I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
It Is More Blessed To Give
The Ephesian elders were special men to the apostle Paul. On his way to Jerusalem, he had asked for the shepherds to meet him in Miletus so he could share a final word with them to exhort and encourage them. It was a deeply emotional meeting as they knew they would never see Paul again. In his exhortation to the bishops, Paul asked them to remember something Jesus said to remind them to care for the weak serving as examples in their role as elders. Paul quoted the words of Jesus when he told the elders, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” There are a number of remarkable things about this quotation. First and foremost it is never recorded in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Second, Paul quoting the words of Jesus was pure inspiration because Paul was never with Jesus during His ministry allowing him to remember something Jesus would have said. The other apostles could have quoted Jesus from memory but not Paul. Finally, the quote is a remarkable piece of virtue that will change the heart of any person that accepts its teaching.
Writing about the life of Jesus would have been a daunting task for anyone. The Son of God spent around thirty-three years in the fleshly tabernacle and most of what we know about Him is only three years of His life. With the exception of His birth, first two years and an incident at the age of twelve, nothing is known of Jesus as he lived in Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth where He spent the majority of his life. Matthew and Luke will fill in the sparse information about the birth of Jesus and early life (Luke more than Matthew) but Mark and John will focus only on the ministry of Jesus. The quotation by Paul is never found in any of the gospel books. This does not come as a surprise to the reader that almost 84,000 words are given to the life of Jesus but if the whole story were told the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (which is the argument of John in the closing of his gospel). Paul’s quotation confirms there were many things said by Jesus that were not preserved over the ages but what we have teaches all men that Jesus is the Son of God.
Critics of the Bible claim it is a book written by men. What they fail to acknowledge is the Bible is a book of books written over 1500 years from different parts of the world by men from very different walks of life. The inspiration of the word of God is established in the beginning when Moses wrote from the mind of God the story of creation. The book of Genesis came from the Holy Spirit guiding the hand of Moses to tell the stories Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses even writes about his birth in the beginning of Exodus and the events surrounding it. Like all the writers of holy writ, Moses and Paul wrote from the power of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul was not a part of the ministry of Jesus and would not have been privy to any conversations or context of the teaching of Jesus. Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus at the time Jesus was preaching, healing and fulfilling His ministry. There can be little doubt Paul would have heard of the man from Nazareth as he was early on the scene of the infant church when they stoned Stephen to death. His mission became to destroy the followers of Jesus and Paul wreaked havoc on the church until the Lord instructed him in the way of righteousness. Talking to the Ephesian elders the apostle reminds them of things they had learned earlier from the words of Jesus.
The context of the quotation is a remarkable body of teaching that exemplified the life of Jesus. There can be little doubt of the profound effect this teaching had on the early church as they knew of the life of Jesus and His servant’s heart to die on the cross. All through the life of the Christ He gave His all for others. It was never about Himself but the work of His Father. Jesus served others regardless of how tired He was, how weary He became or frustrated at the hypocrisy of the Jewish elite. The carpenter’s son expended His life in the service of others daily. Jesus gave up His place with the Father to take on a fleshly form and gave up His life so that all men could take on an eternal body. The impact of why it is more blessed to give than to receive is an eternal message. When men learn to give instead of take, their hearts are transformed to the image of God and His love. A man will always be richer when he gives of himself for others. Jesus said it and Jesus did it. Thank you Jesus.