Reading through the Bible together
Paul’s plan for his third mission trip was to reach Rome (Acts 19:21). He had gone to Antioch, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus (the great cities of the Mediterranean world) but Rome was the greatest of them all. He didn’t make it to Rome immediately, but he did accomplish a great deal in the meantime. In Ephesus, he wrote letters to the Corinthians, and did so with many tears, expressing his concern for them (1 Cor 2:4). Also he decided to stay in Ephesus a bit longer since new opportunities for evangelism surfaced (1 Cor 16:9). At this time the riot led by Demetrius took place (Acts 19:21-41), and Paul left for Macedonia (Acts 20:1). In Philippi, he met up with Titus, who was bringing back the good news of Corinth’s positive response to his letter (2 Cor 7:6-10). Eventually, the apostle made it to Corinth, where he stayed for three months before leaving again (Acts 20:2, 3). From there, he wrote to the Romans, in anticipation of his journey there
Paul was ready to set sail from Corinth to Jerusalem first. But he learned of a plot to kill him, and decided to go back through Macedonia, instead (Acts 20:3). After one week with Luke in Philippi, he met with the other men in Troas, where he resurrected Eutychus in the midst of a night-long sermon (Acts 20:7-12)! In the morning, the men got on a ship going to Assos, but Paul decided to go on foot. He wanted privacy to think and pray (The Acts of the Apostles, p.392). Once back on ship, they eventually docked in Miletus, 30 miles from Ephesus. From there he sent word to the elders to come and see him. When they came, the apostle said to them, “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house” (v.20), declaring “the whole counsel of God” (v.27). He warned them that “men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves. Therefore watch…” and protect the church (vv.30, 31). Then he said to them: “Take heed to yourselves . . . to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (v.28).
The great apostle focused on the two functions of the elder, according to the New Testament. The first is to teach the Word (1 Tit 1:5, 9), so the flock will grow spiritually and won’t go astray. The second is to rule (Acts 20:28), that is, to shepherd the flock with wisdom and skill, alluding to the shepherding and oversight ministry of today’s pastors, which applies to elders as well. Many reading these blogs are leaders in the local church. Remember your responsibility: be a teacher of the Word, and a shepherd of the flock. These are the two primary responsibilities of pastors and elders in the church. This is what Paul did, and oh, how they loved him! (Acts 20:36-38).
Ron E. M. Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and TheologySeminary, Andrews University