“for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God”.
Acts 20:27 (ESV)
The whole counsel of God? What did Paul mean by this? He was telling the elders at Ephesus that he was leaving there with a clear conscience, because he had shared everything with them that God wanted them to know. While he was with them he shared God’s word both publicly, and privately with them. He was leaving there after living among them, and teaching them day in and day out, he had imparted everything they needed, to go on in the faith.
As Paul makes this statement he knows he is leaving them and will never see them again. Not only is Paul coming to the end of his time with the church at Ephesus, he knows that his time as a missionary is coming to an end as well. He knows that he has done his best to impart the word of God to everyone he has come in contact with over the years. That is the context of his statement.
Oh how important it is to understand the context of the statements of the Bible. I fear that often this particular verse is used out of context to criticize preachers. Just because someone feels that they aren’t hearing a lesson on a particular subject, or subjects when, and as often as they would like, the preacher isn’t declaring the whole counsel of God. I would imagine that folks that criticize in this manner would have criticized Paul in the same manner. I would well imagine there were times when Paul taught on a subject that wasn’t what his hearers were expecting, or covering the particular subject they thought he should. That did not mean that he was not declaring the whole counsel of God.
On the average most preachers only proclaim God’s counsel publicly for about 2 1/2 hours all told. How much of the whole counsel of God can be declared in that amount of time, really? On top of that many folks aren’t even present for all of those 2 1/2 hours. It may be that some of the counsel they haven’t heard was because they weren’t there to hear it. Perhaps the preacher has only been preaching there for a short time and hasn’t even had the opportunity share that whole counsel yet. We must remember where Paul is at in his ministry when he makes his statement about declaring the whole counsel of God.
Declaring the whole counsel of God takes time. God himself didn’t meet out his full counsel at one time, or in a short amount of time. The Bible as we have it was written, and compiled over centuries, not in weeks, and months, or by one writer, but many writers as God allowed it to be done in his time.
Some thoughts to consider.
© 2015 Leo J. Woodman