Acts 20:38
Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
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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.Sorrowing most of all ... - This was a most tender and affectionate parting scene. It can be more easily imagined than described. We may learn from it:

(1) That the parting of ministers and people is a most solemn event, and should be one of much tenderness and affection.

(2) the effect of true religion is to make the heart more tender; to make friendship more affectionate and sacred; and to unite more closely the bonds of love.

(3) ministers of the gospel should be prepared to leave their people with the same consciousness of fidelity and the same kindness and love which Paul evinced. They should live such lives as to be able to look back upon their whole ministry as pure and disinterested, and as having been employed in guarding the flock, and in making known to them the whole counsel of God. So parting, they may separate in peace; and so living and acting, they will be prepared to give up their account with joy, and not with grief. May God grant to every minister the spirit which Paul evinced at Ephesus, and enable each one, when called to leave his people by death or otherwise, to do it with the same consciousness of fidelity which Paul evinced when he left his people to see their face no more.

36-38. he kneeled down and prayed with them all, &c.—Nothing can be more touching than these three concluding verses, leaving an indelible impression of rare ministerial fidelity and affection on the apostle's part, and of warm admiration and attachment on the part of these Ephesian presbyters. Would to God that such scenes were more frequent in the Church! The loss of a faithful and painful minister is a public loss, and many are concerned in it; besides, they had found great benefit by his ministry, and could not but be sensible of their missing of it. Add to this, Paul’s gracious and humble conversation, and the sense of many good offices done by him, could not but have endeared him unto them.

They accompanied him unto the ship; enjoying him as long and as far as they could, and expressing their last and utmost kindness unto him.

Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake,.... In Acts 20:25 it filled them with sorrow to part with him; but this was increased, and made almost intolerable by what he said,

that they should see his face no more: could they have hoped to have seen him again, it would have made their parting with him more easy; but to be told they should never see him more in this world, it cut them to the heart; which shows what a share the apostle had in their hearts and affections, and not without good reason: however, that they might have a sight of him as long as they could, they went along with him to see him take shipping, and to see the last of him.

And they accompanied him unto the ship: which lay at Miletus waiting for him.

Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.
Acts 20:38. ὀδυνώμενοι: common in Luke and Acts, only three times elsewhere in N.T., Luke 2:48; Luke 16:24-25.—θεωρεῖν, Lucan, cf. Acts 17:16; Acts 17:22, “to behold,” R.V., to gaze with reverence upon his face.—μέλλουσι, see above p. 157.—προέπεμπον δὲ αὐτὸν: “and they brought him on his way,” R.V., cf. Acts 15:3 (see note), Acts 21:5; the harbour was some little distance from the town.

38. sorrowing … the words which he spake] More literally “the word which he had spoken” (Rev. Ver.).

that they should see, &c.] The word in the original is not that which the Apostle uses in Acts 20:25, when he says he shall not come again. So the Rev. Ver. has well given “behold.” The Greek expresses the earnest reverent gaze, with which we can fancy those who knew the Apostle and his work would look upon him. His presence filled not only the eye, but the mind, they contemplated all which the sight of him would recall.

And they accompanied him unto the ship] Rev. Ver. “And they brought him on his way, &c.” thus making the rendering of the verb here agree with the language of Acts 15:3 and Acts 21:5. They would not lose one look or one word before they were forced to do so. We can see from these words that the harbour was at some distance from the town of Miletus. See on Acts 20:15; Acts 20:17.

Verse 38. - The word which he had spoken for the words which he spake, A.V.; behold for see, A.V.; brought him on his way for accompanied him, A.V. Brought him on his way; προέπεμπον, as Acts 15:3; Acts 21:5. So too 1 Corinthians 16:6, 11; 2 Corinthians 1:16; Titus 3:13 3John 6. But the rendering accompanied gives the meaning of the two last passages in the Acts better than that of the R.V. It is impossible to part with this most touching narrative, of such exquisite simplicity and beauty, without a parting word of admiration and thankfulness to God for having preserved to his Church this record of apostolic wisdom and faithfulness on the one hand, and of loving devotion of the clergy to their great chief on the other. As long as the stones of the Church are bound together by such strong mortar, it can defy the attacks of its enemies from without.

Acts 20:38See (θεωρεῖν)

See on Luke 10:18. The word for steadfast, earnest contemplation suggests the interest and affection with which they looked upon his countenance for the last time.

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