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Acts 20:35 meaning...

This verse is often cited as a reminder that it is important to be generous and help those in need, rather than solely focusing on our own desires and wants. It emphasizes the value of selflessness and serving others, which is a central theme in Christianity. The quote "It is more blessed to give than to receive" is attributed to Jesus and is believed to convey the idea that those who give without expectation of reward will be rewarded by God.

The verse is part of a speech that Paul gave to the elders of the church of Ephesus, whom he had called to meet him in Miletus. In the speech, Paul reflects on his time with the Ephesian church and urges the elders to be diligent in their leadership, warning them of false teachers who will come and distort the truth. He also reminds them of his own example of hard work and service, and urges them to follow his example.

In Acts 20:35, Paul emphasizes the importance of helping the weak and vulnerable, rather than seeking personal gain. He reminds the elders that he had worked hard to support himself and his companions, rather than relying on others to provide for them. By doing so, he had set an example of selflessness and generosity that they should follow.

The quote "It is more blessed to give than to receive" has become a well-known saying and is often used to encourage charitable giving and acts of kindness. The idea behind the quote is that when we give to others without expecting anything in return, we are blessed in ways that go beyond material rewards. Giving can bring joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose to our lives, and can also strengthen our relationships with others and with God.

Some additional insights and reflections:

  • The value of hard work: 
In Acts 20:35, Paul highlights the importance of hard work and perseverance. He reminds the elders that he had worked hard to support himself and his companions, and that he had not relied on others to provide for them. This reflects the biblical emphasis on the value of hard work and the dignity of labor. It also reminds us that we should be willing to put in the effort and energy required to serve others and to make a positive impact in the world.
  • The call to help the weak: 
Paul also emphasizes the importance of helping the weak and vulnerable. This reflects the biblical idea that we have a responsibility to care for those who are in need and to work for justice and equality. It also reminds us that we should be aware of the needs of others and should be willing to offer our support and assistance whenever possible.
  • The joy of giving: 
The quote "It is more blessed to give than to receive" emphasizes the idea that giving can bring joy and fulfillment to our lives. When we give to others, we not only help meet their needs, but we also experience the satisfaction of knowing that we have made a positive difference in their lives. This can be a source of deep joy and gratitude, and can also strengthen our faith and our sense of connection to others.
  • The example of Jesus: 
Finally, Acts 20:35 reminds us of the example of Jesus, who gave his life for us. Jesus' sacrificial love and service are the ultimate model of selflessness and generosity, and his example inspires us to follow in his footsteps. As we seek to serve others and to give of ourselves, we can look to Jesus as our guide and our inspiration.


Acts 20:35 captures a moment where the Apostle Paul imparts a profound lesson to the Ephesian elders. This verse not only reflects Paul's own lifestyle but also echoes the teachings of Jesus. Let's unpack the meaning and significance encapsulated in this verse.
  • Leading by Example:
"In all things I gave you an example..."
Paul emphasizes the power of personal example. His life was a living demonstration of the teachings of Christ. In leadership, actions often speak louder than words, and Paul underscores the importance of aligning our conduct with the principles we preach.
  • Laboring to Help the Weak:
"...that so laboring you ought to help the weak..."
The purpose of laboring, according to Paul, extends beyond personal gain. It is a means to actively assist and support the weak. This aligns with the essence of Christian service, where our efforts are directed towards the well-being of others, especially those in need.
  • Remembering Jesus' Words:
"...and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus..."
Paul anchors his exhortation in the teachings of Jesus. This underscores the authority of Christ's words and the significance of incorporating His instructions into our lives. It also emphasizes the continuity between the teachings of Jesus and the apostolic ministry.
  • "It is more blessed to give than to receive":
"...he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
This well-known saying of Jesus encapsulates a profound truth. The world often promotes the idea of acquiring and accumulating for personal satisfaction, but Jesus introduces a counter-cultural concept—that true blessing is found in selfless giving.
Significance and Meaning:
  • Leadership and Service:
Paul's example highlights the inseparable link between leadership and service. True leadership, in the Christian context, involves sacrificial service for the benefit of others. It's a call to lead with humility and a heart for the well-being of the community.
Active Compassion:

The emphasis on helping the weak underscores the active dimension of Christian compassion. It's not just about feeling sympathetic; it's about engaging in tangible acts of assistance and support for those facing challenges.
Scriptural Foundation:

By referencing Jesus' words, Paul reinforces the authority of Christ's teachings. This underscores the importance of grounding our actions and beliefs in the teachings of Scripture. The Christian life is a continuous journey of aligning with the principles laid out by Jesus.
Joy in Generosity:

Jesus' statement challenges conventional notions of happiness tied to receiving. It introduces a paradigm shift—a joy that transcends personal accumulation and is found in the act of giving. This aligns with the biblical principle of cheerful generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7).


In Our Daily Lives:

Leadership in Service: Acts 20:35 challenges us to evaluate our leadership roles, whether in the family, workplace, or community, and consider how we actively serve and support others.
Practicing Generosity:

Jesus' words invite us to cultivate a lifestyle of generosity. This goes beyond material possessions and extends to giving our time, attention, and love to those around us.
Finding Joy in Giving:

Embracing the principle that giving is more blessed than receiving transforms our perspective on happiness. True joy is discovered in selfless acts of kindness and generosity.


Cross-References:

Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Jesus' teaching on giving is echoed here, emphasizing the reciprocal nature of generosity.

Matthew 20:28: "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Jesus exemplifies the ultimate act of selfless service, providing the foundation for Paul's exhortation.


Overall, Acts 20:35 is a reminder that as Christians, we are called to serve others and to be generous with our time, resources, and talents. It emphasizes the importance of selflessness and giving, and encourages us to follow the example of Jesus, who gave his life for us.

See also: vs 32, & 37-38


Acts 20:35. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’