In Acts 20 we have the account of a long conversation Paul had with “the elders of the church” (verse 17) at Ephesus whom he called to meet him at the port of Miletus. He told them then “that they would not see his face again” (verse 38).

It was obviously an intense discussion. He tells them, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock … I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert …” (verses 27-31).

It is natural for most of us to avoid problems and ignore controversy if we can. But what does that achieve? Does it bring us closer to God and to Christ? We have many lessons on this from Christ himself in the gospels. Of course, the circumstances in Ephesus were different; it is a Gentile community (but human nature is the same everywhere) and the only solution to that is the development of a Christ-like frame of mind. The foundation ingredient for that is the meditative reading of God’s word.

Bible reading is the only way to untwist things that have been twisted. Paul worked hard to do this! We might think he did this by intense study, reasoning and constructive argumentation, and we see some of this in his letter to them – but what does the text in Acts say?

What is the point he makes when reminding them of the spirit of mind he showed when he was among them? “… Be alert remembering that for three years I did not cease night and day to admonish everyone with tears” (verse 31). A most challenging example to follow. The lesson is clear – academic reasoning is not the major part of dealing with “twisted things”.

Paul left Timothy at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3) and he ends his letter to him by saying, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions”. We must do the same.