From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
Thoughts for Today:Whenever I see the words elder, bishop or pastor, I consider those words to be interchangeable and intended to mean a spiritual leader of the church. The term "elder" from our passage today doesn't mean older in terms of years, but rather the qualifications (as described in Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7) of someone who is a mature Christian of good repute, with gifts for teaching, management, and pastoral ministry. These were the men who were called together for Paul's pastor's conference -- the spiritual leaders of the church in Ephesus. So why did Paul so urgently call for a "Pastor's Conference"? I believe the Spirit had revealed to Paul (perhaps even confirmed) what lay ahead -- prison, death and eternity. As a result Paul now knew for certain he would not be returning to Ephesus. It was with this air of finality and sense of urgency that Paul called for the elders -- to give them final instructions and exhortations about ministry and service. What follows is perhaps one of the finest and richest texts dealing with ministry in the entire New Testament.
Our passage today got me to thinking about what I would say to my children, friends or colleagues if I knew it was the last time I would see them. Would I have anything meaningful to say? Would I joke around and not touch upon a serious subject? Would they be interested in what I had to say? Paul's life and ministry were significance, and he had important final words to share. Do I? Do you?
Questions to Ponder:Do you have a serious side? When you get serious is it about money, job, politics, or the Lord? If you were on your deathbed, with your family and closest friends gathered around, would anyone be surprised if you wanted to share with them the great spiritual truths and lessons God had taught you? Would they consider your words in conflict with your life? How do you need to reconcile the two?