Acts 20:34
Yes, you yourselves know, that these hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me.
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(34) These hands have ministered unto my necessities.—The words clearly cover the whole three years of the Apostle’s ministry at Ephesus. The partnership with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:3) continued. Philemon was probably a sharer in it (Philemon 1:17). And the Apostle had not been satisfied with working for himself, but ministered also to “those who were with him.” His teaching in 2Thessalonians 3:10 makes it improbable that he would have thus laboured to maintain others who were able-bodied in idleness, and the words that immediately follow make it almost certain that we must confine the statement to those who were suffering from infirmity. In 1Corinthians 4:12, written, it will be remembered, from Ephesus, we have an undesigned coincidence confirming the statement.

20:28-38 If the Holy Ghost has made ministers overseers of the flock, that is, shepherds, they must be true to their trust. Let them consider their Master's concern for the flock committed to their charge. It is the church He has purchased with his own blood. The blood was his as Man; yet so close is the union between the Divine and human nature, that it is there called the blood of God, for it was the blood of Him who is God. This put such dignity and worth into it, as to ransom believers from all evil, and purchase all good. Paul spake about their souls with affection and concern. They were full of care what would become of them. Paul directs them to look up to God with faith, and commends them to the word of God's grace, not only as the foundation of their hope and the fountain of their joy, but as the rule of their walking. The most advanced Christians are capable of growing, and will find the word of grace help their growth. As those cannot be welcome guests to the holy God who are unsanctified; so heaven would be no heaven to them; but to all who are born again, and on whom the image of God is renewed, it is sure, as almighty power and eternal truth make it so. He recommends himself to them as an example of not caring as to things of the present world; this they would find help forward their comfortable passage through it. It might seem a hard saying, therefore Paul adds to it a saying of their Master's, which he would have them always remember; It is more blessed to give than to receive: it seems they were words often used to his disciples. The opinion of the children of this world, is contrary to this; they are afraid of giving, unless in hope of getting. Clear gain, is with them the most blessed thing that can be; but Christ tell us what is more blessed, more excellent. It makes us more like to God, who gives to all, and receives from none; and to the Lord Jesus, who went about doing good. This mind was in Christ Jesus, may it be in us also. It is good for friends, when they part, to part with prayer. Those who exhort and pray for one another, may have many weeping seasons and painful separations, but they will meet before the throne of God, to part no more. It was a comfort to all, that the presence of Christ both went with him and stayed with them.Yea, ye yourselves know - By your own acquaintance with my manner of life. In Corinth he had lived and labored with Apollos (note, Acts 18:3); and he refers elsewhere to the fact that he had supported himself, in part at least, by his own labor, 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8. We may hence learn that it is no discredit to a minister to labor. Whatever it may be to a people who put him under a necessity to toil for his support, yet the example of Paul shows that a man should rejoice in the privilege of preaching the gospel, even if it is done while he is obliged to resort to labor for his daily bread. It is well when a minister of the gospel can make an appeal to his people like this of Paul, and say, "I have coveted no man's gold, or silver, or apparel." Every minister should so live that he can make this appeal to their own consciences of the sincerity and disinterestedness of his labors from the pulpit; or when called to separate from them as Paul did; or when on a dying bed. Every minister of the gospel, when be comes to lie down to die, will desire to be able to make this appeal, and to leave a solemn testimony there, that it was not for gold, or ease, or fame, that he toiled in the ministerial office. How much more influence will such a man have than he who has been worldly-minded; he who has sought to become rich; and he, the only memorials of whose life is, that he has sought "the fleece, not the flock" - that he has gained the property, not the souls of people. 34. these hands—doubtless holding them up, as before Agrippa in chains (Ac 26:29).

have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me—See Ac 18:3; 1Co 4:12; 9:6, written from Ephesus; also 1Th 2:9.

St. Paul working hard (as they all knew) for a livelihood, Acts 18:3 1 Corinthians 4:12 1 Thessalonians 2:9; which he gives an account of, 2 Thessalonians 3:8, to have been done only that in such a juncture, they being poor, and the false teachers watching all advantages against him, he might not then be chargeable to them. Yea, you yourselves know,.... So far was the apostle from desiring to have other men's money, or to wear their apparel, or to eat their bread, that he could appeal to these elders for the truth of it, they having been eyewitnesses of it:

that these hands have ministered unto my necessities; meaning, that he had wrought with his hands, which he then held up, or stretched out, at tent making, along with Aquila and Priscilla, at Ephesus, as he had done before at Corinth, Acts 18:2 and therewith supplied himself with necessaries for food and clothing; for though he had a power, as a minister of the Gospel, to forbear working, and to insist upon a maintenance from the churches, yet in some cases, and in some places, he chose rather to forego that, lest he should either any ways hinder the progress of the Gospel at the first preaching of it, or be burdensome to the churches, or give the false teachers any handle against him; and he not only supported himself in this way, but assisted others also:

and to them that were with me; as Luke, Timothy, and others; see Acts 20:4.

Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
Acts 20:34. αὐτοὶ: placed first for emphasis, so too emphasised in Acts 2:22, Acts 16:37, Acts 18:15. In 1 Corinthians 4:12 we may see an undesigned coincidence, and cf. the word κοπιῶντας in Acts 20:35, Paley, H.P., iii., 6.—ταῖς χρείαις μου καὶ τοῖς αὖσι μετʼ ἐμοῦ: so the work of the Christian convert ἐργαζ. τὸ ἀγ. ταῖς χερσίν is to be done ἵνα ἔχῃ μεταδιδόναι τῷ χρείαν ἔχοντι, Ephesians 4:28, and for the word χρεία as used by St. Paul elsewhere in same sense, cf. Romans 12:13, Php 2:25; Php 4:16, Titus 3:14.—ὑπηρέτησαν: only in Acts 13:36, used by Paul, Acts 24:23, used of Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1); Wis 16:24.—αὗται: “callosæ, ut videtis,” Bengel, so Blass; quite in Paul’s manner, cf. Acts 26:29, Acts 28:20; so also πάντα, 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Corinthians 10:33; 1 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 4:15. Paul pursued his trade at Ephesus probably with Aquila and Priscilla, possibly with Philemon, Philemon 1:17.34. Yea, ye yourselves know] The oldest texts omit “Yea.” The working in company with Aquila and Priscilla, which the Apostle began in Corinth, was probably continued when they came together to Ephesus, and so the Apostle’s trade and his steady pursuit of it would be well known to many of the listeners. It has been suggested that he was a partner in trade-matters with Philemon during this residence at Ephesus. Cp. Philemon 1:17.

that these hands have ministered] No doubt, he held them forth, and they bore marks that not only while at Ephesus, but since that time they had laboured for the means of living.

unto … them that were with me] We cannot determine under what circumstances the Apostle felt himself called upon to minister by his hand-labour to the support of his companions. We may be sure however that the necessity was there, and that St Paul, working himself, did not countenance indolence in others. And when we read of Timothy’s “often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23) we may conjecture that there were those among the companions of St Paul who were less able to work with the hands than the Apostle himself.Acts 20:34. Αὗται, these) which are hardened with labour, as ye see.Verse 34. - Ye for yea ye, A.V. and T.R.; ministered for have ministered, A.V. These hands (see 1 Corinthians 4:12, written from Ephesus a few months before).
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