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: One of the interesting ways to study a Bible passage is to look for repetition and then to look at how the words are used so as to learn something from each.
In Acts 20:13-38 we are told of Paul’s address to the believers in Ephesus when he was about to leave them. If you have read the passage you may have noticed that there is repetition of the word ‘know’, which appears six times in the passage. In three of the instances Paul says to the Ephesians ‘you know’ and in three he says ‘I know’. Let’s look at each of these in turn. Firstly, the three instances of ‘you know’.
In Acts 20:18 Paul says ‘… you know how I lived the whole time I was with you …’ You may have heard of the term WYSIWYG, meaning What You See Is What You Get. In Paul’s case this was exactly what the Ephesians got. He lived a transparent life among them. What he was in front of them was the same person he was in private. What he said matched up with how he lived. In other words he didn’t just ‘talk the talk’; he ‘walked the walk’.
In 20:20 Paul says ‘You know that I did not hesitate to preach anything that would be helpful to you’. He goes on to say (20:21) that he was impartial in his preaching to both Jews and Gentiles and told them to repent and to have faith in Jesus.
In 20:34 he says: ‘You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions’. Paul took a decision early on that his ministry was not going to be a financial burden on those to whom he preached and shared the gospel.
What can we learn from this passage? Some of the things to learn are that as Christians our lives should be distinctive and transparent; we should be faithful in sharing the gospel with others and we shouldn’t be a financial burden on others.
Pray: Father, challenge us from your Word today. May we live courageously and boldly in the world, faithful in sharing the gospel with others. Amen