Testified About Me in...
Comments for Study 26
Memory Verse: 11
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I. My Hope in the Resurrection of the Dead (22:30-23:11)
>1. What had happened to Paul? (21:33,40; 22:22,29)
* Acts 21:33 "The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done."
* Acts 21:40 "Having received the commander's permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic:"
* Acts 22:22 "The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!"
* Acts 22:29 "Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains."
* Paul had been falsely accused by Jews who had heard him preach in Asia and Greece and rejected his message. They tried to kill him.
>How did the Roman commander's treatment of Paul change when he realized Paul was a Roman citizen from birth? (22:30)
* Acts 22:30 "The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them."
* "The next day" -In order to save face the commander decided to call the leader of the Jews together.
* Jerusalem was packed with a lot of pilgrims for the day of Pentecost; thus the reason for the presence of the Roman soldiers. They only came from Caesarea to Jerusalem during the feasts of the Lord to keep the Roman peace.
* "find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews" -Most Romans did not understand the religion of the Jews. They found it very confusing and strange. It was not as though they didn't understand zealots. Many cultures have people zealous for their deities. They just found it hard to understand the reason for many of the rituals and ceremonies.
* "he released him" -Paul could leave the jail and would have been free to leave the city if the commander had not called the meeting the next day. Paul was released because he was a Roman citizen. Roman citizens could not be arrested and punished without a fair trial.
* "chief priests" -The religious leaders of Israel. The Mosaic law says that one high priest was to be appointed by God for life. (Lev. 8:21-22) At this time there were more than one. The chief priests were of the high priestly line of descent (mainly Sadducees), but the Sanhedrin now included a considerable number of Pharisees. These men constituted the ruling body of the Jews. The Jewish court was respected by the Roman governor, whose approval had to be obtained before sentencing to capital punishment. This was also the reason they sent Jesus to the Roman governor. See study 6 for their names.
* "all the Sanhedrin to assemble" -The Sanhedrin was broken down into two courts of law; religious and political (civil). They were the Jewish ruling council especially anything concerning the Mosaic law. The civil branch is similar to America's Supreme Court in that it is the highest judicial branch. The Jewish Sanhedrin had their own civil police.
The religious branch of the Sanhedrin had 71 members. It was the highest court of law. (Peter stood up before them in Acts). They judged only religious violations. They seldom imposed capital punishment. If anyone could prove his innocence they would let him go. Most of the time they meet in a religious place.
The political branch of the Sanhedrin was a counsel with permit statues. The High Priest could summon the meeting anytime he wanted to at his house. They could try anyone with a rebellion. They could sentence him, but no authority to invoke that sentence.
They knew all the Old Testament and Roman law. Most were the best Bible teachers in their day.
>2. What was the first thing Paul said to his accusers? (23:1)
* Acts 23:1 "Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day."
* "Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin" -The writers of the Bible often mention when a Jew looked directly at someone. Why make note it? In our modern society looking others in the eyes during conversations is expected. If a person doesn't look another in the eyes when talking with them in modern societies they are seen as weak. (Pride is honored and humility is seen as a weakness.) The Bible teaches that God honors the humble, exalting them and opposing the proud. (Prov. 3:34) The Bible repeatedly refers to the proud as stiff-necked people meaning they look down upon others. God continually rebuked Israel calling them stiff-necked people. Therefore, Jews learned to not look straight at others as they talked especially their leaders. Eventually the whole point of humility was lost while the action of looking down when talking to leaders remained. So when Paul look straight at the Sanhedrin it was considered very unusual, proud, and/or very rude to the leaders.
* "My brothers" -A common way to begin a formal presentation in Jewish society.
* "I have fulfilled my duty to God" -Paul seems to be starting at the point where his public address the day before was interrupted. Yet, that this is true of his opening statement for his defense.
* "all good conscience" -John Calvin wrote, "Paul beginneth with the testimony of a good conscience, that all the whole multitude may understand that he is unjustly charged with such an heinous offense, as if he had gone about to overthrow the worship of God. It may be, indeed, that a man may offend of ignorance, who will not otherwise be a condemner either of God or of religion; but Paul meant at the first, only with this excuse, to mollify their nettled minds, that he might the better be heard; for it had been in vain for him to have defended himself, so long as that opinion did stick in the minds of the priests, that he was a wicked revolt, [apostate]. Therefore, before he enter the cause, he excuseth himself of that crime, not only that he may purchase favor by that desire which he had to live godly, but also that he may prevent false accusations, or at least that he may refute unjust prejudices which might have made against him, wherewith he saw the whole multitude infected and corrupted. We know not what he meant to say besides. Notwithstanding, this preface teacheth that no man can rightly handle the doctrine of godliness, unless the fear of God reign and bear the chief sway in him. And now, though he give not the priests so honorable a title here as he did a little before, when he stood upon the steps of the fortress, yet he calleth them brethren, giving them that honor, not because they deserve it, but that he may testify that he is not the cause of the breach of friendship." (Calvin's Commentaries)
>How did the high priest respond? (2)
* Acts 23:2 "At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth."
* "Ananias" -High priest from 47-59 A.D., son of Nebedaeus. He is not to be confused with the high priest Annas (6-15 A.D.) in Luke 3:2. Ananias was noted for cruelty and violence. When the First Jewish-Roman War (66–73 A.D.) broke out, he was assassinated by his own people when Jerusalem was captured and burned (70 A.D.). such is the fate of those who hear the gospel and reject it for power, fame, and vanity.
* "to strike him on the mouth" -The mouth because he considered his words about God as evil.
>What did Paul remind him? (3)
* Acts 23:3 "Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!"
* "God will strike you" -Paul pointed out, though I'm sure Ananias didn't believe, that God judges all equally according to our actions. Hitting a just man will be accountable to God. Paul's words were prophetic because that is what God did twelve years later as noted above.
* "whitewashed wall" -Clean on the outside, but hard on the inside. Jesus called the teachers of the law and the Pharisees "whitewashed tombs". (Matt. 23:27) Ezekiel 13:13-16 says, "Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, "The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord." Interesting because Jerusalem would be destroyed by the Romans in a little more than twelve years.
* "commanding that I be struck" -Ananias broke the law in spirit and in letter when he ordered his underlings to hit Paul on the mouth.
* Jesus had also been struck on the mouth and challenged the propriety of the blow. (John 18:22)
>What did they tell Paul about the man he had just addressed? (4)
* Acts 23:4 "Those who were standing near Paul said, "You dare to insult God's high priest?"
* Exodus 22:28 states, "Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people."
* "God's high priest" -The chief priest changed a lot at this time. John Calvin wrote, "Josephus doth witness, king Agrippa made Ismael, the son of Phebeus, priest. But when he was sent by the people to Rome about a certain suit, and was kept there by Popea, wife to Nero, Agrippa putteth in his place one Josephus, whose name was Chabus, the son of Simon. But immediately being also weary of him, he appointeth Ananus, the son of Ananus, to be high priest... after the death of Festus, Albinus did succeed him... there flourished during all that time one Ananias, an high priest, who, excepting the title of honor, was almost chief in the order." (Calvin's Commentaries)
>What did Paul say? (5)
* Acts 23:5 "Paul replied, "Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: 'Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'"
* "I did not realize" -Paul had only arrived in the city a week before. With all the changes noted by Josephus and Calvin no wander Paul didn't know.
* Paul recognized his error and admitted it.
>What does this tell us about this Roman court?
* The chief priest was acting like he was in charge of this case. He totally disregard the Roman commander and his authority. If we wanted Paul dead and needed his permission to kill him, why didn't he pray the Roman commander some respect?
* God appointed one person as high priest for life as mentioned above. The high priests were continually changing due to politics against God's rules. Furthermore, Jesus became the high priest in the order of Melchizedek after his resurrection when he appeared before His Father in fulfillment of the Feast of the Firstfruits Sheaf Wave. (Heb. 5:1-10, 7:1-8:13) So anyone after that who claimed to be chief priest was an impostor and in violation of God's will.
>3. What did Paul realize about the men sitting in judgement of him? (6-7)
* Acts 23:6-7 "Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead." When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided."
* Paul brought up a point which would future show that the Jews had no respect for the Roman court.
>Why would this matter? (8)
* Acts 23:8 "(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)"
* When people reject Jesus and seek glory, power and honor for themselves there is always internal battles. There will always be disagreements; yet when they reach this level one side if not both are not of God.
>What does it seem that Paul was doing by saying these things? Think about where they were, how he got there, and what each group wanted.
* The Roman commander wanted to be freed of the crime of arresting a Roman citizen. He also wanted to please the Jews.
* The high priest wanted Paul dead and the Romans out of their country.
* Paul wanted to be set free so that he could preach the gospel as he had been doing. He had planned to go to Spain, stopping at Rome on the way. (19:21) Paul also wanted the Jews and the Romans to know that he was innocent.
* Paul knew that this would end up in chaos.
>What happened? (9-10)
* Acts 23:9-10 "There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. "We find nothing wrong with this man," they said. "What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?" The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks."
* "a spirit" -meaning the spirit of a human who had died as in the lone case of Samuel. (1 Sam.28:12)
* "an angle" -a servant of the Lord which is a spirit
* "Paul would be torn to pieces" -If a Roman citizen would die at the hands of non-citizens while he could stop it he would be tried and killed.
>Who got what he wanted?
* Paul was able to point out the leaders hypocrisy and foolish ways to the commander, thus showing why he was arrested thus showing his innocence.
>4. Why would the Lord need to say to Paul, "Take courage?" Think about his trip to Jerusalem.
* Acts 23:11a "The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, "Take courage!"
* "the Lord stood near Paul" -Jesus himself stood by Paul. Paul had been released from jail earlier. Now he must have been in the barracks again. His surroundings would not have been that good, though he might have been treated well since he was a Roman citizen.
* Jesus did not rebuke Paul for anything he had done so far.
* "Take courage" -All along Paul was told that he would be bound when he arrived in Jerusalem. That came to pass. Now, after the trial and the very real and powerful hate of the Jewish leadership towards him Paul must have concluded that he was about to die. Jesus comes to give him comfort and courage. Jesus is with us always though the Holy Spirit.
>What did the Lord reveal about Paul's future?
* Acts 23:11b "As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."
* Paul was told that as he witnessed to the leadership in Jerusalem so he would do in Rome. God still had a mission for him.
* Paul had wanted to go to Rome. Jesus had made arrangements to sent Paul free of costs, under guard and well taken care of. Even when it may appear all is about over God can suddenly change the course. Daniel in the lions den, David in caves, and Joseph in Pharaoh's prison come to mind.
II. We are Ready to Kill Him (12-35)
>5. What vow did some men make? (12-15)
* Acts 23:12-15 "The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, "We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here."
* "bound themselves with an oath" -How many times do men give the outward appearances of sincerity and strength by swearing to God and/or making a vow using the Lord's name? I know of a young man who vowed to God he would not drink soda pop because he was concerned of the caffeine's effect. He was sure that by making a vow before the Lord that the fear of God would keep him from the temptation. After sometime a smoothed tongue tempter talked him into making a drink. The young man realizes now in his old age the foolishness of making vows to the Lord thinking it will boast his integrity. Though he quits for several months at times, he is always lead back to it. He thanks God the lesson could have been with something worse than soda pop.
* Deuteronomy 23:21-23 states, "If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth."
* Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 states, "When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the [temple] messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God."
* Jesus says concerning these, "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matt. 5:33-37)
>When their planned failed do you believe they carried out their vow?
* "not to eat or drink" -A person can go only a few days without drinking water before he dies. Did they keep the vow after they realized that Paul had been shipped away? I'll bet some didn't.
>6. Who heard of the plot?
* Acts 23:16 "But when the son of Paul's sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul."
* "Paul's sister" -Believed to be his actual sister. Why doesn't it say nephew? I don't know.
>What does this tell us about Paul's family?
* He must have been a believer.
* He must have had access to those making the vow. Yet, how secret would these boasting men have been? Most likely secret as possible. News must have traveled around the temple.
* The young man must have loved Paul.
* Paul apparently had contact with his family after conversion. He traveled a lot for mission. Yet he did not lose contact with his family. There are groups who persuade their members to break ties with their family. Paul did not. And even Jesus' brothers, after his resurrection became believers.
>Where did Paul send his nephew?
* Acts 23:17-19 "Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, "Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him." So he took him to the commander. The centurion said, "Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you." The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?"
* "centurions" -leader of one hundred soldiers.
* "called one of the centurions" -Not that there were many guarding him, but that he was in the barracks where all of them would have been stationed. Since the commander was over one thousand there would have been ten in Jerusalem.
* Paul did not trust the information to the centurion.
* "drew him to the side" -He recognized Paul wanted to keep the information private.
>What did he tell the commander?
* Acts 23:20-21 "He said: "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request."
* "forty" -No small number.
>Why would it be important for the young lad not to tell anyone? (22)
* Acts 23:22 "The commander dismissed the young man and cautioned him, "Don't tell anyone that you have reported this to me."
* For the young man's protection and Paul's safety. All recognized that few can be trusted. For all the bragging people today have for the Roman empire it seems there is no justice and safety. Jesus' kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness and justice.
>7. What opportunity did this give the commander? (23-24)
* Acts 23:23-24 "Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, "Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix."
* The commander now had reason to pass the problem onto someone else.
* "Governor Felix" -Felix was appointed by Emperor Claudius to rule Judea in 52 A.D. He had been a slave, then freedmen, then high officials in government. The historian Tacitus said of Felix, "He held the power of a tyrant with the disposition of a slave." He married three queens in succession, on of whom was Drusilla (24:24). He persuaded her to leave her husband to marry him. He also hired assassins to murder the high priest Jonathan.
> How did he change the truth of the events?
* Acts 23:25-30 "He wrote a letter as follows: Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him."
* "rescued him" -Not entirely true. He was just concerned to keep the Roman peace.
* "I had learned that he is a Roman citizen" -After he was about to have him flogged. He didn't mention that for obvious reasons.
* "questions about their law" -He knew the real reason was hate and jealousy. Yet that is not a crime so he played dumb concerning the to them confusing Jewish religion and laws.
* "no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment" -Yet he did not let him go to please the Jews. Roman justice was obtained at cost and gain.
>Why would he do this?
* The move was to his benefit not only passing the problem to someone else, but to make him look like a good and just commander.
>What does all this tell us about this world's idea of justice?
* A society that is not based on God's character will never be just and righteous. According to the dream of the statue in Daniel, Jesus and his kingdom will soon crush the never ending succession of evil kingdoms. Rome was one of them. Jesus' kingdom has been growing until it is now as large as a mountain. Soon (after we are taken) he will bring us back and crush the evil kingdoms, never more to return.
>How does this compare to the Kingdom of God?
* Isaiah 9:6-7 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."
* There are many verses that speak of the greatness of Jesus' kingdom. The kingdom is discussed in the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
>8. Where did the guards bring Paul?
* Acts 23:31-34 "So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia,"
* The Lord gave Paul an soldier escort out of the city.
* "Antipatris" -City Herod the Great built to honor his father Antipater in 9 B.C. It was 40 miles from Jerusalem and 25 miles from Caesarea on the famous Via Maris, way of the sea,” international highway. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* Asking what area a person was from must have been a standard practice of passing problems to other people.
* Tarsus was in Cilicia.
>Where did he spend the night?
* Acts 23:35 "he said, "I will hear your case when your accusers get here." Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod's palace."
* "Herod's palace" -Herod had many palaces built all through his territory. He had to tax the people a lot to build all those places. There are people these days that praise his building endeavors. They forget the price. This palace was not the palace Jesus was taken to.
* Jesus gave Paul a very good place to be. There might have been prisons there, but I doubt Paul was put in one at this point.
>What awaited Paul?
* Trial would come as soon as the Sanhedrin would come.
>How was all this predestined for Paul? (9:15-16)
* Acts 9:15-16 "But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
* When called Paul didn't know how Jesus would carry out the witnessing to kings. How he was finding out.
>What can we learn about the way God works in our lives?
* On the rare occasion that God makes his will known, we still will live seeing how he will carry it out.
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