“Elders” (v.17) were leaders. Peter was the elder of the kingdom church, but he wrote to others (IPet.5:1). The elders here were leaders in the grace church in Ephesus. Paul reminded them he’d served with “humility” (v.18,19). It’s so important, it’s at the top of the list of things he mentions. It’s the opposite of pride. Pride will ruin us (Pr.16:18;29:23).
But if you don’t humble yourself (James 5:10), don’t expect God to do it, as He did for Jews under the law (Deut.8:2). No matter what you’re going through, God didn’t send it. But if you don’t humble yourself, life will sometimes do it for you. It does for me, when I say and do dumb things.
Paul wept “tears” (v.19) because he was trying to help unsaved Jews, but they were “lying in wait” to kill him (cf.Lu. 19:41,42). The “temptations” this caused him were testings. I think he was tempted to quit trying to help them, but didn’t!
When Paul said he “kept back nothing that was profitable” to them (v.20), he meant he taught them the entire Bible, for “all Scripture is…profitable” (IITim.3:16). He taught them “publickly” (v.20) in school (Acts 19:9), and from house to house. These days, I teach saints in houses around the world by email, and even in “the big house” in prison by snail mail.
While teaching the saints, Paul was also “testifying” “repentance toward God” to sinners (Acts 20:21). Repentance means to change your mind (cf.Mt.21:28,29). Unsaved men need to change their minds about what they think about God (cf.Isa.55:8) and exercise “faith toward our Lord” (20:21).
Paul felt “bound” in his own personal “spirit” (20:22) to go to Jerusalem (cf.19:21) because he’d collected a lot of money from Gentile churches for “the poor saints” there (Rom. 15:26). He could have sent trusted men to deliver it, but he wanted a photo op. He wanted unsaved Jews to see him deliver it to those saved Jews to get them to put their faith in Christ. So he “hasted” to get there by Pentecost (Acts 20:16), so Jews from all over the world (2:1,5) would see the photo op. He said he didn’t know what would befall him there (20:22) because the Spirit said bonds and afflictions would “abide” him there (v.23). That is, he’d be arrested and beaten there, like he was in places where he wasn’t giving out money. But he wouldn’t have cared if the Spirit said he’d be killed, for he didn’t count his life dear to himself (v.24).
The “kingdom” he’d preached in Ephesus (v.25) was the overall kingdom of the saved of all ages (Col.1:12,13). As a prophet, he knew he’d see them no more (v.26). But he did not know as a prophet what would befall him in Jerusalem because God hid it from him (cf.IKi.4:27) to see how faithful he’d be not knowing what it would cost him. That’s a type of how we have to serve God as well. All we know is what he knew, that bonds like sicknesses (Lu.13:16) will abide us.
Paul could say he was “pure” of the blood of all men (Acts 20:26), even though he hadn’t warned all men (cf.Ezek.3: 18), “for” (Acts 20:27) he’d given the message to leaders he knew would teach others (IITim.2:2), thus fulfilling his apostolic duty. The “counsel of God” (20:27) Paul taught them changes. It once included baptism (Lu.7:29,30). Paul took them to record (20:26) as a type of how God is recording everything men do. He used to use heaven and earth to record it (Deut.31:28cf.Josh.24:27), but they will flee away from the Great White Throne (Rev.20:11). But God backed up His records in “books” of men’s works (v.12).
Esther 6:1-3 is a type of how God’s records will be cited to reward kingdom saints, and we’ll be rewarded too (ICor.3: 14). No books are mentioned in connection with our judgment, so I believe we’ll do what Paul did here and give account of ourselves to the Lord (Rom.14:12). Acts 20:6-12 was a type of the dispensation of grace, and this passage is a type of the Judgment Seat of Christ that will follow.
A video of this message is available on YouTube: “Paul Says Goodbye” Acts 20:17-27