Acts 20:17

ESV Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.
NIV From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.
NASB From Miletus he sent word to Ephesus and called to himself the elders of the church.
CSB Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church.
NLT But when we landed at Miletus, he sent a message to the elders of the church at Ephesus, asking them to come and meet him.
KJV And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

What does Acts 20:17 mean?

A group including Paul, Luke, and several other men (Acts 20:4) are sailing to Caesarea Maritima on their way to Jerusalem. Paul wants to see the elders of the church in Ephesus, but he wants to be in Jerusalem by Pentecost, and he knows he won't make it if he stops (Acts 20:16). So, he and his team sail past Ephesus and land at Miletus on the west coast of modern-day Turkey.

Paul left Ephesus months before after spending three years planting and building up the church (Acts 20:1, 31). He started by finding twelve men who followed John the Baptist's teaching of repentance but didn't know Jesus was the Messiah. Paul explained, and they readily accepted baptism in Jesus' name. As was his custom, Paul then taught about the kingdom of God in the synagogue. After three months, those who refused his message forced him to find a new location. Besides teaching, Paul also countered the rampant witchcraft in the city by healing and expelling demons through the power of the Holy Spirit. He was so effective, the people burned their magic books and stopped worshiping Artemis. The gospel spread all over the province (Acts 19:1–10).

Paul had spoken to the synagogue in Ephesus very briefly on his way back from this second missionary voyage (Acts 18:19–21). During his third trip, he spent three years there. He has much he wants to remind the elders: his faithfulness to his mission, his inclusion of Gentiles, and the fact that he served them with no expectation of reward or even compensation. He also warns them to protect their church from false teachers (Acts 20:18–35). Some of these reminders reflect trouble he's had in other cities (Acts 15:1; Galatians 6:12–13).

Most alarming, Paul tells the elders that when he arrives in Jerusalem he will be imprisoned, and he will not see them again (Acts 20:22–25). Paul had not meant to visit with them this time; troubles in Corinth made it possible (Acts 20:3). To see them and provide one last encouragement must bless him during the next five years as he faces trials, imprisonment, and a dangerous shipwreck.
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