• Eli Schnell

A Final Goodbye


In Acts 20:17, Paul calls for the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet with him in Miletus. He is on his way to Jerusalem, and he knows this will be his last opportunity to speak with these shepherds who serve the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:25). He warned them and instructed them concerning their responsibilities toward the church. Luke records the details of that final goodbye beginning with verse 36.


Paul’s departure was an incredibly emotional time for these elders. Paul was a dear friend, brother, and mentor in the faith, and he was going to die before they would see him again. They spent their final moments together, kneeling in prayer, weeping, and expressing their brotherly love for one another.


Their weeping was of particular interest to me. The adjective translated “aloud” or “freely” in verse 37 describes the way they wept. A look into a Greek Lexicon revealed several definitions which clarify Luke’s intended meaning:

  1. Sufficient, adequate – sufficient in degree

  2. Fit, appropriate – pertaining to meeting a standard

  3. Considerable – pertaining to being large in extent or degree

  4. Many, quite a few – in relatively large numbers

They wept a considerable amount, they shed many tears, but there is no indication of any impropriety at all. Their tears were a fitting response to the sad situation they were facing together.


Sad times come for every Christian family. The emotional strain of physical partings can be severe. As brethren, it is fitting and appropriate to shed many tears together when we part ways. Let yourself feel the fellowship you have and express your love for each other openly. We miss our brethren when they leave, even as we know we will be together in eternity.

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