Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
Sundayâ€™s text brings us to Paulâ€™s departing words to the elders at the Ephesian church. By inspiration from the Spirit of God, Luke has given us more details about the gospel work in Ephesus than he has in almost all the other cities mentioned in the Book of Acts. Weâ€™ve read of the churchâ€™s founding, the opposition encountered, and the churchâ€™s growth. Now, Paul is entrusting to the elders of the church the care and protection of this body of believers for whom heâ€™s worked so hard.
We can likely all relate to either entrusting others with something valuable or being entrusted ourselves with something valuable. Whether babysitting children, caring for a pet, or holding a valuable item for someone, we understand the weight of the responsibility of ensuring that we keep the person or item safe from harm.
God has entrusted Paul with the mission of church planting. Paul is now entrusting the elders with this church at Ephesus. This responsibility is much more weighty than holding on to your friendâ€™s gold watch while she goes on vacation! Paul describes the value of the church as having been obtained by Godâ€™s own blood! This is serious!
And why would the church need protecting? Later Paul would testify that enemies would come against the church, both from within and without. Therefore, these elders must watch themselves, stay alert, and protect and care for the church, lest she become a casualty.
God has provided elders to act as undershepherds of the Lord Jesus, for the caring of and protection of Christâ€™s flock. When the entire church – elders and non-elders – understand the value of the church and its need for protection, then we work better together to fight off error and build ourselves up by Godâ€™s word and Godâ€™s grace.
Pray for your elders! Pray for your church! And work together to care for the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood!