Highlights In Today's Reading:
Paul before a divided Jewish High Council (23:1-11). Kill the man of God (23:12-24). Jews demand his death before Roman rulers: (1) Felix, Roman governor (24:1-27); (2) Festus, new Roman governor (25:1-12); (3) King Agrippa, Roman ruler of Galilee (25:23-27).
When Paul arrived at the Temple in Jerusalem, the religious leaders were angered. To them he was a traitor to their Jewish religion. They stirred up all the people with false charges. This . . . man . . . teacheth . . . against . . . the Law . . . and hath polluted this Holy Place. . . . they had seen before with him . . . Trophimus an Ephesian (Gentile), whom they (mistakenly) supposed that Paul had brought into the Temple (21:27-29). Gentiles were allowed only in the outer court.
A quickly-gathered mob seized Paul, but Roman soldiers rescued him. Paul was allowed to speak to the Jews. But, when Paul mentioned his commission to go to the Gentiles, they violently erupted calling him an even greater traitor. They shouted: Away with such a fellow from the earth (kill him): for it is not fit that he should live (22:22)!
Felix unjustly kept Paul in prison for two years (24:27); then the Emperor of Rome appointed Festus to take Felix' place. The Jews again came to Caesarea urging Festus to try Paul in Jerusalem. As a Roman citizen, Paul could legally refuse to be turned over to the Jews. Then said Paul . . . to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. . . . I appeal unto Caesar (25:10-11).
During his stay in Caesarea, Paul was tried before three powerful rulers of the Roman Empire, who listened to what he had to say about his faith in Jesus Christ. He faithfully reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (24:25). Each of his judges had a different reaction as Paul spoke of the judgment to come. Felix, his first judge, trembled. At a later time, Festus, his second judge, exposed his indifference when he said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself (26:24)! And finally Agrippa, his third judge, said: Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (26:28).
Like Agrippa (25:13 — 26:28), some are almost persuaded to accept Christ as Savior. Their consciences condemn them, but often they believe there would be a more convenient time to confess Jesus as Savior. Without realizing it, by putting it off, they actually have made a choice that eventually ends in eternal hell. God said there is only one wise time to repent and receive Christ as Savior Lord: Now is the day of salvation (II Cor. 6:2)!
Thought for Today:
The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt Him (Ex. 15:2).
23:3 whited wall =hitewashed wall, meaning hypocrite (see Matt. 23:27); 23:23 third hour of the night = p.m.
Pray for Staff: Mike Moore • Government Officials: Rep. John Boehner (OH) and Sen. James Inhofe (OK) • Country: Lithuania (4 million) eastern coast of Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe • Major languages: Lithuanian and Russian • Limited religious freedom • 80% Roman Catholic; 5% Russian Orthodox; 1% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Remember that one of the purposes of prayer is to glorify God (Ps. 115:1).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 16:26