Acts 20:18-38-Paul teaches the Elders from Ephesus.
Acts 20:17-Paul was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem for Pentecost...so, instead of going to Ephesus, he sent for the Elders and they came to Miletus.
(Ryrie Study Bible) 20:17 elders. These leaders of the group were recognized by all, since the church new room 27 when Paul called to him the elders. See note on 1 Tim. 3:1.
Acts 20:18-21-Paul reminds them that during his time with them he taught them about faith in Jesus both publicly and personally…always remaining humble in both times of tears and in time of trials.
Acts 20:22-27-Paul tells them that it is his belief that difficult times lie ahead of him (:23) and that he will never see these friends, again (:25). However, even with this in mind, he is determined to continue to serve the Lord and finish what God has given him to do. He wants them to know that he did the best that he could in preaching the Gospel among them…and did not allow anything to stop him from declaring the whole truth (:26-27).
Acts 20:28-32-He then tells them that as elders and overseers they have a responsibility to shepherd the flock and protect it against evil men (“savage wolves”) who will seek to destroy it. Notice the words that he used to describe the ministry of the Elders…”overseers to shepherd the church”.
a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent
Note: Presbuteros, "an elder," is another term for the same person as bishop or overseer. See Act 20:17 with verse 28. The term "elder" indicates the mature spiritual experience and understanding of those so described; the term "bishop," or "overseer," indicates the character of the work undertaken. According to the Divine will and appointment, as in the NT, there were to be "bishops" in every local church, Act 14:23; 20:17; Phl 1:1; Tts 1:5; Jam 5:14. Where the singular is used, the passage is describing what a "bishop" should be, 1Ti 3:2; Tts 1:7. Christ Himself is spoken of as "the... Bishop of our souls," 1Pe 2:25.
(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1985&t=NASB, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)
"to act as a shepherd" (from poimen, "a shepherd"), is used
(b) metaphorically, "to tend, to shepherd;" said of Christ, Mat 2:6, RV, "shall be Shepherd of" (for AV, "shall rule"); of those who act as spiritual shepherds under Him, Jhn 21:16, RV, "tend" (for AV "feed"); so 1Pe 5:2; Act 20:28, "to feed" ("to tend" would have been a consistent rendering; a shepherd does not only "feed" his flock); of base shepherds, Jud 1:12. See RULE.
Note: In Jhn 21:15, 16, 17, the Lord, addressing Peter, first uses No. 1, bosko (ver. 15), then No. 2, poimaino (ver. 16), and then returns to bosko (ver. 17). These are not simply interchangeable (nor are other variations in His remarks); a study of the above notes will show this. Nor, again, is there a progression of ideas. The lesson to be learnt, as Trench points out (Syn, xxv), is that, in the spiritual care of God's children, the "feeding" of the flock from the Word of God is the constant and regular necessity; it is to have the foremost place. The tending (which includes this) consists of other acts, of discipline, authority, restoration, material assistance of individuals, but they are incidental in comparison with the "feeding."
(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4165&t=NASB, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)
Paul emphasizes to the Elders the importance of their protecting the flock by reminding them of what it cost God: “which He purchased with His own blood”. It is interesting that Paul makes it clear that the motivation of these men will not be the welfare of the church, but their own benefit…”savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” And then sadly, Paul tells them that at times these men will rise up from their own congregation, “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” For three years Paul had practiced this kind of diligent protection of God’s church. And now, they must be prepared to do the same as he did, night and day. The key to their successfully doing this will be to focus on the "word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (:32).
Acts 20:33-35-Paul has already told them that these evil men will have ulterior motives for their actions. By making mention of the fact that he did not covet the possessions of others and that he worked hard to make a living…he is suggesting that at least part of what these men hope to gain will be of a financial nature. They will demand to receive inappropriate compensation for what they do. On the other hand, Paul quotes Jesus, Who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This saying is not recorded in the Gospels. It is better to give a hand up, than to ask for a hand out.
Acts 20:36-38-Paul prayed with them. They cried and hugged and gave their farewells. Their hearts were especially heavy since he told them that they would never meet, again. Finally, they walked with him to the ship.
Prayer: Father, there are still savage wolves attacking Your flock…from within, and from without. Please help me to protect Your church. I pray that You would anoint the teaching and preaching of Your word of grace...so that Your flock will understand and be faithful to You in all things. Help us Lord, to have a giving heart as a result of what we have received from You.