ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Chapter 21:15-40; 22:1-30; 23:1-22
In the last lesson Paul was ready and willing to go to Jerusalem, even though he had been warned by the Spirit that he would be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. He still knew it was the Lord’s will for him to go. He was told right after he was saved, that he would suffer for the sake of the Lord Jesus, and he was willing to do this. Today we will learn what took place when he arrived at Jerusalem.
First Paul went to the believers in Jerusalem and they were happy when he told them how many had been saved on his last missionary journey – Act 21:15-20. After that, he went to the temple to speak to the unbelieving Jews. He wanted so to reach the men of Israel, enough that he was willing to make a vow and go into the temple with some others. He took that opportunity to worship the Lord, as he said in Acts 24:11. This was to last seven days. When that time was almost ended, there was a terrible uproar. Some Jews from Asia, saw Paul in the temple. They stirred up the people claiming that Paul was teaching men everywhere against the Law of Moses. They even claimed he had taken a Gentile into the temple. They just imagined that, for they had seen him with a Gentile before that somewhere in the city of Jerusalem – Acts 21:27-30. The angry people ran and drew Paul out of the temple and even went about to kill him. V. 31.
How Paul’s life was saved from this angry mob – Vs. 32-40. The chief captain took soldiers and rescued him from those evil people. They had even been beating Paul before that. The Roman soldiers really didn’t know what to do with Paul so they bound him with chains and demanded to know who he was. The accusers were all mixed up for they all cried out different things. Then the soldiers carried him away from those folks to the castle. As Paul was led into the castle, he asked to speak to the chief captain. He told this man that he was a Jew of Tarsus. He asked in Greek if he could speak to the people. That must have surprised Lysias, the chief captain. Paul was allowed to speak to the Jews in their own language.
Paul’s message before the multitude – Chapter 22. When the people knew he was speaking their own language, they listened. Then he told them about his early life, about his persecution of the believers in Jesus before he became saved on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9). He told of that great light that had come on his path. He told about being blinded by the light. He said when he was in Damascus that Ananias had come to him and told him he was chosen by the Lord to know His will and see Jesus, and hear His voice. Ananias had told him he would be a witness about what he had seen and herd. Then he told how, when arriving in Jerusalem, after he had been saved, he was praying in the temple. There the Lord had told him to leave and go to the Gentiles, for those Jews wouldn’t hear him. That seemed to be enough for the Jews listening to Paul. They didn’t want to hear that the Gentiles should hear about God. They became even more angry. They cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air. The chief captain had to have him brought into the castle. He said to beat Paul. As they bound him with thongs, Paul said to a soldier – “Is it lawful for you to scourge (beat) a Roman who wasn’t even condemned?” That put fear into them. Since Paul was born in the free city of Tarsus, he was a Roman citizen. The chief captain asked him directly if that was true. They just had to keep him over for another day.
Paul spoke before the Sanhedrin – the Jewish Council – Chapter 23:1-10. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He told them he had lived in all good conscience before God. They didn’t want to hear that. Then Paul, who was a Pharisee, took the opportunity to “divide” the group by saying he was a Pharisee himself and believed in the resurrection. That didn’t set well with the Sadducees, for they didn’t believe in anything at all supernatural. The two groups began to argue and fight. The chief captain had to again rescue Paul from violent men.
The Lord stood by Paul in the night – Acts 23:11. He told him to be of good cheer, for he had testified of Him in Jerusalem, and that he would witness of Him in Rome.
The conspiracy to kill Paul – Acts 23:12-22.
Forty men banded together and bound themselves under a curse that they would not eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. These men wanted the chief priests and elders to have the chief captain bring Paul down the next day, pretending to ask him something, just so they could kill him. Paul’s nephew heard of this and got to the chief captain and told him about it. He told him what he knew. The chief captain listened and believed him, but told him not to tell anyone.
This is as far as this lesson takes us. Was Paul safe, even though there was plenty to make us think otherwise? We know they could not take his life until it was the right time. This was not the right time. He had not yet witnessed before kings. The Lord had said that Paul would go to Rome. God cannot go back on His word. Paul could rest in that, we are sure. Are you safe in the Lord’s hands? Definitely you are. You can witness for Jesus, and nothing can happen to you unless the Lord allows it. His timing is right every time.
To be continued