Tuesday, 19 September 2023
And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, Acts 20:18
The words need to be more precisely aligned with the Greek, “And when they came to him, he said to them, ‘You know from the first day in which I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time’” (CG).
Paul had just sent from Miletus to Ephesus to gather the elders of the church at Miletus. Now, with their coming, Luke records, “And when they came to him.” As noted, this would have been at least a day later, maybe even two. The men would have had to have walked or rode about thirty miles to Ephesus, gathered the elders, and then made the return trip. Despite the distance, the men came. With that having transpired, “he said to them, ‘You know.’”
The word “you” is in the emphatic position. To highlight this, the YLT says, “Ye – ye know.” Paul is declaring in their presence, and with their knowledge to support his words, the truth of what he will say. Next, he says, “from the first day.”
These words speak of a period of three full years, as will be noted in Acts 20:31. There was sufficient time to come to know Paul and to evaluate his conduct and his character. Therefore, they will know that what he has called them for is based on that knowledge. His words will need to be considered and accepted because of this. He next says, “in which I set foot in Asia.”
The word translated as “set foot” is epibaino. It is used just six times in the New Testament. It means to set foot on, mount, or board (as if boarding a boat). It is derived from epi (on, upon, etc.) and basis (a step). He notes that from the first step of his foot among them, what he will convey was the case. As they are the witnesses to the matter, it must be a true proclamation concerning it, which is, “how I was with you the whole time.”
The words are singular, “the whole time.” There was no lapse in how Paul conducted himself from beginning to end. Concerning such steadfast conduct, the Geneva Bible says, “A graphic image of a true pastor.”
Life application: Out of all of the speeches made in Acts, this one stands out as certainly being one where Luke was present. The style of his words shows the first-hand knowledge of what was said. Also, it closely mirrors Paul’s words in his epistles.
Everything about it shows evidence of a faithful recording of what Paul actually said rather than a second-hand account. The other speeches are true representations of what was said, but this one indicates the careful detailing of the deep emotion and heartfelt love that Paul and the elders shared.
As they are analyzed, remember this and think of your own times when you were closely bonded with others in the fellowship of Christ. And this doesn’t have to just mean in one another’s presence. In our modern world, communication and fellowship can take place over vast distances. And so, think about what Paul emphasizes to these men.
Consider his words and develop the same passion as he had for what he will convey. Spoiler alert: Paul will implore these men to hold fast to what is good and sound and to guard against those who would come in and pervert the church. He knows these will be his last words to them, and so he begs them to remain sound in their lives, conduct, and doctrine before the Lord.
Glorious God, may we consider our walk before You, hold fast to what is good, and emphasize to others the importance of holding fast to what You have set before us in Scripture. Help us to rightly divide it, to faithfully live by it, and to be willing to instruct others in it. To Your glory and for the edification of others, we pray. Amen.