The apostle Paul had been imprisoned and had already stood before several tribunals to give an account of himself and after being moved to Caesarea was brought before the council once again.
Flattery for Greed
This time he was to be examined before the Roman governor of the region, Felix. Five days after Paul had been brought down to Felix by night with a very strong force of soldiers to guard him against forty Jewish assassins who had sworn to kill him, he was brought before the governor.
The high priest of the Jews came down with an entourage to voice their accusations against Paul before Felix. However we see this time they employ the tactic of flattery to attempt to get their way by bringing a spokesman named Tertullus who used this tactic to attempt to sway the governor. So let us look at what took place.
There are many people who can and do bear testimony to the protection they have received from The Lord. I know His protection first hand and how The Lord protected both my wife, myself and my children from death. If you are interested in my testimony relating to this you can find it here.
Anyway, we see the power and working of God’s protection in Paul’s life as he waited in prison in Jerusalem. The Lord has said that we would and will be protected and that was certainly true in this case.
So it is worth looking at the protection of The Lord and what the bible says about his protection, both in relation to Paul’s situation and ours also. It is a wonderful thing knowing that all the power of the creator of heaven and earth is there to protect us from all things that may come against us. Evil men, troubled times, difficult circumstances even demonic and satanic attack cannot stand against the protection of The Lord.
Here we see that the Roman authorities had been puzzled as to the negative and violent reaction of the Jews against Paul on his return to Jerusalem. They had intended to flog Paul with whips to find the truth of the matter, but stopped short on discovering he was a Roman citizen.
A light in the dark. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit
Their next attempt to discover why Paul had caused such a stir was to bring him before the council of the Jews so they could make their accusations and he could defend himself.
But we see this too backfires as Paul recognising the make up of the council thwarts their attempts by preaching the basic message of the resurrection and thus turning one side of the council against the other. This I am sure is an example of The Lord giving him the right words to speak at the right time as Jesus said in Matthew 10:17-20.
17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Paul’s return to Jerusalem was surrounded by controversy and tumult. After being almost killed by a mob in the city he was dragged away by soldiers bound and arrested. Paul was permitted to make a defence to the crowd who had almost killed him and they listened to the point where he told them The Lord told Paul he was to go to the Gentiles.
Bound for glory
At that point the crowd erupted once more chanting that he should be taken away and put to death. They were throwing dust into the air and hurling their cloaks in their anger at what Paul was saying, so the soldiers dragged him away and took him into custody.
The reaction then of the soldiers is the next trial Paul had to suffer and how he handled it was interesting for we see the hand of The Lord in Paul’s actions and responses as he was bound for glory.
(Acts 22:1-21) Have you ever been in a situation where you have been speaking to someone and they just did not believe what you were saying, even when it is the utter truth? Or worse, they chose not to even listen? Have you ever tried to speak to someone about something good (e.g. The gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ for instance), and it was as if they had fingers in both ears and saying, “Lah…Lah…Lah…Lah.” so they could not even hear your words?
They will not listen…and will die
Well, when Paul made his defense to the people in Jerusalem after the mob caught him and beat him it was as if this were happening. He spoke to them telling them what had happened to him and they listened up to a point and then just ignored and shouted him down. And often when such a thing happens to us we are amazed and confused and baffled why they “just don’t get it.” So let’s have a look at this scenario that Paul went through and what the bible says about it to us. Continue reading
If you are a Christian and doggedly holding firm to your faith, you are going to suffer. You are going to be knocked down, kicked about, pushed to the limits, exasperated, frustrated and more for the sake of the gospel.
Christians will be persecuted
Most of the time this will be spiritual attack through people, but sometimes this will boil over to physical abuse as well.
And also most of the time when these attacks come they will be based on lies and innuendo, falsehoods, deceptions and half-truths. This is the situation Paul faced in this section of Acts 21 and there is a lesson and warning for all of us.
The process of evangelism and bringing people to The Lord is an intersesting one. This section of Acts 21 is not about evangelism, but it does show an aspect of it, and more importantly how we should live, act and behave amongst others who do not believe as we do.
There is a fine line in the behaviours described here, which Paul describes in another place and we will look at that too. Paul recognised what needed to be done as he travelled and he was instructed likewise by James, the elders and apostles when he came to Jerusalem.
Paul had learned that the best method of evangelism was to blend in with the locals. He said that he had become all things to all people so as to win the more to Christ. And what we see him doing here when he returned to Jerusalem is the same so that the people would not take offense at what he was preaching.
There is a proverb in Proverbs 16:9 which says,
Pathways of The Lord
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
In this section of Acts we see how this proverb worked out in the life of Paul. Paul planned to go to Jerusalem in spite of the fact that at every stop along the way he was warned by the prophets through the Holy Spirit that when he went there he would be arrested, bound and imprisoned.
But Paul really wanted to go to Jerusalem to speak with the apostles and elders, and so he told those who were warning him these words in verse 13.
Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Little did he know at the time the impact of his decision, nor would he know the way that The Lord would carry him and use him as a result of the imprisonment that was to come.
In these verses we see Paul hurrying to get to Jerusalem to try and be there by Pentecost Day. As he journeyed he came to a place near Ephesus named Miletus. While there he called for the elders of the Ephesian church to join him so he could speak with them.
The whole counsel of God
The things he said teach us also for we see here what the work was Paul did amongst them and what he expected of them as they went forward. There were warnings and exhortations in Paul's message and we too need to heed those same words for they are wisdom.
One of the key messages was in regard to giving them the whole counsel of God. That is the message to all who are in positions of ministry in the church so we should heed those words even more closely.
There are many non-Christians who would like to paint God as being harsh, vindictive and one who metes out punishment for the smallest thing. They ask how could we Christians worship such a God and cite many of the harsh acts of judgement and the laws in the Old Testament as examples to justify their position.
But they do not know God and are not known by Him. They do recognise the love of God and the mercy He shows us when we seek Him out and come to Him through Jesus Christ.
God is a merciful God. This section of scripture at the start of Acts 20 is evidence of His mercy. And there are so many more examples of His mercy towards us that they bear discussing so we can remember, take heart and hold onto our hope in Jesus Christ.