Having reminded the Ephesians elders that he had fulfilled his responsibilities regarding his ministry in Ephesus, Paul turns to inform them of their responsibilities concerning the church there. No doubt we are familiar with what he says, but I think it is a passage that elders should read frequently, perhaps weekly, because what Paul said to those elders is said by God to all elders.
Firstly, he tells them that they have to be examples to other Christians. This is the point of having to take care of themselves and of each Christian in the church. I suppose he is saying that an elder who does not look after himself spiritually will not look after anyone else either. So if an elder find that he is reluctant to show care for a believer, he should ask himself how his own care of himself is getting on. And when he does not show care, the other Christians observe it. In this requirement about each elder looking after himself, we have the demand of Jesus regarding elders.
Secondly, elders have to remember that the church belongs to Jesus. He bought it with his blood. As elders look at believers, they remind themselves that they have been tasked to care for and protect those that Jesus is taking to be with him in heaven. Here we have the duty of elders.
Thirdly, Paul links the work of elders to the Trinity. Often in life, a person is asked what firm or company he works for. Here Paul tells the Ephesian elders that they are working for the Trinity. They have been gifted and empowered by the Spirit, they work in God’s church, and they serve the unique Lord who died for his people. In this description, we can see the dignity of elders.
Fourth, Paul reminds the elders of the dangers that faced the church in Ephesus. False teachers are going to appear, some from within the church and some from without. Although those teachers will be different from one another, the outcome is that they will wreak havoc among the flock unless the elders stop them. How do they stop them? By being alert to dangers, and Paul gives them a personal example of what such alertness is like: ‘Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears’ (v. 31). At the very least, this means that elders should know what is going on within the congregations in which they serve.
Fifth, Paul informs the elders about their spiritual resources. Perhaps some of those elders were saying to themselves, ‘I cannot do what Paul is saying I should be doing.’ If they were, and even if they were not thinking this, Paul tells them God and his word would equip them for their tasks. And he also reminds them that the Lord will give to those elders who serve him a great great reward (v. 32).
Are you an elder? Would you like to be an elder? Read often want Paul said to the elders from Ephesus. And if you are in a church that has elders like this, give thanks to God.