Tag: Book of Acts

The Apostle Paul Preaching In Rome

Preaching In Rome

Book of Acts Chapter 28

We have reached the last chapter in this great Book of Acts. We have seen so many things that caused the beginning of the early church.

We need to get back to many of the basics we have learned in these chapters!

But most of all, we must realize that the message of the Church is still the "Gospel" of the Lord Jesus Christ and that will never change!

The Church grows as the "Gospel" is spread.

This is our only job!

Last week when we left off, 276 men, including the Apostle Paul were swimming for their life in hope of reaching the shore of the island we now know of as Malta.

Let’s pick up where we left off:

*****Act 28:1  And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.

It was not until everyone was safely on the island that they realized they were at a place called Melita. This island of Melita is now known as Malta.

We also need to realize that where ever God places us, that is to place where we are to begin a work for God and represent Jesus Christ as His ambassadors.

We already know that God was sending Paul to Rome, so this stopover in Melita was surely the providence of God.

We should never forget this verse and we can believe that Paul never did:

Rom 11:33  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! [how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!]

*****Act 28:2  And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.

It is probable that the people of Melita were probably descendent of Phoenician sailors who first used this island.

They were considered barbarous simply because they did not speak Greek nor Latin as their native language.

The Greeks, and after-wards the Romans, called all nations "but themselves" barbarians!

This reminds us of how people felt about each other at the tower of Babel back in the Book of Genesis.

But the people of Melita did treat these shivering survivors with great kindness by building a bonfire on the beach to warm them up.

*****Act 28:3  And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

It’s very interesting to note that, out of more than 300 people who were enjoying this fire, it was Paul who took it upon himself to gather sticks to keep it burning.

Among the sticks, however was a venomous snake. The snake itself was stiff from the cold and must have look much like another stick.

The heat energized the snake so that it suddenly bit the Apostle Paul.

And this did not go unnoticed!

There are always eyes on God’s people!

It is said today that you cannot find a venomous snake on the island of Malta.

*****Act 28:4  And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet "vengeance" suffereth not to live.

In this short time these people of Melita had already realized that some of these men including Paul were prisoners bound for Rome.

They looked on Paul is a doomed man and as good as dead.

They concluded that if it was murder he was guilty of, and had escaped the death of the sea, then the gods had punished him in this way.

That word "vengeance" comes from the Greek word "Dice" which is also the name of a Greek goddess said to be the daughter of Jupiter.

*****Act 28:5  And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
Act 28:6  Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

Many eyes were watching as Paul shook the snake off into the fire. They were amazed that his hand had not swollen nor had he fell over dead, so they watched him for a great while.

But, to their amazement no harm had come to Paul.

There are two things we should note here:

1.) We have the fulfillment of Scripture.

Mar 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Mar 16:18  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

This promise of protection, was not for show and was not intended to apply indefinitely. This experience of Paul’s is the only actual example of such a thing recorded in the New Testament and we should not expect for these things to happen today.

2.) We have the superstitions of the lost.

Since Paul could not be killed by the poison from this Viper then he to must be a god.

This is not the first time that this happened to Paul.

We should remember the things that happened in Athens.

Act 14:11  And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
Act 14:12  And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

There are still many pagan worshipers whom are still waiting on the return of their own false gods.

So, we can see that only one explanation will work here, "the direct intervention of the Living God"!

*****Act 28:7  In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
Act 28:8  And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Act 28:9  So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed:

God would not only provide for Paul and his shipmates, but he would also show His true power to the people of Melita.

Publius, was the chief man of the island who was very sick at that time. Paul went to this man without being asked and through the healing power of God, healed this man of his sickness.

When this was done for Publius, many others of the island came to him, were healed also.

We must also realize Paul also had Luke, the physician, with him at this time.

And we can know that Paul was not a man who would let opportunities to witness for Christ to slip by without taking advantage of them.

It is also very possible that a church began during the time Paul was on this island.

*****Act 28:10  Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.
Act 28:11  And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

That word "honors" means what ever those things that were given to Paul were "things of value".

Everyone on that ship had lost all their personal possessions so it seems that "these barbarians" were in actuality, "very hospitable".

Those three months were probably November through February, the same three months when sailing ceased because of severe weather conditions!

They found another ship from Alexandria, which was probably carrying wheat to Rome, and obtained passage.

Those names Castor and Pollux came from the figurehead on the bow the ship.

These names were so chosen because of the astrological sign of Gemini or, "The Twins".

These names of pagan deities were regarded as maritime patrons.

To every seaman of that time, these were the gods that steered the ship safely to each port.

This shows again the pagan world at the time of the early church!

Christians are still commanded to shine as lights in this dark world!

*****Act 28:12  And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.
Act 28:13  And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
Act 28:14  Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.

Syracuse is the city on the southeast coast of Sicily and about 90 miles from the island of Malta.

That phrase "fetched a compass" means they could not sail in a straight line to Puteoli but had to use tacking.

It was not until a south wind started blowing that they were able to continue sailing and then reached Puteoli the next day which was about 200 miles.

Puteoli was the harbor for the ancient city of Neapolis which today is called Naples.

Julius allowed Paul to spend some time with Christian brethren here in this city.

From here their journey to Rome would be over land.

(See Map)

*****Act 28:15  And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
Act 28:16  And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.

It seems that as Paul traveled toward Rome a delegation from the Christian church "in Rome not of Rome" traveled to meet Paul, which they did at a place called "three taverns".

There were also others that met Paul at Appii Forum.

Appii Forum was a "market place".

The "three taverns" was a place to get refreshment.

These were road junctions on the road to Rome.

These brothers and sisters in Christ gave Paul encouragement as he neared the end of his journey.

It seems that Paul was placed under house arrest and that Luke could no longer stay with Paul but was at least allowed to visit him, as were many others.

We can read of some of these things in the Book of Philemon and the Book of Colossians which were written while Paul was in Rome.

We know that Nero was the Emperor at this time but he had not yet shown his true character.

And we know that Paul was treated with courtesy and allowed many privileges.

*****Act 28:17  And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
Act 28:18  Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me.
Act 28:19  But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of.
Act 28:20  For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

Soon after his arrival Paul assembles the local Jewish leaders to explain who he was and why he is in Rome appealing to Caesar.

Paul wanted to emphasize to his Jewish brethren that he was not guilty of any roles against his people or of their customs customs.

He told them that he had been apprehended in Jerusalem by the Jews and then came under the custody of the Romans and this had continued until that day.

The Romans had determined that there was no reason for his execution but the Jews were determined that he should not be released and therefore he had appealed to Caesar as a Roman citizen.

He informed them that he had no intention of accusing his Jewish brethren and had no charges to bring against his own people.

Some things we should realize is, that every Roman citizen deserved and often demanded a Roman trial.

An appeal to Caesar most often guaranteed the trial to be in Rome.

In Paul’s mind making his defense in the highest court in the known world at that time, could possibly result in Christianity being recognized in the Roman Empire as an acceptable religion and different from Judaism.

And it was the Living God that had put these things in place for this to happen.

*****Act 28:21  And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee.
Act 28:22  But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

Any news of these things that had happened in Jerusalem had not made it to Rome. They had not received any communication of these things from Jerusalem and were therefore "neutral" in their feelings toward Paul, after all Paul was also a Jew.

Those words "we desire" means that they thought it was appropriate to hear of the Christian movement.

So they made arrangements to hear Paul preach.

And Paul was always ready to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

*****Act 28:23  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Act 28:24  And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

Paul always seemed to find some way to reach out to the Jews with the gospel of Jesus!

Since he could not go to the synagogues in Rome he got the Jewish leaders to come to him.

The epistle to the Romans had already reached the brethren in Rome and in it Paul had written these words:

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

So again, Paul preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by using the laws of Moses and the words of the prophets, all from the Old Testament.

Paul began with the Book of Genesis and continued through all the Scriptures proving that Jesus had fulfilled the promises to the fathers!

And we can see that they remained attentive from morning till evening.

And as always, when Jesus Christ is presented all His fullness, some will believe but most will not!

*****Act 28:25  And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
Act 28:26  Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Act 28:27  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

To these unbelieving Jews, Paul uses a quote that had been used by Jesus Christ and by the Apostle John.

Isa 6:9  And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Isa 6:10  Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Paul applied the prophecy of Isaiah to the Jews rejection of Jesus as their Messiah!

Those words "well spake the Holy Ghost" in Isaiah, meant that these were the words of God Himself.

And this also meant that Paul had been obedient to the will of God!

They did not understand because they rejected God’s Word!

To reject the truth does not change the truth into a lie!

The truth is always the truth!

In Paul’s day the refusal of the Jews to receive the message of Jesus, would ultimately result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that the hands of the Roman army in 70 A.D.

Then Paul gave this warning to those Jews which stands even until today and will stand until the Rapture of the Church!

*****Act 28:28  Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

Paul announced that the offer of salvation would go to the Gentiles since it the Jews had rejected it.

Paul had again and again went to the Jews first, only to find that again and again it was only the Gentiles that responded to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must remember these words of the apostle John:

Joh 1:11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Joh 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Gentiles, in practically in every nation have received the Gospel gladly and in great numbers.

Though the Christians of the first century were largely Jews, this has since changed and it has been the Gentile churches and the Gentile missionaries who have been spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We know that after the Rapture the church, it will again be those 144,000 Jews, of the Book of Revelation, who will be the missionaries of the Gospel to this lost world.

*****Act 28:29  And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
Act 28:30  And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Act 28:31  Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

According to Roman law, it was necessary to wait about two years for the prosecution to come forward in their case. There is no indication that the Jews ever did this and certainly not within the two-year period as Luke would certainly have mentioned it if they had.

Many Bible scholars believe that Paul was released at this point and was able to continue his missionary activities for a few more years.

And that it was a few years later that Paul was arrested and executed by Nero following the burning of Rome, which he blamed on the Christians and history has shown that it was probably he who started that fire.

It is also believed that during this time that Paul wrote the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, Philemon, and to the Philippians.

It is also believed that after Paul was released from Rome and before he was finally executed that he wrote the epistles to first and second Timothy and to Titus.

To every Christian we have a tremendous example in the life of the Apostle Paul.

In the Book of Acts, Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has shown us how a small group of disciples dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ began the early church by spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It began with this command:

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Which is the same command we have today!

And we should all have this same attitude of the Apostle Paul:

Eph 3:8  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Eph 3:9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 3:11  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Protection In The Storm

Protection In The Storm

Book of Acts Chapter 27

When we left off last week the Apostle Paul had appeared before King Agrippa in order for Festus the Roman Procurator to have some information to write to Caesar.

Agrippa came to only one conclusion which he informed Festus:

Act 26:31  And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, [This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds].
Act 26:32  Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Festus then had what he needed to write to Caesar: Paul was not set free because "he had requested for Caesar to judge him".

It is shortly after this, that it was decided that Paul would be sent to Rome. Paul was sent to Rome, not for anything that he had done but only because the Jews had said he had done things against the Jewish religion and they wanted him to be killed and would do so if they had the opportunity.

God had already decided Paul would preach in Rome so we will see God’s plan unfold.

It would be good to consider that there was great difficulty in travel in Bible times. Travel was not only difficult but it was dangerous. There were many occasions when people started on a journey and were never heard from again. If they traveled by land, they were in danger from outlaws and thieves. If they traveled by sea, they were at the mercy of the weather, in boats that were ill-equipped to handle bad weather.

When this journey begins a group of people has set sail from Israel to Rome. This journey would begin in Caesarea, in northern Israel, were Paul and some other prisoners were delivered into the care of a man named Julius.

So let’s see how Luke takes us through this journey:

*****Act 27:1  And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.
Act 27:2  And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

We should immediately notice again of the word "we".

Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, joined Paul for this trip to Rome and remained with him al least until Paul was delivered to the custody of the soldiers in Rome.

The journey to Rome will involve typical navigational practices and patterns of the first century. Another thing we should know is that due to dangerous weather conditions, no sailing occurred on the Mediterranean during the period from mid-November to early March.

Paul’s voyage was near the beginning of this dangerous sailing period.

The word "band" was in fact, the 10th part of a Legion of Roman soldiers. These "bands" were groups of normally 600 men which makes a Roman Legion about 6000 men.

Aristarchus, as well as Luke, traveled with Paul on this long voyage from Caesarea to Rome.

Aristarchus had been with Paul since his third missionary journey and was a Thessalonian.

As a Roman citizen, as well as a highly educated religious leader, it was appropriate in the eyes of the Centurion and the ship officers, that Paul have attendance and we know that Luke and Aristarchus were at least two of those that attended to Paul..

That ship of Adramyttium would be a ship based in Asia minor but Julius had no intention of selling to Rome in this ship, as it was only a coastal vessel.

*****Act 27:3  And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.

Julius was a member of the Imperial guard and we can see that he was courteous to Paul and treated him very well. Unexpectedly Julius had a gracious attitude for people and for life and days on the battlefield can sometimes lead a man to be this way.

It should also be very obvious to us that there had been a local church established at Sidon at this time an God’s people had kept up with things that happened to Paul!

*****Act 27:4  And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary.
Act 27:5  And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.
Act 27:6  And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein.

(See map)

We will begin to see, as Luke paints with words, a vivid picture of the troubles that came to pass on this trip to Rome.

The first problem arose after the ship left Sidon. It was a straight line distance of over 350 miles from Sidon to Myra.

We must remember these ships were coastal vessels and when sailing would keep visual contact with the coast. Normally Paul’s ship would have continued sailing northward along the coast and then turned westward along the coast of what is now Asia minor.

However the winds did not allow this so the captain of Paul ship turned northwest from Sidon and pilot his vessel for the island of Cyprus and then sailing the east side of Cyprus, using the island to protect the ship from some of those contrary winds.

He then followed the coast until he got to Myra. It was approaching the season when sailing ceased on the Mediterranean so the winds were generally from the West this time of year.

At Myra, Julius transferred Paul and the other prisoners to a ship from the north African city of Alexandria, which is in Egypt.

In the stays of Paul, Rome survived because of the grain of Egypt. These ships were much larger and much sturdier vessels and generally safer in the open seas.

*****Act 27:7  And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone;
Act 27:8  And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.
Act 27:9  Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
Act 27:10  And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.
Act 27:11  Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.

It was 150 miles from Myra to Cnidus and another 230 miles from Cnidus to the Fair Havens.

After some difficulty sailing, they arrived at the Fair Havens on the southern side of the Isle of Crete. By this time it was late autumn. The dangerous season for sailing was from September to November. After this date all navigation on the open sea was normally discontinued.

Paul was probably just as qualified to judge sea travel at this time as they were. Paul had been through three ship wrecks already.

2Co 11:25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, [thrice I suffered shipwreck], "a night and a day I have been in the deep";

We know that Paul wrote the book of Corinthians before he was captured in Jerusalem and jailed.

Those words "the fast", which is the "Day of Atonement", placed these events in early October.

In spite of this knowledge and over the protest of Paul the boat officials set sail for Phoenix planning to winter there.

*****Act 27:12  And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
Act 27:13  And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.
Act 27:14  But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

Soon, however, they are caught up in the grasp of a vicious winter typhoon.

And from this point, Luke will give to us a vivid account of this storm that was actually recorded in history.

*****Act 27:15  And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.
Act 27:16  And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:
Act 27:17  Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.
Act 27:18  And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
Act 27:19  And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

First: This ship is blown far out to sea completely out of control.

Second: These terrified sailors band the ship with ropes to help strengthen the  hull.

Third: As the seas grow higher they throw all the cargo overboard.

Fourth: They also discard all the tackle and the loose objects that cannot be tied down.

And Fifth: After 14 frightful and desperate days Luke describes a time of "no hope for survival".

Those "quicksands" were off the African coast, west of Cyrene, which gives an idea that this ship had no idea of which direction it was heading.

(Again see the map)

*****Act 27:20  And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

There was no let up in the storm.

Day after day, and night after night, the winds and the waves raged and relentlessly battered the ship and its crew and its passengers.

We can be sure that the rain had not ceased and these were terrible and most miserable days.

The heavy clouds obscured all view of the sun by day and of the stars by night and the constant exposure to all these things caused all hope that they should be saved to be taken away.

But Jeremiah gave us these words:

Jer 17:7  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

Paul had not forgotten the things the Lord had told him. Paul knew he would give his testimony in Rome and he would have to survive this ordeal to do this.

Act 23:11  And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome".

*****Act 27:21  But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.
Act 27:22  And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
Act 27:23  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,
Act 27:24  Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

That word "abstinence" means that these people had not eaten anything during the storm or at least very little. They had not had much opportunity and had little desire to eat and many of them had probably become seasick.

Paul made a quick reminder of the fact that he had advised them to remain in the Fair Havens, not because he had that I told you so attitude, but because he simply wanted them to listen to him now.

When you’re in that position of "no hope" it is comforting to have assurance that you will not lose your life!

We read in Chapter 23 where Paul had received direct assurance from God that he would bear witness that Rome.

And now this angel had assured him that all on board would also be saved from death.

It is often that we see that God will spare the ungodly because of godly men in their midst!

We must remember the words Abraham asked of the Lord:

Gen 18:23  And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

There have been many guilty cities and even nations that have been spared on account of God’s people and this is even more true in our day!

We also have proof of this in the New Testament and of the days we live in now:

2Th 2:6  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: "only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way".
2Th 2:8  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

The Lord had given these words to Paul and He would not now do something differently!

*****Act 27:25  Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

It is important for us to "believe God" and not to just "believe in God".

The Bible teaches us:

Jas 2:19  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

To "believe" God, is to accept God’s Word as the truth!

And we all should have this verse memorized:

2Ti 3:16  "All scripture" is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

We need nothing more than God’s "complete" Word to make our own life "complete"!

*****Act 27:26  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

Only God could have had this information. God had assured Paul that he and all the others on the ship would be spared from death. However, there were still going to experience some difficulties, nonetheless, as they were going to be cast upon a certain island.

God will use every opportunity to reach out to the lost of this world!

*****Act 27:27  But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
Act 27:28  And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms.
Act 27:29  Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

For two weeks this ship and these that were on it had been caught up in this massive storm.

The Adria, refers to the part of the Mediterranean Sea that lies between Italy and Greece and today is called the Adriatic Sea.

It is possible that these sailors heard the noise of waves breaking against a seashore and they believed that they could be very close to land.

That term "sounded" means that they were casting something like a javelin that was attached to a cord into the water that would give them some sense of the depth of the ocean.

A "fathom" was the standard measurement of the distance between the middle fingertips of the hands of an adult man with outstretched arms and is about 6 feet.

20 fathoms would be 120 feet of depth.

15 fathoms would be 90 feet of depth.

This is pretty shallow water in the midst of the ocean but because of the darkness they could not be sure of anything so they were "longing for daybreak" to come so they might possibly see land.

They did not want to run the risk of having the ship torn apart over rocks or grounded on some reef so they cast out four anchors from "the stern" or the rear of the ship.

And nothing else could be done until daybreak!

*****Act 27:30  And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
Act 27:31  Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Act 27:32  Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.

The crew of the ship then decided that they would take their chances and tried to lower boats so they could escape and abandon the ship.

This points out just how grave this situation really was, when a sailor thinks its safer in a small boat, than in the much bigger ship.

Paul knew that if the sailors left the ship it could mean certain doom to all the rest, so the Roman commander commandeered the ship placing it under his direct control.

Accepting Paul’s word, Julius the Roman commander, cut the ropes to the smaller boats allowing them to drop into the ocean.

Paul had been in similar situations before as he had written to the Corinthians.

2Co 11:25  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

If all the sailors left, no one on board knew how to sail the ship!

*****Act 27:33  And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
Act 27:34  Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.
Act 27:35  And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
Act 27:36  Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.

Paul encouraged this crew and these passengers to eat some food. They had eaten very little in 14 days. They had continued to fast because they had lost all hope. They did not trust the ship’s captain and certainly not Julius, the Roman commander who had stop them from escaping.

BUT, Paul assured them they would need their strength in the coming days and "Not One Hair" would fall from any head.

Paul assured them that they were under the absolute protection of the "Living God"!

The Bible teaches us:

Mat 10:30  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

In other words, It is God who sets on the throne and He keeps a watchful eye on all His "Creation"!

So Paul began this meal by giving thanks that God had provided them with a meal and the time to have a meal.

Some of Paul’s last words to Timothy were these words:

1Ti 6:8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

You see even on our worst day God will still provide our needs!

And "no hope" became "good cheer"!

You see we should always remember that our testimony, even in trying times, can be an encouragement to others!

A Christian always has hope and that hope is in the Lord Jesus!

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

*****Act 27:37  And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
Act 27:38  And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.

276 souls put their trust in the Lord. God had said not one of these men would be harmed so the Holy Spirit gives us an exact count of each and every head!

The decision to run the ship aground had already been made, so at this point everything that was not needed and that had weight was thrown overboard.

This would insure that the ship would get as close to the shore as it possibly could!

*****Act 27:39  And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship.

It is good to make note that this small bay on the island of Malta where the ship finally went aground has been called St. Paul’s Bay ever since this time and it is located behind a small island where two seas meet as we will now read.

*****Act 27:40  And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore.
Act 27:41  And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.

That phrase "taken up" referring to the anchors, actually means either "cut away or loosed" as they would have never brought the weight of those anchors back into the ship.

The rudder had been secured by bands and these were no longer necessary. The wind was blowing toward the shore so the main sail was raised in order for the ship to get as close to the shore as possible.

The place where these two seas meet was a reef or a sandbar and when the front of the ship made contact it stuck fast and could not be moved.

The rear of the ship was being beaten by the waves and it began to break apart.

*****Act 27:42  And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
Act 27:43  But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
Act 27:44  And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

We must not forget it was death to any Roman soldier that allowed his prisoner to escape and none could escape if they were all dead.

But, this was not allowed by Julius.

So they all went overboard into the sea and swam, or floated, all making their way safely to shore.

We should not miss this opportunity to have the confidence that Our God can save us from any situation, of any kind, and at any time.

Some of these were Christians but most were not, yet but nothing can stop the Will of Our God from being accomplished.

And there is never a time for God’s people to give up or lose hope!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

Paul’s Defense Before King Agrippa II

Paul’s Defense Before King Agrippa

Book of Acts chapter 26

In our last lesson we saw as Paul had defended himself against Felix and against Festus of the false things that had been accused of him by the Jews and the high priest.

Festus had discovered that he had no real reason to send Paul before Caesar.

Another opportunity came when Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice arrived in Caesarea to pay their respects to him.

This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa I. He had been appointed king of the region around the Sea of Galilee by the emperor Nero.

He was also known as Marcus Julius Agrippa and was only 17 when his father died and he was the last of the Herod Dynasty.

Let’s begin I looking back to some verses that we did not cover from last week:

*****Act 25:24  And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
Act 25:25  But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
Act 25:26  Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
Act 25:27  For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Festus the governor was at a complete loss as to what to report to the Emperor. He actually had no reason to continue to hold Paul and neither would King Agrippa.

The Jews still demanded Paul’s life but he was required by Roman law in his report to Caesar to specify the crimes which to prisoner was accused and this he could not do.

King Agrippa was part Jew and knew much more about the Jews religion than Festus did and according to tradition he had made considerable study of his own of that religion.

So even though Festus, as the Roman official in charge of this occasion, deferred to Agrippa after Paul had been brought before them.

*****Act 26:1  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

Without asking Paul any questions he allowed Paul to explain what he had been doing and why he had been arrested.

*****Act 26:2  I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Act 26:3  Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

Paul immediately acknowledged Agrippa’s title as King and said he was glad to answer all charges the Jews had brought against him.

Remember Paul had been accused of violating Jewish law.

Paul had been accused of desecrating the Temple.

And Paul had been accused of actually breaking Roman laws.

None of these things were true nor was there any evidence to prove such things.

We should not forget that the Herodians were Edomites, which were the descendents of Esau.

There is a great prophecy that was given to Esau by his father Isaac and I believe it was fulfilled by these Herod’s:

Gen 27:40  And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; [and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck].

So let’s hear Paul’s response:

*****Act 26:4  My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
Act 26:5  Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Act 26:6  And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
Act 26:7  Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

Many of Paul’s accusers were familiar with Paul’s early life. The phrase "manner of life" means not only how Paul lived but the real reasons for his actions.

The Greek word for "youth" not only means "young" but it also means "lack of experience".

Paul as a young adult, was being trained by Gamaliel to become a Pharisee and Paul knew that these Jewish leaders knew about all these things.

Paul had become a strict Pharisee and he observed all the Mosaic dietary laws and certainly all commandments as written by Moses.

But not only that, Paul had observed those things that had been added by the traditions of the Pharisees themselves.

That phrase "the most straightest sect" means that the Pharisees were uncompromising on their standards.

Then Paul mentioned the main issue from which he was being judged.

"His hope in God’s promise" was the hope of the "resurrection" of the Messiah!

That term "Messiah" is a Jewish title for Israel’s future King who would bring salvation at the end of the age or what we know as the "Millennial Kingdom".

This is the promise that all the prophets had presented to the fathers of Israel!

The Book of Galatians gives us a clear picture of how Paul understood the Old Testament Scriptures.

Gal 3:16  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Gal 3:17  And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Gal 3:18  For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Paul insisted that it was the"promise of this Messiah" that held together the scattered tribes of Israel as a nation.

And Paul insisted that he was accused, because he believed in this hope and in his belief that this hope was fulfilled in Jesus.

And that Jesus had demonstrated this truth by His own resurrection!

Paul also makes us recognize "that representatives from all 12 tribes were still in Judea" and were still adhering to their ancient religion.

"This gives us proof that there is no suggestion in the New Testament that there are 10 lost tribes somewhere else in the world"!

It is a fact that Israelites were scattered all over the world but there are no lost tribes of Israel!

*****Act 26:8  Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

The Sadducees did not believe in any "resurrection" but Paul still asked this simple question of King Agrippa.

All the Jews believed in a sovereign God so this would only be incredible if anyone but God or those that God empowered should claim to raise the dead for God only is the Creator of life!

Most every Jew of that time had no problem in believing "in creation" as written in the Book of Genesis.

To Paul it was a sad thing that the Jews, whose hope was in the coming of the Messiah and the promised resurrection, should now denied Jesus who had proved he was the true Messiah.

Most all, but the Sadducees, believed in the "doctrine of the resurrection" and many Pharisees including Paul had converted to Christianity yet the Jewish nation still rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

But we now know that they are blind to this fact.

Rom 11:7  What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
Rom 11:8  (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

*****Act 26:9  I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Act 26:10  Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Act 26:11  And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

Paul was not only a Pharisee but he had also been a zealous persecutor of the church. He had punished the believers and tried to force them to deny Jesus Christ and some of them he had even helped to send to their death.

But, Paul took full responsibility for his actions and Paul had voted in favor of the death penalty for all Christians.

Paul had been relentless in his persecution of the believers on Jesus Christ.

Paul had gone from synagogue to synagogue arresting or otherwise harassing those who embraced Jesus and His ways.

Paul said he was "exceedingly mad" and was "enraged" and it became Paul’s intention to eradicate Christianity not only from Jerusalem and not only from Israel but from all the world.

Sadly there are many today that have the same purpose because this is the purpose of Satan and all his followers!

*****Act 26:12  Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
Act 26:13  At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Act 26:14  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Paul had been one of the reasons early Christians had left Jerusalem. His zeal had driven out many of the believers and they had taken their message to the Jews in other communities.

Paul gives us a vivid description of what he saw. The light that Paul saw was a supernatural light.

What Paul saw was a Shekinah glory of God!

Listen to the words of Isaiah:

Isa 60:1  Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Isa 60:2  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

Even at the brightness of noontime, the earth is a dark place when compared to the glory of God!

This actually blinded Paul for three days but the important thing was that Paul’s "spiritual eyes" had been opened, for he was beholding the living Christ.

Paul had written these words to the Corinthians:

2Co 4:3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2Co 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
2Co 4:6  For God, [who commanded the light to shine out of darkness] , hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Paul had not only seen the Shekinah glory of God but he had also heard His voice!

Those that were with Paul had heard a sound but they had not understood the voice of God and they all fell to the earth but only Paul remained there.

To explain that phrase " kicking against a prick"  we should understand that when an ox was too stubborn for the farmer, the farmer used a long, sharp, pointed stick.  this was called an "ox goad". This encourage the animal to be obedient.   If the animal kicked against the goad it would cause more severe wounds.

Jesus was using His heavenly "ox goad" to push Paul to conversion and the more that Paul resisted the more severe his wounds would be.

We know that Holy Ghost conviction can be very painful and in some cases will leave scars.

*****Act 26:15  And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Act 26:16  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Act 26:17  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Act 26:18  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

The very best thing we can do when we are under Holy Ghost conviction is to realize that it is Jesus calling us to repent. 

We cannot understand the "Grace of God" until we realize God loves every sinner.

Paul was an enemy but God does speak to His enemies.

It is very clear in this passage that God had been dealing with Paul for some period of time "But" it is also very clear that Paul had been resisting all that time!

It should also be very clear in this passage that Judaism was not enough for salvation!

And it is just as clear that no religion of the Gentiles had any means of salvation!

And these things have not changed!

There is no means for evolution to bring anyone to the saving power of God!

All false religions are in fact under the power of Satan who leads all false religions!

It is the "god of this world" who have blinded the minds that believe not and the apostle Paul had been chosen by the Lord Jesus to open their eyes to the truth.

The Lord Jesus Christ died to deliver us all from the power of darkness and into the light of the glorious gospel!

The Bible teaches us:

Col 1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

*****Act 26:19  Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Act 26:20  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Act 26:21  For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

Paul explained that he could not be disobedient to such a heavenly vision!

When Paul asked the Lord what he would have him do, he meant it sincerely and he obeyed immediately!

The changes Paul experienced involved such a radical change of his life that no one could understand at this time.

During Paul’s time in Damascus he preached mostly to the Jews that Jesus Christ was the true Son of God.

Later he went to Jerusalem where he continued to witness for Jesus and still later Paul preached to the Jews through out Judea.

Paul preached to the Gentiles primarily on his three missionary journeys after his meeting with Peter.

And Paul explained to Agrippa "that it was for these reasons" that the Jews caught him in the Temple and wanted to kill him.

*****Act 26:22  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Act 26:23  That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Paul had had a great beginning with visions and voices.

Paul was sure in his mind and his heart that it was the Lord that had saved him throughout his ministry from those that would cause him harm.

For us the fact that Paul continued is proof of his conversion and evidence of the faithfulness of God!

Paul will say "by God’s grace" and God had enabled him to serve "by His perfect grace".

The book of Psalms teaches us:

Psa 34:19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

And Paul himself knew this to be true:

1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Jesus Christ was the very first one to resurrect from the dead!

There had been some before him that had been raised from the dead, but only to a physical body!

Jesus was raised in a glorified body!

The church will be raised in glorified bodies!

The book of Romans teaches us this fact:

Rom 8:34  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Our Lord Jesus currently sits at the right hand of God in Heaven!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus suffered for our sins!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus sits at the right hand of God in control of this world we live in!

It is a fact that Christ Jesus will leave this position and descend back earth!

It is a fact that the dead in Christ will be resurrected from the dead and will join the Christians who are living at that time and will meet The Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds!

"This is the Rapture the church".

And it is a fact that after this time, Christ Jesus will return to the earth this will be the second coming of Christ!

We must be ready for the return of the Son of God!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about facts!

*****Act 26:24  And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Act 26:25  But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Is at this point that Festus interrupted Paul. Festus was a Roman and knew nothing of the Jewish Scriptures and probably cared even less, so all these words presented to Agrippa meant nothing to him.

He suggested that Paul must have gone mad through so much study of the Jewish fables.

But Paul was not speaking to Festus, he was speaking to Agrippa, and he knew that Agrippa understood his words.

Agrippa would also understand why the Jews were so incensed at the thought that Paul was leading the Gentiles to the Lord.

These Jews were more afraid that the Christian Gentiles would soon be known as God’s chosen people and they would lose all privileges with Rome!

Paul declared that his words were true and that word "soberness" means being of a sound mind!

None of these things had been kept secret in Jerusalem.

The death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ was common knowledge!

Paul had written to the Corinthians that there were more than 500 eye witnesses, of the resurrected Christ including himself.

There was no attempt to hide the resurrection of Jesus by the early Christians!

In fact it was and is the theme of every gospel message!

And it should be so today!

*****Act 26:27  King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Act 26:28  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

By asking Agrippa if he believed the prophets, Paul wanted him to acknowledge that he believed what the Old Testament Scriptures taught about the Messiah.

But before he could respond to this question, Paul answered for him, declaring "I know that thou believest the prophets".

Agrippa may not of totally understood about all these matters but he was certainly aware of them as King of Judea and he responded.

Many have laughed at this response from Agrippa. Many have said he was being sarcastic to Paul.

BUT,  by his use of the word Christian this cannot be true!

The term Christian was at that time only a term of reproach and Agrippa would not have considered it a title he would endure. 

There will always be those that are "almost persuaded" but praise the Lord there will always be those that are "fully persuaded"!

And Paul said:

*****Act 26:29  And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

There may have actually been some that day that heard the words of Paul and were persuaded but all those we will meet Heaven and they can tell us of this day.

The apostle Paul had turned this trial into an example of effective witnessing.

He had done this with his own personal testimony and the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Agrippa had resisted the divine will of God as many others do that reject the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

BUT, We know that being almost saved is still being 100% lost!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

The Apostle Paul’s Defense Before Felix And Festus

Paul’s Defense Before Felix And Festus

Book of Acts Chapters 24; 25

When we left Paul last week he was about to present his case to Felix, the governor of Judaea and Samaria but before this could take place Felix would hear from the High Priest and the Jewish charges against Paul.

The main characters of this lesson would be the Apostle Paul, Felix and Festus.

Felix was the Roman procurator of Judaea in 53 A.D. He had been appointed by the Emperor Claudius.

Felix held the position that was once held by Pontus Pilate. Felix was a mean and cruel man and his period of office was full of troubles and sedition.

Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as governor Judea and this probably took place in 60 A.D.

Paul had a been a prisoner of Felix for about two years by this time.

Before Paul was able to present his case to Felix, the Jews had brought themselves a lawyer named Tertullus to present their case against Paul.

An "orator" would be a skillful and an eloquent speaker. So even though this man was a lawyer, he was probably not a scribe but he would be fluent in Latin, the language of Rome. We can be sure that Tertullus was brought in in order to flatter and to sway Felix.

We can also be sure that Paul was also fluent in this language of Latin but these Jews may not have been aware of this.

Tertullus accused Paul of being "pestilent", which means that Paul was like some kind of disease that spread bad health to the public.

He also accused Paul of "sedition", which means Paul was causing a great commotion in Jerusalem. Not quite an "insurrection" and not quite a "rebellion" but would certainly soon lead to these things.

In other words, these Jews considered Christianity to be nothing "but some cult" and not a true religion with Paul being the ringleader!

He also accused Paul of profaning the Temple, which means he continued with the accusation that Paul had taken a Gentile into the Holy Place, which was also a lie.

And he went on to say that if the Roman commander had not stopped the Jews they would have settled these things by Jewish law.

Stoning was the preferred method of the Jews but in Paul’s case they would have physically beaten him to death!

We will also meet some other people during this trial of Paul.

We have already talked about Felix and Festus the governors of Judea. In addition there was the high priest Ananias, and we have mentioned Tertullus.

But we will also meet Drucilla, the wife of Felix, and also Agrippa, another Roman governor and his sister Bernice.

Now let’s hear what the Apostle Paul had to say.

*****Act 24:10  Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

Tertullus Had finished his remarks and before making any judgment Felix beckoned with his hand for Paul to speak.

Paul did not flatter Felix as Tertullus had done, but he did acknowledge that the governor was a man of experience and therefore a man of knowledge.

Paul did emphasize that he was happy to "more cheerfully answer" for himself.

This shows that the Apostle Paul had the courage to defend Christianity before any government official and false religion though he considered Christianity to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament!

By this time Paul had already written much of the New Testament and it was in the hands of the Christian church.

The Bible teaches us:

Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, [to stand].

We cannot back down when it is time to take a stand. This has already caused much problems in America because we refuse to take a stand on the Word of God.

It is not the time to be passive Christians any more!

*****Act 24:11  Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
Act 24:12  And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
Act 24:13  Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.

These 12 days refer to the time that Paul was in Jerusalem. Paul wanted Felix to have a clear understanding of the time that he had been in Jerusalem.

1) On day one Paul had arrived in Jerusalem.

2) On day two Paul had met with the church elders and James.

3.) On day three Paul had gone to the Temple with those Nazarites.

4) Days 4 and 5 were spent in the Temple for purification.

5) On day six Paul was arrested.

6.) On day seven Paul had appeared before the Sanhedrin court.

7) On day eight Paul had been escorted to Caesarea and it had now been five days until this day with Felix.

Paul was explaining to Felix that he had gone to the Temple to worship and not to lead anyone in a disturbance.

The Temple records would show that Paul had registered to pay the cost for those  Jews who had taken a Nazirite vow. This had been the plan of James.

Paul had not preached in the Temple nor in any of the synagogues nor anywhere else in the city of Jerusalem!

Paul had made an agreement with Peter and the Jerusalem elders that he would not evangelize the Jews in Jerusalem and he would not go back on his word. (Gal 2:7-10)

In other words the high priest had no proof of the things that he accused Paul of!

These things that Paul had said were facts and could be easily proven!

So Paul next dealt with the charges of sedition and heresy.

*****Act 24:14  But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
Act 24:15  And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Act 24:16  And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

These Jews saw Christianity as heresy!

The outside world saw Christianity as a cult!

Paul explained that the fact that he was a Christian did not mean he worshiped a different God from the God of his fathers. It only meant he worshiped the God of his fathers in a new and living way.

For the only acceptable way to worship the Father is through Jesus Christ.

Joh 5:23  That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.[He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him].

Paul explained that his faith was still founded on the same scriptures that were honored by his accusers!

Paul had preached many a sermon on the coming "resurrection of the just".

Paul had rarely mentioned "the resurrection of the unjust", which was well documented in the prophecy of Daniel.

Dan 12:2  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, [and some to shame and everlasting contempt].

There is little doubt that these words did not set well with Felix and more certainly with the Sadducees who did not believe in any resurrection and would not have look forward to any such event if it were true!

And it is true!

Paul explained that he accepted the Scriptures as they were written and that he was careful to avoid the offense of God and of men as he accepted God’s Word is the truth.

Paul was simply saying that it was his goal to keep his conscience clear and not stumble morally.

*****Act 24:17  Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
Act 24:18  Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
Act 24:19  Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.

Now Paul explains why he had come to Jerusalem. Paul had come to present to Jewish believers an offering which had been received from the churches in Galatia and Macedonia and Achaia and Asia.

Instead of going about causing strife and dissension among the Jews, he had been collecting funds for this offering!

Instead of being harmful to his people, he had been trying to help them!

Paul explained that his purpose for being in the Temple was to participate in a particular Temple ritual which was open to all Jews.

This ritual, was a purification ritual and it had been completed just prior to his being apprehended by these that were accusing him this day.

As a Jew, who was ritually pure, Paul had as much right to be in the Temple courtyard on that occasion as any other Jewish man in all of Israel.

And Paul did not have around him neither a multitude nor a group of followers who were causing any disturbance.

These were facts that could be easily proven!

Paul corrected the accusation presented by Tertullus, "that it was the Jewish leaders that had seen him", when it was those certain out of town Jews from Asia and probably from Ephesus.

So any evidence they had was based on "hearsay" at best and if his conduct in the Temple courtyard was wrong or objectionable to the Jews who had seen him, then they themselves should be present to give eyewitness testimony.

We can be sure that they had returned to Asia thinking they had accomplished the destruction of the Apostle Paul.

*****Act 24:21  Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.

Paul knew that this whole thing was about Jesus and whether he was living or dead.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord was at the heart of this case against the Apostle Paul.

Peter had these words:

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope [by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,]

Paul wrote:

Rom 4:25  Who was delivered for our offences, and [was raised again for our justification].

John wrote that we can know this truth:

1Jn 2:21  I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
1Jn 2:22  Who is a liar but [he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ]? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

These words of Paul brought Holy Ghost conviction upon Felix.

*****Act 24:24  And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
Act 24:25  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Drusilla was the third wife of Felix and was very young. She was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa I but she no doubt new of her father’s persecution of the Jerusalem church and may also have been more curious than Felix about the Christian faith.

Upon hearing the gospel Felix trembled.

Felix evidently came under terrified conviction.

His discomfort became so intense that he interrupted Paul saying "go thy way for this time when I have a convenient season I will call thee"

There is no indication that Felix ever found a convenient season that he could trust Christ as his Savior.

The Bible says:

Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

*****Act 24:26  He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.

In fact Felix reverted to his old self and assumed that Paul could if he wanted to purchase his freedom with a bribe, since he had possession of so much of God’s money.

Paul would never have given a bribe to Felix!

Now let’s see Paul present himself before Festus:

*****Act 25:1  Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Act 25:2  Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
Act 25:3  And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
Act 25:4  But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
Act 25:5  Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
Act 25:6  And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.

History tells us that’s Festus served as governor of the province only two years before he died but Festus appeared to have been a good ruler.

Luke was apparently near Paul during the two years that Paul was kept in Caesarea.

Tradition tells us that Luke wrote much of the Book of Acts during this period of time and probably also wrote the gospel of Luke.

Festus spent about two weeks in Jerusalem before going back down to Caesarea.

*****Act 25:7  And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

Once again Paul had to stand before a Roman authority for judgment while these same Jews would seek to have him convicted of a crime worthy of death.

While the Jews still laid many grievous complaints against Paul this verse also says that they were still unable to prove any of their charges.

It had been two years since their previous attempt to convict Paul and it is probable that they had conjured up additional accusations.

These Jews sole purpose was to murder Paul.

*****Act 25:8  While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

Paul’s response tells us about the charges that were made against him.

He was accused of breaking the laws of Moses.

He was accused of desecrating the Temple.

He was accused of violating Roman law.

The Greek word for "offended" is in most places in the Bible was translated "sinned".

Paul was not perfect by any means but he was not guilty of any crime against the Jews, nor the Romans and he was certainly not worthy of having the death sentence imposed upon him.

*****Act 25:9  But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

Earlier Festus had refused the Jews request for Paul to be sent to Jerusalem for trial.

However now he seemed agreeable to do so, but since Paul was a Roman citizen, he needed Paul’s consent.

Festus was trying to gain favor of the Jews by offering to conduct the trial in Jerusalem not knowing he would be jeopardizing the life of the Apostle Paul.

These Jews were so caught up in their hatred they had no problem in planning an ambush to assassinate Paul in his transit to Jerusalem if it took place.

*****Act 25:10  Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
Act 25:11  For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

The Jews had blundered when they accused Paul of sedition and rebellion against the Roman Empire!

There were no witness to prove any such charge but this charge made it a Roman issue rather than one merely of the Jews religion, so Paul is a Roman citizen had the right to appeal to a higher tribunal and he appealed to Caesar.

*****Act 25:12  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

All Roman governors had a council appointed to aid them in dispensing justice and Festus conferred with his own counsel.

Again Paul was saved from death by his understanding of Roman law!

Festus may have wanted to gain favor with the Jews, but Roman law demanded that a Roman citizen be given a fair trial.

In all his court appearances we will see that Paul made an adequate and an able defense.

These trials clearly reveal that Paul was not guilty of anything at all. He had done nothing wrong and no provable charge had ever been brought against him.

He had not violated the Temple!

He had not in-sighted rebellion against Roman authority and both the accusers and the judge at these trials knew this to be the truth.

The only thing the that was correct, was that when Paul preached it was a threat to Judaism!

Next week we will see Paul’s defense before King Agrippa. It seems that Festus was at a complete loss as to what to report to the Emperor.

He could find no reason to continue to hold Paul yet the Jews demanded Paul’s life.

Questions?

Let’s pray!

The Accusations In The Sanhedrin Court

The Accusations In The Sanhedrin Court

Text: Book of Acts Chapter 23

When we left off in our last lesson Paul had been bound by the Roman commander Lysias, in Jerusalem. He would have been tortured by these Romans in a search for the truth but Paul was also a Roman citizen and therefore could not be scourged or tortured without a good cause.

Lysias was determined to know whether Paul was guilty of a religious offense or some civil offense.

Lysias needed to have answers because if news of this riot reached Caesarea where the Roman procurator stayed it could cost Lysias his job or even his life.

Rome would not allow its citizens to come under the jurisdiction of a Jewish court so Lysias called this court to come to him.

So let’s begin:

*****Act 23:1  And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Paul began his statement by saying up until this day he had lived before God in good conscience.

Paul was not claiming to have always lived in conformity with God’s will.

What Paul was saying was that he had always acted in a manner that was keeping with how he felt God wanted him to conduct himself.

BUT, His understanding of how God wanted him to live had changed when he met Jesus, and believed and was saved.

*****Act 23:2  And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Act 23:3  Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
Act 23:4  And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
Act 23:5  Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

This Ananias could have been the same high priest as at the time of Christ which was 30 years before this day.

This priest was also a political appointee and was a notoriously corrupt and cruel man according to history.

He could not tolerate the arrogance of Paul and ordered those that were seated near him to hit him in the mouth.

Paul immediately told this high priest that God would strike him down and called Ananias a whitewashed wall. 
It was common to washed limestone tombs. The purpose behind whitewashing the tomb was to make them highly visible. This prevented the Jews from accidentally touching them  and becoming ceremonially unclean.

Though a recently whitewashed tomb might be clean, white, and even ornate it was nonetheless full of dead men’s bones!

The outward appearance could be flattering but inside was death!

It is obvious that the Apostle Paul did not regard this appointed high priest as much of a man and certainly not a godly man.

Let’s see what Jesus had said about these men before he went to the cross.

Mat 23:27  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

This Ananias was indeed a hypocrite. Every high priest was expected by God to show honesty and fairness along with compassionate concern for every human being.

Paul’s response showed that though he had respect for the office of high priest but he had no respect for this man Ananias.

History shows that this Ananias was indeed one of the most corrupt men to ever be named high priest.

Paul had not been formally charged with any offense So, Here Paul switch tactics. He no longer tried to tell what happened at the Temple. He began now using his wit and ability to forestall the evil judgment of this group of men.

*****Act 23:6  But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
Act 23:7  And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
Act 23:8  For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

We already know that the major religious groups among the Jews in the time of the New Testament were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Paul was a devout Pharisee before his salvation but he was also well versed in the ways of the Sadducees.

The Sanhedrin court consisted of both these groups and Paul could tell by the way they dressed which ones were from each group. (Matt 23:5)

The Sadducees were wealthy and were considered the party of the sophisticated Jew.

The Pharisees were more spiritually minded but just as carnal.

Let’s see how they would match up in today’s world.

The Sadducees had abandoned spiritual doctrine.

They denied any resurrection past or future.

They denied the existence of angels and also the spirit world. In other words the Sadducees did not believe in heaven or hell and did not believe in any kind of life after death.

Their world was a world of politics and not religion!

The Pharisees were legalistic and the force in the synagogues, insisting on keeping the law and the traditions, even making up their own laws. 

The Pharisees were the smaller of the two groups. They represented hypocrisy and superstition but they still had the support of the people!

It was the desire for political power that gave the Sadducees control of the high priest and they were sometimes called the chief priest.

These two groups were enemies of each other so Paul was quick to use this to his advantage!

*****Act 23:9  And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

These scribes were the scholars of the Law and most of them were Pharisees because the Law meant more to them that it did to the Sadducees.

These are the men who could read, write, and interpret the Law.

These were the secretaries and the chroniclers and they sometimes taught in the schools, in the synagogues and were even considered lawyers who could settle legal disputes in the courts of law, even at the Sanhedrin council.

They quickly found that Paul had broken no law.

*****Act 23:10  And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

That word "dissension" means that the disputing between the Sadducees and the Pharisees became so fierce and intense that the Roman commander feared that Paul would be injured.

That word "strove" means they were about to use their fists in a real fight.

So once again this chief captain ordered his soldiers to rescue Paul and return him to the safety of the castle.

*****Act 23:11  And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Five times Jesus uses this phrase "be of good cheer".

We know that the number five represents "grace".

Jesus informed Paul that his work in Jerusalem was completed!

He also told Paul he would not die in Jerusalem that he would actually bear witness of Him in Rome.

There can be no doubt that this brought great comfort to Paul.

Many things can trouble God’s righteous people but some way or another the Lord can deliver them out of them all.

The Lord Jesus Christ knows that, we His servants will suffer with Him, but if possible He would have us all cheerful and very conscious of His presence with us at all times.

There is not one thing that men on this earth can do that can change the plan of God!

Paul was more secure this day than he ever realized in all his life!

*****Act 23:12  And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
Act 23:13  And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
Act 23:14  And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.

Paul’s life had been in danger from the very beginning of his ministry.

The Jews had tried to kill them on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion.

The Jews drove him out of Antioch in Pisidia.

They threatened to stone him in Iconium.

And Paul was stoned in Lustra.

The Jews tried to have Paul arrested in Corinth.

There was a plot to kill Paul in Ephesus and it is possible that these Jews now in Jerusalem could have been those same Asian Jews of Ephesus.

That phrase "bound themselves under a curse" comes from the Greek word which is based on the word "anathema".

Under Jewish law failure to complete this oath could result in invoking the judgment of God!

BUT, these 40 men needed the assistance of the chief priest and the Jewish elders in order to be successful.

40 men could not have defeated the Roman Garrison!

*****Act 23:15  Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

We can see that these certain Jews hated the Apostle Paul so much that they were willing to cause problems with Rome. They were willing to ambush any detachment of soldiers that brought Paul to that meeting place and kill Paul.

*****Act 23:16  And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

God had already told Paul that he was going to Rome and that no harm would come to him, so we can readily see the direct involvement of the hand of God.

This is the only place in the Bible that we see a mention of Paul’s sister and her son!

There is no mention of when this sister had moved to Jerusalem nor how this son of hers learned about this conspiracy against his uncle.

This information was provided by the Holy Ghost and we need only accepted as the truth.

It is very possible that since Paul was not actually a prisoner but was held more or less in protective custody that he could be visited by his family and friends.

*****Act 23:17  Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
Act 23:18  So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
Act 23:19  Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
Act 23:20  And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
Act 23:21  But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
Act 23:22  So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

In giving this information from this nephew to Paul and the chief Captain, the Jews were not aware that the Romans knew of their plot.

We must remember no Roman soldier could afford to lose a prisoner without it affecting his own life especially that of a Roman citizen.

We have yet to see in the Book of Acts where the Holy Ghost did not speak favorably of the Roman military officers.

Luke writes no record in the Book of Acts of Roman persecution against the church by it’s military.

There is no doubt that the Roman Empire was politically corrupt but for the most part the military were men of quality who respected the laws.

Under these conditions this vow of these 40 men could not be carried out!

The question might arise whether these men proceeded to starve themselves to death. This is very unlikely because the "Mishna", the Jewish writings, provided for the release from vows under such conditions as these.

*****Act 23:23  And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;
Act 23:24  And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

In order to stop any attack by these 40 men this chief captain put together an overwhelming force. He had 200 soldiers 70 Calvary men and another 200 spearman for a total of 470 men.

The third hour of the night would have been about 9 o’clock in the evening and this would have provided greater secrecy and greater protection for Paul.

This chief captain had decided it was time for Paul to be judged by the Roman governor.

*****Act 23:25  And he wrote a letter after this manner:
Act 23:26  Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

At this time Felix was governor of Judea and Samaria. He held the position once held by Pontus Pilate.

The capital of the province was still in Caesarea which was 65 miles northwest of Jerusalem.  Paul would now go before the Roman governor.

*****Act 23:27  This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
Act 23:28  And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
Act 23:29  Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.

By Roman law, Felix would need to know why a Roman citizen was held in custody without having any charges made against him.

So Lysias addressed the two main points.

1) How Paul became the subject of Roman custody.

2) The fact that Paul was a Roman citizen.

What was not mentioned was the fact that Paul was apprehended by the Jews in one of the Temple courtyards and he did not explain how or when he had learned that Paul was a Roman citizen.

The main thing he wanted Felix to know was that the Jews would have killed Paul if he had not intervened with his troops.

Lysias wanted Felix to know that he considered that the issue at hand pertained entirely to Jewish law but it did not seem to him there was any basis for Paul to be put to death or to even be imprisoned.

*****Act 23:30  And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

It was also important for Felix to know that there was a conspiracy against Paul and that a group of Jewish terrorists had planned to attack the Roman garrison.

He also informed Felix that he had directed the Jewish leaders to go before him and make their own case against Paul who would be safer in Caesarea than he was in Jerusalem.

*****Act 23:31  Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Act 23:32  On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:
Act 23:33  Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

Antipatris was a city built by Herod the Great in honor of his father Antipater. It was 40 miles from Jerusalem on the way to Caesarea. This trip began about 9:00 pm that night and ended the next day.

At this point the foot soldiers and the spearman returned to Jerusalem and the calvary of 70 men continued to take Paul to the castle and Caesarea and presented Paul and the letter from Lysias to Felix.

*****Act 23:34  And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;
Act 23:35  I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.

The reason Felix asked Paul which province he was from was to determine whether he had the authority to hear this case or if he needed to send Paul to another governor.

If Paul had not been a Roman citizen this question would not have even been asked!

It was very important to make certain all Roman citizens were handled properly, especially in the question of capital punishment.

This was not so for any that were not Roman citizens!

We cannot read this passage of scripture without seeing the hand of God in the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.

Jesus had told Paul he would be going to Rome.

Paul had not realized that the Roman government would provide him his transportation and his security. 

And, God used the Jews to make certain that His purpose would be fulfilled.

The Jews were determined to kill Paul, but the Romans were just as determined to keep him alive, so we see God prevails over all things.

Questions?

Let’s pray!

The Apostle Paul’s Testimony At The Temple

Paul’s Testimony In The Temple

Book of Acts Chapter 22

When we left off last week many accusations had been made against Paul and then an unruly mob in Jerusalem had attempted to beat Paul to death. Hearing the uproar, Roman soldiers had seized Paul and dragged him away from the Temple.

This riot was quickly put to an end but the Roman soldiers thought that Paul was the focus of the trouble and arrested him.

Paul wanted to make an attempt to speak before he entered the barracks of this Roman Garrison.

So today we get to hear what Paul had to say and we will begin by reviewing two verses in last week’s lesson.

*****Act 21:39  But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
Act 21:40  And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

These stairs that Paul was standing on led up from the Temple area into the Tower of Antonio Fortress.

Paul had impressed the Roman soldiers with his ability to speak the Greek language but Paul wanted to address these Jews in the Hebrew tongue.

The prophecy of Agabus had come to pass and Paul was now a prisoner and he will remain a prisoner for many years to come.

Paul also had a desire to witness to the Jews in Jerusalem but this was not to be!

*****Act 22:1  Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Act 22:2  (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)

Paul had done nothing wrong but he had been accused of bringing a Gentile into the Temple which was not true.

Paul wanted these Jews to understand that in becoming a Christian he had not forsaked nor betrayed his Hebrew heritage.

Paul had found the "fulfillment" of the law and had taught about Jesus as the true Messiah which was a fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures.

And Paul began by saying here is my defense.

Most every Jew present that day would have clearly understood what Paul said but these Roman soldiers probably did not understand.

*****Act 22:3  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

We should not forget that Paul had been a leading rabbi in his day so he was certainly known to some of these people in this crowd of specially the high priest and most other Pharisees.

Paul said that he was a Jew.

Paul said he was a native of Tarsus, but raised up in Jerusalem.

Paul said he was trained by Gamaliel who was a highly regarded Pharisee.

Paul said he was a follower of the Law, a zealous persecutor of the church, and a representative of the Sanhedrin council.

*****Act 22:4  And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
Act 22:5  As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

We know that Paul had consented to the stoning of Stephen and he had actually held the coats of those that stoned him.

We know that Paul had breathed out threatening’s and slaughter against all followers of Christ.

Paul was saying that he understood their zeal for God because he had also been that way until he met Jesus.

Jesus Christ will make a change in each life He touches!

The High Priest was very aware of the letters he had given Paul to extradite Christians back to Jerusalem.

And now Paul began to tell these Jews why he no longer had that point of view.

*****Act 22:6  And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.

Paul begins his testimony by telling how he had met Jesus on the Damascus Road.

Paul was headed to Damascus to persecute Christians but instead he was captured by Jesus who he had been persecuting.

In addition, at the noontime hour, there was a light much brighter than the sun that shone upon him and knocked him to the ground.

That great light was from Heaven.

The Apostle Peter said it this way:

2Pe 1:16  For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
2Pe 1:17  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
2Pe 1:18  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
2Pe 1:19  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and [the day star] arise in your hearts:

*****Act 22:7  And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

The voice that Paul heard came from Jesus himself.

And Jesus asked why he was being persecuted by Saul.

Paul was known by the name of Saul before he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior.

You see Saul became so different he got a new name!

Isa 62:2  And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

*****Act 22:8  And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

The request that Jesus asked of Paul brought forth an answer that was also a question.

"Who art thou Lord"?

We can see from this testimony "that the same Jesus that was from Nazareth", who had been crucified was still alive.

Paul knew that "the official Jewish position was" [that Jesus of Nazareth was an imposter’ who had been crucified and his body stolen from the tomb by his disciples who then started a rumor that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

BUT NOW EVEN Paul had seen the risen Savior!

*****Act 22:9  And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

We do not know how many men were with Paul that day on the Damascus Road. There were some members of the Temple security force. And there would have been some servants.

These men who were with Paul, saw the bright light, and they heard some sounds, but they were not able to understand the words because God intended His Word to be specifically for Paul.

This was not strange because it had happened before.

Joh 12:28  Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
Joh 12:29  The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
Joh 12:30  Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

These men were witnesses of this occasion even though they had not heard the words of the Lord Jesus.

*****Act 22:10  And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.

Salvation happens instantly the moment one repents of his sins and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

This experience happened to Paul on that eventful day when he was stopped by God before he reached the city of Damascus and the proof of this is in Paul’s response!

"What shall I do Lord"?

We can see that Paul was humbled by the presence of the Lord and he then surrendered himself to the Lord Jesus.

Jesus responded by telling him to get up off the ground were he and fell and go into the city of Damascus.

After Paul had done this thing then he would be told about "all things" that God had arranged for him to do.

God has a plan for each of us!

Rom 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, [to them who are the called according to his purpose].

*****Act 22:11  And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

Spiritually speaking Paul had a brand-new view of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul had began this trip in order to persecute the saints but now it would be one of God’s saints that would inform Paul what he must do for Christ.

Paul was led by the hand to Damascus!

*****Act 22:12  And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
Act 22:13  Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

We are not told a whole lot about Ananias.

But look at what this verse says.

Ananias was a devout man according to the law of Moses.

Ananias had a good report of all the Jews.

Ananias was a Christian.

Ananias was obedient to the Lord.

Ananias was the perfect example for the apostle Paul!

Like many Jewish believers of his day, Ananias continued to observe some of the stipulations of the laws of Moses and that would have enabled him to have an opportunity to witness to the Jews.

But as a Christian, Ananias was obedient to the Lord putting aside his Jewish heritage in favor of his Christian heritage.

*****Act 22:14  And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
Act 22:15  For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

That "Just One" was the innocent and the righteous and the holy, Lord Jesus and there never will be another "ONE" like Him.

The Greek word "dikaios" is used here and also more than 80 times in the New Testament, where it is translated as "righteous" 41 times and as "just" 33 times along with a few other words.

There are four things that Paul learns from Ananias:

1) Paul was told that he would know God’s will for him.

2) Paul learned that he would see Jesus again.

3) Paul was told that he would hear for himself what Jesus wanted him to do.

4) Paul learned that he would be a special witness for Jesus.

In other words Paul would get first-hand information directly from the Lord!

Every Christian will get first hand information from and through the Holy Spirit!

Paul had witnessed the glory of Jesus Christ and now Paul would testify to the glory of Jesus Christ!

*****Act 22:16  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Baptism may symbolize the washing away of one sins, "just as it symbolizes death to the old life and a rising to the new life in Jesus.

BUT,  we do not actually die while in the water and neither can physical water wash away sin!

Sin can only be washed away by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word!

The reality of a new life in Christ Jesus with forgiveness of sins and the assurance of everlasting life can only come through faith in Christ as Lord and the regenerating work of the indwelling Spirit of God.

Sins can only be washed away by regeneration:

Tit 3:4  But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Tit 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Baptism is "merely a picture" of what is required for sins to be forgiven.

Paul had yielded himself to the saving power of the Lord, consequently his baptism was the evidence of his sin being washed way.

*****Act 22:17  And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
Act 22:18  And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

Those words "it came to pass" tells us that some time had passed between the baptism of Paul and his vision of Jesus in the Temple.

The second statement" when I was come again to Jerusalem" shows us that Paul had this vision on at least his second visit to Jerusalem following his salvation.

We also know that Paul remained in Damascus for a while testifying of Christ in the synagogues.

AND, We also know that he went to Arabia and was taught by Jesus.

Paul returned to Damascus after this.

On Paul’s first trip to Jerusalem he met only with Peter and James, the Lord’s brother, who was already the pastor of the church in Jerusalem.

Paul then again returned to Damascus where he remained until he had to flee for his life.

It was probably on the second trip to Jerusalem that Paul went into the Temple courts and he received the vision of Jesus.

It is most probable that Paul was sent to Tarsus after this command from Jesus to leave Jerusalem quickly.

The Lord knew that Paul’s testimony would not be received by the Jews in Jerusalem because they rejected Paul so much they would also reject anything he had to say about Him.

*****Act 22:19  And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
Act 22:20  And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
Act 22:21  And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

Paul had good reasons for telling these Jews about his vision in the Temple.

1) It was to prove that God called him to the mission field.

2) This vision disproved the Jewish accusations that Paul was attempting to change the Jews.

3) By telling these Jews that the experience occurred in the Temple, he could counter their suspicions about his opposition to that holy place.

Paul was about to explain why he was involved with the Gentiles but these Jews would not permit him to continue.

No devout Jew, following the Law, would have anything to do with Gentiles!

*****Act 22:22  And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.
Act 22:23  And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
Act 22:24  The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.Paul was faithful to his witness of the Lord and to the Gentiles no matter what it cost him even his life.

Paul could have quit on God at this time but Paul would rather be a prisoner than give up his burden for lost souls and for missions.

So when these zealous Jews heard the apostle say that God had called him to go far away to the Gentiles their indignation was rekindled.

It was the Jews hatred of Gentiles that started this disturbance, so the mention of the word Gentiles again renewed this uproar!

SO,  in the eyes of the Jews Paul was worthy of death!

This Roman captain apparently did not understand the Hebrew language but when he saw the commotion he decided that he needed to know more about Paul and scourging was used as a method of torture used in an attempt to seek the truth.

*****Act 22:25  And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
Act 22:26  When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
Act 22:27  Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea

This was the second occasion in which Paul used his rights under Roman citizenship as a defense. Paul had already been beaten several times with rods, he had been imprisoned, and had been persecuted in many ways.

However, the Roman scourge was certainly more crippling and could even be fatal so Paul reminded his captors that he had certain rights as a Roman.

*****Act 22:28  And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Roman citizenship was awarded to an individual in one of three ways.

1) It could be by birth if both parents were Roman citizens.

2) It could be by reward resulting from some great service to Rome.

3) It could be purchased at a considerable price.

It is very likely that Paul’s father had found favor with the Republic of Rome by performing some task. Since Paul’s father had earned his citizenship, Paul was born a Roman though Tarsus itself was far from the city of Rome.

*****Act 22:29  Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

This captain became very concerned, because the even arresting a Roman citizen could be called into question.

Roman citizens had many more privileges than noncitizens of Rome!

The soldiers had made two mistakes and they were quick to undo them. They had blamed Paul and had planned to scourge him but they now showed kindness when they knew he was a Roman citizen.

Even God was using the power of Rome to protect Paul and eventually providing a means for Paul to get to Rome. This would be a mission trip financed by the government!

*****Act 22:30  On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

Since Paul was a Roman citizen he could not be held without a reasonable charge against him.

But under the circumstances Paul could not be released because he would be murdered.  So, Paul was kept for a time under protective custody.

Therefore this Roman commander called a meeting of the Sanhedrin court to see whether it could be determined if Paul was guilty of any offense.

As we go through the next few chapters we will see that the trials of Paul were "never" any attempt to discover the truth.

Paul had done nothing wrong that would cause imprisonment, let alone death.

But guilt or innocence does not matter when facing an angry mob.

Next week in chapter 23 we will see the accusations against the Apostle Paul.

Questions?

Then let’s pray!

Persecution In Jerusalem

Persecution In Jerusalem

Book of Acts Chapter 21

When we left off last week the Apostle Paul had had an emotional goodbye with the elders of Ephesus. There had been great sorrow because they knew they would never see the Apostle Paul again on this Earth.

Paul returned to Jerusalem to witness to the Jews but he also had other purposes.

Paul wanted to make known the progress of Christianity that had been made in the Gentile churches.

When Paul traveled to Jerusalem he did not know that in a few short years the Romans would completely destroy the city and the Temple.

But the Gentile churches had sent a love offering to the poor Saints in Jerusalem and Paul was delivering that support.

Paul had just recently written the Book of Roman before ending this trip at Jerusalem.

Proof:

Rom 15:25  But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.

Rom 15:26  For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.

We should remember that it was not the church at Jerusalem that had sent out the Apostle Paul it was the church in Antioch, but at Jerusalem was the first Christian church established and each missionary should report the progress of the gospel to every church they have an opportunity to attend. The Apostles were still home based at Jerusalem at this time.

The first few verses in Chapter 21 described Paul’s return home so we will begin at verse 4:

*****Act 21:4  And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

One of the things that I noticed on this return trip was the fact that Christianity was spreading and disciples were found at every location.

At the city of Tyre, the ship that the Apostle Paul was on, was in that port for a week. The apostle and those with him spent that time worshipping and fellowshipping with the members of the church that was in Tyre.

We may not know when this church was established but we do now know that one existed.

The Apostle Paul had already been warned that “bonds and afflictions” were waiting on him if he insisted on returning to Jerusalem.

It actually seems, that the Holy Spirit was commanding Paul not to go and this may have truly been the case but what is certain is, that Paul understood that it was their earnest wish for him not to go to Jerusalem and certainly Paul would not defy the Holy Spirit in disobedience.

Actually Paul had better knowledge from the Lord to understand this than we do and his interpretation was doubtless, correct!

BUT, it is clearly understood that by this prophetic warning that Paul went to Jerusalem at the risk of his own life!

*****Act 21:5  And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

Act 21:6  And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

Another thing I noticed in this chapter is that, the Body of Christ “is a family organization”, including wives and children, “whosoever” trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!

This was not the case in the other religions of that time where most women had no role in religion nor in government.

When those seven days were up the entire congregation of this little church including wives and children accompanied Paul back to the ship and when they had reached the water’s edge they all knelt in prayer.

While Paul prayed for the church, the church prayed for the Apostle Paul and then they return to their homes.

*****Act 21:7  And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.

Ptolemais was 30 miles from Tyre and here again the ship stopped for one day and in this brief time the Apostle Paul had a chance to visit with members of the church located in Tyre.

Christianity was spreading throughout Israel and the nearby cities!

From here it seems that Paul and those with him set out on foot to Caesarea.

*****Act 21:8  And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.

Caesarea was still the seat of the Roman government in Palestine at this time.

This group of men stayed with Philip and this verse tells us that this was the same Philip who was one of the original seven chosen to serve as deacons of the church in Jerusalem.

We can only imagine this first meeting of the Apostle Paul and Philip, remember Paul had held the coats of those that had stoned Stephen.

Philip would have had to have forgiven Paul to allow him to stay in his own home!

By this time Philip had made his home in Caesarea for at least 20 years.

Proof:

Act 8:40  But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

Phillip was an evangelist, and it is very likely that is because of the preaching of Philip that the gospel had spread in this entire area.

In fact, Philip is the only person who is actually called an evangelist in the New Testament.

An evangelist is a preacher of the gospel to those who have never heard it. Philip had done this to the Samaritan. Philip had done this to the Ethiopian eunuch and to all the towns from Azotis to Caesarea.

*****Act 21:9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

We can see that during this time that Philip had raised a godly an Christian family. His four daughters had been entrusted with the gift of prophecy.

It also appears in this verse that these women had chosen to remain unmarried so they could devote themselves fully to the service of God.

It is the Apostle Paul that gave us these words:

1Co 7:34  There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

*****Act 21:10  And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

Act 21:11  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

Act 21:12  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

There are many that question whether it was right for the Apostle Paul to continue with his trip to Jerusalem.

I personally think that it is very wrong to question one of God’s apostles!

These men were specifically chosen by God and for a specific purpose!

But these men were also human and as humans none of us are perfect!

It could be said that these prophetic things could be as warnings to prepare the Apostle Paul for what was coming.

The prophet Agabas did not forbid Paul to go to Jerusalem but he did tell him what to expect if he did!

Paul had met this prophet earlier and he had prophesied the coming famine that would be especially hard on the churches of Judea and this had been a fact.

God’s prophets still had to meet the same requirements of the Old Testament:

Deu 18:21  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

Deu 18:22  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it

Agabus was very careful to declare that this warning had come to him from the Holy Spirit!

Agabus also left little doubt that Paul’s trouble would come from those certain Jews that had been so much of a problem to the early church!

It would be from the hands of these men that the Romans would take custody of Paul!

All those with Paul tried to convince him there was no need for him to go to Jerusalem but Paul would not be persuaded.

*****Act 21:13  Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Act 21:14  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

Again we see that Paul felt it more important to take his life into his own hands “for the good of the church” than to yield to the legalistic Jews of Jerusalem.

Ever since the conference that had happened in Jerusalem earlier, trouble had been brewing and those legalist Jews had been following Paul causing havoc it to the church.

Paul felt like it was time to take a stand in Jerusalem and he felt he had to do this personally!

And certainly the Lord’s Will, will always be done!

*****Act 21:15  And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.

Act 21:16  There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.

Paul loaded up his luggage and went to Jerusalem but he did not go alone. Not only did those go that traveled with Paul which included Luke, but also many disciples of Caesarea and even one man named Mnason who had a home in Jerusalem for them to stay.

This would be a journey of 65 miles that would take three days by foot and two days if they had animals.

BUT, Paul had many friends to encourage him along the way to Jerusalem!

The city would be full of pilgrims for the festival but Paul would not have to find a place to dwell.

*****Act 21:17  And when “we” were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

We can see with that word “we” again that Luke was still with the Apostle Paul at this time.

Paul had brought a great love offering to the brethren at Jerusalem and he received a warm welcome from the church.

*****Act 21:18  And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

Act 21:19  And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

There may have been many things that had changed since Paul’s last visited Jerusalem but James, the half brother of Jesus, was still head of the church.

We can see that even the leaders of the church rejoiced when they learned of Paul’s successful ministry among the Gentiles in Europe and the many other places where the church had been established.

BUT, James and the Elders of the Church were very aware that many Jewish Christians, “babes in Christ” had suspicions against Paul because he preached differently from the law of Moses.

Paul knew of this type:

1Co 3:1  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

1Co 3:2  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

1Co 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

*****Act 21:20  And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

James and the Elders of Jerusalem had agreed many years before that Paul should be the minister to the Gentiles.

Proof:

Gal 2:7  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

But there was still great rejoicing from what they have heard!

Paul gave a full and accurate account, not what he had done, but what the Lord had gone through his ministry.

Proof:

1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

As soon as Paul had reported these things he was informed of how legalism was spreading through the church by these who were rejecting God’s “Grace”.

*****Act 21:21  And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

Act 21:22  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

There is no doubt that these were false charges spread by the Jews who had opposed Paul in the cities of Asia!

As we will see many of the same Jews had also come to Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost and had stirred up the citizens when they saw Paul there also.

*****Act 21:23  Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

Act 21:24  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

Here we see that James and the elders had come up with a strategy that showed that the apostle Paul did also obey the Jewish law.

But this strategy would fail!

Paul was asked to associate himself with certain Jewish believers who had taken a Nazarite vow. Paul was even asked to pay the expenses involved in this Jewish ritual.

We will find out in the next few verses that these people would actually use Paul’s attempt to a appease them to bring their false accusations against him and get him arrested.

We may ask did the Apostle Paul keep the Jewish rituals?

We should only use the words of the apostle Paul to answer this question!

1Co 9:19  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

1Co 9:20  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

1Co 9:21  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

1Co 9:22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

1Co 9:23  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

Paul was not concerned so much concerned whether the plan would work, because Paul was willing to do whatever it took so that others could come to know Jesus.

BUT, This did not include sin in anyway, in any form, or in any fashion!

*****Act 21:25  As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

These enemies of the church and of Paul were saying almost the same things they had said about the Lord Jesus Christ and even of Stephen.

The same lie, that said that Paul was teaching the Jews to forsake the laws and customs given by Moses and the fathers!

James and the elders were not worried about what Paul taught the Gentile believers because the relationship of the Gentiles to the law had been settled at that conference in Jerusalem that had taken place earlier.

These elders of the church at Jerusalem were mainly concerned that Paul’s presence in the city might cause division or disruption among the thousands of Jews who had confessed to believe but were still babes in Christ.

We know that old customs are hard to change and in reality we know that the Book of Hebrews was a special letter written to the Jews to explain the relationship between the old and the new covenants.

The Book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews to tell them to stop being Hebrews, but it was not until the city and the Temple were destroyed in A.D. 70, that traditional Jewish worship ceased.

We also  know that Paul did warn the Gentiles not to get involved in the  Jewish religion!

*****Act 21:26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

We can see that Paul reported to the priest the next day and shared in the purification ceremony but he himself did not take any vows.

He and the men had to wait seven days and then offer the prescribed sacrifices!

This plan seemed to be the wise thing to do but it did not work! 

Instead of bringing peace it caused an uproar and the Apostle Paul ended up as a prisoner.

This fulfilled the prophecy that had been told him by Agabas!

*****Act 21:27  And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

Act 21:28  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

These Jews were from Asia and most probably from Ephesus!

Proof:

1Co 15:32  If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

These,”Beast of Ephesus” saw the Apostle Paul and began crying out for others to help them hold to him.

They accused Paul of four things which were all false.

1) They said that Paul taught all people everywhere to be against the Jews, which was a lie.

2) They said that Paul preached against the law of Moses, which was another lie.

3) They said that Paul preached against the Temple as a place of worship, another lie.

4) They said that Paul had polluted the Temple, and the holy place, by bringing non-Jews into a courtyard that was restricted to Jews only, “Again another lie”!

*****Act 21:29  (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

The proof, that at least some of these Asian Jews were these Ephesians, is the fact that they had recognized Trophimus who was also an Ephesian.

Paul had brought several Gentile Christians with him to Jerusalem from various cities.

These Jews had not actually seen Trophimus inside the Temple complex but they merely assumed, without any basis at all, that Paul had taken him into one of the courtyards to desecrate the Temple grounds.

This is something that the Apostle Paul would have never done!

*****Act 21:30  And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

Act 21:31  And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

There had been many Jews who had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost.

This mob apprehended Paul and were dragging him away from the Temple and probably taking him into the Court of the Gentiles, were they would determine what to do with him.

The doors of the Temple were shut and this turmoil was kept outside the Temple complex!

This leaves any doubt that this mob intentioned to kill the Apostle Paul. They had not chosen stoning, but to actually beat him to death!

However, this uproar was noticed by the Roman military commander of Jerusalem.

And, a “band” of Romans would be approximately 500 soldiers.

*****Act 21:32  Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

Act 21:33  Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

We should remember that these Roman soldiers were garrisoned at the Fortress of Antonio, which was very near the Temple and their job was to keep watch over such disturbances. 

More than one Centurion is mentioned in this verse and each Centurion would have under his control, at least 100 soldiers, so we can see there were at least 200 soldiers that had been dispatched to stop this riot.   

History tells us that during these festivals in Israel the Roman garrison were always on alert.

For Paul to be bound with two chains would normally mean that each arm was attached to a different soldier.

 

SO, The beating of Paul was stopped.

*****Act 21:34  And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

Act 21:35  And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

Act 21:36  For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

When the Roman captain had control of the situation he asked this mob what Paul had done.

“This was a mob” and mobs usually have no answers to such questions!

It became apparent to this commander that he needed to take Paul to a place where he had control of the entire situation.

But when they came into the steps leading to the citadel, Paul’s chains slowed him down so much because of the beating he had already had, that the soldiers had to bodily carry him to this entrance of the fortress.

That phrase “away with him” meant that they wanted Paul executed, and they would have been pleased to kill Paul themselves if they had been permitted to do this.

This sounds a whole lot like what had taken place in the time of Jesus!

Joh 19:15  But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him.

*****Act 21:37  And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek?

At the entrance to the citadel there evidently was a porch or balcony. The soldiers intended to take Paul inside the building but he was able to ask the Roman commander a question first.

Paul spoke to this officer in Greek.  So, This officer realized that Paul had to be a more learned and a cultured person that he had first thought.

*****Act 21:38  Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?

There had been a false prophet who was an Egyptian and had a large following when Felix was governor of Judea.

Felix with his army, had dispersed his following, but the Egyptian “who was considered a terrorist” had escaped!

Act 21:39  But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

Paul now informed this Roman commander by stating that he was a Jew from the city of Tarsus in the province of Cilicia.

The Romans were well acquainted with the city of Tarsus and this commander would have had knowledge of any recent troublemakers from that region.

Paul informed this Roman officer that he was not a terrorist and only asked if he could be allowed to address the Jews at this time.

*****Act 21:40  And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,

That word “license” means that Paul was granted permission to speak. So Paul stood at the head of the steps leading to the entrance to the Citadel and faced those that were attempting to kill him.

And when this crowd became quite enough for him to speak Paul began speaking to them in Hebrew.

Paul had already impressed this Roman soldier with his ability to speak the Greek language.

But the custom of the Jewish elders was to speak in the Hebrew.

It is clear that Paul was about to say some things that these Romans would not understand.

Aramaic is an offshoot of Hebrew and this would be the language that was normally spoken in Jerusalem though at this time there would be many visitors that spoke Greek.

Paul was directing his testimony to a specific group of people!

But we are not going take time today to go into what Paul said as that will be in our next lesson.

Questions?

Then let’s pray!