Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers…
Paul, pursuing his path of self-sacrificing devotion, going on to he knew not what dangers ahead, looking a violent death in the face, was calm, tranquil, even joyful. But the apostle, looking forward to a distracted and injured Church, torn by false doctrine, laid waste by sinful men, was grieved at heart, and he uses the language of solemn adjuration and entreaty.
I. HUMAN APPREHENSION. We often go forward with painful apprehension that some ill is about to befall us; therefore with hesitating step, with trembling heart.
1. It has been that men had an intimation from God that evil was in store for them. This was not uncommon in Old Testament times, when the purpose of God was frequently revealed. It was the case with Paul now; it was revealed to him that dark days were ahead in the experience of the Church at Ephesus.
2. It may be the action of individual insight. By the use of a keen and penetrating judgment, a man can often perceive that events are leading up to a disaster.
3. It may be a simple and sound conclusion from the common heritage of man. It is certain that dark shadows must be across the path we tread, and that we shall be entering them before long.
II. THE SPECIAL ANXIETY OF THE CHRISTIAN PASTOR. Paul apprehended:
1. Attack from without: "Grievous wolves entering in... not sparing the flock" (ver. 29).
2. Mischief from within: "Of your own selves shall men arise, etc. (ver. 30). This is what the Church of Christ has now to fear: the attacks of infidelity, the invitation to immorality, from without; and the subtler and more perilous dangers of spiritual decline, of the decay of faith, of injurious doctrines, of the breath of worldliness, within.
III. THE ATTITUDE OF THE RESPONSIBLE. (Vers. 28-31.) Paul solemnly charged these elders, as those to whose care was committed the Church of God - that sacred body which the Lord had redeemed by his own blood - to do these three things.
1. To keep diligently their own hearts: "Take heed to yourselves" (see Proverbs 4:23).
2. To watch carefully the spirit and course of their people: "And to all the flock."
3. To sustain the life of the members by providing spiritual nourishment: "Feed the Church of God." If we would do what the Divine Head of the Church demands of us, and if we would follow in the footsteps of the most devoted of his servants (see ver. 31), we must
(1) cultivate a deep sense of our responsibility;
(2) exercise unremitting vigilance over ourselves and our charge;
(3) supply that kind and measure of sacred truth which is fitted to strengthen and to purify those whom we undertake to teach. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.