Acts 28 Paul’s Ministry At Malta And Rome.

Acts 28 Paul’s Ministry At Malta And Rome.

Paul, Luke and Aristarchus, along with the rest, eventually realized that they had come ashore on Malta (v. 1), and the residents welcomed them and started a fire to provide warmth from the rain and cold (v. 2). However, when Paul was placing sticks on the fire a viper fastened unto his hand, and the natives thought he would die, believing him to be a murderer receiving a just punishment (vv. 3-4). When Paul shook off the viper into the fire, with no adverse effects, they then supposed Paul to be a god (vv. 5-6). Furthermore, when a leading citizen of the island helped them, one Publius, Paul learning of the sickness of his father, went to him and through prayer and the laying on of his hands, healed him (vv. 7-8). As a result, all who had sick on the island brought them to Paul, and the people gave assistance to aid them on their way (vv. 9-10).

What was for Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus, God’s sovereign providential planning of their affairs, was for the pagans of this island proof that Paul must have been a god. Luke does not tell us whether they were converted, but would there have been all this healing without faith on their part? In any case, there was another Alexandrian ship wintering at the island, which would provide passage for the final leg of Paul’s journey to Rome. They stayed 3 days at Syracuse, 1 day at Rhegium, and then 7 days with brethren at Puteoli, and then finally arriving in Rome he was able to remain separate from the other prisoners with his own guard (vv. 11-16). After 3 days Paul called the Jewish leadership together so that he could explain his situation to them, how the leadership in Jerusalem had wrongfully charged him, and how the civil authorities saw no cause to put him to death (vv. 17-18)

In short, Paul made his case to the Jewish leadership that he had no choice but to appeal his case to Caesar (v. 19). They responded that they had received no communication from the leadership in Jerusalem, but they wanted to learn more about the new sect of Christianity (vv. 20-22). To this end, they gathered to Paul to hear about the kingdom of God, how Jesus had fulfilled those things written in the law and the prophets concerning the Messiah and his kingdom (v. 23). Some were persuaded and some were not, so they were not in agreement (v. 24). For Paul this was simply the fulfillment of what the LORD had spoken through Isaiah, that some would hear but not understand, and seeing they would not perceive (vv. 25-27; Is. 6:9-10). The dull of heart would not repent. It is important to note that this word came to Isaiah while he stood before the heavenly council and Glory Presence.

Finally, there was something further at work here, which was also spoken of in the law and the prophets, that when Messiah came there would be an expanded outreach to the Gentile nations, for his Father would grant unto him all nations through those whom he had chosen (Pss. 2, 110). There would be this dynamic, that with the apostasy of the nation of Israel, the gospel would extend to the Gentiles as a light in the midst of darkness, and many would hear (v. 28). When the Jews heard these parting words, they went their way still disputing among themselves (v. 29). In the providence of God this journey to Rome provided Paul with the occasion to have two years in a rented house where he could preach the word and the gospel to all who came to him, “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (vv. 30-31).

Acts 27 The Voyage To Rome And God’s Providence.

Acts 27 The Voyage To Rome And God’s Providence.

Luke states that when the decision was made to go before Caesar in Rome, that Paul and his companions, Luke and Aristarchus, along with some other prisoners, were entrusted “to one Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.” (v. 1 Cf. 25:12; Col. 4:10, 14; Philemon 24). They sailed along the Asiatic coast north to Sidon (Lebanon), where Julius allowed Paul to visit with his friends and receive care (vv. 2-3). They then set sail to the north of Cyprus for protection from the winds from the west (v. 4), until they arrived at Myra, a port city of Lycia. Here they transferred to an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy (vv. 5-6). They continued west to Cnidus, sailing under the shelter of Crete, until they arrived at the southern coastal port of Fair Havens (vv. 7-8).

The Fast, or annual Day of Atonement being over, Paul advised the sailors that any further efforts to go to Rome would meet with peril at sea (vv. 9-10). “Nevertheless, the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsmen and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 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 Phoenix, a harbor of Crete (vv. 11-12). “The captain and the owner wanted to reach the larger and safer harbor of Phoenix about forty miles to the west, but in going west past Cape Matala the ship would be exposed to winds from the northwest.” (NGSB 1758). Majority opinion overruled Paul’s advice, so that when the winds died down they set sail close by Crete (v. 13).

However, not long after they set sail, a strong northeaster kicked up some huge waves, until they finally had to seek shelter of the island Clauda, but fearing the ship would bust apart they used cables to gird it around, and setting sail again they were driven by the storm, so they lightened the ship, even throwing off their tackle on the third day, till they finally gave up and lost all hope of survival (vv. 14-20). Finally, when they had gone without food for a long time, Paul reminded them that they should not have set sail at the beginning. However, it was not to gloat as a “I told you so,’ but as evidence of his gift as a prophet of the Lord, they could trust him when he said that they would not perish, but only the ship (vv. 21-22), this knowledge having come to Paul through an angel of God (v. 23).

God promised Paul strength to eventually stand before Caesar, and the preservation of his shipmates (v. 24). Therefore, he was able to provide comfort, but they would be facing shipwreck (vv. 25-26). After two weeks of being driven up and down the Adriatic Sea, they finally set anchor when they realized they were approaching land, praying for day to come (vv. 27-29). However, when it seemed clear that the ship would not survive, and the men wanted to disembark, Paul warned them to stay with the ship, for as bad as it seemed it was the only option for their survival (vv. 30-32). Paul then encouraged the men to eat, and taking bread he blessed it and began to eat, and the men did likewise, and then cast everything that remained into the sea (vv. 33-38). Altogether, 276 persons were saved.

Observing land as the day approached, they let go the anchors that the ship might run ashore, but instead it ran aground and was being torn apart by the waves of the sea. Under these circumstances the soldiers were intent on killing the prisoners to prevent their escape, but the Centurion, wanting to save Paul, prevented the soldiers from doing so. He then instructed those who could swim to shore to do so, while the others should cling to whatever could float (vv. 39-44a). “And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.” (v. 44b). The men were asked to put their faith in the word given through Paul, and God, in his providence, worked all things for the good he had decreed. All the above detail gives evidence to Luke being an eyewitness, an historian who believed in the sovereignty of God.

Acts 27 The Voyage To Rome And God’s Providence.

Acts 27 The Voyage To Rome And God’s Providence.

Luke states that when the decision was made to go before Caesar in Rome, that Paul and his companions, Luke and Aristarchus, along with some other prisoners, were entrusted “to one Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.” (v. 1 Cf. 25:12; Col. 4:10, 14; Philemon 24). They sailed along the Asiatic coast north to Sidon (Lebanon), where Julius allowed Paul to visit with his friends and receive care (vv. 2-3). They then set sail to the north of Cyprus for protection from the winds from the west (v. 4), until they arrived at Myra, a port city of Lycia. Here they transferred to an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy (vv. 5-6). They continued west to Cnidus, sailing under the shelter of Crete, until they arrived at the southern coastal port of Fair Havens (vv. 7-8).

The Fast, or annual Day of Atonement being over, Paul advised the sailors that any further efforts to go to Rome would meet with peril at sea (vv. 9-10). “Nevertheless, the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsmen and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 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 Phoenix, a harbor of Crete (vv. 11-12). “The captain and the owner wanted to reach the larger and safer harbor of Phoenix about forty miles to the west, but in going west past Cape Matala the ship would be exposed to winds from the northwest.” (NGSB 1758). Majority opinion overruled Paul’s advice, so that when the winds died down they set sail close by Crete (v. 13).

However, not long after they set sail, a strong northeaster kicked up some huge waves, until they finally had to seek shelter of the island Clauda, but fearing the ship would bust apart they used cables to gird it around, and setting sail again they were driven by the storm, so they lightened the ship, even throwing off their tackle on the third day, till they finally gave up and lost all hope of survival (vv. 14-20). Finally, when they had gone without food for a long time, Paul reminded them that they should not have set sail at the beginning. However, it was not to gloat as a “I told you so,’ but as evidence of his gift as a prophet of the Lord, they could trust him when he said that they would not perish, but only the ship (vv. 21-22), this knowledge having come to Paul through an angel of God (v. 23).

God promised Paul strength to eventually stand before Caesar, and the preservation of his shipmates (v. 24). Therefore, he was able to provide comfort, but they would be facing shipwreck (vv. 25-26). After two weeks of being driven up and down the Adriatic Sea, they finally set anchor when they realized they were approaching land, praying for day to come (vv. 27-29). However, when it seemed clear that the ship would not survive, and the men wanted to disembark, Paul warned them to stay with the ship, for as bad as it seemed it was the only option for their survival (vv. 30-32). Paul then encouraged the men to eat, and taking bread he blessed it and began to eat, and the men did likewise, and then cast everything that remained into the sea (vv. 33-38). Altogether, 276 persons were saved.

Observing land as the day approached, they let go the anchors that the ship might run ashore, but instead it ran aground and was being torn apart by the waves of the sea. Under these circumstances the soldiers were intent on killing the prisoners to prevent their escape, but the Centurion, wanting to save Paul, prevented the soldiers from doing so. He then instructed those who could swim to shore to do so, while the others should cling to whatever could float (vv. 39-44a). “And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.” (v. 44b). The men were asked to put their faith in the word given through Paul, and God, in his providence, worked all things for the good he had decreed. All the above detail gives evidence to Luke being an eyewitness, an historian who believed in the sovereignty of God.

Acts 26:24-32 Paul Defends His Case.

Acts 26:24-32 Paul Defends His Case.

Based on Paul’s testimony Festus told Paul that all his learning had driven him mad, to which Paul replied that his defence was one of truth and reason (vv. 24-25). Paul then went over or around Festus to king Agrippa himself, and he appealed to Agrippa’s knowledge of the Christian way, with Agrippa actually suggesting that Paul wanted to see him converted, which was in fact the case (vv. 26-28). Paul desired that all who were within sound of his words would also believe, but not suffer being in chains for this belief (v. 29). After all this discussion Agrippa was of the opinion that Paul could have been released as free of all charges, but it is not clear that Festus believed this, but he would have to accept the king’s decision. However, because Paul appealed to Caesar, to Caesar he would go (vv. 30-32).

Acts 26:19-23 Paul Defends His Calling.

Acts 26:19-23 Paul Defends His Calling.

Paul made clear to king Agrippa that he was engaged in his activity out of a duty to obey the heavenly vision he had received (v. 19). He wasn’t just an individual trouble-maker, rather, he was called to proclaim the gospel and the need for repentance and faith, primarily to the Gentiles (v. 20 Cf. 9:19-22; 11:26). This was the reason that the apostate Jews wanted to seize him and kill him (v. 21). Furthermore, part of his testimony to Agrippa and those present, was the sovereign providential favour of God protecting him and bringing him to sit before Agrippa (v. 22a). He also made clear that the message that he preached was identical with Moses and all the prophets (v. 22b Cf. 24:14; 28:23; Lk. 24:26; Rom. 3:21; Jn. 5:46) – “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.” (v. 23 Is. 42:6; 49:6; Lk. 2:32; I Cor. 15:20-23; II Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5)

Acts 25:13-26:18 Paul Before Agrippa-Saved For A Purpose.

Acts 25:13-26:18 Paul Before Agrippa-Saved For A Purpose.

Paul, as a Roman citizen, had appealed to Caesar to have his case ruled on by a higher court – King Agrippa over Festus (vv. 13-14 Cf. 24:27). This situation began with what was a religious charge of the apostate Jewish leadership (v. 15 Cf. 24:1; 25:2-3). Festus reminder Paul’s accusers that the Roman practice was to let the defendant face his accusers and answer the charges against him (v. 16). To this end, Festus had held court to deal with the case (v. 17), but soon discovered that the charges were related to questions of their own religion, and not under the purview of the state (vv. 18-19), and thus asked if Paul therefore wanted to take up the case in Jerusalem (v. 20). However, clearly in that environment Paul could not expect to get a fair trial, so he appealed to Augustus, the Highest court of appeal for a Roman citizen (v. 21).

Having been brought up to date, Agrippa and Bernice wanted to hear from Paul himself (v. 22). They entered the auditorium with all pomp and ceremony, and by contrast Paul also entered from his confinement (v. 23). Festus confirmed that the apostate Jews wanted the death penalty for Paul (v. 24), but also that he found no grounds for this, and instead accepted Paul’s appeal to Caesar, and hence their gathering (v. 25). Festus, as much as anyone, was desirous of a judgment from Agrippa, for it seemed unreasonable to him to send a prisoner to Caesar when he could not draw up any charges which warranted the case going any further (vv. 26-27). Agrippa gave Paul an opportunity to answer for himself, and so Paul used this to trace not only his own history, but also that of the growth of the Christian community (26:1).

Paul was delighted that he had this opportunity to present his case before Agrippa, to answer the charges against him, especially since Paul regarded him as one who was “an expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews.” (v. 3a). Therefore, he begged for his patience (v. 3b). His accusers knew of Paul’s background, living according to the strict sect of the Pharisees (vv. 4-5), who did believe in the resurrection, but were opposed to Paul because he preached the hope of the resurrection and eternal life in Jesus the Christ (vv. 6-8). Paul also admitted to working with the chief priests in persecuting Christians for this belief, even asking them to deny Jesus the Christ – which is blasphemy (vv. 9-11). Paul then testified to his conversion, by this same Jesus, on the road to Damascus to persecute the Lord’s people (vv. 12-13 Cf. 22:6-16).

Paul then goes into some detail of the Lord’s encounter with him. It is interesting that Paul makes the point that the Lord Jesus, whose “mother tongue” was Aramaic, spoke to Paul in his mother tongue of Hebrew (v. 14a). It is likely that Jesus was fluent in both languages, and perhaps more, but in keeping with all his encounters with people, he discoursed with Paul according to his person. From the outset, Paul was asked why he was persecuting the people of the Lord, even as he thought that he was engaged in God’s work. When Jesus said that it was hard for Paul to kick against the goads, it is clear that he had been working on Paul for some time, but Paul was being stubborn in resisting him (v. 14b). When Paul inquired who was talking to him, Jesus revealed his identity to Paul, and that Paul was really persecuting him (v. 15).

However, Jesus also had a purpose for this encounter with Paul, and ultimately his conversion, and that was to proclaim his kingdom reign among the Gentiles. Paul, as with us all, are saved for a purpose. Conversion is not an end in itself, as we are called to be kingdom builders, and heralds of the kingdom of Jesus the Christ. Paul was destined to be a minister and witness to the things he had seen concerning the Lord, and the things which the Lord would also reveal to him (v. 16). So he also learned here that he would be a prophet to proclaim and put into writing, the revealed will of Jesus the Christ. To this end, the Lord promised to deliver him from the apostate Jews, and to send him to proclaim this same gospel to the Gentiles, that their eyes might be opened to turn to the light, being delivered from the darkness of Satan (v. 17).

This deliverance would not come through human instruments of oppression, such as Paul was engaged in, but rather, it would come through the preaching of the good news of the forgiveness of sins, with “an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (v. 18) There is a lot packed into this verse. First of all, the forgiveness of sins is not an end in itself, and the gospel does not stop here. The gospel includes an inheritance. Secondly, those who are heirs are those who give evidence also of sanctification – again, forgiveness is not an end in itself, but shows itself in this sanctification. Thirdly, and first in order of priority, none of this happens if faith is not given as a gift, whereby one can look to Jesus for this life in Him. This faith, and forgiveness, will show itself in the life lived by his people. We are saved for a purpose.

Acts

Acts 25:1-12 Paul Exercises His Rights As A Citizen.

Festus succeeded Felix, and he wanted to do the apostate Jews a favour. So when he arrived at Jerusalem, the high priest and “chief men” sought to take advantage of Festus’ political ambitions (vv. 1-2). Again, they try to manipulate him, as they tried with those before him, to get him to summon Paul to Jerusalem, that they might ambush him and kill him (v. 3). But Festus had obviously seen this before, because like Felix before him, and the commander before him, he told them that he was going to Caesarea, and if they wanted to prosecute their case against Paul they needed to send those of their number who had authority to prosecute their case (vv. 4-5). So in Caesarea he sits to judge Paul’s case, and the apostate Jews sent a delegation to bear false witness against Paul (v. 6). However, Paul answered for himself, and these false witnesses could not prove any charge against him (vv. 7-8).

But Festus, again wanting to do the Jews a favour, decided that he wanted to grant their wish and take Paul to Jerusalem to judge his case there. However, Paul was granted these hearings because he was a Roman citizen, so Festus had no choice but to ask Paul if he was willing to be tried in Jerusalem (v. 9). So Paul made his appeal to appear before Caesar in Rome where, as he said, he “ought to be judged” (v. 10a). Anybody reading this story would have to ask, if Paul’s accusers could not prove their case before Festus in Caesarea, what good would come of going to Jerusalem to sit in front of the same people? Paul saw this scene before, and must have known that Festus had other plans in mind. Paul confronts Festus with the truth, that he had done the Jews no wrong, they could not prove their case, and this Festus just learned for himself (v. 10b).

The only real appeal which Paul had was not a change of location, but a change in courts and judge. No doubt Festus was upset that Paul was in effect going over his head. To his credit, and another example of providence in Paul’s favour, Festus confers with his own counsel, and ultimately grants Paul his wish, as was his right as a Roman citizen (v. 12). In this interchange we catch a glimpse of an aspect of Paul’s worldview. He told Festus that he did not object to dying, if it was for a just cause. However, he knew what his rights were, and he exercised these rights, under the rule of law, because as Festus now learned himself, there was nothing in the case of his accusers that warranted him being found guilty. He rightly surmised that Festus was simply trying to deliver him to his accusers (v. 11). We also should exercise our rights under the rule of law, even if we are willing to die for a just cause.

Acts

Acts 23:23-24:27 Paul’s Case Before Felix, The Governor.

The conspiracy led to Paul’s case being transferred to a higher court, and because it was under the jurisdiction of Rome, Paul was given government protection to travel to Caesarea, to have his case heard by the governor himself (vv. 23-24). Luke, as a good historian, employs the letter which accompanied Paul (vv. 25-26). In this letter the local commander spells out the reasons for transferring Paul for a hearing with the governor, making note that it was because Paul was a Roman citizen (v. 27). He explained to the governor that it was the religious council of the Jews which desired a death sentence, that it did not concern matters of civil Roman law (vv. 28-29). Finally, he informs the governor that these Jews had intended to take the law into their own hands as vigilantes, thinking that they could conspire to murder Paul without the commander’s knowledge (v. 30). Having been delivered, all that awaited was the summoning of Paul’s accusers (vv. 31-35).

Five days later the high priest and his cohorts arrive. However, it is interesting that they thought they now needed an orator. The Greek for ‘orator’ refers to a “forensic advocate” (Strong’s), a lawyer who had some gifts in the area of speaking and presenting a case in a court of law (24:1). The emphasis is on skilful speech, unlike the word used in I John 2:1, which refers to the Lord as our comforter. The goal of the former is to present a polished case, to win by force of argument. The latter is certainly an advocate as well, but the goal is to defend and vindicate, and thus to provide comfort to the accused. One may wonder if this distinction might have been in Paul’s mind when he wrote the following. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:1-2 Cf. vv. 4-5, 13).

First, Tertullus butter’s up the governor, sucking up to the boss of the man they had formed a conspiracy against (v. 2). They then lied again, for if they truly did respect Felix, the governor, they would not have planned a conspiracy, taking the law into their own hands, going completely around and over the duly constituted civil authorities. He begins his accusation by continuing to ingratiate himself to the governor (v. 3). Apparently this orator was skilled in the practice of flattery. He then suggests that this case should not even have come to him, that unlike the governor, they did not want to waste his time (v. 4). He accused Paul of creating dissension among the Jews, when dissension over the issue of the resurrection was already there. Also, for some reason he also assumes that calling him a “ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” will somehow register with the governor (v. 5).

Furthermore, they further seek to cast aspersions against the local governor, by saying that all they wanted to do was judge Paul according to their own law, not mentioning that based on their interpretation this meant execution (v. 6). If this was not enough, they further sully the name and reputation of the commander, by saying that it was he who acted with violence in guarding Paul and delivering him to the governor (v. 7). Added to this was the requirement that Paul be able to face his accusers, because the commander also commanded his accusers appear before the governor (v. 8). This was the “evidence” (v. 1), which the orator presented in their accusation, to which his accusers agreed (v. 9). Paul’s response is quite different. He knows that the governor is actually aware of the truth, and is able to judge his case accordingly (v. 10). Paul doesn’t need a skilled orator, and as Luke shows, no amount of polished speech can gloss over flattery and lies.

Speaking for himself, Paul reminds the governor that by their standards, there has been no delay in treating his case, if not in fact being conducted in haste (v. 11). In other words, they could hardly wait to kill him. Paul notes that they could produce no proof that in his time in Jerusalem he had caused the dissension of which they accused him of doing, nor of the other things they accused him of. (vv. 12-13). The dispute was over whether Jesus was the Anointed One of which the scriptures spoke (v. 14). Furthermore, Paul argued, as part of this message, that the resurrection was an essential part of this religion, and that Christ himself had risen from the dead (v. 15). On these truths Paul declares his conscience to be clear (v. 16). Since the matter at hand was strictly a religious one, Paul argued that his accusers should have brought their case sooner, because Paul had not changed his message from the time he first arrived in Jerusalem for this purpose (17-21).

Luke makes note of the point that Felix had “more accurate knowledge of the Way” (v. 22). This could be in contrast with everyone else involved in Paul’s case. He also did a very prudent thing by delaying Paul’s case until the commander arrived. Far from being in prison, Paul was given government protection, being more like house arrest, with freedom for any of his friends to be with him (v. 23). It may be that because Felix’s wife was Jewish that this accounted for him knowing something about the issues involved (v. 24). However, he apparently wanted to know more because he invited Paul to speak with him, and Paul spoke to him “about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (v. 25). Yet, given what we know Paul taught about these matters elsewhere, it is not surprising that Felix was afraid and sent Paul back to his house. However, that fear did not appear to help him, because Luke informs us that he was also hoping for a bribe from Paul to secure his deliverance (v. 26).

What appeared as a course of wisdom and prudence had, after two years, proved to be procrastination on Felix’s part. He didn’t receive the bribe he had hoped for from Paul, but “wanting to do the Jews a favour, left Paul bound” (v. 27). Was this decision based on the fact that his wife was Jewish, or did they perhaps promise him gifts or bribes? He couldn’t give the apostate Jews what they wanted, because it was his job to uphold the standards of the Roman empire. In any case, he did not deal with Paul’s case, because he had to know that he would arrive at the same conclusion as the commander, that Paul was not guilty of anything concerning the civil code. So for two years this goes on, until Porcius Festus succeeds Felix, and ultimately Paul appeals his case to Caesar. From one perspective this was for Paul a great injustice. However, from another perspective, it did give Paul the opportunity to continue to preach and teach, and this under government protection. Such is providence.

Acts

Acts 23:10-22 One Lone Voice Overules A Conspiracy.

The topic of the resurrection literally threatened to pull Paul apart (v. 10). In the providence of God he had government protection, but he also received an encouraging and commissioning word from the Lord (v. 11). The revelations received earlier by many, of what awaited him on his return to Jerusalem, rightly did not prevent him from making this journey, and now he is told that he will also be going to bear witness at Rome (Cf. 27:23-24). Some of the apostate Jews actually took an oath, about 40 forming a conspiracy to kill Paul, taking neither food or water until they were done (vv. 12-13). This was a conspiracy, because they counselled the religious council of chief priests and elders to lie to the commander to suggest that they needed Paul to meet them, when it was but a plot to fulfill their work (vv. 14-15). Little did they know that Paul’s nephew overheard of their scheme and informed Paul (v. 16). Paul then asks that the young man deliver this message to the commander, and in a twist of irony, the commander instructs him to tell no one of his communication (vv. 16-22). Behind all this we can see the Devil’s work, and so also with us, he and his minions conspire to bring us to the bar of judgment and death, but we have an advocate who has spoken to the judge, and his clear voice of truth quells the spiritual conspiracy for us all (I Jn. 2:1).

Acts

Acts 22:30-23:9 Preaching The Resurrection.

As the previous verses showed, all the events surrounding Paul provided him with a pulpit, as it were, because the commander could not find any civil ground to punish him, so he wanted to learn more (21:37-22:29). God used this commander to set the stage for Paul’s defence before the council of his accusers (23:1). In other words, the religious government officials were given a seat before the civil magistrate as prosecutor. Simply with the declaration of a clear conscience, the high priest ordered that Paul be struck. Paul was right to rebuke the high priest for his sin, even though he did not know that he occupied that office. To have someone struck before one hears their case, was clearly contrary to the law (vv. 2-3 Cf. Lev. 19:35). It was his accusers who should have been beaten (Dt. 25:1-2). As Jesus himself said, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing” (Jn. 7:51)?

On the surface it might seem as though Paul was admitting a wrong for his rebuke, but it is more likely that Paul was seeking to appease his hearers so that there would be no obstacle to preaching the gospel (vv. 4-5 Cf. Ex. 22:28). Here we see that in order to further the opportunity to preach and spread the gospel message, Paul employed a strategy of letting the enemies of it fight each other. He chose to focus on the one issue for which the Sadducees no doubt wanted him to be punished for-the preaching of the resurrection, but of course the Pharisees were opposed (vv. 6-8 Cf. Mt. 22:23-32; Mk. 12:18ff.; Lk. 20:27ff.). It was enough for the Pharisees to declare Paul innocent and to reiterate the wisdom of Gamaliel saying that, “if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (v. 9 Cf. 5:39). Paul was thus able to further the message of the gospel of which the resurrection is an essential part.