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Paul’s Farewell Tour

Our sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day is Acts 20:17-38. As Paul continued his “farewell tour,” he left Troas and arrived at Miletus, a town about 25 miles away from Ephesus. Paul’s plans were to make it to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost, therefore he could not spend time in Ephesus. So instead, he stopped in Miletus and sent for the elders from the church of Ephesus to come to him in Miletus.

The rest of Chapter 20 records Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesians elders. Paul reminds them of the pastoral leadership he provided in Ephesus for the three years he lived there. Then, in much the same way Moses passed his ministerial duties on to Joshua, Paul affirmed the elders’ responsibility to carry on that same pastoral ministry to the people of Ephesus. This tells us a lot about God’s plan for the government of the local church.

In verse 28-35, Paul outlines for the elders some of their foundational duties in the church.

This chapter comes to an emotional end as Paul prays with the elders and they all grieve Paul’s departure. Of all that Paul said to them at that occasion, there was one sentence that stood out about the rest (v. 38). It’s the one in which Paul said to them, in verse 25, “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.”

This was Paul’s farewell, and it was received with much grief.