Acts 20 - Paul's Farewell Address

We left Paul in Ephesus where he had great ministry for almost three years.

This was his most lengthy stay anywhere.

He decided to return to Jerusalem again to take a financial offering back to the Mother Church.

In his letter to the Romans, ch 16 he tells them that he plans another trip to Jerusalem with an offering after which...

[Slide]
...I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. v28

Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord's people. Rom 16:28,31

That is very interesting.
"Pray that I will be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea...
and that my offering will be favorably received.."

Why would his offering NOT be received?

I think this further shows the tension that continued to exist between Paul and the Jerusalem leadership.

[Slide]


He leaves Ephesus with several co-workers headed for Macedonia [Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea],

Then he retraced his path down to Corinth. He stayed in Corinth for three months.

He needed time to sort out the issues he had written about in his first letter.

From Greece they went back through Macedonia...
[Slide]


then he sent his team ahead to meet him in Troas...

[Slide]
Sopater from Berea
Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica
Gaius from Derbe and Timothy [both from Galatia]
Tychicus and Trophimus [from Asia, Ephesus?]

[Slide]
we sailed from Philippi...and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. 20:6

7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people...

So there was a church in Troas!
Was it already there when Paul met Luke?
Or did Luke travel back and forth across the Aegean Sea as a ship doctor...working to establish and develop a church in both Troas and Philippi?

We just are not told everything we would like to know.

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He meets his traveling team at the port city of Miletus.

[Slide]
17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders [presbyters] of the church.

So they sail past Ephesus to the port city of Miletus and Paul calls for the elders of Ephesus to join all the others for a little "council."

THIS is extremely important.
Some argue that the primitive church did not have a system of leadership hierarchy - this gives great evidence that Paul is setting up leadership everywhere he goes.

Paul challenges the elders of Ephesus:
[Slide]
18 You know how I lived the whole time I was with you...
19 I served the Lord...in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents...

20 I have not hesitated to preach...but have taught you publicly and from house to house
.

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Paul taught in a public setting...AND
in house churches - this was how a church always started - in somebody's house.

[Slide]
21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.

23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.

25 Now I know that none of you...will ever see me again...

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [episcopos]...be shepherds [pastors] of God's flock.

29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.

30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth...

31 So be on your guard!


THIS is a famous presentation from Paul.

1. We have the benefit of knowing what is going to happen.

Paul will travel to Jerusalem where he WILL be arrested by the Romans.

He will eventually appeal to Caesar.
He had wanted to visit the church in Rome.
He will go there as a prisoner.

2. He is not only delivering this challenge to the elders of Ephesus...

He has several others in his team from all over:
from the Galatian,
from Macedonia: the city of Thessalonica and Berea,
He has a few men from Asia [most likely from Ephesus],
and it is likely he has somebody from Corinth as well.

This message is a challenge to the men and women who have come alongside Paul in his quest to deliver the gospel to the Roman Empire.

This is a farewell address.

[12 min]

I want to use this presentation of Paul to his leadership team...
And apply it to us.

++++++++++++
PRAYER
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To those who serve our little fellowship as "leaders"...

WE are in place to serve...
To care for those who make this church their spiritual home.

Church is supposed to be more than just coming together on Sunday mornings.

We are here to serve...

- to make sure our ladies without a man in the house are cared for...

This is something I think we need to do a better of.

We have women who need our help from time to time.
To the men of the church: this is a tangible way to serve the Lord.

- WE are here to be a family for the university students...
especially those from overseas...away from their families.

Don't you know their parents hope that we are embracing their children as they are not able to.

- We are here to pray for others...
to be the caring presence when they are hurt emotionally...
or are injured physically and need help...

- We are here to protect others in our fellowship from false teaching.

False teaching is oftentimes not wrong... it's just not balanced.

Some might say,
"Al, all of this is your job as the pastor."

Yes, it is...
but as we see in Paul's challenge to ALL those hearing his voice in Miletus...

God has called others here to be part of His work and in His service.

If you sit around and wait for me to do everything...to initiate everything...

Many things will not happen as they should.

I'm 64 years old now.
I do not have the energy I once had.
I cannot think of everything.

But more importantly,
I cannot do it all.
I don't want to be in charge of everything.

The church is supposed to work more like a family.
The pastor should not have his thumb on everything.

I have heard people say that the pastor is like the CEO of a company. I don't see it that way. We need to be more like a team.

When I played quarterback in high school I was the leader of the offense...and one of the team leaders.

BUT...
I rarely blocked anyone...
I rarely tackled anyone.
I never caught a pass.
Much of the time I was taking the ball from under the center and handing the ball to somebody else...FOR THEM TO RUN!

So I think the message this morning to everyone we have called "Leaders" is - do your part.

And to ALL of you who feel this fellowship is a vital part of your spiritual life - do something to help us.

Make yourself available...ask others,
"How can I help?"

- - - - - - - - - - -

I think part of being a leader is to get others involved.

[20min]

Paul is drawing others into his orbit,
then he gives them something to do.

Don't worry about being qualified.

Imagine these young men working with Paul...
They have been following Paul around,
watching him preach, heal people...challenge the Pharisees...

...getting beaten, stoned and arrested.

Then Paul says to them:
"Ok. Now I need you guys to go to Thessalonica...
we have some issues going on there.

I need you to go and instruct these people."

I imagine they probably felt unqualified...
They watched Paul...but now he wants ME to do it!?
Yikes!

What if the Jews attack me?

But THAT is how we help others grow.
We give them opportunity to serve.

[22 min] If this church is going to be what God intends,
it will take all of us working together.

We need our church to have a vision.
COVID has knocked us off course.
We need to get back on track with a sense of purpose and direction.

It's not the job of one person.
It will take all of us.

I would like for each one of you to be thinking...
and praying...

What is 2023 going to be like for our church?
We are about to begin 2023.
Can you believe that?

Together we could see 2023 truly be a "New" Year...
a great New Start for our church.


Let's PRAY --- THEN SHARE.


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Troy Community Church
Christian Fellowship
1300 Henderson Highway
Troy, AL 36079