Acts 20:17-38 Saying Goodbye as an Act of Leadership

Paul’s Last Words to the Ephesians

FOCUS STATEMENT

This passage also reflects Paul’s understanding of what makes a strong and faithful leader:

  • First, a leader must be willing to tell the truth, even in those circumstances when the truth is hard to hear.

  • Second, a leader must be willing to take risks.

  • Third, a leader’s life is grounded in more than her own personality or his own personal preferences.

  • Fourth, a leader must be a good example.

Acts 20:17-38

17 From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. 18When they came to him, he said to them:

‘You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews.20I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus. 22And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. 24But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.

25 ‘And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. 26 Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You know for yourselves that I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions. 35 In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ’

36 When he had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. 37 There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again. Then they brought him to the ship.

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Questions

  1. In what ways does Paul’s speech here sound more pastoral than others of his speeches in Acts?

  2. Why do you think the Bible focuses so much on leave-taking and final words?

  3. What are some of the elements of a healthy and faithful parting?

  4. Have you ever experienced a healthy and faithful parting? When?

  5. What light is shed on the word “good-bye” when we consider that it means, literally,

    “God be with you?”

  6. What are additional characteristics of a strong leader beyond those listed above?


Coming Soon:

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