28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
In verses 28-32, Paul describes the responsibilities of the leaders he would leave in Ephesus. A leader’s first priority is ensuring he lives a consistent life (Acts 20:25-27). His second priority is to care for those he is responsible for (Acts 20:28; 1 Pe 5:2-4).
28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock,
The apostle now shifts his message from himself to the Ephesian elders themselves. They were to take care of the church, the flock of God. “Take heed” means to guard. Christian leaders need to be altered to the fact false teachers will intrude into the local assembly. They were to protect both themselves and the church. It is vital for spiritual leaders to first deal with their spirituality, then take care of their assignment from the Lord.
among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [episkopoi],
The word “overseers” means to watch over. The idea is to look after the flock. “Overseers” is not an official title but an indication of the function of leadership. The title was not used in an official sense until the second century.
to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
An overseer is to “shepherd the church of God,” the church that God owns, the church for which Jesus gave His life (1 Pe 5:2). He is the “Chief Shepherd” of the church (1 Pe 5:4). Under shepherds (pastors) are to shepherd “God’s flock,” not the pastor’s flock (1 Pe 5:3). The role of the shepherd is to protect the sheep (from false teaching), feed the sheep, encourage, challenge, and train.
God the Son purchased or acquired the church with His own blood. We can see the value of the church in the price Jesus paid to redeem it.
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Without overseers and shepherds over God’s flock, people will come to undermine the church doctrinally (Jude 3, 4). Wolves are false teachers. It is the responsibility of Christian leaders to protect the church from predators of apostate teaching.
Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse [distorted, twisted] things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Not only will wolves come into the church from without, but from within its ranks. People from the congregation will pervert or twist God’s Word. These wolves will draw people away from biblical truth and twist truth of Scripture. Progressive Christianity, a new form of liberalism, obtained most of their converts from evangelical churches.
Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
Since there are people who would undermine God’s Word everywhere, the Ephesian elders need to keep alert to that danger. They should look at Paul’s model of warning everyone continually. The ability to admonish is crucial to this role (Co 1:28).
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace,
Paul now leaves the Ephesian ministry of God’s grace in the hands of the Ephesian elders.
which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
God’s grace arising from His Word will build the spiritual strength of the church. When they build their church with “the word of His grace,” God will give them an inheritance among those sanctified.
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
It is God’s grace that will build the church in Ephesus. Understanding “the word of His grace” requires studying and placing one’s faith in God’s Word (1 Th 2:13; 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pe 3:18). If the elders communicate that message, God will give them an eternal inheritance.
The primary responsibility of the shepherd of a flock is to feed them.
Feeding a congregation is the responsibility of the pastor/shepherd. Jesus challenged Peter to feed His sheep (Jn 21:15-17). Feeding the sheep with the Word is precisely what many pastors do not do today. They do not teach the Word of God to their congregations but slide off to other areas of life. The church is not the pastor’s but the Lord’s flock. Pastors are mere stewards of that flock (1 Co 4:2). Since many churches today are not well fed, they are susceptible to attacks from antichristian worldviews. Many pastors today who allow their churches to turn to liberalism or progressive Christianity will one day pay a price for that.