4. Gospel expansion into Greece, 15:36-20:38

x] Paul's farewell sermon


Calling into Miletus on his journey to Jerusalem, Paul gathers the Ephesian elders and delivers a farewell sermon. This sermon could be delivered to the leadership team of any of Paul's mission churches, and in a sense, this is how it functions in Acts. Paul's pastoral ministry is coming to an end, dark clouds gather before him, and so he delivers a final word on the business of gospel ministry.


The business of gospel ministry, free from person benefit or advantage, entails the struggle of bearing witness to the important news of God's bestowal of grace through Christ Jesus.


i] Context: See 15:36-41.


ii] Background: See:

iThe kingdom of God, 14:21-28;

iContextualising the gospel, 16:1-15;

iThe theological structure of the gospel; 3:11-26;

iRighteousness before God apart from the Law, 10:17-33.


iii] Structure: Paul's farewell sermon:

Paul summons the Ephesian elders, v17;

The sermon, v18-35:

A review of Paul's ministry strategy, v18-21;

Paul's present ministry, v22-24;

"complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me."

Paul's Ephesian ministry, v25-27;

"I am innocent of the blood of any of you."

Gospel ministry charge, v28-31;

"keep watch over yourselves and all the flock."

Gospel ministry principles, v32-35;

A sad farewell, v36-38.


There is some debate over the structure of Paul's sermon to the Ephesian elders, and this because it evidences something of his emotion at the time, eg., repeated themes. Such actually counters those who think it is Luke's own creation. Barrett, as with many commentators, makes a point of noting the difficulty of outlining the sermon because of its many repetitions. None-the-less, there is some agreement as to structure. The outline above follows the structure proposed by Cho and Park, an outline that aligns very closely to the one proposed by Bock. In their view, the sermon primarily serves as a leadership charge, rather than a congregational charge.


iv] Interpretation:

This sermon serves as a commissioning for ministry. In it, Paul sets out to "review the character of his main missionary work, to forewarn of future dangers and to draw appropriate lessons for his churches", Dunn. This is an important feature of the sermon. Paul, an apostle of Christ, is instructing a team of church leaders to minister as he ministers; "In all this I have given you an example."

Although we usually classify Paul's speech to the Ephesian elders as a farewell speech ("a last will and testament", Fitzmyer), it is very similar in form to Paul's pastoral letters and as such stands as an exhortation to church leaders. In fact, Walton argues that elements of the sermon align with Luke's Last Supper discourse: suffering; the efficacy of Jesus death; leadership; and money and work.

Given that Luke is in one of his "we" sections in Acts, 20:5-21:18, there is a good chance that he was present on the occasion of the sermon. It is obvious that Luke has selectively summarised the sermon for us, recording the stand-out elements. The sermon is actually the only one in Acts addressed to a group of believers. The thoughts expressed in the sermon, as well as its phrasing, is similar to Paul's pastoral letters, cf., 1Tim.4:1-16, 2Tim.3:1-4:8. This is to be expected, although some commentators use the observation to argue it is a creation of the author of Acts.

Although primarily pastoral, the sermon does carry something of a farewell speech about it. Paul is aware of the prophetic warnings he has received over his visit to Jerusalem, and such is obviously weighing on his mind.

Peterson says of the sermon that it "gives Paul the opportunity to review his past ministry, to alert the elders to the danger of false teaching, unfaithfulness and division in the ongoing life of the church, and to commit them to the Lord and to the word of grace."


Following the structure proposed by Cho and Park, the sermon presents as follows; cf., Gaventa, Theology and Ecclesiology in the Miletus Speech; Reflections on Content and Context, NTS 50, 36-52:

i A summary of Paul's personal ministry principles, as already experienced by the Ephesian elders, v18-21. Paul testifies that he has served the Lord with humility; that he has boldly proclaimed the word in public and private; and that he has done so to both Jew and Gentile alike.

iThe circumstances facing Paul's ministry at this moment in time, v22-24. Paul's ministry, at the present moment, is directed by the indwelling compelling of the Spirit, a compelling which he is fully resolved to submit to, even though suffering is the likely outcome.

i The prime objective of Paul's ministry, as it was exercised in Ephesus, v25-27. The aim of Paul's gospel ministry is the announcement of the whole purpose of God facilitated in the coming kingdom of God, a kingdom realised in the person of Jesus Christ.

iThe Ephesian ministry team is charged with realising this same aim now and into the future, v28-31. The ministry team is to serve as shepherds of the flock, exercising a word ministry that both nurtures, and protects, protects the sheep from the "wolves" ("heretical teachers", Gaventa).

iThe necessary application of two key gospel ministry principles, v32-35. First, the communication of oJ logoV thV caritoV, "the word of grace", the gospel, the important news of God's grace in and through Christ, as not only the means of gathering the lost, but is the primary mechanism oikodomew, "to build up, strengthen (increase the potential of*), believers, so securing their eternal inheritance as the elect of God, holy and sanctified. Second, a ministry of service, rather than privilege, as evidenced in Paul's own ministry - "I worked with my own hands to support myself and my companions."


v] Homiletics: A Farewell Sermon

Like most ministers, I have had to deliver a number of farewell sermons. I know real men don't cry, but it's very hard saying good-by without a tear or two. It's all really a bit unnatural, because in leaving a church we have to distance ourselves from many wonderful people we have befriended over the years. We have to do this so that we don't get in the way of the new ministry. Anyway, in our passage today we have a three point sermon for the conclusion of a minister's term of service.

The first point, v18-21, focuses on the past. A final sermon can be a wonderful opportunity for the minister to get into a bit of pay-back. He can damn all those who have opposed his ministry, those who have resisted his Spirit-inspired innovations!. Yet for Paul, the value of his ministry lay in preaching a "profitable" ("helpful") word, and calling on all to repent and believe.

The second point, v22-27, focuses on the future. A minister on the move will often speak about being compelled by the Spirit - "the Lord has called me to minister in the Greek Isles" - many a lay person has wondered why the Lord didn't call him earlier! Paul did feel a compelling, but it is to the "task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace", "preaching the kingdom", proclaiming "the whole counsel of God."

The third point, v28-35, focuses on the now. Any minister worth his salt will want his programmes immortalised, and to this end, will ask his congregation to assist the new minister in the business of adjusting to the church's long-held traditions! For Paul, the business of the now is the business of the Word. In the face of un-truth and partial-truth we are to "commit" ourselves "to the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance."

Life is filled with change, and a church fellowship inevitably has to face this reality. Yet, some things never change. Let us hold onto that which changes not, and so to this end "I commend you to God and the message of his grace."

Text - 20:17

i] Paul summons the Ephesian elders for a final briefing, v17. Barclay tells us that Paul "asked" the elders of the Ephesian church "to come and see him", but the sense here is more of a summons than a request. Again, Luke reveals his understanding of the ecclesiastical structure of the New Testament church by referring to a leadership team made up of local presbuteroi, "presbyters, elders", cf., 11:30, 14:23, etc. The more ordered structure of episkopoV, "overseer, bishop = chief elder" (singular), presbuteroi, "presbyters, elders", and diakonhoi, "deacons, servants = others in the congregation exercising a ministry gift", is obviously taking shape at this time, given Paul's Pastoral letters. Yet for Luke, the model is that of team ministry. Note that Luke uses the term episkopouV, "overseers", for the elders in v28, indicating that for Luke, the word specifies the function of elders, rather than designating a separate order of leadership.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

apo + gen. "from" - from [miletus]. Expressing source / origin.

pemyaV (pempw) aor. part. "Paul sent" - having sent [into ephesus]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he called, summoned." As noted above, this summons to the Ephesian elders, if it is going to save time, must have been sent at some time prior to the ship's docking at Miletus. In fact, given vv. 18, 25, the summons may have extended to the other churches in Asia, so Stahlin.

thV ekklhsiaV (a) gen. "[the elders] of the church" - [he summoned the elders] of the church. The genitive is adjectival, possibly possessive / relational, or idiomatic / subordination; "the elders over the church".


ii] The sermon, v18-35. a) A summary of Paul's personal ministry principles, as already experienced by the Ephesian elders, v18-21. First, Paul speaks of his ministry in Asia - he served them through much hardship. Luke gives us some idea of the difficulties the disciples experienced throughout Asia due to the activities of conservative Jews. Despite the difficulties, Paul exercised a full teaching and preaching ministry, teaching all that was "helpful". As is typical of Paul's ministry, it was gospel-focused, communicating God's important news to unbelieving Jews and Gentiles alike, and this with the call for "repentance" and "faith". Verses 18-21 reveal three characteristics of Paul's ministry: "faithfulness; direct preaching of all that is necessary; and testimony about Jesus to all people without distinction", Bock.

wJV "when [they arrived]" - when [they came toward him]. This conjunction is used here to introduce a temporal clause.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [he said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

uJmeiV "you [know]" - you [you know that from the first day from which = when i set foot in asia]. Emphatic by use and position. The preposition af (apo) with the genitive pronoun h|V serves as a temporal construction, "from which" = "when"; "when I arrived in Asia."

pwV "how [I lived]" - how, in what way [i became = lived with you]. Used instead of oJti to introduce a dependent statement of perception expressing what they know, here in the sense of their knowing the manner of his living with them, ie., "the faithfulness of his ministry to them ..... he had been a model for them", Bock.

ton ... cronon (oV) acc. "from [the first day]" - for the [all = entire] time. The accusative is adverbial, temporal, extent of time; "for the entire time I was with you."


Paul describes the struggle of his ministry with a touch of the Servant of the Lord Biblical tradition.

douleuwn (douleuw) pres. part. "I served" - serving, giving service as a slave to. The participle is probably epexegetic, specifying "how (pwV) Paul was with the churches in Asia; "namely, I served the Lord with all humility." The NIV treats the participle as an finite verb, although such is best classified as a periphrastic construction with an assumed verb to-be, here an imperfect verb to-be for a periphrastic imperfect construction.

tw/ kuriw/ dat. "the Lord" - the lord. Dative of direct object after the verb "to serve."

meta + gen. "with" - with [all = great humility and sorrow and trials]. Adverbial use of the preposition, modal, expressing manner; "in all humility", REB. "Humility" refers to humble service as unto the Lord, "the risen Christ", Fitzmyer, the service being Paul's gospel ministry. Translations usually have the "tears" exegeted by the "tests", although the grammar simply presents a list of three items: "all humility, tears, and tests." "The tests" refer to the persecution which Paul endured, usually instigated by conservative Jews opposed to the gospel; "putting up with no end of scheming by the Jews", Peterson. "And sorrow (in the midst of) the trials ...", Culy.

twn smbantwn (sumbainw) aor. part. "although I was severely" - having happened. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "tests/trials"; "trials which I had to undergo." Often translated as also modifying tears, so "how I served the Lord with all humility in the sorrows and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews", Fitzmyer.

moi dat. pro. "-" - to me. Culy suggests the dative is adverbial, reference / respect.

en + dat. "by [the plots]" - in [the plots]. Here instrumental, expressing means, "by", as NIV, or causal, "because of."

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "of the jews / of my Jewish opponents" - of the jews. The genitive is usually treated as adjectival, verbal, subjective; "the plots devised by the Jews".


"I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable", ESV, positively expresses an observation common in Acts, namely that Paul proclaimed the gospel openly, candidly and honestly, and did so both publicly and privately, eg., 19:8.

wJV "you know that" - how. Likely linking back to the main verb "you know", v18, and as such the conjunction again serves to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what the elders know. The use of wJV, "you know how ...", instead of oJti, "you know that ...", gives a modal (manner) slant to the dependent statement.

uJpesteilamhn (uJpostellw) aor. mid. "I have [not] hesitated" - i have kept, held back [nothing]. The middle voice often has a touch of holding back out of fear, but that is surely not the case here. Paul is saying that he has declared the full gospel to the Ephesian fellowship.

tou mh anaggeilai (anaggellw) aor. inf. "to preach" - the not to announce. The genitive articular infinitive, coordinated by kai to the infinitive "to teach", may be epexegetic, specifying the substantive adjective ouden, "nothing" (so Bruce), or adverbial, final, introducing a purpose clause, "in order to"; "that I may communicate / so as to communicate to you everything that is profitable." Possibly consecutive, rather than final, so expressing result; "with the result that I announced to you ....", so Barrett. The double negative in this sentence is a problem to the modern ear. The NIV, as with most translations, reworks the sentence; "When I preached in public and taught in your homes, I didn't hold back from telling anything that would help you", CEV.

uJmin dat. pro. "-" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

twn sumferontwn (sumferw) gen. pres. part. "that would be helpful to you" - of the things being advantageous. The participle serves as a substantive, while the genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative. "The things that were profitable", ie., teaching which is profitable.

dhmasia (oV) dat. "publicly - [and to teach] in public. The dative is adverbial, modal, expressing manner, as NIV.

kat (kata) "from [house to house]" - according to [house]. The preposition takes a distributive sense here, as NIV.


Luke nicely balances the two sides of the coin that encapsulate a person's response to the gospel; "repent and believe." This response entails turning to God (repenting) and resting on (believing, trusting) his offer of grace in and through the faithfulness of Jesus. Of course, these are not separate responses, and certainly not one for Jews and the other for Gentiles, but a singular compound response.

diamarturomenoV (diamarturomai) pres. part. "I have declared" - testifying, declaring, affirming. Again, as for douleuwn, "serving" v19, the NIV treats the participle as a finite verb, but like "serving" it is probably epexegetic specifying how (pwV) Paul communicated the full gospel of God's grace in public and from house to house, "namely, I addressed myself to both Jews and Gentiles, telling them they must turn to God and place their confidence in his gracious work in our Lord Jesus."

IoudaioiV (oV) dat. "to [both] Jews" - [both (te)] to jews [and to greeks / gentiles]. Dative of indirect object.

thn .... metanoian (a) "[that they must turn to God] in repentance" - repentance [into god]. Accusative object of the participle "testifying", and as such, introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul testified, as NIV. In accord with Granville Sharp's rule, the single accusative article with kai links both repentance and faith such that, not only do they together serve as the object of "testifying", but that there is a unity in their action.

pistin (iV ewV) "have faith [in]" - [and] faith [into the lord]. "Faith" in the sense of "placing trust in what God did through Jesus as one embraces his person and work", Bock. The suggestion that this is not a Pauline expression rests on Paul's common genitival phrase ek pistewV Ihsou Cristou, "through / out of faith of (in) Jesus Christ", with Ihsou Cristou usually taken as an objective genitive, cf., Rom.3:22, Gal.2:16. Yet, it is likely that this genitive is adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective, such that the phrase expresses the basis of a person's right-standing in the sight of God, namely, "the faithfulness of Christ", which faithfulness a person must necessarily believe in / rest upon / put their faith in......, cf., Rom.10:9. So, there is nothing un-Pauline in Luke's account of Paul's words here.

hJmwn gen. pro. "our" - of us. The genitive is adjectival, relational, or idiomatic / subordination, "over us".

Ihsoun (uV) "Jesus" - jesus. Accusative, standing in apposition to "Lord".


b) The circumstances facing Paul's ministry at this moment in time, v22-24. Paul goes on to speak of his plan to hand over the funds raised by his Gentile churches for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. He has received numerous warnings of the danger associated with his planned visit to Jerusalem. His prayer is that he might be "delivered from them that are disobedient in Judea", Rom.15:31. Sadly, this prayer is not answered directly. In the face of danger, Paul presses forward so that "Christ may be magnified in my flesh", Phil.1:20. Danger or otherwise, Paul wants his life to testify to the gospel. Paul does not expect to be with the Ephesian elders again, given that his ministry focus is now toward Rome.

Note Paul's short-hand description for the gospel; "the gospel of God's grace." For Paul, the gospel concerns God's life-giving favour facilitated through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ and freely bestowed on all who turn to him (repent) and rest on his work in Jesus (believe).

nun adv. "now" - [and] now [behold]. Temporal adverb.

dedemenoV (dew) perf. pas. part. "compelled" - [i] having been bound = constrained. The participle is probably adverbial, and seems best taken as causal, "because I'm under the constraint of the Spirit / spiritual constraint"; "and now I am going to Jerusalem, because the Spirit will not let me do anything else", Barclay. Note the emphatic use of the personal pronoun egw, "I".

tw/ pneumati (a atoV) dat. "by the Spirit" - in the spirit. Instrumental dative expressing agency, "by the Spirit", as NIV, or possibly local, "in the Spirit". Either way, Paul is compelled. The problem we face is whether the compelling is through Paul's own inward resolve, or a divine directive through the Holy Spirit, cf., 19:21. Most commentators opt for a divine directive, rather than a personal determination, but the issue is debatable; see 20:22-24.

mh eidwV (oida) perf. part. "not knowing" - [am going into jerusalem] not having known. Possibly an attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "I am going", "I am going to Jerusalem and I do not know ....", or adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his going, "in/with doubts", even concessive, "although I do not know ...."

ta ... sunanthsonta (sunantaw) fut. part. "what will happen" - the things going to come upon. The articular participle serves as a substantive, introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul does not know, namely, the events about to unfold in Jerusalem.

moi dat. pro. "to me" - me. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to come upon." Culy suggests reference / respect; "with respect to me".

en + dat. "there" - in [it]. The preposition is local;. "What is to befall me there I do not know", Moffatt.


Hanson may be right when he suggests that v23-25 reveal that the author knew of Paul's death, even though unstated in Acts. At least we can say that Luke makes sure that the reader understands that the troubles about to befall Paul are all part of the divine plan to make known "the gospel of God's grace" to the ends of the world / age.

plhn oJti "[I] only [know] that" - except that. Introducing an exceptive clause with oJti specifying the exception; Paul doesn't know what will befall him in Jerusalem except that the Holy Spirit has provided numerous warnings of trouble ahead.

kata + acc. "in every [city]" - according to [city]. The preposition is distributive, as NIV, so "in city after city", Cassirer.

diamarturetai (diamarturomai) pres. "warns" - [the holy spirit] bears witness of / to, testifies to, affirms, declares. "The Holy Spirit leaves me in no doubt", Barclay.

moi dat. pro. "me" - Dative of direct object after the dia prefix verb "to testify to."

legon (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. As usual, Culy and company classify the participle as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the warning. None-the-less, it is likely serving its Semitic function of introducing speech, here indirect speech indicated by oJti, rather than direct. As such, it is best classified as attendant circumstance, redundant, and is treated as such by most translations; "from town to town the Holy Spirit leaves me in no doubt that imprisonment and troubles are waiting for me there", Barclay.

oJti "that" - that [chains and tribulations abide = await me]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the Holy Spirit "says"; "that prison and persecution await me", NJB. This is the first time Luke tells us of Paul's concerns regarding his visit to Jerusalem.


Paul likes to describe the Christian life as a dromon, "race, circuit, course", where the prize on finishing is already secured. All he has to do is teleiow, "to finish", complete the diakonia, "ministry, service", given him by the Lord Jesus, namely, the task of communicating the gospel. As Fitzmyer notes, Luke's summary of the gospel, "the important news of God's grace", serves as "an apt summary of Paul's proclamation." Paul proclaims the kingdom in the terms of divine grace, of the realisation of God's covenantal mercy for Jew and Gentile alike in fulfilment of the divine promise made to Abraham, namely that through his seed the whole world will be blessed.

all (alla) "however" - but. Strong adversative; "but that matters little", Peterson.

poioumai (poiew) pres. "I consider" - i cause to be, make = reckon, regard, consider, hold an opinion. "As far as my life is concerned", Cassirer.

thn yuchn (h) "my life" - the soul, being. Accusative object of the verb "to reckon". Of personal existence.

logou (oV) gen. "worth [nothing]" - [nothing] of a word. Generally taken as a genitive of respect, "of no account", Bruce, so Culy, see BAGD p477. Kellum suggests a genitive of price (adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / price); "not worth a word". See also Barrett who nicely summarises the various grammatical and textual options of what is a rather "obscure" opening clause. As Metzger says, it is "awkward, yet idiomatic"; see Phillips below.

timian adj. "-" - [do i make the = my life] precious, valuable. Along with "to myself", this adjective serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "the life", asserting a fact about the object; "I do not consider my own life valuable to me", Phillips.

emautw/ "to me" - to myself. Dative of interest, advantage.

wJV + inf. "if only [I may finish]" - that [to finish]. A rare use of this conjunction with the infinitive to introduce a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that I may complete the race (ie., "accomplish the course to which the Lord Jesus has called him", Bock)." The variant eJwV, and particularly wJste, more commonly serve to introduce a purpose clause when followed by an infinitive, so the variants are most likely scribal corrections. "I don't place self first so that I can accomplish what Jesus has asked me to do."

thn diakonian (a) "the task" - [the race, course of me, and] the ministry, service. Along with "the race", direct object of the infinitive "to finish". Obviously "gospel ministry" = the business of preaching the gospel = testifying to the content of God's grace. Paul may be referencing the collection for the saints, but this seems unlikely.

para + gen. "has given me" - [which i received] from [the lord jesus]. Expressing source, origin, "from", as NIV. Possibly agency, "by".

diamarturasqai (diamarturomai) aor. inf. "the task of testifying to" - to testify. The infinitive is epexegetic, specifying the diakonian, "ministry".

to euaggelion (on) "the gospel" - the important message. Accusative direct object of the infinitive "to testify to". God's important message to humanity announcing the realisation of the promised covenant blessing to all in and through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

thV carisoV (iV ewV) gen. "of [God's] grace" - of the grace. The genitive is adjectival, classified as either epexegetic, or, as Barrett and Bock have it, "a genitive of content" (descriptive, idiomatic / content), "the important message which consists of the grace of God" - important message which makes known the grace of God, namely "that God was bestowing his unmerited favour upon, was gracious to, the human race", Barrett. Culy suggests verbal, objective.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "God's [grace]" - of god. The genitive is adjectival, possibly possessive, or verbal, subjective, "the grace gifted by God", or descriptive, idiomatic / source, "from God". Either way, the sense is the same.


c) The prime objective of Paul's ministry, as exercised in Ephesus, v25-27. As to the responsibilities of ministry, Paul declares that he is free of guilt, having fully exercised his ministry responsibility of gospel proclamation, v26-27. Paul is confident that he has declared "the whole counsel of God" to the Ephesian believers, making God's plan plain to them.

To say that someone will not see your face again may express a formal farewell, but at the same time, this language is also used for a final testament. There is a strong sense of finality in Paul's words.

kai nun idou "now" - and now behold. Temporal transitional construction, serving to move the speech forward to a new point.

oJti "that" - [i know] that [no longer will you see the face of me]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows.

khrusswn (khrussw) pres. part. "preaching" - [in = among whom passed through] preaching, proclaiming. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of Paul's going about; he went about proclaiming.

thn balileian (a) "the kingdom" - the kingdom. An obvious textual variant exists; tou qeou, "of God". What we have here is "the recognised content of Christian preaching", Barrett. Paul / Luke, at this point, is bringing out "the continuity between the preaching of Jesus and the preaching of the post-resurrection church", Barrett. Of course, the gospel, in terms of the kingdom of God, is not the way Paul usually presents the gospel. Only a Jewish audience is able to understand the notion of a kingdom realised in accord with Biblical prophecy. For this reason, Paul regularly contextualises the gospel for a Gentile audience in the terms of divine grace. In the end though, to testify to the gospel of God's grace is synonymous with preaching the kingdom [of God], so Bruce.


Paul's claim that he is innocent of the blood of everyone echoes Ezekiel's watchman prophecy, cf., Ezk.33:4-5. He is innocent in that "he has not held back, or obscured, the revelation of God to his people", Peterson, Gk., cf., v27. Paul has made known the truth of the gospel, thus providing a way of escape from the day of God's judgment, a judgment which even now hangs over the human race.

In rhetoric, a negative appropriation made by a speaker to himself, serves to reinforce a positive appropriation to the audience. So, v26-28, in positive terms, states: "I have gladly delivered to you the full gospel, and now it's up to you. Get on your toes, both for yourselves and for the congregations in your care."

dioti "therefore" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

uJmin "to you" - [i testify] to you. Dative of indirect object.

en + dat. "[today]" - on [today day]. Temporal use of the preposition. The doubling up of shmeron hJmera/, "today day", produces an emphatic "this very day."

oJti "that" - that [i am pure = innocent]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech, expressing what Paul declares / testifies.

apo + gen. "of [the blood]" - from [the blood]. Expressing separation; "I am responsible for the death of no man's soul", Barclay.

patwn gen. adj. "of any of you" - of all. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.


The sense of pasan thn boulhn tou qeou, "the whole will of God / purpose of God / plan of God", "the entire plan of God", Johnson, "all that God plans to do", TH, most likely serves as an equivalent for "the important news of God's grace" / "the kingdom [of God]", or as the Wesleyans would call it, "the full gospel" ("full justification", Wesley). The term "full" comes with a bit of history in that it is sometimes used as an implied critique of other denominations, eg., the church notice, "We Are A Full Gospel Church", as opposed to just a gospel church, like the one around the corner!!

The Wesleyans used the word "full" to express the extent of God's grace in facilitating both forgiveness and holiness, as opposed to a gospel which facilitates only forgiveness, leaving holiness (sanctification) dependent on a faithful attention to divine law. Of course, perfectionism can be a heretical byproduct of a full gospel, as was sometimes evident in the Holiness Movement. Paul's gospel of God's grace is a full gospel, and so he is anti-nomian (salvation apart from the law), but not a perfectionist. He was held to be a perfectionist by the nomist members of the Jerusalem church (the members of the circumcision party), but they neither understood the extent, nor the renewing power, of justification. "Some claim that we say, 'Let us sin that good may result'", Rom.3:7-8. "Shall we go on sinning that grace may abound? We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" Rom.6:1ff;

The members of the circumcision party charged that Paul preached a diluted gospel, that he had expunged law-obedience from the gospel, teaching that a believer lives by grace apart from the law. The Judaizers argued that a believer lives by grace and law, ie., grace and law go hand-in-hand in progressing the Christian life ("trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey"!!!!). Paul, on the other hand, argued that a believer in Christ, by grace through faith. apart from the law, stands eternally approved before God, righteous, holy, which state/status of itself promotes right living; See Righteousness before God apart from the Law, 10:17-33.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul is not responsible for the spiritual death of any of the faithful, "because I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."

tou mh anaggeilai (anggellw) aor. inf. "to proclaim" - [draw back, shrink back from, hesitate] to not announce, disclose, report, recount. This construction will often form a purpose clause, rarely a consecutive clause expressing result, although the double negative in the clause is confusing to the modern ear: "I did not hesitate in order that I did not disclose all (the totality of) the will of God to you." None-the-less, on many occasions the construction is appositional / epexegetic, limiting by explaining / specifying a substantive, here a supplied object for the verb "to draw back from"; "I did not draw back from the ministry of the gospel, that is / namely, to not disclose all (the totality of) the will of God to you." "I have told you everything God wants you to know", CEV.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

thn boulhn (h) "the [whole] will" - [all] the counsel. Object of the verb "to announce". The word "will" often carries with it a sense of compulsion, giving a possible meaning "the law of God", whereas Paul is speaking of "the revelation of God." So possibly: "the whole of God's purpose", Cassirer, so Barclay, Moffatt, Phillips, NJB, REB, TNT, NRSV; "the full intent and purpose of God", Junkins; "the whole of God's plan", Knox; "the whole counsel of God", ESV. Divine revelation is obviously intended, although specifically with reference to the gospel, in which case he is saying that he has communicated the full gospel, a complete gospel, to his mission churches.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective, or idiomatic / source, "from God".


d) The Ephesian ministry team is charged with realising the same aim now and into the future, v28-31. Paul now gives the elders a solemn charge. The Ephesian elders are to care for, to shepherd, the community gathered by Christ's sacrifice. This is their responsibility as gifted believers. Paul goes on to warn the elders of the prophesied division and dissension that will face the church in coming days. In the Pastoral epistles we read of the growing opposition to Paul's teaching, to his gospel concerning the free grace of God accessed by faith in the faithfulness of Christ, and this apart from the law.

Barrett argues that we now come to the centre of Paul's sermon, given that its purpose is to encourage the elders to faithfully minister to those under their charge. The elders need to remember that the church is God's church, purchased by the blood of Christ and administered by the Holy Spirit.

eJautoiV "over yourselves" - [pay attention to = take care of, care for] yourselves [and to all the flock]. As with panti tw/ poimniw/, "all the flock", dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to pay attention to."

en + dat. "of [which]" - in [which]. Local; expressing space; "in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as guardians", Barclay.

episkopouV (oV) "[you] overseers" - [the holy spirit put, made, appointed you] overseers, guardians. The verb episkeptomai, "to look at, inspect, examine, visit", reveals the sense of the noun. Here serving as the accusative complement of the direct object "you" standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object.

poimainein (poiew) pres. inf. "be shepherds" - to shepherd, feed. The infinitive is adverbial, final, introducing a purpose clause which amplifies the opening imperative, "keep watch"; "in order to shepherd / take care of", ie. "their watchfulness was to be for the express purpose of effective pastoral care", Peterson, Gk.

thn ekklhsian (a) "the church [of God]" - the assembly [of god]. Direct object of the infinitive "to shepherd". "Church" simply means "assembly / gathering", and the genitive "of God" is obviously adjectival, possessive.

dia + gen. "with" - [which he purchased] through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means.

tou idou "his own" - the one's own [blood (sacrifice)]. Is "his own blood" used in the sense of "God's own blood"? A variant "church of the Lord" is probably prompted by this very question. The "blood" surely refers to Jesus' sacrifice. So possibly, "the blood of his own", ie. "his own one/son", here being used as "a term of endearment to near relations", Bruce, so "the blood of his own Son", NRSV. None-the-less, it is more natural to read the Gk. as "his (God's) own blood". "When Jesus Christ shed his blood on the cross he was acting as the representative of God: he was God's way of giving life, blood, to the world", Barrett.


The use of the noun afixiV. "departure", may well serve as an allusion to Paul's death.

oJti "that" - [i know] that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul knows.

meta + acc. "after" - after [the departure of me]. The preposition is adverbial, temporal; "when I am gone."

mh feidomenoi (feidomai) aor. part. "and will not spare [the flock]" - [savage wolves will come into into you] not sparing [the flock]. Translations usually treat the participle as attendant circumstance, expressing action accompanying the verb "will come in", as NIV; "savage wolves will get in among you and they will not spare the flock", Moffatt. Paul obviously has in mind false teachers - Judaizers and the like. Note the idiomatic repetition of the eiV prefix of the verb eisercomai, "to enter into".


Paul warns that heretical teachers will emerge from their own ranks.

ex (ek) + gen. "from" - [and] from. Expressing source / origin.

autwn pro. "your own number" - [you] they = yourselves. The reflective use of the pronoun is intensive, "you yourselves". Not found in all manuscripts, "but the emphasis was probably intended", Barrett.

lalounteV (lalew) pres. part. "-" - [will rise up] speaking. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "will arise", "will arise and speak / teach". Although anarthrous, it could be treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "men"; "I know that from your own members men will emerge who will preach a perverted version of the truth", Barclay.

diestrammena (diastrefw) perf. pas. part. "distort the truth" - having been turned, perverted, distorted things. The participle serves as a substantive, introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech, expressing what the men will "speak / teach", namely "distorted things" = heresy; "will arise and teach heresy."

tou apospan (apospaw) pres. inf. "to draw away" - to lead away, draw away [the disciples after them]. This construction, the genitive articular infinitive, usually forms a final clause expressing purpose, "in order to draw away." "With a view of drawing disciples after them and making them come over to their side", Cassirer.


The elders must be alert to the threats facing their fellowship, and to this threat, Paul offers a model to follow, namely, the example of his own ministry with them; "I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another", Peterson.

dio "so" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

mnhmoneuonteV (mnhmoneuw) pres. part. "Remember" - [be alert, awake, watchful] remembering. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative "be alert"; "be alert and remember." The present tense, being durative, expresses a continued remembering.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they are to remember, namely that they have been warned of the danger of false teachers.

nouqetwn (nouqetew) pres. part. "to warn / warning" - [three years, night and day, i did not stop] warning, admonishing [each one of you]. "Admonish" in the sense of correct / teach someone in danger of going astray so that they may think and act appropriately. The participle serves in the place of a complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the negated verb "to stop"; "I did not stop to warn each one of you". "Remember how for three years I never quit night and day to give each of you warning with my tears", Berkeley.

meta + acc. "with" - with [tears]. Adverbial use of the preposition, forming an adverbial phrase expressing the manner of Paul's perseverance; "tearfully warning you". "Even with tears in my eyes", Phillips.


e) The necessary application of two key gospel ministry principles, v32-35. Paul commends the elders to God's grace, "a message that is able to build you up", within the context of his own ministry and his example of not seeking personal gain. Paul may no longer be able to minister to the Ephesians, but they still have the gospel to rest on, a message which both redeems and sanctifies. Paul goes on to remind them of his own example, encouraging the elders to see their ministry in terms other than exercised for monetary gain. None of the gospels quote these "words" from "the Lord", although the sentiment is certainly there, Lk.6:38, 11:9f, Jn.13:34.

Peterson, Gk., notes that in v32, three important Pauline themes come to the fore: First, through the gospel, God is building his church; Second, by means of the gospel, God promises an eternal inheritance to those who trust in Christ; Third, in the gospel, God declares that those who are in Christ are already sanctified.

kai "-" - and. Coordinative marker.

ta "[now]" - the [now]. The article serves as a nominalizer, turning the adverb nun, "now", into a temporal nominal phrase, accusative of respect; "with respect to / concerning the present". The phrase is rare, but seems to be used to introduce an important point in an argument.

tw/ logw/ (oV) dat. "to the word" - [i present, set before you to god and] to the word. As with tw/ qew/, "to God", dative of indirect object.

thV caritoV (iV ewV) gen. "of [his] grace" - of the grace [of him]. Barrett suggests that "to God and the word of his grace" is a hendiadys, ie., the phrase represents as a single concept, "to God, who is active in the word of grace (the gospel)". At any rate, the genitive is adjectival, possibly attributive, limiting by describing "the word"; "his gracious word", Kellum. Probably better viewed as epexegetic, specifying the word, "the word which concerns his grace / which is all about his grace operative in Christ Jesus"; "The gospel is the word of saving grace", Fitzmyer. The genitive autou, "his", is adjectival, possessive; "to God and to his gospel of grace".

tw/ dunamenw/ (dunami) dat. pres. pas. part. "which can" - the thing being able. The NIV takes the participle as adjectival, attributive, limiting the dative "word". Some translators take it to stand in apposition to the dative "God"; "I entrust you to God and the word of his grace. He is able to upbuild you and give you your inheritance", Moffatt.

oikodomhsai (oikodomew) aor. inf. "build you up" - to build up [and to give the inheritance]. Along with dounai, "to give", the infinitive is complementary, completing the participle "being able"; "able to build up and to give." "The message which has the power of building you up in the faith and of giving you your heritage among all those who have been consecrated to God", Cassirer. As Paul puts it in more detail, "he made us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light", Col.1:12.

toiV hJgiasmenoiV (aJgiazw) dat. perf. pas. part. "those who are sanctified" - [in = among all] the ones having been sanctified, made holy. The participle serves as a substantive, object of the preposition en, "in = among". The perfect tense serves to express completed action with abiding results, while the passive expresses divine action (a theological passive). Together they indicate that a present state of divine-induced holiness is in mind, not a future-earned holiness. Luke identifies the key truth which dominates the Pauline gospel, namely that in Christ a believer is set right with God, is covenant compliant, holy (justified and sanctified). This state (usually classed as a status in reformed circles, although what God declares so is so) cannot be secured by faithful law-obedience (legalism), nor improved by faithful law-obedience (nomism). Of course, this state/status is expressed in the Christian life when a believer strives to be what they are, albeit always imperfectly while in this body of flesh ("the old Adam retains his power until he is deposited in the grave", Luther).


Paul goes on to address the issue of covetousness, of the love of money. This temptation faces all those who seek high office. We do well to remember that greed is one of the seven deadly sins.

arguriou (on) gen. "silver" - [i did not long for the] silver [or gold]. Genitive of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to long for, desire".

oudenoV adj. "anyone's" - of no one. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being possessive; "the silver and gold of any person".


To curb even the suggestion of greed, Paul earned his own living rather than accept the financial support of those he ministered to, cf., 1Cor.9:12. This is the only time Paul has indicated that, not only did he earn his own living, he assisted in the living of other team members.

autoi pro. "yourselves" - [you] yourselves [know]. The reflective use of this personal pronoun is intensive, as NIV.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they know. The Ephesian elders would know well that Paul worked as a tent maker to fund his daily needs, cf., Acts 18:3, 1Cor.4:12, 1Thes.2:9.

taiV creiaiV (a) dat. "[my own] needs" - [i provided for] the needs [of me]. Dative of direct object after the uper prefix verb "to provide for".

toiV ou\sin (eimi) dat. pres. part. "the needs of my companions" - [and] the ones being. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the uper prefix verb "to provide for"; "the ones being with me" = "those who were with me", ESV.

met (meta) + gen. "-" - with [me]. Expressing association.


Paul uses the verb uJpodeiknumi, "to tell, inform", in the sense "to show by example", suggesting that his ministry can serve as a pattern for the ministry of the assembled elders. The pattern of working hard to assist the weak is guided by a saying of Jesus not recorded in the gospels, although a similar saying is found in 1Clement 2:1, as well as in Jewish and Greek tradition. Certainly, the sentiment is to be found in the gospels: Luke 6:30, 38, 11:41, 12:33, 18:22. The motivating power behind such a principle lies in the belief of a kingdom "not of this world" - heavenly reward. The Marxist realisation of a kingdom on earth is inevitably devoid of motivating power. When it came to the issue of reward in the Soviet Union, the workers used to say, "They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work."

panta adj. "in everything I did" - all, every [i showed]. Taken adverbially by Bruce, Gk., "always"; "I have always shown you by example"

uJmin "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech, expressing what Paul showed the Ephesian believers.

kopiwntaV (kopiaw) pres. part. "by [this kind of] hard work" - toiling, working hard. The participle is adverbial, instrumental, expressing the means by which the poor are assisted; "by means of hard work." "One must work, as Paul did, not simply to secure one's independence but also to help the weak (who presumably are not able to work for themselves)", Barrett.

ou{twV adv. "this kind of" - thus, in this way. Demonstrative adverb of manner referring back to Paul's example; "in this way, that is, in the example I set for you, by working hard ...."

antilambanesqai (antilambanomai) pres. inf. "[we must] help" - [it is necessary] to help, support, take hold of. This infinitive, as with mnhmoneuein, "to remember", forms a nominal phrase subject of the impersonal verb dei, "is necessary"; "to help the poor by hard work and to remember the words ..... is necessary." The verb "is necessary" may imply a divine necessity, although probably here more a moral necessity. "It is by such hard work that we must help the poor", Fitzmyer. For a complementary classification, see plhrwqhnai, 1:16.

twn asqenountwn (asqenew) gen. pres. part. "the poor" - the ones being weak, defenceless = poor. The participle serves as a substantive, genitive of direct object after the anti prefix verb "to take hold of / help."

te "-" - and. Serving to connect clauses with a close association; "but also it is necessary to remember ...."

twn logwn (oV) gen. "the words" - [to remember] the word. Genitive of direct object after the verb "to remember" (genitive of the person, accusative of the thing).

tou kuriou Ihsou gen. "of the Lord Jesus" - of the lord jesus. The genitive is adjectival, either possessive, or subjective, or source.

oJti "-" - that [he he said = he himself said]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the Lord has said (the gospels do not record these exact words).

mallon adv. "more" - [it is] more. Used with a comparative sense even though taking a grammatically positive form, MHT III; a person "will do better giving than receiving", Barrett.

makarion adj. "blessed" - blessed. Predicate adjective. Usually with the sense of "blessed of God", giving the sense that "those who give to others and think of others rather than themselves are the ones over whom heaven's blessing will be shed", Fitzmyer. The notion of heavenly reward is firmly set within NT tradition, although it is not strictly quid pro quo; "giving is blessed, not receiving", Jeremias. The sense of the adjective here may be "happy", rather than "blessed," particularly if the necessity is not a divine necessity; "the greatest happiness is not to receive a gift; it is to bestow one", Cassirer.

didonai (didwmi) pres. inf. "to give" - to give [or = than to receive]. This infinitive, as with lambanein, "to receive", serves as the subject of the verb to-be; "to give rather than to receive is more blessed."


iii] A sad farewell, v36-38. Finally, Luke describes Paul's departure with prayer and tears. The elders bid Paul a sorrowful farewell since this may be their last meeting with him.

I well remember, as a young man, attending an interview with the then Archbishop of Sydney, Marcus Loane. At the conclusion of the interview he dropped to his knees to pray. My normal posture was to sit, but I quickly readjusted my stance and joined him. I can well imagine the elders readjusting their stance and following Paul's lead, given that the custom at the time was to stand for prayer.

eipwn (eipon) aor. part. "when he had said [this]" - [and] having said [these things]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

qeiV (tiqhmi) aor. part. "he knelt down" - having put [the knee of him]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to pray"; "he knelt down and prayed with them." The phrase "having put the knee of him" derives from the Latinism tiqhmi ta gonata, "to kneel down."

sun + dat. "with" - [prayed] with [them all]. Expressing accompaniment / association.


egeneto (ginomai) aor. "-" - [but/and] there became = there was. Virtually functioning as a verb to-be.

pantwn gen. adj. "all" - [much crying] of everyone. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / source. There was a considerable amount of crying from the elders; "they all wept bitterly", Barclay.

epipesonteV (epiptw) aor. part. "as they embraced [him]" - having fallen [upon the neck of paul]. The participle is probably best taken as adverbial, temporal, "while they ....", as NIV, but possibly attendant circumstance, "they all wept bitterly and flung their arms around him", Barclay.

katefiloun (katafilew) imperf. "kissed" - they were kissing [him]. The imperfect is possibly used here to express inceptive action, "they began to ....", or iterative action, "they repeatedly ...."; "fervently kissed him", Berkeley.


The finality of Luke's words, along with the vivid description of emotion expressed at Paul's leaving, creates a heightened sense of foreboding. Johnson suggests that Luke is writing from the perspective of a time after Paul's death, but the concluding chapters of Acts exhibit the marks of a contemporary composition. It is more likely that Luke is leading his readers into the narrative's emphatic finale, so Dunn

odunwmenoi (odunaw) pres. pas. part. "what grieved them [most]" - being distressed [exceedingly]. The participle is adverbial, possibly causal; "having wrapped their arms around Paul and kissed him, there was much crying, because they were terribly distressed."

epi + dat. "-" - upon [the word]. Expressing basis, ground / cause; "on the basis of / because of."

w|/ dat. "-" - which [he had said]. Dative by attraction; properly the accusative object oJn of the verb eirhkei.

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul had said.

qewrein (qewrew) pres. inf. "[they would never] see" - [they were about no longer] to see [the face of him, but/and they sent on the way him into the boat]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "were about to"; "they would never see his face again. And they went with him down to the ship", Phillips.


Acts Introduction

Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]