In this message we shall continue to consider Paul’s charge to the elders in Ephesus recorded in 20:13-38.
Verse 29 says, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” Here Paul indicates that wolves will come in from the outside to damage the flock, the church of God. In verse 29, Paul did not care for his own life, but he was very much concerned for the future of the church, which was a treasure to him as well as to God.
In verse 30 Paul goes on to say, “And from among you yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” The perverted ones among the believers in the church are always used by the Devil, who hates the church, to draw the sheep away to form another “flock.”
During our many years in the church life, we have experienced both the wolves and the perverted ones. The wolves come from outside the church, and the perverted ones rise up from inside the church.
When perverted ones rise up in the church, we may think that this indicates that we have not been careful in our work and that we have brought inside seed that has produced perverted ones. Many of us would think this way whenever we see perverted ones rising up. However, we may not have anything to do with the rising up of such ones. Consider Paul’s work in Ephesus. The church in Ephesus was raised up, established, and carried on by Paul’s ministry over a period of three years. To be sure, Paul did his work very carefully. Nevertheless, even Paul anticipated that certain ones would rise up to speak perverted things in order to draw away saints after themselves to form another “flock.”
One of the Lord’s parables in Matthew 13 speaks of the sowing of tares among the wheat (vv. 24-30, 36-43). I have studied this parable for years, trying to understand where the tares come from. Some might say that seeds producing tares are blown in by the wind. Although I do not know where the tares come from, I know that wherever the “wheat” is, there the “tares” will be also. This indicates that where the real believers are, there false believers will also be. This is unavoidable. It was unavoidable in Paul’s work, and it will be unavoidable in our work today.
After working in Ephesus for three years, Paul warned the elders of the church there that wolves would come in among them and that certain ones would rise up to speak perverted things. We have seen this take place both in the Far East and the West. We should not expect that there will be wheat without tares. It is possible that in any local church certain perverted ones may rise up. When some hear this, they may say, “Oh, please don’t predict such a thing. Among the brothers and sisters in our locality there will never be any perverted ones.” Nevertheless, we need to receive Paul’s word. Although he did not know who the perverted ones would be, he predicted their rising up.
According to Paul’s word in verse 30, the purpose of the perverted ones is to draw away the disciples after themselves. Their intention is to draw away the saints to form another “flock.” We have observed this over the years. We have seen that the intention of the perverted ones is to set apart a group of believers to become their following. Therefore, we should take heed to Paul’s word concerning wolves entering in from without and perverted ones rising up from within.
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