After reading Chapter 20 in NRSV, I read about it in Halley’s Bible Handbook to have a better understanding of the timeline.
Paul was in Greece for about one year. It was during that period that he wrote his four great epistles: I Corinthians from Ephesus, II Corinthians and probably Galatians from Macedonia and Romans from Corinth. When Paul called the Ephesian elders to him to say farewell, it was the close of missionary journeys spanning about 12 years.
How bittersweet that farewell must have been! Paul had walked and worked among them, teaching, guiding, helping and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. It was never easy. He was persecuted for the steadfastness of his convictions.
Paul told the Ephesians that he believed by the Holy Spirit that they would never see him again because he would be persecuted and imprisoned. He cautioned them to beware of the “savage wolves” that would come among them and try to destroy the flock. He also reminded them that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
After much praying, weeping and kissing, the elders brought Paul to his ship.
How can we begin to imagine what that must have felt like to both Paul and the Ephesians? What have we got to compare it to? Stepping down from an elected office after we’ve given our best? The retirement party where our good deeds were lauded and we felt appreciated and said farewell to the people we loved in that part of our life? How they pale in comparison to Paul’s sacrifices!
It seems we must ask ourselves, “Are we doing enough?”