July 7, 2020

A Farewell Speech to Remember

Acts 20:17–38

3 Comments | Listen | Print | Full Chapter

Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders

17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.1 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by2 the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 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. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,3 which he obtained with his own blood.4 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.


[1] 20:21 Some manuscripts omit Christ
[2] 20:22 Or bound in
[3] 20:28 Some manuscripts of the Lord
[4] 20:28 Or with the blood of his Own

A Farewell Speech to Remember

Key Verse | Acts 20:24

"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."

Bio | Collin Jarrell

What's up, Journeyers? My name is Collin, and I have been married to my beautiful wife, Lyndsay, for five years. I met Lyndsay at Texas Tech 10 years ago; and when she politely declined my initial offer to pursue her because I was not a believer, she invited me to church. The rest is history. God used her to save me, and now we have a beautiful family that consists of a 3-year-old son, Decker, and a 1-year-old daughter, Jovi.

Go Astros!

Central Truth

To be effective in our ministries, we must meet together regularly so we can be sharpened more into Christ's image. The more yielded to the Spirit we become, the more willing we are to sacrifice ourselves in order to put His mark on our ministry.

Devotional | Acts 20:17–38

In a sense, Paul called the first Church Leadership Conference in Acts 20 when he summoned the Ephesian elders before heading to his next ministry in Jerusalem. Paul's speech was an...

In a sense, Paul called the first Church Leadership Conference in Acts 20 when he summoned the Ephesian elders before heading to his next ministry in Jerusalem. Paul's speech was an emotional farewell that included a reminder not only to the Ephesian church, but also to all of us on what it looks like to faithfully fulfill your ministry.

Paul's farewell reminded me of a speech I heard in ninth grade from the teacher of my Teen Leadership class. This wasn't a class you could sign up for; you had to be chosen for it. Unfortunately, it was reserved for the troublemakers. Our teacher was assigned this ragtag group of teenagers who met daily together over the course of the school year. During that year, our teacher left a mark on us similar to the mark Paul left on his ministry in Ephesus. Our class had transformed from a disruptive posse of teenage kids to a group of kids that understood what it meant to be a leader. When ninth grade came to an end, our teacher reminded us of what he taught us and charged us to live it out in tenth grade. 

We are a lot like that ninth-grade class I was chosen for, but instead of being chosen for teen leadership, we have been chosen for church leadership conferences with Christ as our teacher. God wants us to meet with our community regularly (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17) to be more like Christ. Yielded to the Spirit, we will fulfill our ministries even when we know it will be met with pain and suffering (Acts 20:22-23). We are a ragtag bunch of sinners who have had Christ's mark left on us, and we are called to meet together to remind each other about the way in which to walk to fulfill our ministries and leave Christ's mark on others.

See Comments

Discussion Questions

1. Think about the ministries that God has chosen for you (work, community group, family). If you had to move on from any of your ministries today, what would your farewell speech look like? Would it look like Paul's in Acts 20? If not, what tangible things can you put in place to be faithful and effective in the ministries that God has put you in?

2. What gets in the way of you meeting with a smaller group of believers on a consistent basis? What sacrifices can you make to be consistent in your meeting together? What excuses do you need to stop making?

3. Paul was willing to walk into pain and affliction to fulfill his ministries. Are you willing to make yourself uncomfortable to share the gospel? Are you willing to sacrifice your body to advance His kingdom? Would you be willing to lay down your life for the ministry the Spirit is calling you to? What are ways you could be called to suffer to fulfill your ministry?

3 Comments available

Greg Jones about 5 hours ago

Chronologically Paul writing Ephesians follows this farewell. Chronologically Luke writes Acts after Paul writes Ephesians. This leads some who study the New Testament to ask why the Acts version of Ephesus didn’t address the latest state of Ephesus, the state Paul address when he writes the epistle Ephesians.

Reading Paul’s farewell he hints at future trouble but seems pleased with the current situation. Reading Ephesians chapter 4/Acts chapter 19, who has done what to reverse the positive results that are being described? Specific details aren’t given, therefore, some interpret Acts 19&20 as, allusion, by Luke so that Theophilus(Acts1:1)can picture the problem. Other words, to understand the letter Ephesians, understand Acts19 differently.

Today, innuendo is NPR radio, seen, on Saturday Night Live as comedy. With documentary film and photo to accompany words the need to read or write serious content in innuendo to stimulate the imagination isn’t needed.

Sue Bohlin about 5 hours ago

Hey Collin, thank you! Love the analogy of the church and the Teen Leadership (AKA Hoodlums) Class!

And in answer to Q2: um, COVID?

This passage is a painful reminder of challenges to the church going forward from the first century. We see in the progressive Christianity movement (particularly those proud of their pro-LGBT stance) a failure to declare the whole counsel of God–instead they focus on the parts they like and explain away the rest with plausible-sounding lies. And we see fierce wolves, some of whom appear to be charming and winsome, but spiritually they are fierce wolves, who speak twisted things to draw away disciples toward themselves and their heretical views.

No wonder there were so many tears at Paul’s farewell meeting with the Ephesian elders!

Hugh Stephenson about 15 hours ago

I am reflecting today on verse 27

“for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

Q1 - What would my farewell speech look like?

I’m taught my calling is to proclaim the gospel and serve others. Would each person say that I had done that faithfully and constantly?

In high school a fellow student named Ed had been in a terrible accident. Apparently, he had some type of deeply spiritual experience in the process. Consistently, he would hand out Christian tract booklets. We all made fun of him and whispered behind his back. To my shame I joined in. When I took a booklet, I hoped no-one saw me. I read then faithfully and still remember many of them as they had some animation in them.

Ed knew God and was faithful and obedient. I think about him often.

View More Comments

Download The App

  • Jointhejourney app store
  • Jointhejourney play store