Acts 20:18
And when they were come to him, he said to them, You know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
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(18) Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia . . .—No discourse recorded in the Acts is so full of living personal interest. St. Luke would naturally be present at the meeting, and able to take notes of the address, and reproduce it almost, if not altogether, word for word. It bears upon the face of it internal marks of genuineness. No writer of a history adorned with fictitious speeches could have written a discourse so essentially Pauline in all its turns and touches of thought and phraseology, in its tenderness and sympathy, its tremulous anxieties, its frank assertions of the fulness of his teaching and the self-denying labours of his life, its sense of the infinite responsibility of the ministerial office for himself and others, its apprehension of coming dangers from without and from within the Church. The words present a striking parallel to the appeal of. Samuel to the people in 1Samuel 12:3.

Acts 20:18-19. And he said, Ye know, &c. — Happy is that minister who can thus appeal to the consciences of his hearers; from the first day that I came into Asia — From the first time of my appearing among you; after what manner I have been with you — How I have conducted myself toward God, toward you, and toward all men; at all seasons Τον παντα χρονον, the whole time; every day and hour, in private and public; serving the Lord — Not only instructing men in the principles of divine truth, but in the whole tenor of my conduct serving the Lord Jesus Christ; seeking, not my own honour, interest, or pleasure, but his honour, the interest of his kingdom, and the pleasing of him; making his will my rule, and his glory my end, in all my actions; with all humility of mind — In all instances of condescension, modesty, and self-abasement; conscious that I am unworthy to be permitted to serve him, that he does me a great and undeserved honour to employ me in his service, and that my best services are utterly unworthy of his acceptance; and with many tears — Of tender affection and deep concern for your present and eternal salvation; and in sympathy with you under your trials and troubles. Though Paul’s acquaintance with them was of late standing, yet, so near did they lie to his heart, that he wept with them that wept, and mingled his tears with theirs upon every occasion; and temptations Πειρασμων, trials; namely, of his faith, patience, and courage; such trials as, perhaps, were sometimes temptations to him, if not to desist from, yet to abate of his zeal and diligence in the work of the Lord; which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews — Who were still plotting some mischief or other against him. These three things, humility, tears, and trials, are the concomitants of the true and faithful service of Christ in the ministry of the gospel. The service itself is described more particularly in the two following verses. The humility here spoken of, he recommends to the Ephesians themselves, Ephesians 4:2. His tears are mentioned again, Acts 20:31; as also, 2 Corinthians 2:4, and Php 3:18. These passages laid together supply us with the genuine character of Paul. Holy tears, from those who seldom weep on account of natural occurrences, are no mean specimen of the efficacy, and proof of the truth of Christianity; yet joy is well consistent therewith, (Acts 20:24,) for the same person may be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.20:17-27 The elders knew that Paul was no designing, self-seeking man. Those who would in any office serve the Lord acceptably, and profitably to others, must do it with humility. He was a plain preacher, one that spoke his message so as to be understood. He was a powerful preacher; he preached the gospel as a testimony to them if they received it; but as a testimony against them if they rejected it. He was a profitable preacher; one that aimed to inform their judgments, and reform their hearts and lives. He was a painful preacher, very industrious in his work. He was a faithful preacher; he did not keep back reproofs when necessary, nor keep back the preaching of the cross. He was a truly Christian, evangelical preacher; he did not preach notions or doubtful matters; nor affairs of state or the civil government; but he preached faith and repentance. A better summary of these things, without which there is no salvation, cannot be given: even repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, with their fruits and effects. Without these no sinner can escape, and with these none will come short of eternal life. Let them not think that Paul left Asia for fear of persecution; he was in full expectation of trouble, yet resolved to go on, well assured that it was by Divine direction. Thanks be to God that we know not the things which shall befall us during the year, the week, the day which has begun. It is enough for the child of God to know that his strength shall be equal to his day. He knows not, he would not know, what the day before him shall bring forth. The powerful influences of the Holy Spirit bind the true Christian to his duty. Even when he expects persecution and affliction, the love of Christ constrains him to proceed. None of these things moved Paul from his work; they did not deprive him of his comfort. It is the business of our life to provide for a joyful death. Believing that this was the last time they should see him, he appeals concerning his integrity. He had preached to them the whole counsel of God. As he had preached to them the gospel purely, so he had preached it to them entire; he faithfully did his work, whether men would bear or forbear.And when they were come to him - The discourse which follows is one of the most tender, affectionate, and eloquent which is anywhere to be found. It is strikingly descriptive of the apostle's manner of life while with them; evinces his deep concern for their welfare; is full of tender and kind admonition; expresses the firm purpose of his soul to live to the glory of God, and his expectation to be persecuted still; and is a most affectionate and solemn farewell. No man can read it without being convinced that it came from a heart full of love and kindness; and that it evinces a great and noble purpose to be entirely employed in one great aim and object - the promotion of the glory of God, in the face of danger and of death.

Ye know - From your own observation. He had been with them three years, and could make this solemn appeal to themselves that he had led a faithful and devoted life. How happy is it when a minister can thus appeal to those with whom he has labored in proof of his own sincerity and fidelity! How comforting to himself, and how full of demonstration to a surrounding world, of the truth and power of the gospel which is preached! We may further remark that this appeal furnishes strong proof of the purity and holiness of Paul's life. The elders at Ephesus must have had abundant opportunity to know him. They had seen him, and heard him publicly, and in their private dwellings. A man does not make such an appeal unless he has a consciousness of integrity, nor unless there is conclusive proof of his integrity. It is strong evidence of the holiness of the character of the apostles, and proof that they were not impostors, that they could thus appeal with the utmost assurance to those who had every opportunity of knowing them.

From the first day - He was with them three years, Acts 20:31.

Into Asia - Asia Minor. They would probably know not only how he had demeaned himself while with them, but also how he had conducted in other places near them.

After what manner I have been with you - How I have lived and acted. What has been my manner of life. What had been his mode of life he specifies in the following verses.

At all seasons - At all times.

18. Ye know … after what manner I have been with you at all seasons—For the Christian integrity and fidelity of his whole official intercourse with them he appeals to themselves. Asia; strictly and properly so called; or that part of the Lesser Asia whose metropolis was Ephesus.

After what manner I have been with you at all seasons; a singular form for a good man to use, if he must of necessity leave his charge or flock, when his conscience does not accuse him. St. Paul spake not this as boasting of what he had done, or how he had been amongst them; but setting his example before them and others, to be imitated, and calling them for to witness the truth of it. And when they were come to him,.... That is, when the elders or pastors of the church at Ephesus were come to the apostle at Miletus:

he said unto them, ye know, from the first day I came into Asia; to Ephesus the chief city in it:

after what manner I have been with you at all seasons; what was his conduct, conversation, and constant manner of life; which the apostle takes notice of, not to commend himself, or to obtain applause of men; but either in vindication of himself, against those that were ready to charge and censure him; or to recommend the doctrine which he taught; and chiefly for the imitation of these elders, he had sent for, and convened in this place; and he appeals to themselves, as eyewitnesses of what he was going to say.

{6} And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,

(6) A graphic image of a true pastor.

Acts 20:18-19. “In hac concione[111] praecipue huc insistit Paulus, ut, quos Ephesi creaverat pastores, suo exemplo hortetur ad munus suum fideliter peragendum,” Calvin. It is a clear and true pastoral mirror.

Only the Ephesian (τῆς ἐκκλησ., Acts 20:17) presbyters were assembled; not, as Iren. iii. 14. 2 relates, those also of the neighbouring churches,—an error which arose, perhaps, on account of Acts 20:28, from the later episcopal dignity.

ἈΠῸ ΠΡΏΤΗςʼΑΣΊΑΝ] belongs to the following ΠῶςἘΓΕΝΌΜΗΝ, to which it is emphatically prefixed (comp. on 1 Corinthians 15:2; Winer, p. 522 [E. T. 702]), not to ἘΠΊΣΤΑΣΘΕ; for the point was not the continuity of the knowledge of those addressed, but that of the apostolic conduct. Tholuck, with justice, here calls attention to the frequency and force of the self-witness, which we meet with in Paul (1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Php 3:17, al.; comp. Trip, p. 214 ff.). The reason thereof lies in his own special consciousness, 1 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 15:10; and it is wrong to find in the self-witness of this speech the apologetic fabrication of a later adorer (see particularly, Zeller, p. 273).

The first day; see Acts 28:19. On μεθʼ ὑμ. ἐγενόμ., comp. Acts 7:38.

Τῷ ΚΥΡΊῼ] to Christ, as His apostles.

μετὰ πάσ. ταπεινοφρ.] with all possible humility, πολλὰ γὰρ εἴδη τῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης, Oecumenius. See also Theile, ad Ep. Jac. p. 6 ff.

δακρύων] See on Acts 20:31.

[111] On the Pauline character of this speech (in opposition to Baur, üb. d. Pastoralbr. p. 93), see Tholuck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 305 ff.; Neander, p. 473 ff. According to Baur and Zeller, the whole speech (according to Schneckenburger, only part of it) is an apologetic fiction. Ewald correctly remarks: “to doubt its historical character in general, is folly itself.”—Precisely this speech, and that to the Athenians, chap. 17, bear most decidedly and most directly the impress of vivid originality. See also Klostermann, Vindiciae Luc. p. 40 ff.; Trip, Paulus, p. 206 ff.Acts 20:18. ὑμεῖς: “ye yourselves,” R.V., ipsi, emphatic, cf. Acts 10:37, Acts 15:7.—ἀπὸ π. .: to be connected with what follows, although it is quite possible that the word may hold a middle place (Alford), connected partly with ἐπίσ. and partly with ἐγεν.—ἐπέβην: “set foot in Asia,” R.V., only in Acts, except Matthew 21:5, also with the dative of place, Acts 25:1, but the local meaning is doubtful (LXX, Joshua 14:9). Rendall renders “I took ship for Asia,” but although the expression elsewhere refers to a voyage, cf. Acts 21:2; Acts 21:4; Acts 21:6, Acts 27:2, it is not always so used, e.g., Acts 25:1.—πῶς μεθʼ ὑ.… ἐγεν., cf. Acts 7:38 (versor cum), Acts 9:19, Mark 16:10. Bethge points out that the phrase is always used of intimate association and contrasts the less intimate significance of σύν. See also critical note and reading in .18. And … he said unto them] This is the only speech recorded in the Acts of the Apostles which we can be sure that the writer heard St Paul make. This is probably the reason why we have it somewhat in detail, and why it is so marked, as we shall see it is, with expressions that are to be found in the Apostle’s letters. While giving other speeches in abstract St Luke employs his own diction or that of some who were his authorities.

Ye know] The pronoun is emphatically expressed, and for this reason the Rev. Ver. says, “Ye yourselves know.” Had St Luke been giving the speech in substance, his Greek training would have made him commence, as he so often does, “Men and brethren.” That he has not done so in the speech which he gathered from St Paul’s own lips is an evidence of a faithful reporter.

from the first day that I came into Asia] The Rev. Ver. brings out the force of the Greek verb “I set foot in.” The Apostle is appealing not only to what he had done in Ephesus itself, but to what they had heard of his labours elsewhere in Asia. Ephesus was no doubt the greatest centre of Christian life in Proconsular Asia, and all that was done elsewhere would be reported there, and the lesser churches would seek for intercommunion with a church in which they could learn so much of what St Paul had taught.

after what manner I have been with you at all seasons] The A.V. neither represents duly the last noun, which is singular, nor the tense of the verb. Read (with Rev. Ver.) I was with you all the time. The Apostle is appealing to his behaviour from first to last during his residence in Asia. It is not that he had been with them at all seasons which he desires to note, but how he had borne himself while he was among them.Acts 20:18. Ὑμεῖς ἐπίστασθε, ye know) Happy the minister who can thus begin his address, appealing to the conscience of his hearers as attesting what he says.—ἐπέβην, I entered) This denotes more than I came to; for it signifies, I set foot on.—πῶς) There follows ὡς, Acts 20:20, which is equivalent to an Anaphora (the repetition of the same word in beginnings, thereby marking them).—τὸν) Relative [the whole time that I was with you].Verse 18. - Ye yourselves for ye, A.V.; set foot in for came into, A.V.; was for have been, A.V.; all the time for at all seasons, A.V.
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