17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 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;
Paul meets the Ephesian elders in Miletus (Acts 20:17-38). This speech by Paul is the third and last in the book of Acts (Acts 13:16-41; 17:22-31). Luke heard this speech with his own ears.
From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.
The apostle summoned the Ephesian elders (presbuteros) to Miletus from Ephesus. His ship must have had a layover for several days.
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,
When the Ephesian elders arrive in Miletus, Paul recounts his ministry among them and how he conducted his life among them. They had personal experience with the apostle’s ministry over three years.
serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;
The way the apostle lived his life among the Ephesians was one of humility. During his stay there, he experienced many painful events, especially the plotting of the Jews. Through it all, he served the Lord with all humility (2 Co 3:5). His service manifested itself by enduring “many tears and trials.” Many were hostile to his ministry.
Appeal to example in ministry is a strong reason for others to follow.
Paul explained how he came to the Thessalonians with an example of how ministry should be conducted (1 Th 2:1-11). The firsthand sight of a Christian leader in action provides powerful motivation in ministry. Humility is at the core of good leadership. Humility is not self-abdication, phony humility, but genuine service to the Lord, not primarily pleasing men, but God (Ga 1:10; 1 Th 2:4; Pr 29:25). Our example pivots around the motive to do the will of God (Co 3:24). The measure of success in ministry is not how large a church a pastor has, or its reputation.