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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 20 - Verse 24
Verse 24. Move me. Alarm me, or deter me from my purpose. Gr., "I make an account of none of them." I do not regard them as of any moment, or as worth consideration, in the great purpose to which I have devoted my life.
Neither count I my life. I do not consider my life as so valuable as to be retained by turning away from bonds and persecutions. I am certain of bonds and afflictions; I am willing also, if it be necessary, to lay down my life in the prosecution of the same purpose.
Dear unto myself. So precious or valuable as to be retained at the sacrifice of duty. I am willing to sacrifice it, if it be necessary. This was the spirit of the Saviour, and of all the early Christians. Duty is of more importance than life; and when either duty or life is to be sacrificed, life is to be cheerfully surrendered.
So that. This is my main object, to finish my course with joy. It is implied here,
(1.) that this was the great purpose which Paul had in view.
(2.) That if he should even lay down his life in this cause, it would be a finishing his course with joy. In the faithful discharge of duty, he had nothing to fear. Life would be ended with peace, whenever God should require him to finish his course.
With joy. With the approbation of conscience and of God; with peace in the recollection of the past. Man should strive so to live that he will have nothing to regret when he lies on a bed of death. It is a glorious privilege to finish life with joy. It is most sad and awful when the last hours are embittered with the reflection that life has been wasted, or that the course has been evil. The only way in which the course of life may be finished with joy, is by meeting faithfully every duty, and encountering, as Paul did, every trial with a constant desire to glorify God.
And the ministry. That I may fully discharge the duty of the apostolic office, the preaching of the gospel. In 2 Ti 4:5, he charges Timothy to make full proof of his ministry. He here shows that this was the ruling principle of his own life.
Which I have received of the Lord Jesus. Which the Lord Jesus has committed to me, Ac 9:15-17. Paul regarded his ministry as an office entrusted to him by the Lord Jesus himself. On this account he deemed it to be peculiarly sacred, and of high authority, Ga 1:12. Every minister has been entrusted with an office by the Lord Jesus. He is not his own; and his great aim should be, to discharge fully and entirely the duties of that office.
To testify the Gospel. To bear witness to the good news of the favour of God. This is the great design of the ministry. It is to bear witness to a dying world of the good news that God is merciful, and that his favour may be made manifest to sinners. From this verse we may learn,
(1,) that we all have a course to run; a duty to perform. Ministers have an allotted duty; and so have men in all ranks and professions.
(2.) We should not be deterred by danger, or the fear of death, from the discharge of that duty. We are safe only when we are doing the will of God. We are really in danger only when we neglect our duty, and make the great God our enemy.
(3.) We should so live as that the end of our course may be joy. It is, at best, a solemn thing to die; but death may be a scene of triumph and of joy.
(4.) It matters little when, or where, or how we die, if we die in the discharge of our duty to God. He will order the circumstances of our departure; and he can sustain us in the last conflict. Happy is that life which is spent in doing the will of God, and peaceful that death which closes a life of toil and trial in the service of the Lord Jesus.
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