Thursday, August 25, 2011
A Farewell Address by the Apostle Paul ~ by Ted Noel
· This was the last time he'd see them, and he wanted a last visit
· This was his last chance to make sure that the church had every useful bit of information and instruction he could give them
· This was his last chance to emphasize that he'd done his part completely, passing on the message of grace and warning of the plans of the enemy
While the message isn't this orderly, there are several keys that stand out. First, Paul claims the privilege of innocence as the faithful watchman on the walls of Zion (Ezek 33). If anyone dies by not accepting the gospel, it's not Paul's fault, since he has declared all that is profitable "publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20). And this implies that anything beyond what Paul has taught is "another gospel" to be rejected (cf. Gal 1:8-9). It further implies that the church is Zion, and the attachment that the Jews and many modern Christians have for that plot of ground is misplaced (cf. Heb 12:18-25).
Also implied here is that Paul's example is to be imitated, since he presents himself as the model to be imitated (20:18-21, cf. 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1). Of course this is an echo of Jesus' charge to the disciples at the Last Supper, where he has been the perfect imitator of God (John 10:37; 14:6-11). He has done his job even though the Jews tried to kill him (20:19). This is likely to continue (20:22-23). The church should regard its life on this earth lightly in comparison to the task at hand (20:24). After all, the church was purchased with Jesus' blood (20:28).
There will be "savage wolves" who will try to destroy the message and the church, just like the Jews did (20:29). The church must be on guard against the "perverse things" they would teach (20:30). In other words, it must preserve the gospel against every false teaching.
These things are parallel to every farewell address everywhere in the Bible. God has a mission that is higher than anything else. It must be promoted and protected. It cannot be allowed to be perverted by anything. It cannot become subservient to politics, like the Marxist social gospel. It cannot be allowed to become tolerant of sin, like modern moves to make homosexuality acceptable inside Christianity.
Paul was willing to die to save the people who opposed him. But he was not willing, and we should not be willing to compromise on anything where the Bible records "Thus saith the Lord." That would be placing us above God, which is the original sin of Satan.