The sheep in a “flock” (v.28) would be lost without a shepherd, and the Greek word translated shepherd is also translated pastor. Some say only Jews are sheep, but that was only true under the law, when Gentiles were considered dogs.
“Overseers” (v.28) in the Bible watched over and guided workers (IIChron.34:13). God expects every believer to be engaged in His work in every dispensation. But we have a dispensational difference when verse 28 says the Holy Ghost made them overseers. Back then, the Spirit chose who received what gift (ICor.12:7-11). Today, men must desire to be a leader (ITim.3:1). If a man’s “apt” to teach (has a natural aptitude for it), he can “profit” God’s people with Scripture (IITim.3:16), as men with gifts profited others (IICor.12:7).
God purchased us “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The blood shed on the cross was God’s blood, which proves He was God in the flesh. But if He purchased you, He owns you, and you should live with that in mind (ICor.6:19,20).
Paul didn’t have to be a prophet to know grievous wolves would enter the Ephesian flock (Acts 20:29); he just had to know the Scriptures. They testify that wolves were always entering the flock of God’s people in every dispensation (Zeph.3:3,4; Mt.7:15). These wolves are men who pretend to be sheep to get a chance to become the shepherd, to see what they could get out of the flock (Ezek.34:2,3), instead of what they could give to it, as a good shepherd would.
Paul told the elders to watch for wolves who would enter the flock from without, but he also warned them to watch for wolves who would arise from within the assembly speaking “perverse” things. Perverse means to teach something different from what is correct (cf.Jer.23:36). Paul then reminded them he wasn’t asking them to do anything he himself hadn’t been doing for the past three years (Acts 20:31).
Paul commended the elders to God (v.32) the way the Lord commended His spirit to God (Lu.23:46)—by putting the elders into God’s hands. Of course, God only speaks through His Word, so Paul was putting them in the hands of the Bible as he left them, not in the hands of a pope of any kind.
But not the Bible in general! He commended them to “the word of His grace,” i.e., the grace message. That’s the only message that can build believers up in the age of grace, and give us an inheritance among the Jews who were sanctified before us. Those are the Jews who believed on Christ before the Lord saved Paul, the ones He told him were already sanctified by believing on Him when He was here (Acts 26:18).
What do we inherit among them? God told the first Jew that he and his seed would inherit the world (Rom.4:13), i.e., they’d be rulers of the world. We inherit a position as rulers of the world with them (ICor.6:2), because we’ll judge angels (6:3), and the rulers of heaven are over earth’s rulers. So we’ll rule the world through Israel, as husbands rule their kids through their wives. That doesn’t make the Jews inferior to us, any more than wives are inferior to their husbands.
Rather than covet the Ephesian church’s money (Acts 20: 33), Paul worked as a tentmaker to pay his way (v.34) as an example to those elders (v.35), since one of them would likely be their next pastor. Paul believed in letting churches pay pastors (IICor.11:9). But he encouraged the next pastor to work a secular job so he could give to the “weak” to address a temporary situation in Ephesus. He put a lot of Ephesians out of work, including exorcists (Acts 19:13-16), men engaged in black arts (19:17,19), and makers of shrines for Diana (19:23-41). Paul later told the members of the Ephesian church to help those weak brethren as well (Eph.4:28).
Helping others must be the highest level of spirituality attainable, for after saying this, Paul didn’t say anything more (Acts 20:36-38). They just kissed goodbye.
A video of this message is available on YouTube: “Paul’s Goodbye Kiss” Acts 20:28-38