Acts 20 (The Message)

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1 With things back to normal, Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. 2 Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope. 3 and stayed on for three months. Just as he was about to sail for Syria, the Jews cooked up a plot against him. So he went the other way, by land back through Macedonia, and gave them the slip. 4 His companions for the journey were Sopater, son of Pyrrhus, from Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus, both Thessalonians; Gaius from Derbe; Timothy; and the two from western Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 They went on ahead and waited for us in Troas. 6 Meanwhile, we stayed in Philippi for Passover Week, and then set sail. Within five days we were again in Troas and stayed a week. 7 We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master's Supper. Paul addressed the congregation. Our plan was to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on, way past midnight. 8 We were meeting in a well-lighted upper room. 9 A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead. 10 Paul went down, stretched himself on him, and hugged him hard. "No more crying," he said. "There's life in him yet." 11 Then Paul got up and served the Master's Supper. And went on telling stories of the faith until dawn! On that note, they left - Paul going one way, 12 the congregation another, leading the boy off alive, and full of life themselves. 13 In the meantime, the rest of us had gone on ahead to the ship and sailed for Assos, where we planned to pick up Paul. Paul wanted to walk there, and so had made these arrangements earlier. 14 Things went according to plan: We met him in Assos, took him on board, and sailed to Mitylene. 15 The next day we put in opposite Chios, Samos a day later, and then Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to bypass Ephesus so that he wouldn't be held up in Asia province. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem in time for the Feast of Pentecost, if at all possible. 17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus for the leaders of the congregation. 18 When they arrived, he said, "You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally - 19 laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. 20 I didn't skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, 21 urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus. 22 "But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. 23 I do know that it won't be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. 24 But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. 25 "And so this is good-bye. You're not going to see me again, nor I you, you whom I have gone among for so long proclaiming the news of God's inaugurated kingdom. 26 I've done my best for you, given you my all, 27 held back nothing of God's will for you. 28 "Now it's up to you. Be on your toes - both for yourselves and your congregation of sheep. The Holy Spirit has put you in charge of these people - God's people they are - to guard and protect them. God himself thought they were worth dying for. 29 "I know that as soon as I'm gone, vicious wolves are going to show up and rip into this flock, men 30 from your very own ranks twisting words so as to seduce disciples into following them instead of Jesus. 31 So stay awake and keep up your guard. Remember those three years I kept at it with you, never letting up, pouring my heart out with you, one after another. 32 "Now I'm turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends. 33 "I've never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. 34 With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me. 35 In everything I've done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You'll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, 'You're far happier giving than getting.'" 36 Then Paul went down on his knees, all of them kneeling with him, and prayed. 37 And then a river of tears. Much clinging to Paul, not wanting to let him go. 38 They knew they would never see him again - he had told them quite plainly. The pain cut deep. Then, bravely, they walked him down to the ship.
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