Acts – Chapter 28

Paul’s Witness on Malta

Verse 1 – Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta.

Verse 2 – And the natives showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.

Verse 3 – But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.

Verse 4 – So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow him to live.

Notice that the Scripture says, “Hanging from his hand.” It doesn’t say it bit him and held on. The snake didn’t bite him. But for a venomous snake to not bite when threatened is a miracle all by itself.

Verse 5 – But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

Verse 6 – However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

These natives were very superstitious and believed in many gods. They had watched Paul for a while to see if he was going to be swollen or die. When they saw that the viper hadn’t even bitten him or it bit him and he wasn’t affected, they presumed he must be one of the gods.

Verse 7 – Now in that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days.

Verse 8 – And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him.

Publius’ father may have suffered from drinking impure goat’s mile.

Verse 9 – So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed.

What can we understand from pagan idolaters’ being healed? Do you have to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, to be healed? These people on this island had been kind to Paul and all who were with him. When God healed these people through Paul, it opened the door for the Gospel of God’s kingdom. Sometimes we have to meet others physical needs and then they are more apt to listen to what we have to say about Christ.

Verse 10 – They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.

Verse 11 – After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island.

Verse 12 – And landing at Syracuse, we stayed there three days.

Syracuse was the capital of the island of Sicily, on the eastern coast. It was a direct course from Malta to Rome.

Verse 13 – From there we circled round and reached Phegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli,

Puteoli was a major port in southern Italy. It was a shipping harbor for transporting grain from Egypt to Rome.

Verse 14 – where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome.

Verse 15 – And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appi Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.

Paul had written his letter to the Romans before he arrived in Appi, so there were Christians there. Appi was about 56 miles from Rome.

Verse 16 – Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

Verse 17 – And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to hem: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,

Verse “who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.

Verse 19 – “But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation.

Verse 20 – “For this reason therefore I have called for you to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”

It kind of sounds like Paul was constantly chained to this one soldier, literally.

Verse 21 – And they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you.

These Jews knew nothing of the accusations against Paul. After all, Paul had been acquitted successively by Lysias, Felix Festus, and Agrippa, so perhaps they thought it useless to pursue it any further.

Verse 22 – “But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

Verse 23 – So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.

Verse 24 – And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.

The Book of Roman’s written ten years earlier, reveals the ongoing dialogue that Paul had with the Jews in Rome.

Verse 25 – So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,

Verse 26 – “saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive;

Verse 27 – for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and return, so that I should heal them.”

Paul is literally telling those who did not believe, that the Jews would reject the coming Messiah, and they had, even though it was foretold by the prophets.

Verse 28 – “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

verse 29 – And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.

Verse 30 – Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

Verse 31 – preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

The Book of Acts, ends abruptly. Paul wrote letters at this time to the Ephesians, Colossians, and to the Philippians. He also wrote letters, such as the one to Philemon. Historians say, he was released and then arrested again and while in prison was beheaded, but what a testimony and a man of God he was while he lived!!

 

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Acts – Chapter 27

Paul’s Witness During the Shipwreck

Verse 1 – And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.

By the word “we,” it shows that Luke is also going to Italy with Paul. They were accompanied by other prisoners and about 100 soldiers.

Verse 2 – So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.

Verse 3 – And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care.

Sidon was about 67 miles north of Caesarea. Julius was the centurion who showed Paul respect and allowed him to see his friends.

Verse 4 – When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. (They sailed close to land because of the wind.)

Verse 5 – And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.

Verse 6 – There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board.

Verse 7 – And when we sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone.

Verse 8 – Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea.

Verse 9 – Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,

Verse 10 – saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.”

Verse 11 – Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than the things spoken by Paul.

Verse 12 – And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phonenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.

Even though Paul warned them that this was not the best time to set sail, the pilot and the owner of the ship didn’t want to spend the winter in Lasea.

Verse 13 – When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, putting out to sea, they sailed by Crete.

Verse 14 – But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon.

This wind was like a hurricane. The name Euroclydon is from two Greek words – euros, “wind,” and “a wave.”

Verse 15 – So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive.

The helmsmen couldn’t direct the ship so he let it just go with the wind.

Verse 16 – And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty.

This is a small island 20 miles southwest of Crete, where they hugged land, hoping the island would break the wind. The skiff was a small boat attached to the ship they were trying to save.

Verse 17 – When they had taken it on board, they used cables to under-grid the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.

The measures they took to survive included passing ropes under the ship to hold it together. Syrtis was on the northern coast of Africa.

Verse 18 – And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.

Verse 19 – On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands.

Verse 20 – Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.

Verse 21 – But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.

Verse 22 – “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.

Paul had warned them not to set sail. So would they believe him now when he told them no one would lose their life? How many affirmations do you need to prove God’s word is true? Did not God tell Paul he would go to Rome?

Verse 23 – “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God, to whom I belong and whom I serve,

Verse 24 – “saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought to Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’

The lives of the wicked are often spared because God intercedes to save the righteous.

Verse 25 – “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.

Verse 26 – “However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

Verse 27 – But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land.

Verse 28 – And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms and when they had gone a little further, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms.

Soundings were made by throwing a weighted marked line into the water. When the lead hit the bottom, sailors could tell the depth of the water from the marks on the rope.

Verse 29 – Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

Verse 30 – And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow,

Verse 31 – Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”

Some of the sailors were going to get in the skiff and try to get to shore, but Paul told the centurion, unless he prevented them from doing this, lives would be lost. Why, because the soldiers knew nothing about keeping the ship from wrecking or sailing and they needed the sailors.

Verse 32 – Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of he skiff and let it fall off.

Now the sailors wouldn’t take off. The centurion is finally listening to Paul.

Verse 33 – And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing.

Verse 34 – “Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.”

Verse 35 – And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.

Even this storm couldn’t make Paul forget that God was still in charge. By giving thanks in front of these non-Christians, he more or less was telling them, “God’s mercy has allowed us to live!”

Verse 36 – Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves.

Verse 37 – And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.

Verse 38 – So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.

Verse 39 – Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible.

Verse 40 – And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudder ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore.

The only way to make it to shore was to ground the ship, since the skiff was gone.

Verse 41 – But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

With the bow jammed fast in the offshore sandbar, the ships took a beating by the incoming waves.

Verse 42 – Now the soldier’s plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim to shore.

This is proof that people can still be cruel while experiencing the tender mercy of God.

Verse 43 – But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and set to land,

Verse 44 – and the rest, some on boards and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped to land.

Here’s where faith has to take action: Are we going to believe God’s promises, or are we going to let our circumstances dictate our response? Our actions have to line up with what God says, not what we see happening all around us. The others thought that the storm was going to take their lives, but Paul believed what God said about him standing before Caesar and acted accordingly. Shouldn’t we?

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 26

Verse 1 – Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:

Verse 2 – “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,

Verse 3 – “especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

Paul flattered the king by telling him it was a privilege to stand before such an expert in Jewish customs. It’s always better to start with what you agree with on with the other person, before witnessing to them. People seem to perk up when kind words are spoken first.

Verse 4 – “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.

Paul was born in Tarsus; but was sent to Jerusalem at an early age, for his education.

Verse 5 – “They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Verse 6 – “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.

Paul is referring to what was written concerning the coming Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.

Verse 7 – “To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hopes’ sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

Verse 8 – “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

Paul was not only addressing King Agrippa, but Festus and those who stood in that great hall. This question could also be asked of us: Why should we regard it absurd that God, who has all power, who is the creator of all, is the author of humans, should again restore man to life for an eternal existence?

Verse 9 – Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Paul thought it had been his duty to oppose the claims of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.

Verse 10 – “This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority form the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

These chief priests read the Scripture in the synagogues, time after time. How could they not know the coming of the Messiah – Jesus. It was as plain as day, even down to whom would come preach before Him – John the Baptist.

Now for today: How often do you hear a message on the Second Coming of Christ, which is clear as day all throughout the Bible? Even with all the historical evidence, some choose not to believe.

Verse 11 – “And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Verse 12 – “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from chief priests,

Verse 13 – “at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shinning around me and those who journeyed with me.

Verse 14 – “And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

Verse 15 – “So I said, “Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Verse 16 – ‘But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

Verse 17 – ‘I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,

Verse 18 – ‘to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

This reminded Paul’s audience that the Gentiles have an equal share in God’s inheritance. This inheritance is the promise and blessing of the covenant God made with Abraham.

Verse 19 – “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

Verse 20 – “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

Verse 21 – “For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.

Verse 22 – “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come –

Verse 23 – “that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

Jesus rose to return to death no more! And He thus secured an ascendancy over death and the grave, and by the way of eminence, first among those raised from the dead.

Verse 24 – Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

Isn’t that what those which don’t believe say about those of us who do?

Verse 25 – But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.

Verse 26 – “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.

Verse 27 – “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

King Agrippa was also a Jew and believed in the prophets. Paul loss no opportunity on pressing the truth on every class of people.

Verse 28 – Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuaded me to become a Christian.”

So many come so close, but don’t follow through. How sad. This king could have had a huge influence on those around him.

Verse 29 – And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and together such as I am, except for these chains.”

We as Christians, should have such a strong desire to see others come to Christ, that it overrides our own circumstances and desires!

Verse 30 – When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them;

Verse 31 – and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing worthy of death or chains.”

Verse 32 – Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

But Paul had to appeal to Caesar or they would have just continued to hold him without ever  convicting him. And one other thing; God wanted Paul to go to Rome. So now Paul would have to be discharged by Caesar himself!

 

Acts – Chapter 25

Paul Is Tried Before Festus

Verse 1 – Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Felix is out and Festus takes his place. Festus goes down to Jerusalem to make himself acquainted with the affairs of the nation.

Verse 2 – Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,

Verse 3 – asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem – while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.

Verse 4 – But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.

Verse 5 – “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”

Verse 6 – And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought.

Paul has been kept for more than two years. He went through one trial with Felix and his accusers, and now it is going to start all over with Festus.

Verse 7 – When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove,

Verse 8 – while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

Verse 9 – But Festus, waiting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things.?”

Verse 10 – Then Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know.

Verse 11 – “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

These accusing Jews kept forgetting that Paul was a Roman citizen and would be treated as such. Paul knew after being tried by Felix and Festus, and finding he had done no wrong, that it would be impossible to get justice with the Jews in Jerusalem. And it was Paul’s right, as a Roman citizen, to appeal to Caesar.

Verse 12 – Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”

Verse 13 – And after some days king Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.

Verse 14 – When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix,

Verse 15 – “about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him.

Verse 16 – “To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’

Verse 17 – “Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in.

Verse 18 – “When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed,

Verse 19 – “but had some questions against him about their own religion and about one, Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

Verse 20 – “And because I was certain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.

Verse 21 – “But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”

Verse 22 – Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” Tomorrow,” he said, “You shall hear him.”

Paul Is Tried Before Agrippa

Verse 23 – So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.

King Agrippa, accompanied with his sister Bernice, all the people of influence, civil officers, and military officers, were all gathered in the place where judges sat and trials were conducted.

Verse 24 – And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer.

Verse 25 – “But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus (Caesar), I decided to send him.

Verse 26 – “I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write.

Festus couldn’t just send Paul to Caesar without a letter of why he was sending him. He had to have some kind of formal charges that would explain why Festus, himself, wasn’t able to handle it. So perhaps after hearing Paul, himself, the king could think of something for which Festus could charge Paul with.

Verse 27 – “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

 

 

Acts – Chapter 24

Verse 1 – Now after five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul.

So the high priest brings with him Tertullus, a Roman, who is probably a Jew also, to bring charges against Paul.

Verse 2 – And when he was called upon, Tertullus began his accusation, saying, “Seeing that through you we enjoy great peace, and prosperity is being brought to this nation by your foresight,

Verse 3 – “we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

Verse 4 – “Nevertheless, not to be tedious to you any further, I beg you to hear, by your courtesy, a few words from us.

Verse 5 – “For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarene’s.

Nazarene was the name usually given to Christians by way of contempt. They called them this because Jesus was from Nazareth.

Verse 6 – “He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.

Verse 7 – “But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of our hands,

Tertullus left out the part that they beat Paul and if not for the commander these men would have killed Paul on the spot.

Verse 8 – “commanding his accusers to come to you. By examining him yourself you may ascertain all these things of which we accuse him.”

He also left out the plot they had in which they would pretend to bring Paul back for more questioning, and then kill him.

Verse 9 – And the Jews also assented, maintaining that these things were so.

Verse 10 – Then Paul, after the governor had nodded to him to speak, answered: “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself,

Verse 11 – “because you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship.

Verse 12 – “And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city.

Verse 13 – “Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.

Verse 14 – “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.

Verse 15 – “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of dead, both of the just and the unjust.

Verse 16 – “This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

Verse 17 – “Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation,

Verse 18 – “in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a multitude nor with tumult.

Verse 19 – “They ought to have been here before you to object if they had anything against me.

The witnesses that had been in the temple were not there to accuse Paul. Paul stated if he had caused “a multitude” to be in such a tumult, where were they now?

Verse 20 – “Or else let those who are here themselves say if they found any wrongdoing in me while I stood before the council,

Verse 21 – “unless it is for this one statement which I cried out, standing among them, ‘Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged by you this day.’ ”

Paul justly demanded that the Sanhedrin representatives charge him with things that they had personally witnessed or heard him say, including talk about resurrection of the dead.

Verse 22 – But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.”

Verse 23 – So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him.

Verse 24 – And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.

Verse 25 – Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

Felix and Drusilla intended this to be a matter of entertainment or amusement. However, Paul took this as an opportunity to preach the gospel to them. Paul’s aim was for them to repent and be saved, by telling them the truth. Paul left nothing out of the consequences of the judgment to come of the just and the unjust, and Felix became afraid and told Paul to stop.

Have you ever been with a group of people who profess Christianity, but their behavior is nothing close to the fact, and become very uncomfortable when you start talking about Jesus Christ? They are fine if you only mention God in general, but don’t bring up the name of Jesus, or you will see a major change in their attitude. They want you to stop talking. That’s when the “rubber hits the road.” That’s because they have no personal relationship with the Savior.

Verse 26 – Meanwhile he (Felix) also hoped that money would be given to Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

Verse 27 – But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

Paul had proved his innocence and should have been released at once. However, Felix was waiting on a bribe.

When sinners have once grieved God’s Spirit, they often sit with unconcern under the same truth which once had alarmed them, and become entirely hardened and unconcerned. And that my friend, is very dangerous!

 

 

Acts – Chapter 23

Verse 1 – Then Paul looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

Verse 2 – And the high priest Ananias, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.

Verse 3 – Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

Paul had said that he had a clear conscience before God, and the high priest thought that was blasphemy against God. But Paul basically told him that he had been “whitewashed” on the outside, while still corrupt on the inside.

How we, as Christians, treat someone with a “checkered” past that becomes a believer, will say a lot about the accuser’s character. If God forgives and forgets our past sin, why is it so hard for us to do the same towards others? We don’t want others to constantly bring up our past actions, so we shouldn’t do that to others when you see they are a changed person.

Verse 4 – And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

Verse 5 – Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.’ ”

Paul didn’t recognize Ananias as high priest because Ananias was breaking the very law he was to uphold – accusing a Jew without a trial.

Verse 6 – But when Paul perceived that 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; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”

Notice how wise Paul is: First, he uses his Roman citizenship to stop the centurion from beating him, and now he sees the council is made up of Sadducees, which don’t believe in the resurrection, and Pharisees, that do believe in the resurrection. He knew they wouldn’t be able to agree that Paul had done anything wrong.

Verse 7 – And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the assembly was divided.

Verse 8 – For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection – and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.

Look at what Jesus said in Luke 12:11, 12 – “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. (Verse 12) “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” By what Paul said, he got the Pharisees to take his side!

Verse 9 – Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes who were of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested saying, “We find no evil to this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

Verse 10 – And when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

Verse 11 – But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

This verse did not say, “An angel of the Lord.” It says, “The Lord, stood by him” Paul was right on target for the will of God. Being led by the Holy Spirit will always keep you in the will of God, even when it doesn’t look like it to the naked eye!

Jews Plan to Kill Paul

Verse 12 – And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

Verse 13 – Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.

Verse 14 – They came to the chief priest and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.

Verse 15 – “Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”

Verse 16 – And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

Verse 17 – Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.”

This was not a coincidence that Paul’s nephew was standing within hearing distance of these forty men when they plotted to kill Paul. God can strategically place people where He wants them, to do His will.

Verse 18 – So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.”

Verse 19 – Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside and asked him in private, “What is it that you have to tell me?”

Verse 20 – And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to counsel tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.

Verse 21 – “But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise form you.”

Verse 22 – So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”

Verse 23 – And he called two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night;

Verse 24 – “and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”

Caesarea was the headquarters of the Roman government under Felix. When God gets ready to deliver you, don’t be surprised if He uses your enemies to do it. His ways are like no other. These soldiers were going to take Paul out of Jerusalem at around nine o’ clock at night, when no one would be expecting such a huge battalion of soldiers moving through the streets. Caesarea was about 60 miles from Jerusalem.

Verse 25 – He wrote a letter in the following manner:

Verse 26 – Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix; Greetings.

Verse 27 – This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.

Verse 28 – And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before the council.

Verse 29 – I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him worthy of death or chains.

Verse 30 – And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him. Farewell.

Verse 31 – Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.

Verse 32 – The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. (The soldiers on foot returned to Jerusalem.)

Verse 33 – When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.

Paul Is Tried Before Felix

Verse 34 – And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,

Verse 35 – he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.

Paul was kept in Herod’s palace. No doubt, by now, the Jews had heard that Paul had been secretly taken out by the soldiers, and were on their way to Caesarea to stand before Felix, and accuse Paul.

God says in His word that you are either for Him or against Him. There are no grey areas. When someone comes against a believer, they are actually against God. And that’s a dangerous position to take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts – Chapter 22

Chapter 21 ended with Paul about to speak.

Verse 1 – “Men and brethren, and fathers, hear my defense before you now.”

Verse 2 – And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said:

Verse 3 – “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father’s law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

Verse 4 – “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prison both men and women,

Verse 5 – “as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

Verse 6 – “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.

Verse 7 – “And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Verse 8 – “So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

You know the easiest way to get someone to listen about the Lord is to start with similarities, and then tell them about your experience of how Jesus gripped your heart and saved you. The person just might be thinking, “If God could do that for them, then God just might think I’m worth saving too!” Your story may not be as dynamic as Paul’s, but it’s just as important.

Verse 9 – Now those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.

Verse 10 – “So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?” And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’

Verse 11 – “And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

Here is what’s ironic about this: Paul was blinded from this extremely bright light of the Lord, but the men that were with him had not been blinded. You know that someone can be standing next to a person and not see what they see? It’s a matter of the heart. God showed Paul who He was that day, but yet the Scripture doesn’t mention the other men with him seeing anything but a bright light, but it did no harm to their eyes. Paul had been zealous for God concerning the law, even to the point of putting Christians to death. How much more would he be zealous in preaching Jesus Christ?

Verse 12 – “Then one, Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all Jews who dwelt there,

Verse 13 – “came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him.

Verse 14 – “Then he said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth.

Verse 15 – “For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.

Verse 16 – ‘And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

“To wash away the sins” denotes the purifying of the soul from polluted influence. It is scriptural to be baptized as soon as possible after someone is saved.

Verse 17 – “Then it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance

Verse 18 – “and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’

Verse 19 – “So I said,  “Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in You.

Verse 20 – ‘And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

Verse 21 – “Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’

Did you notice when Paul was reminding the Lord of the things he had done in the past, that the Lord made no reference to it? Yes, we can and should tell the Lord, and admit when we have done wrong, but don’t keep bringing it up. Forgiven by God, is forgotten (Hebrews 8:12).

Verse 22 – And they listened to him unto this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”

Verse 23 – Then as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust in the air,

Verse 24 – the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.

The commander wants to know why the crowd want to kill Paul, so he’s going to whip Paul while asking him questions. Sounds to me that the commander just wanted to beat somebody. If he wanted to know why the crowd was so angry, why not ask them?

Verse 25 – And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”

And there it is! It was unlawful to punish a Roman citizen before being found guilty of a crime. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, unlike the commander which had bought his citizenship.

Verse 26 – When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”

Verse 27 – Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”

Verse 28 – And the commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”

Verse 29 – Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

Stiff penalties could be handed down for mistreating a Roman citizen.

Verse 30 – The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

Paul used his times of persecution to witness. Even his enemies were creating a platform for him to address the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council). When we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, we will see opportunities to share our faith, even in the face of opposition.