“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” (verses 20-21)
I am deeply challenged by Paul’s statement. As a preacher and pastor, I am struck by the confidence Paul has that his responsibility to teach and disciple and evangelize has been fully discharged.
Here are the elements that strike me:
(1) “I have not hesitated to preach”. There is boldness and conviction in this statement. Paul won’t hold back, not fencing off any area as one in which he would fear to tread. Christ’s love compels him. He doesn’t hesitate.
(2) “… anything that would be helpful to you.” He knows the people, their context, background, misperceptions, weaknesses, and tendencies. Therefore, he knows their needs. The context is Ephesus, filled with a completely pagan worldview, one dominated by the worship of “Artemis of the Ephesians,” a fertility goddess whose worship included temple prostitution. The needed shift in perspective and behaviour was marked. Paul addressed it all.
(3) “I … taught you publicly.” Paul had fearlessly preached the good news in Ephesus, teaching daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus daily over a period of two years. Luke testifies regarding the results: “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). This is powerful ministry.
(4) “… and from house to house.” Paul knows the people personally, visiting in their homes and knowing their circumstances. This is highly relational.
(5) “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks.” Paul ably crosses cultural boundaries, teaching first in the synagogue and later in the Greek lecture hall. He has a view to save all.
(6) “… that they must turn to God in repentance.” The call for repentance is somewhat “in your face,” spotlighting sin and judgement and the need for transformation. Paul clearly did not shy away from what needed to be said.
(7) “… and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” This is Paul’s bottom-line. Trust Jesus. It’s what motivated him throughout. Elsewhere he will say, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Yes, I am challenged. The calling is huge. The message firm. The heart for people clear. The commitment to the Lord Jesus foundational.
“Follow me,” Paul says, “as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Lord, thank you for your faithful servants who challenge and convict and inspire. Thank you for Paul’s life – the grace he experienced and the grace he proclaimed.
May you do more of that work in my own life, too.
Reflect: What challenges you most from Paul’s testimony in this chapter? What step can you take to follow more closely in this example?