From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. When they arrived, he said to them: ‘You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
Acts 20:17-21 (NIV)
Read: Acts 20:13-38
Consider: In the previous post on Acts 20 we looked at the instances where Paul used the words ‘You know’.. Today we turn to the three instances where ‘I know’ is said. Paul in Acts 20:23 says: ‘I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me’. Paul understood that the life of following Christ would bring him into opposition not only with the Jews, but also with those who oppose God.
In 20:25 he says: ‘Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again’. Although Paul was leaving them he knew that the work must go on. He encourages them to keep watch over themselves and the other believers in Ephesus, and to be shepherds for the flock, protecting them from the coming false teaching (20:28).
In 20:29 he says: ‘I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among and will not spare the flock’. Paul warns the Ephesian believers that they too will face persecution when false teachers creep in amongst them. He didn’t hide the truth from them.
Did you notice the one instance in the passage where Paul admits to not knowing something? Look at Acts 20:22 where he says: ‘And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there’. Fear of the unknown can paralyse some people. Why not Paul, particularly as he tells the Ephesians that he believes persecution and imprisonment await him (20:23)? Paul knew that unpleasant things lay ahead of him, but not exactly what. The Holy Spirit revealed enough detail to him to be able to prepare himself, but not so much that might frighten him.
There is much to learn from this short passage from Acts 20. Some further things to learn are that as Christians we shouldn’t be surprised that sharing our faith will lead to others opposing us; we can’t achieve everything ourselves and we must pass on the work to others, encouraging them to take on the role. Finally, we will never know all that God has planned for us, he will reveal his plan a little at a time.
Pray: Father, may we be true ambassadors for you, relying on your Holy Spirit to empower us for the work you have called us to do in sharing the gospel, knowing that at the right time we must pass on the work to others. Amen