Shepherds Part 3 Image






Shepherds in the Church

Part 3

Acts 20.17–38

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 21, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2018


  1. Paul was rushing from Europe to Jerusalem because
    1. he wanted to be there for Pentecost.
    2. This would take him by Ephesus,
      1. where he had spent 3 years.
      2. However, he would never see them again, but
        1. he needed to tell the elders some things.
        2. Yet, he did not want to stop in Ephesus, for
          1. he knew that if he did,
          2. the brethren would urge him to stay and
            1. he would want to stay, but
            2. he had to get to Jerusalem.
  2. Therefore, he set up a meeting with them 40–50 miles south.


  1. Acts 20.17 | Elders

    17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.

    1. They were the elders, yet, he will tell them
      1. to take heed to the flock,
      2. the Holy Spirit made them overseers of the flock, and
      3. to shepherd the church of God.
    2. He will also refer to wolves entering the eldership and not sparing the flock,
      1. showing that the elders are the shepherds or pastors of the local church.
      2. Elders are shepherds,
        1. shepherds are pastors,
        2. pastors are overseers.
          1. Therefore, when someone enters our building and
          2. asks for the pastor,
            1. please do not direct him to me, but
            2. to our elders, our pastors.
  2. Acts 20.18–27 | The Kind of Preacher Elder’s Need

    18 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, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24 But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

    1. The time eventually will come when
      1. you will need to get a new preacher.
      2. Both the congregation and the shepherds
        1. should know what kind of man to invite to work with you.
        2. You especially need to have one who can work with the shepherds,
          1. following Paul’s example,
          2. as he outlines it here.
    2. See how Paul worked with them:
      1. One that they know how he lives.
      2. One who serves the Lord with all humility.
      3. One who is willing to suffer persecution.
      4. One who gives what is helpful.
      5. One who teaches publicly and privately.
      6. One who preaches to all people.
      7. One who preaches repentance and faith.
      8. One who preaches regardless of what happens to him.
      9. One who preaches the kingdom of God.
      10. 10.One who declares the whole counsel of God.
  3. Acts 20.28–35 | The Work of the Eldership

    28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

    1. They should take heed to themselves.
      1. The New Testament tells us frequently to “take heed” to ourselves.
      2. In this context, I think it refers to their work as shepherds.
        1. Do they know the sheep?
        2. Are they neglecting anyone?
        3. Are they overreaching with their authority?
    2. They should take heed to all the flock.
      1. This is why they are pastors.
      2. Sheep need help.
        1. Sheep need leaders.
        2. Some sheep will become leaders.
          1. Are the current shepherds watching out for such men.
          2. What are they doing to make sure someone takes their place?
    3. They should oversee the work.
      1. They oversee the work, but
      2. they do not do all the work.
        1. Nowhere does the Bible say
        2. that they do your dirty work for you.
          1. If you have a problem with someone in the flock, and
          2. you cannot work it out together,
            1. then the pastors can work with the two of you, but
            2. they are not there for you to order them to rebuke the other.
    4. They should shepherd the church of God.
      1. As Paul wrote this in the Greet text,
        1. he meant literally to feed the flock.
        2. Sheep are like children.
          1. If they are not fed properly or not at all,
          2. their behavior will reflect it.
            1. If they are fed properly,
            2. their behavior will reflect it.
      2. I have witnessed how the word of God changes lives,
        1. how it makes the weak strong, and
        2. the strong stronger.
          1. You have seen it too.
          2. The shepherds make sure that the whole flock receives God’s word.
    5. They should be aware of savage wolves who will enter the flock.
      1. There are people who want to hurt the flock.
      2. As you know from the Sermon on the Mount,
        1. those wolves will not appear as wolves, but
        2. will appear as sheep.
          1. The more the shepherds know the word, and
          2. the more they work with the flock, and
          3. the more they know
            1. what is going on in the world and
            2. what is doing on in the churches,
              1. they will know a wolf when one appears and
              2. they will know what to do.
    6. They should be aware of departures within the eldership.
      1. History tells us that is exactly where the church digressed first.
      2. Therefore, let the shepherds beware of their own selves.
        1. All of this is not teaching that they should be overly suspicious but
        2. they should be aware of dangers even among themselves.
    7. They should watch for all things.
      1. Watch for danger.
      2. Watch for potential converts.
      3. Watch for new leaders.
      4. Watch for some who gradually fall away.
    8. They should find their commendation in God and in the word of His grace.
      1. If they do not find their commendation from God and His word,
      2. where then are they getting it?
        1. Whatever it is,
        2. it will fail.
          1. They should definitely be men of the Book.
          2. They read it, meditate on it, and live by it.
    9. They should support the weak.
      1. Sometimes the weak can be frustrating, but
      2. for that reason the Lord wants shepherds over the flock.
        1. They will need more work…often.
        2. This is where the patience and gentleness of a shepherd comes in.
    10. They should give.
      1. Pastors of the flock cannot be takers, but they have to be givers.
      2. Think of David risking his life to save sheep from a bear and a lion.
      3. Think of Jesus in John 10 speaking of the shepherd giving his life for the sheep.
        1. If a shepherd has not been living for the sheep,
        2. he will not suddenly die for the sheep when the time comes.
          1. He dies for the sheep
          2. when he first lives for them.
  4. Acts 20.36–38 | Preacher/Eldership Relationships

    36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

    1. In some places, the preacher and the elders are at odds with one another.
      1. In some places, members do not want the preacher to be close to the elders, because they want to manipulate the preacher themselves.
      2. Here, I have certainly had disagreements with the elders, but
        1. since October 2002,
        2. we have worked together well.
    2. They should pray together.
      1. God wants shepherds and preachers in every congregation.
      2. Therefore, if they pray together to Him,
        1. what do you think He will do?
    3. They should weep together.
      1. Their weeping together showed the love they had for another.
      2. They wept for him because they would never see him again.
        1. However, they wept for him because
        2. he, verse 19, had wept with them and, verse 31, he had wept for them.
    4. They should love one another.