And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.…
Paul's ministry was —
I. LOYAL: "serving the Lord" (ver. 19). It is the word used for slave service. There was nothing of the spirit of a slave — base subjection, or angry opposition to service forced. But there was the idea of absolute surrender. Paul regarded himself the property of Jesus — to live and labour for Him alone. And this was a joyful voluntary surrender, and so was "perfect freedom." Let us in our ministry not be secretly serving ourselves; making popularity, admiration, power, pelf, our aim; nor let us serve? the state, or the world, or the Church, or any society, for the purpose of pleasing, but only to do good, remembering that in religion we are to be "serving the Lord."
II. HUMBLE. "With all humility."
1. Humility towards our Divine Lord — following His counsels, and not our own fancies — teaching His truth and not our own speculations; doing the work He prescribes, and not that which we might prefer; content to go anywhere, do anything, suffer any affliction which He ordains, with meek submissiveness, with cheerful alacrity.
2. Towards others. They who teach and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus should exhibit His spirit, and cultivate sweetness, gentleness, courtesy: not aiming at supremacy, emulating others, striving for the higher place, assuming airs of superiority, but acting as those who knew themselves unworthy to occupy the lowest station in the Church, who have nothing which they have not received, and who may, in the judgment of the Searcher of Hearts, be far below some whose gifts and position are inferior, but who may illustrate the saying, "Many that are last shall be first, and the first shall be last." If the ministry of such a one as Paul was "with all humility," how much more should ours be!
III. TENDER. "And with many tears." True manliness is tender. It is not unmanly to weep. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, and when He contemplated the sin and approaching suffering of Jerusalem. Paul was among the strongest of men, and therefore among the tenderest (2 Corinthians 2:4; Philippians 3:18). How different this from the hard sternness, even the jubilant fervour, with which sin and sinners have sometimes been denounced! How solemn, yet how tender, was Jesus! We should be the most tender and tearful when most faithful in reproof (ver. 31).
IV. FAITHFUL (ver. 20). He would not prophesy "smooth things." A self-seeker, a coward, a man pleaser, would "shun" (ver. 27) many topics opposed to the prejudices and self-interest of his hearers. We can imagine the case of slave owners, or distillers and rum sellers, or Sabbath traders, or coveteous people in a congregation, and the inducement to "keep back" what would be profitable, but unpleasant, and a shunning to declare the "whole counsel of God."
(Newman Hall, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.