He seems to me like a football coach, motivational speaker, entrepreneurial CEO, and charimastic politician all wrapped up with the Love of God. ◊
The Apostle Paul really was a pastor-teacher-mentor that is beyond reproach. Yes, he was tough and bold, but also had great capacity for love, compassion and tenderness.
Is he a model Christian for all of us? Absolutely.
I believe he was as Christ-like as they come and see the full power of God’s hand and Spirit on him as he was obedient to the very challenging mission that was laid before him:
[T]estify both to Jews and to Greeks (Gentiles) of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
Many view Paul as the smart letter-writer of most of the New Testament, or as a superstar missionary and ambassador of the Christian faith. He actually was all of that, but so much more.
To me, he seems like a football coach, motivational speaker, entrepreneurial CEO, and charimatic politician all wrapped up with the Love and Spirit of God. A rare combination indeed.
Beyond the study of Paul’s epistles, travels and actions seen thus far, ACTS 20 highlights the full breadth of the man as the great Christian leader he was, particularly captured in his heartfelt farewell word to the elders in Ephesus.
Paul taught that Jesus was Lord of all things and superior over all pagan gods of human construct, as well as the promised Messiah of the famed Hebrew faith. This was enough to earn him enemies across all peoples who had not yet succumbed to the power of the Holy Spirit of God and put their faith in Jesus, the God-Man from Galilee.
In the latter part of ACTS 19, a riot breaks out in Ephesus among the craftsmen of the silver shrines of Artemis. (See Acts 19:23-41.) Their livelihoods were being threatened by this man Paul, who has:
“has persuaded and turned away a considerable company of people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. (Acts 19:26)
Paul has no fear and wants to go in and engage with the people in the crowd. His disciples keep him away and the ruckus is quieted by a Jewish town clerk. In ACTS 20 we find Paul exhorting his disciples as he departs for Macedonia where he provides encouragement along the way. He is ultimately trying to make his way back to Jerusalem. He uncovers a plot against him by the Jews. He keeps moving, eventually stopping in Miletus, about 45 miles outside of Ephesus.
Paul’s Farewell Message to the Ephesus Elders
Here Paul speaks inspirational instructions to the leaders in Ephesus he had come to know over the previous years. He invites them to come to him so as not to cause more commotion in town.
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.
“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:17-35)
So Paul left the region he had been ministering to for almost 3 years. And thus he completed his third major missionary journey. Paul would live on for another 10 years, but he never did come back to Ephesus.
Are you encouraged by Paul’s diligence?
When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. – Acts 20:36-38