Intro. Paul has warned them about the wolves that will come in seeking to prey on the flock of God, and how that even from within their own company there would arise those who would seek to draw men after themselves.
I. THEREFORE WATCH AND REMEMBER.
A. Watching has to do with the future, remembering has to do with the past.
1. We need the foundation of the past so that we can watch for the future.
2. If we do not remember the past, we will make the same mistakes in the future.
B. What are they to remember?
1. The warnings that Paul gave to them night and day for three years.
2. Note that Paul was warning them with tears.
a. The great heart of the apostle for those to whom he ministered.
b. He knew that the people were preys for those wolves who would be coming with wrong motives.
c. Paul had the true heart of a shepherd. The shepherd loves cares for the flock of God.
d. In the early years of ministry, we used to have evangelists, to have evangelists come, and so many of them were there just to fleece the flock. They would always leave the church much poorer when they left.
e. It was such a hard thing to see the sheep being deceived, and to feel so helpless, for you could not hurt the sheep by pointing out the deceitfulness of the man while he was there.
f. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about those men who had come in and drawn men after themselves and not after Christ.
And when I was present with you, and in want, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all [things] I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and [so] will I keep [myself].
As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
Why? because I love you not? God knows.
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off the occasion from them which desire an occasion; wherein they seek glory, that they may be found even as we.
For they are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.
That which I speak, I speak [it] not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.
Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.
For you accept fools gladly, seeing you are so wise.
For you welcome those men who bring you into bondage, or devour you, or take from you, or exalt themselves, or smite you on the face.
g. How that must have hurt the Apostle Paul to see how he tried to set a Godly example among them, so that people would not be able to say, he is only after our money, to see men come in after him and fleece the flock. Speaking of his ministry to them he said:
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
We labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, [and are] the offscouring of all things unto this day.
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn [you].
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you have not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
II. "AND NOW, I COMMEND YOU TO GOD."
A. He feels that this is the last time he will probably see them, and he has invested so much of his life in them.
1. He had hazarded his life to bring them the gospel of God's grace. He wrote to the Corinthians that to bring the gospel to others, he faced death daily. He spoke of fighting with the beasts at Ephesus.
2. We know how he had to leave under great pressure as the result of the uprising created by Demetrius the silversmith.
3. He had labored during the day to provide for his needs and those who were with him. In the afternoons and evenings both in public and from house to house he had ministered to them.
B. He now knows that the wolves are going to be moving in as the shepherd is leaving, but he commends them to God.
1. He is going to leave them in the keeping of God.
2. I have done all I can do, now it is up to God to keep you.
3. After we have done our best, all we can do is to commit the rest.
C. He commends them also to the word of His grace.
1. Paul preached the gospel of grace. Verse 24.
2. This was a great offense to the Jew, who thought that you can only relate to God through the law.
a. They had presented to the people a legal relationship with God.
b. Paul had taught them a loving relationship with God.
c. The legal relationship with God was predicated upon my faithfulness to keep His laws.
d. The loving relationship is predicated upon His love for me.
e. I am not always faithful, His love never fails.
III. THE WORD OF HIS GRACE IS ABLE TO BUILD YOU UP, AND TO GIVE YOU AN INHERITANCE AMONG ALL THEM WHICH ARE SANCTIFIED.
A. It is only the grace of God that caused Him to adopt me as His child and make me an heir to the wonderful inheritance of the saints in light.
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and jointheirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.
1. I was not made a child of God by the law; i.e, by the spirit of bondage, but by grace.
I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.
Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.