The Final Farewell: Acts 20:36-38
“36) When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37) And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 37) grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.” Acts‬ ‭20‬:‭36‬-‭38‬
These three verses show the depth of love and affection the leaders of the church in Ephesus had for Paul. This was his final farewell. He knew that they would not see him again face to face. (See Acts 20:25)
They knelt and prayed. They wept and cried. They embraced and kissed him. The expression of affection was real and genuine. Let me emphasize, these were men. Their hearts were welded in agape love.
Salvation and the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit aims at healing the inner hurts and wounds. It removes callouses, pulls down walls and makes the hardest of men soft.
Many men struggle with love. In John 21:15-17, Jesus exposed Peter’s love gap. In Ephesians 5:25-33, Paul pinpointed the love challenge many husbands have toward their wives. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul pointed to agape love from a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith as the goal of his instruction. In John 13:34-35, Jesus made agape love the validation of true salvation. Paul began many of his epistles measuring faith, love and hope within the church. (See 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and Philippians 1:9-11) When Paul prayed for young Christians, being rooted in agape love was one of his requests. (See Ephesians 3:16-19)
There is a sense in which this sincere and spontaneous outpouring of love on Paul in Acts 21:36-38 was the validating crown of his ministry among them. He was loved. He had walked past their intellect and into the depth of their hearts. God had used him to pull down walls and build bridges. They were now healed and whole men.
There was an important reason why Luke recorded this very emotional farewell. I am convinced Paul needed it as much or more than all of them. It was his affirmation and validation. He left Macedonia with his love tank full. It was about to run empty with the affliction and persecution that awaited him.
Christian maturity is displayed best by overflowing agape cups that affirm and build up others. Purpose to become an agape love filling station for others. Top off the love tank of others on every occasion afforded you.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global