In Today's Scripture 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 following his third missionary journey, the religious leaders stirred up all the people with false accusations: This is the man, that teacheth . . . against the people, and the Law, and this place (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 in his own defense to the Jews. 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 who listened to what he had to say about his faith in Jesus Christ. He faithfully reasoned of righteousness, temperance (self-control), and judgment to come (24:25). Each of his judges had a different reaction as Paul spoke of the judgment to come. His first judge Felix trembled (24:25), but he only heard him from time to time. Later, his second judge Festus exposed his indifference when he exclaimed in a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself (out of your mind) (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).
23:3 whited wall =b> whitewashed wall, meaning hypocrite (see Matthew 23:27); 23:23 third hour of the night =b> 9 p.m.
For Acts 23:5: See Exodus 22:28.
Pray for Government Officials: Rep. John Boehner (OH) and Sen. James Inhofe (OK) • Country: Rwanda (7 million) in central Africa • Major languages: Kinyarwanda and French • Religious freedom • 80% Christian; 10.5% Muslim; 4.5% non-Religious/other; 4% Traditional ethnic; .2% Baha'i • Prayer Suggestion: Trust the Lord for deliverance in times of trouble (Psalm 51:15).
Memory Verse for the Week: Titus 2:12