The ‘he’ in this passage is Paul. He’s saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders as he head back to Jerusalem.
I was really struck by this verse, because I find Paul quite a challenging personality, from what we read of him. He’s passionate, driven, fanatical, even. Everything he does and says is very black-and-white, I can’t imagine trying to disagree with him, he seems so certain of the rightness of everything he says, and often comes across as very arrogant.
And yet the people he spent time with were sad to see him go, and even sadder that they would never see him again. He gathered followers who trailed all around the world with him. He kept in touch with both churches and individuals he met on his travels. And those people were sad when they learned they would not see him again.
There must have been more to him than I’ve seen. The softer, more human side of his personality must have got lost in the translation and the limited space available. He must have been more than the bombastic, authoritarian, arrogant workhorse I’ve always seen him as.
It will be interesting to meet him in heaven and find out what he’s really like…