30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
23 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously.“We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.”
16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him to the commander.
The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”
19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”
20 He said: “Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”
22 The commander dismissed the young man with this warning: “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”
23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”
25 He wrote a letter as follows:
26 Claudius Lysias,
To His Excellency, Governor Felix:
27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.
31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that hewas from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace
GOD'S GOT THIS!
In today’s passage, we see Paul appear before the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish judicial body, after the temple debacle. After a theological meltdown happened, the tribune rescued Paul and took him down to the barracks. Meanwhile, some Jews plotted to ambush and murder Paul—thankfully, the scheme was discovered, so when Paul was sent to testify to the governor, Felix, he traveled with a large Roman envoy for his protection.
It’s easy to get lost in the details, but two significant points stuck out to me. First, note the boldness in Paul’s proclamation to the Sanhedrin in verse 6: “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” Now, this proclamation instigated an argument, because while the Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees denied it. But Paul wasn’t just referencing belief in a general resurrection; he was specifically testifying to the hope that believers have that, because Jesus was raised from the dead, so we too will be raised to life. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains why the resurrection is essential to the hope we have as believers; without the resurrection, he says “we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). But take heart! Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ is coming Acts again—He is the firstfruits of the harvest to come, for “in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Because Christ was raised to life, we too will experience resurrection glory. Amen?AMEN!!
There is a Second point I want us to notice in or reading today, the vision of the Lord in verse 11. ‘The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” The description of the experiences of Paul in Acts, as we have seen, was not an easy road. On occasion we have seen that Paul was not some super human, no he was very very human, just like us. He became discouraged. Think of it for a moment, Paul longed for his people, the Jews, to recognize the truth of the gospel. Just recently in our readings Paul argued that what he was declaring about the Gospel, about Jesus was a continuation of God’s involvement in his people’s lives that can be traced back to Creation. He also longed to go to the “ends of the earth” as a witness, and now his experiences in Jerusalem seemed as if he might be stuck, or even killed there. In the middle of these experiences and the discouragement associated with it Jesus assured Paul that he would not remain in Jerusalem, but that in fact he would also appear in Rome to give testimony to what Jesus had done in his life and in the lives of many others.
Now, I am sure this isn’t how Paul imagined going to Rome, under the authority of the Roman government as a prisoner. But we see the so called “unseen hand of the God” in all of this! Had Paul not been a Roman citizen, it is very likely he would have already been murdered by the Jews. His citizenship gave him favor and protection for his journey to see the Governor Felix. Wouldn’t you agree that what we see here in Acts is the tender watch and care of God in Paul’s life? Paul’s background, his citizenship, his conversion, and his witness to the Lord.
The message for each of us today is this:
the same God who was sovereign over every detail of Paul’s life is likewise sovereign over your life.PRAISE GOD FOR THIS REMINDER!
Like Paul experienced, our stories may not unfold the way we imagine, but we can see God’s hand and His goodness as we look back. This invites us take heart, take courage, and have hope in every season of our life, that the Lord stands by us and desires to use us, wherever He has placed us, as His witness, for His glory.
Father, I need Your peace to rule in my heart. I Praise and Thank You for Your sovereign, complete, and constant involvement in my life. You are my ever present help in every matter, both urgent and mundane. In Jesus’ strong name. Amen.