Acts 20:17

Called to him (metekalesato). Aorist middle (indirect) indicative of metakalew, old verb to call from one place to another (meta for "change"), middle to call to oneself, only in Acts in the N.T. ( Acts 7:14 ; Acts 10:32 ; Acts 20:17 ; Acts 24:25 ). Ephesus was some thirty miles, a stiff day's journey each way. They would be with Paul the third day of the stay in Miletus. The elders of the church (tou presbuterou th ekklhsia). The very men whom Paul terms "bishops" (episkopou) in verse Acts 28 just as in Titus 1:5 Titus 1:7 where both terms (presbuterou, ton episkopon) describe the same office. The term "elder" applied to Christian ministers first appears in Acts 11:30 in Jerusalem and reappears in Acts 15:4 Acts 15:6 Acts 15:22 in connection with the apostles and the church. The "elders" are not "apostles" but are "bishops" (cf. Philippians 1:1 ) and with "deacons" constitute the two classes of officers in the early churches. Ignatius shows that in the early second century the office of bishop over the elders had developed, but Lightfoot has shown that it was not so in the first century. Each church, as in Jerusalem, Philippi, Ephesus, had a number of "elders" ("bishops") in the one great city church. Hackett thinks that other ministers from the neighbourhood also came. It was a noble group of preachers and Paul, the greatest preacher of the ages, makes a remarkable talk to preachers with all the earmarks of Pauline originality (Spitta, Apostelgeschichte, p. 252) as shown by the characteristic Pauline words, phrases, ideas current in all his Epistles including the Pastoral (testify, course, pure, take heed, presbyter, bishop, acquire, apparel). Luke heard this address as he may and probably did hear those in Jerusalem and Caesarea ( Acts 21:1-26:32 ). Furneaux suggests that Luke probably took shorthand notes of the address since Galen says that his students took down his medical lectures in shorthand: "At any rate, of all the speeches in the Acts this contains most of Paul and least of Luke. ... It reveals Paul as nothing else does. The man who spoke it is no longer a man of eighteen centuries ago: he is of yesterday; of today. He speaks as we speak and feels as we feel; or rather as we fain would speak and feel." We have seen and listened to Paul speak to the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia as Luke pictures the scene, to the uneducated pagans at Lystra, to the cultured Greeks in Athens. We shall hear him plead for his life to the Jewish mob in Jerusalem, to the Roman governor Felix in Caesarea, to the Jewish "King" Herod Agrippa II in Caesarea, and at last to the Jews in Rome. But here Paul unbosoms himself to the ministers of the church in Ephesus where he had spent three years (longer than with any other church) and where he had such varied experiences of prowess and persecution. He opens his heart to these men as he does not to the average crowd even of believers. It is Paul's Apologia pro sua Vita. He will probably not see them again and so the outlook and attitude is similar to the farewell discourse of Jesus to the disciples in the upper room ( John 13:1-17:26 ). He warns them about future perils as Jesus had done. Paul's words here will repay any preacher's study today. There is the same high conception of the ministry here that Paul had already elaborated in 2 Corinthians 2:12-6:10 (see my Glory of the Ministry). It is a fitting time and occasion for Paul to take stock of his ministry at the close of the third mission tour. What wonders had God wrought already.