Paul travels north from Ephesus through Macedonia and Greece
Paul went to teach and encourage the believers (verse 2), but it was also to restore good relations, which were strained. Repentance and reconciliation occurred, as reported by Titus (2 Cor. 1-7).
Paul was accompanied by men from churches in Asia (verse 4), who were bringing gifts from their home churches to the Jerusalem believers, a wonderful picture of the unity of the church.
A miracle story in verses 7-12, shows the power that drives the church (cf Acts 2:24). But the bulk of the chapter records Paul’s farewell speech to fellow believers (verses 13-38).
Here Paul looks back at nearly 3 years of ministry in Ephesus. He can confidently say that he has faithfully preached the whole plan of salvation (verses 27, 20-21). He has also served humbly and with love (verses 19, 35-37).
At present, he feels clearly compelled by the Holy Spirit to travel to Jerusalem (verse 22). He then looks at the role of leaders (verses 28-31). Although, this is clearly said to the elders, we can apply those truths to ourselves, too. We, too, need to keep watch and guard our hearts. He, then, prays for them: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified”. Paul has a very strong desire for the church to grow strong.
Finally, he looks to the future (verse 23-24). His immediate future is very uncertain i.e. he writes: I know that prison and hardships are facing me! Christians are never promised an easy life. But he wants to be faithful, and complete his race and task of testifying to the gospel of Grace cf Matthew 25:23.
As we read and reflect on this chapter, may we pray to be humble, loving and faithful servants.
Ref: NIV Zondervan Study Bible, NBC, Gospel Transformation Bible