They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Innocent of the Blood of All Men

Read these verses Acts 20:13-37; Ezekiel 3:17-19 before looking at this week’s post.

Map of Ionia

Click to enlarge

Most people who visit the country of Turkey make it a point to go to the fabulous ruins of the seaport and biblical city of Ephesus. However, not many tourists make the fifty mile trip south of Ephesus to visit another biblical city, the ancient port city of Miletus. Paul was here, as found in Acts 20 and also 2 Timothy 4:20. Paul sent for all the elders of the church in Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. This was at the end of Paul’s 3rd missionary journey. Paul had spent several years in Ephesus and been through lots of trials and difficulties with the believers there. He realized that he was about to be imprisoned and that he would never see these people that he loved, again.

Ampitheatre at Miletus

Ampitheatre at Miletus

When the leaders arrived, Paul began to speak to them in Acts 20:18 and tell them that he has done his best to teach them and that he has nothing to be ashamed of and that he has given them everything that he had. Paul was saying that he had left it all on the field and he had no regrets. Because Paul was a well versed student of the Hebrew Testament, he knew the story in Ezekiel 3:17-19 where God had warned his prophets, ”you tell them and if they don’t listen, it’s their fault. If you don’t tell them and warn them, then it’s your fault; their blood is on your hands”. Evidently, drawing from this passage, Paul tells the leaders of Ephesus, “I am innocent of the blood of all men”. He had boldly proclaimed the gospel to everyone that he had come in contact with. He had warned everyone in Ephesus and the surrounding area. In fact, Acts 19:10 says, concerning Paul’s preaching, ”This went on for two years,so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord”.

Where do you and I stand in this regard? Are we innocent of the blood of all the men that we have come into contact with? Obviously, we need to start at home, tell our children and our children’s children. What about the people that we work with? There are so many people that we come into contact with that have no idea about the claims of the gospel and the eternal implications that they bring. Lord, give me (us) the boldness to proclaim the good news of the gospel to everyone that I (we) interact with. Let them see you and your nature in our speech and actions. Let us be so bold and passionate that we too, are innocent of the blood of all the men that we have talked to.