“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
On his way back to Jerusalem, Paul decided not to stop at Ephesus, fearing a lengthy delay. But this church was much on his heart, and he recognized that he might not see them again. In order to give them one last bit of instruction and encouragement, he called the elders to meet with him, where they had a most touching time together (vv. 30-38). What was Paul’s main concern? “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember” (vv. 29-31).
Later, Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus, “that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). The Greek word used here means “a different kind of doctrine” and is used only twice. Certainly, the false doctrine that concerned Paul the most was a works-oriented salvation. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Galatians 1:6).
Paul also concerned himself with lifestyle. “If any man teach otherwise [same word], and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness . . . from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3, 5). The list of characteristics of the false teachers given (vv. 4-5) contrasts markedly with those resulting from proper doctrine and life, “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1:5). May our lives be characterized by these qualities. JDM