November 17

Read Acts 23

In Today's Reading:

Paul before the Sanhedrin (religious rulers); Jews vow to kill Paul; Paul sent to Felix; Paul before Festus; his appeal to Caesar

When the Apostle Paul arrived in Jerusalem, the religious leaders from Asia stirred up all the people with false accusations: This is the man, that teacheth . . . against the people, and the Law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the Temple (Acts 21:27-28). In response, an angry mob seized Paul and tried to kill him; but he was rescued from their violence by Roman soldiers. He was then allowed to speak to the Jews in his own defense. But when Paul mentioned his commission by Jesus to go to the Gentiles, they immediately considered him a traitor to their religion and angrily shouted: Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live (22:22).

When the Sanhedrin authorities failed to convict Paul, religious zealots decided to take the law into their own hands and murder him (23:12-15). Paul's sister's son overheard their wicked plan to murder Paul and told the Roman captain, who then had Paul secretly transferred by night to Felix, the Roman governor of Judea residing at Caesarea (23:16-35).

During his several years' confinement in Caesarea, Paul was tried before three powerful rulers of the Roman Empire, all of whom listened to what he had to say about his faith in Jesus Christ as the promised Jewish Messiah. Paul faithfully reasoned of righteousness, temperance (self-control), and judgment to come (24:25). Each of his judges had a different reaction as he spoke of the judgment to come. His first judge Felix, who heard him from time to time, trembled (24:25). Later, his second judge Festus exposed his indifference when he exclaimed in a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself (26:24). And, for whatever he may have meant his third judge Agrippa said: Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (26:28). Whether Agrippa's words were sincere, or sarcastic as some think, is not important — the outcome was the same. As far as we know, none of these men received Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives and, consequently, all were eternally lost.

There is only one convenient time to repent and receive Christ as Savior and Lord: Behold, now is the day of salvation (II Corinthians 6:2).

Word Studies:

23:3 whited wall = whitewashed wall, meaning hypocrite; 23:23 third hour of the night = 9 p.m.

Cross Reference:

For Acts 23:5: See Exodus 22:28.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for The English International Shortwave Radio Broadcast sponsored by Thursday Morning Prayer and Anonymous · Staff: Beth Carlton · Government Officials: Rep. John Boehner (OH) and Sen. James Inhofe (OK) · Country: Uruguay (3 million) on the southeastern coast of South America · Major language: Spanish · Religious freedom · 60% Roman Catholic; 2% Protestant; 2% Jewish; .7% Eastern Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to be merciful and to forgive your sins (Psalm 25:6-7).

Memory Verse for the Week: James 1:25