“It is More Blessed to Give.” Acts 20:35
It is not a sad story, but there are tears and sadness. It is about a beloved friend and pastor stopping to say goodbye.
Paul sent word to the elders of his church at Ephesus to meet him at Miletus, a seacoast town. He was in route to Jerusalem and this was a chance for to say goodbye. His news that he would not see them again saddened the elders. The Holy Spirit had told Paul that he would be imprisoned and punished but he must go. This is how Paul explained it, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
As Paul says goodbye, he explains his calling, how he had been faithful in teaching God’s plan to them. Paul instructs them to “care for the church of God.” He warns them that wolves will attack them and men will speak “twisted things.” He prays for them bringing their ministry and names to Christ. But then, which at first seems like strange timing, he quotes Jesus to his weeping friends. Why would Paul say at this point that they must help the weak and remember that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive?”
Question: Why did Paul not stop in Ephesus to say goodbye on the return of his third missionary journey?
Answer: At the end of his third missionary tour, in the spring of A.D. 57, Paul stopped briefly at Miletus, “for Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16). Paul met with the elders of Ephesus at Miletus (Acts 20:17-38). In his final words to these elders he told them he would not meet them again.