What does Acts 20:35 really mean?

35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’


Setting the Scene for Acts 20:35

In Acts chapter 20, we find the apostle Paul bidding farewell to the elders of the church in Ephesus. The scene is set in the coastal city of Miletus, where Paul had summoned the elders to meet him. The elders were leaders of the church in Ephesus, responsible for shepherding and guiding the congregation in Paul’s absence.

As the sun begins to set over the Aegean Sea, Paul stands before the elders, recounting his ministry among them and sharing his final words of wisdom and encouragement. The atmosphere is heavy with emotion as Paul knows he may never see these beloved brothers again. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore provides a backdrop to Paul’s heartfelt exhortation to the elders to remain faithful in their service to the Lord and to care for the flock entrusted to them.

The elders, gathered around Paul, listen intently, their faces reflecting a mixture of sadness and resolve. They had come to Miletus at Paul’s request, knowing that this meeting was of great importance. The scene is one of deep spiritual significance, as Paul imparts his final blessings and admonitions before departing on his journey to Jerusalem.

What is Acts 20:35 about?

This verse emphasizes the importance of selflessness and helping those in need through hard work. It encourages us to remember the teachings of Jesus, who exemplified the virtues of generosity and compassion. We uplift others and experience blessings and fulfillment ourselves by helping the weak and less fortunate.

Have you ever felt the joy and contentment that comes from giving to others without expecting anything in return? This verse reminds us that true happiness and blessings lie in the act of generosity. It challenges us to reflect on our actions and consider how we can extend a helping hand to those who may be struggling. This verse serves as a powerful reminder of the profound impact of giving to others with a pure heart in a world that often values receiving and accumulating possessions.

Understanding what Acts 20:35 really means

Acts 20:35 delves into a verse that holds profound meaning and offers valuable lessons for our lives today. To structure our commentary, we’ll explore the context, key phrases, related passages, modern relevance, and provide an anecdote for practical understanding. Paul is addressing the elders of the church in Ephesus in this chapter. He is reflecting on his ministry and providing final exhortations. The verse in question emphasizes the importance of helping the weak and quotes Jesus, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This sets a foundational principle for Christian behavior and community life.

Key Phrases and Their Meanings

One of the most powerful phrases here is “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This suggests that the act of giving, be it time, resources, or love, brings greater joy and fulfillment than receiving. It challenges the often self-centered nature of human desires and redirects our focus towards altruism.

Related Passages

This principle is echoed throughout the Bible. For instance, in Luke 6:38, Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you.” Similarly, Proverbs 11:25 states, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” These passages reinforce the idea that generosity leads to spiritual and sometimes material blessings. This verse calls us back to the essence of Christian living—selflessness in today’s world, where materialism and self-interest often dominate. It challenges us to look beyond our needs and seek ways to uplift others. This is relevant not just in personal relationships but also in broader societal contexts, such as community service and social justice. A local business owner, despite financial challenges, consistently donates to community projects. Over time, not only does his business thrive, but he also gains immense respect and loyalty from the community. His experience exemplifies the truth in this verse: his act of giving brought him blessings far beyond monetary gain—it brought him fulfillment and a sense of purpose. Reflect on this verse and ask yourself: How can I incorporate more giving into my daily life? Are there areas where I can help the weak or support those in need? The immeasurable joy and blessings that come from giving are remembered. Acts 20:35 is a timeless reminder of the value of generosity. It calls us to live out our faith through acts of kindness, offering us a pathway to true joy and fulfillment. Let us strive to embody this principle, making our lives a testament to the blessedness of giving.

How can we give and serve selflessly?

To give and serve selflessly means offering help and support to others without expecting anything in return. It involves acting out of genuine care and empathy for others, rather than seeking personal gain or recognition. When we give and serve in this way, we embody the selfless love and compassion that Jesus exemplified in his teachings and actions. We cultivate a spirit of generosity and kindness that can positively impact those around us by following the example set forth in Acts 20:35. Whether it is through acts of charity, lending a helping hand, or simply being there for someone in need, selfless giving allows us to demonstrate our faith and live out the teachings of Jesus. This type of sacrificial service not only benefits others but also brings joy and fulfillment to our own lives as we extend love and grace to those around us.


Think about the fast-paced world of work and family life. Remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This isn’t just a saying—it’s a call to action. Be the one who shares a smile, lends a hand, or offers support. In the hustle of everyday life, your generosity can be a beacon of hope. Are you ready to make a real impact today?