SERIES: 44 Acts - 2017
MESSAGE: Acts 20:17-21:14
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig
SCRIPTURE: Acts 20:17-21:14

In this message, we see Paul on his third and final missionary journey. He knew he needed to speak to the elders of the church of Ephesus but was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost, so he and the elders met in nearby Miletus. In his parting words to the elders, Paul gave great insight into the attributes of effective ministry. Despite multiple trustworthy warnings about impending hardship in Jerusalem, Paul graciously received the warnings as preparation and proceeded to Jerusalem.


  1. Introduction
    1. The Holy Spirit is mentioned forty-two times in Acts
      1. The book could be called The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles
      2. It may appear that Paul was fighting the Spirit's leading
    2. Paul used three terms interchangeably to address church leaders
      1. Presbuteros: Greek for elder, from the Jewish community
      2. Episkopos: Greek for overseer, from the Greek community
      3. Poimén: Greek for shepherd, from the rural community
    3. This was the only message in Acts to a Christian audience
    4. Other messages were to unbelieving Jews or Gentiles, or used as defenses in trials
  2. Acts 20:17-31 | Paul reveals attributes of effective ministry to church leaders
    1. An open life (see v. 18)
      1. Paul stayed with them for three years
      2. He taught them, took meals with them, lived life among them
      3. They heard his messages and watched him live life
    2. Humility (see v. 19)
      1. Paul was a servant
      2. Some pastors did (and still do) desire the limelight (see 3 John 1:9)
    3. Hardships (see v. 19)
      1. Paul faced "tears and trials"
      2. Hardships equip you for ministry, hone you, and give you more value
    4. Balance (see vv. 20-21)
      1. Paul both proclaimed (preached) and taught (instructed); people need to be preached to and also taught how to
      2. He taught publicly (large groups) and from house to house (small groups)
      3. He spoke to Jews (sacred) and Greeks (secular)
      4. He proclaimed repentance and faith
    5. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit (see vv. 22-23)
      1. Some conclude Paul was fighting the Holy Spirit, but Paul acknowledged that his hardships furthered the gospel (see Philippians 1:12)
      2. "Paul purposed in the Spirit…to go to Jerusalem" (Acts 19:21)
      3. Paul believed God wanted him to go to Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit warned him of coming suffering in order to prepare him; Paul never confused a prediction with a prohibition
      4. When you step into the Christian life, you relinquish all control
    6. Determination (see v. 24)
      1. Paul stepped boldly into the future
      2. Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem to take the offering from Macedonian churches, and because he loved them
      3. Paul had an incredible love for Israel and the Jewish people (see Romans 9:1-3; 10:1)
      4. Moses had a similar heart for his people (see Exodus 34:15-32)
      5. Paul taught the "whole counsel of God" (v. 27)
    7. Protection (see vv. 28-31)
      1. Paul warned the shepherds and sheep about wolves
      2. Paul never ceased to warn them night and day
      3. "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4)
      4. Shepherds might have to warn against false prophets
      5. Jesus said, "I am the door" (John 10:9), meaning He is the protector of His sheep
  3. Acts 20:32-21:14 | Paul departs for Jerusalem
    1. Paul commended the Ephesian church leaders to the Lord; they all wept
    2. Although Paul predicted the wolves would come, he trusted the Lord to care for the sheep in Ephesus
    3. Paul sailed toward Jerusalem
      1. Christians in Tyre warned Paul "through the Spirit" (v. 4) not to go to Jerusalem; Paul continued onward
      2. Clergymen in Judea warned Paul of hardship in Jerusalem
      3. Even Paul's traveling companions pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem
      4. Paul said he was prepared to go
  4. Closing
    1. Prediction to Paul did not mean prohibition
    2. Paul believed the multiple warnings from the Holy Spirit; however, he took it as preparation for what lie ahead
Figures referenced: Robert William Dale, Martin Luther, Dwight L. Moody

Greek words: episkopos, poimén, presbuteros

Cross references: Exodus 34:15-32; Psalm 23:4; John 10:9; Acts 19:21; Romans 9:1-3; 10:1; Philippians 1:12; 3 John 1:9

Topic: Ministry

Keywords: Gentile, gospel, Holy Spirit, ministry, offering, predict, prophecy

Acts 20:17-21:14 - Acts 20:17-21:14 |
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