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Pastoral Integrity. Acts 20:13-38


Paul’s Pastoral Integrity

Text: Acts 20:13-38 

We’re looking at this passage in two parts, Paul’s INTEGRITY in ministry, and his INSTRUCTIONS to the church leaders.  Let’s think about his ministry, and his integrity, his honesty and sincerity. 


1 Paul’s Independent Lifestyle.  V18  

Paul speaks firstly about his own personal life.

  • His humility. V19 , Paul rarely mentions ‘humility’ – after all who would stand up in a pulpit and point to oneself and say, “Look how humble I am…” – that would be pride!   Paul was ‘humble in mind.’ 
  • His perseverance. and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:  Look at the obstacles he encountered in life.  
    • His own tears and temptations. Some modern translations read trials. These were trials in the sense of putting temptation before one. πειρασμός perhaps the temptation to just give up and go home…. 
    • The opposition of the Jews.  I wonder was Paul thinking of the opposition that had come from Jews in Ephesus?  We know that when the riot happened in the huge theatre, the Jews had put forward a man called Alexander, to defect the blame away from them and to point the finger at Paul and the Christians, in 19:33   Was this the same Alexander that Paul mentioned in his letter to Timothy, in 2 Timothy 4:14  
  • His example.  Acts 20v33-35.
    • No jealousy. V33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Paul was an itinerant evangelist, going about from place to place, with no fixed abode, and none of the comforts of this world, yet he was ministering to Gentiles in Asia Minor, some of them were very wealthy indeed. He had no desire for their lifestyle, or their money or fancy clothes.  He was living out the command of God that we should not covet anything that is our neighbours.  
    • No pleading for money.  34  Paul needed money to live.  We all do, so he got a job!  He worked to support himself, and not only himself but his fellow co-workers as well, sharing out their resources.  
    • No selfishness.  v35 When did Jesus say this?  It’s not in the list of blessings in the Sermon on the Mount, so one commentator thinks it may have been something Jesus said frequently to his disciples.  

Paul reminds them of his own lifestyle, not to commend himself, but to point to Christ.  He wanted to exemplify a godly lifestyle for them so that he could say,  in 1 Corinthians 11:1.  May our lives be made more Christlike so that we are an example to others.  V35 “I have shewed you…”

2 Paul’s Intrepid MinistryV20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,

Throughout his time in Ephesus, Paul’s ministry had included both public preaching and teaching, and private catechism, from house to house. He TAUGHT.  Look at the command of Christ in Matthew 28:19   The Greek TEACH in that passage is μαθητεύω make disciples! That ministry strategy is a lot different from modern Finneyesque crusade evangelism.  So what was Paul’s teaching ministry like?  He was:-

  • A PLAIN preacher.  V 20 I think that Paul is DEMONSTRATING his teaching, by pointing to the cross – and in such a manner that even the longest can understand.  Greek αναγγειλαι υμιν – ‘evangelising you’ – ‘Gospelling you!’
  • A POINTED preacher. V21   Paul preached the same message to everyone, and it was so direct that it led to conviction of sin, and repentance, and turning away from sin, to God, through faith in Christ.   
  • A PAINSTAKING preacher.  Paul’s teaching was comprehensive. He preached the whole gambit of biblical doctrine.  V27.  John Stott calls this, “An example of ‘evangelism in depth’ sharing all possible truth to all possible men in all possible ways.”
  • A PITYING preacher.  We’ve already noted that Paul had shed tears, over the trials and temptations he had endured, but in v31 he speaks again of tears, when he had been pleading with sinners to repent before it was too late.  V31  His tears were not for effect. Paul was empathetic with those who he served.  Romans 12:15 His empathy did not detract from his pointedness, or from his plainness.  

So, Paul was able to point to his ministry as an example to others, and to us!

3 Paul’s Immovable Faithv22-24.

I wonder how many of us worry, sincerely, about the future? What do you depend upon, to face an uncertain future?  Let’s see Paul’s immovable faith and trust in God.  See…

  • The Uncertainties of Life. V 22  Paul has a direct call from God to go to Jerusalem, he was travelling there to distribute the funds he had collected around the gentile churches, and nothing would deter him, yet there is danger there.  It seems that Paul has received  the witness of God to that effect.  v23  Was he saying that the Lord himself had revealed this in a direct revelation, – after all, this is before the completion of the canon of Scripture.  Or was he just stating the obvious.  God the Holy Spirit had guided Paul all the way in his missionary journeys.  We already know that, and have seen evidence of it in chapter 16:7 And despite that divine guidance in life persecutions had regularly occurred.  This may simply be a reminder for us, that while for us the future is uncertain, not so for God.  All of our steps are ordained by him, in his sovereignty and his providence.  Maybe that’s why we see…
  • His Unconcern about sufferings.  v24  What’s important is the eternal souls of those who will be lost without Christ.  What’s important is the glory of God.  Paul is adamant about this.  Writing to the Philippians he insisted in Philippians 1:21  
  • His ultimate ambition. V24  so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. The object of Paul’s life and work was to stand before Christ on that great day.  When the time of his departure was very near, he wrote similar words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8  

Paul faced the uncertainties of life by simply trusting God, as did Job, and by the firm understanding that when this life does end, in whatever way, there will be heaven, there will be the resurrection of the dead, there will be the marriage supper of the Lamb, there will be the new heavens and the new earth.  There will be a reward in heaven for those who finish the course, run the race and remain faithful, there will be joy!

© Bob McEvoy June 2021

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