Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

A Final Word

The Word is the final word. Acts 20.32-38

Paul’s Legacy (6)

Pray Psalm 77.1-3.
I cried out to God with my voice—
To God with my voice;
And He gave ear to me.
In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord;
My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;
My soul refused to be comforted.
I remembered God, and was troubled;
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.

Sing Psalm 77.1-3.

(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
My voice to God shall rise; I seek Him on His throne.
In days and nights of trouble I seek God alone!
When I remember Him, then am I sore distressed!
My spirit faints and longs to find in Him its rest.

Read Acts 20.1-38; meditate on verses 32-38.

1. Of what did Paul remind the elders?

2. How did they respond to him?

The Ephesians doubtless shared of their resources with Paul – we don’t see him chastising them as he did the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9) – but money was never an issue with Paul. Ministry was everything, building up the Body of Christ and helping every believer enjoy their inheritance in the Lord (v. 32). He worked hard at shepherding; and he expected these elders to take up the baton and continue that work.

Only the Word and grace of God can sustain the ongoing work of Christ (v. 32); but God is pleased to carry on the ongoing work of Jesus through faithful men and women who devote themselves selflessly to guarding, nurturing, and building-up the Body of Christ. Paul had set an example for these men (vv. 33, 34) and trained them, devoting many long hours to their preparation. He knew what lay ahead for them, both in the work of shepherding God’s flock and the dangers of spiritual warfare. He instructed them, following Jesus, to set their hearts for serving others (v. 35).

Paul then commended the shepherds of Ephesus to the Lord in prayer (v. 36). Only Jesus can build His Church (Matt. 16.18), and He does so through the shepherds and their flocks. What Paul told the shepherds at Ephesus he doubtless told elders, pastors, and church leaders everywhere he went.

And they loved him for it (vv. 37, 38).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
What if you were watching late night television, and on came a commercial that promised to: Build you up; give you an inheritance among the saints; give you a heart to support the weak; and assure you that it is more blessed to give than receive. Would you buy it?

Without having to pay shipping and handling, or swallow a pill, we can have all the above-mentioned things.
How? Through God and the Word of His grace: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8.32)

We have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1.8)
We have been given eternal life with God. (Rom. 5.8)
We have been given the instruction book that explains how to live out these promises now (Col. 3.16, 17): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Paul did not leave them with the final word of “see you in heaven”. No. He left them with the commission to “get busy”:
“Finish your race with joy” (Acts 20.24).
“Declare the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20.27).
“Take heed to yourselves…shepherd the church” (Acts 20.28).
“Work hard…Jesus paid for all of this with His blood” (Acts 20.28).
“Watch…remember…imitate me as I imitate Christ” (Acts 20.31; 1 Cor. 11.1).
“Pray” (Acts 20.36; 1 Thess. 5.17).
“And it’s OK to cry when you are sad” (Acts 20.37, 38).

All this, free at our fingertips, in His holy Word.

For reflection

1. How does the grace of God work to further the ongoing work of Jesus? How does it work in you?

2. Paul held out large expectations for those who became followers of Christ under his ministry. Why did he do that?

3. So much of what is involved in being a Christian comes back to the Bible – God’s Word. Why is that?

If the Holy Ghost has made ministers overseers of the flock, that is, shepherds, they must be true to their trust. Let them consider their Master’s concern for the flock committed to their charge. It is the church He has purchased with his own blood. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 20.28-38

Pray Psalm 77.11-20.
Recall God’s saving work in the past, beginning with His deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Praise and thank Him for your own salvation. Look to Him to shepherd you through the trials and work of this day.

Sing Psalm 77.11-20.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
Now let us call to mind Your deeds and wonders, Lord,
and meditate on all Your works and praise Your Word.
Full holy is Your way, great God of earth and heav’n.
To You, O God of strength and pow’r all praise be giv’n!

The waters and the deeps all tremble ‘neath Your hand.
The clouds give forth, the sky resounds across the land.
Your lightning flashes forth and lights the earth around;
we feel beneath our feet the trembling of the ground.

Your way leads through the sea; Your path the water parts.
Your footprints are to us deep mysteries in our hearts.
As then by Moses’ hand and Aaron’s law-filled voice,
You led Your sheep, lead us that we may all rejoice!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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