!

The Apostle Paul preached the entire Bible from cover to cover.

Those that do not preach the Bible from cover to cover are useless to the nonbeliever, but also to the believer.

The Apostle Paul had not allowed any of these things in Ephesus to distract him from his ministry.

*****Act 20:25  And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

Again we see these words “and now”.

Somehow God had impressed upon Paul that this would be his last time to see these elders of Ephesus.

Remember Paul had met 12 of these elders when he first came to Ephesus.

The message Paul preached regarding the kingdom, referred to the Kingdom of Heaven and how to get there.

*****Act 20:26  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

Act 20:27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

The Apostle Paul was confident that he had done what God had sent him to do in that city to both believer and the unbeliever.

The Book of James teaches us:

Jas 2:18  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Paul said “I take you to record” and what he was saying is that he was letting his actions be his testimony.

And there was no one in this area that could hold the Apostle Paul accountable or responsible for eternal damnation.

The sermons that the Apostle Paul had preached in Ephesus were the messages that God has specifically revealed to him or what he had directly led His Apostle to teach.

Jesus Christ had commissioned the apostles to teach the disciples to observe all things whatsoever he had commanded.

Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen

The Apostle Paul had done this very thing everywhere he preached.

*****Act 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Therefore, Paul told these elders that each of them should do the same thing.

That word “overseers” is the same as “bishops”.

These were the same as “elders” of the church.

These were the “pastors”!

In all these cases these are the “spiritual shepherds” of the church.

The job of the shepherd has always been to guard the sheep, to groom the sheep, and to gather the sheep, and to deliver the sheep to green pastures.

We can see all these things in Psalms 23.

*****Act 20:29  For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Act 20:30  Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

The Apostle Paul brought his message to a close by issuing a warning.

Each pastor and preacher, and each missionary and evangelist, need to recognize the dangers that they will have to deal with if they are to protect and lead the church.

We must never underestimate the great importance of the church to this world we live in!

The church is important to God because it has His name on it!

The church is important to the Son of God, because He shed his blood for it!

The church is important to the Holy Spirit, because He is convicting sinners to join the church and equipping the saints to minister to the church!

It is a serious thing to be a spiritual leader in the church of the living God!

There are many threats to the church from the world we live in, but there are also serious threats from within the church.

There are always wolves that want to destroy the church.

A Wolf  is crafty, greedy, and ravenous and kill sheep and other domestic animals without remorse.

In Scripture the Wolf is an emblem of treachery and cruelty.

Wolves are the dread of the shepherd!

Jesus said this about wolves:

Joh 10:10  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Joh 10:11  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Joh 10:12  But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The Apostle Paul warned the church that there would also be false brethren come from inside the church who would also try to lead people away from the truth.

They would have, “distorted doctrines” that would contain some truth but more error, to lead people astray.

We know that this is true especially in our day as we get closer to the end of the Church Age.

*****Act 20:31  Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

We must remember that the Apostle Paul was meeting with the pastors and preachers of this newly found churches. He warned them that they were to be vigilant in defending their flocks against false teachings.

But the Apostle Paul also said for them who would come after him to follow his example.

*****Act 20:32  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

As Paul winds down his sermon he uses that phrase “the Word of His Grace” .

This phrase refers to the Scriptures in which we see the grace of God is prominent.

These words are the means for spiritual growth.

These words are the means for spiritual maturity.

And these words are the means for spiritual instruction which leads to good morals and holiness.

And then inheritance among all those that sanctified means, is being a part of the family of God, here on earth and especially in Heaven.

*****Act 20:33  I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

Act 20:34  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

When God gave the 10 Commandments, the very last one said “thou shalt not covet”. When we covet we will break the other nine Commandments because it will cause us to steal, and to lie and to murder to get what we want.

And it will also cause was to dishonor our parents and especially dishonor Our God.

Coveting is idolatry because it is always trying to find something greater than the Living God!

In the qualifications for the preacher in 1 Timothy the sin of covetousness is also mentioned.

But the apostle Paul also mentions laziness.

Even though Paul had some support, he was a working preacher as a tent maker.

The Apostle Paul could have demanded support that would’ve made his life easier and it is not wrong for Christian workers to receive salaries.

1Ti 5:18  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

But every preacher should be certain they are really earning those salaries and Paul was!

It was a personal thing with Paul at this time of the early church to not be a burden to any church.

*****Act 20:35  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

A true pastor will always have the needs of his church in mind.

This verse implies that no pastor should burden any church that cannot meet the needs of it’s members!

True ministry is giving and not getting, and it definitely means following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*****Act 20:36  And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.

This verse teaches us that every sermon should be followed with prayer!

*****Act 20:37  And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,

Act 20:38  Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

It is always difficult to say goodbye. Everyone that was at this location this day knew they would never see each other again.

But that’s not entirely true!

We have the blessed assurance that we will all one day see our Christian friends and loved ones in Heaven!

Jesus promises us these things when He returns:

1Th 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

1Th 4:17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

4 thoughts on “Strengthening The Brethren

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