The Holy Spirit Gives Courage To Stand Against Our Critics and Encouragement To Stay The Course
- The Big Picture: The Holy Spirit gives the Christian courage to stand against critics and encouragement to stay the course.
- The Big Thought: The Holy Spirit often encourages and comforts us with truths we already know.
- The Big Response: Take Courage when representing Jesus Christ and finish the course.
(Verses 1-5) This is Paul’s third day of continuous attacks. In this lesson, Paul continued his testimony after the Chief Preist Ananias ordered him to be slapped in the face for saying he had lived before God with a good conscience. Paul responded to the act by calling the Chief Preist a hypocrite for judging him by the law and then slapping him, which was against the law. A white washed wall looked all right on the surface but was weak and deteriorating inwardly. The aides chided Paul for talking to “God’s High Priest” in that tone. Paul responded in a manner that suggests that he was not aware that Ananias was the high priest.
(Verse 6-7) Paul perceived the thoughts of his enemies and masterfully turned the crowd on one another by bringing up the resurrection. The Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed over the resurrection. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection but the Sadducees had nothing to do with the resurrection, angels or the Spirit. The Pharisees defended Paul and said; “We find no evil in this man. If a spirit or angel has spoken to him, let us not fight God.” The captain feared Paul would be seized so he ordered Paul to be taken by force and brought to the castle.
The Vision of the Lord
(Verse 11) The vision of the Lord standing by Paul encouraged him to “cheer up” and also confirmed his assignment in Rome. God encouraged Paul at the most difficult time of his life and continued to give Paul directions as what he should do. Most of us can deal with the encouragement but we don’t want directives; especially when they will ultimately get us killed. God told Paul that he must bear witness of Jesus in Rome. This is the fourth vision the Lord gave Paul (cf. 9:4-6; 16:9; 18:9-10).
The Vow of the Enemy
(Verse 12-15) Certain Jews, around 40 of them, bound themselves under a curse that they would not eat or drink until they killed Paul. They even informed the chief priest and elders of their vow. The verb for taking an oath is “anathema” which means a person binds himself under a curse if he does not fulfill the oath. A lawyer would have to lift the oath. They conjured a plan to manipulate the chief priest into bringing Paul to them and then they would kill him.
The Informant and Important Instructions
(Verse 16-35) Paul’s nephew heard of their plan and told Paul in prison. Paul informed the centurions that his nephew had pertinent information for the chief captain, Claudius. Paul’s nephew was brought before Claudius where he exposed the plot in full. Claudius sent him on his way charging him not to tell a soul. Claudius rounded up a small army of 200 men to go to Caesarea, 70 horseman and 200 light infantry and sent them out at 9:00 that night. This is the third time Paul left a city at night in this manner; Damascus 9:25, Thessalonica, 17:10 and this incident. The instructions were to get Paul so they could bring him safely before Felix, the governor. When a prisoner was sent to a superior, the officer bringing him had to have a letter of statement concerning the case. Claudius’ letter describes the case of Paul. He twists the truth and said that he rescued Paul because he found out he was a Roman citizen. He also conveniently left out the fact that he was about to have Paul beaten. We see how important the letter was in verse 29 when Claudius declared Paul innocent. When they arrived with Paul, Governor Felix held a minor interrogation and when he learned Paul was from Cilicia he decided to hear the case but witnesses against Paul had to be present. Paul was locked up in Herod’s official quarters.
- What did Paul tell the council he had done as far as his conscience?
- How did the Chief Priest respond?
- How did Paul respond to the Chief Preist’s actions?
- Was Paul aware of what he had done?
- How did Paul divide the crowd?
- What differences did the Pharisees and Saducees have concerning the resurrection?
- Why was Paul removed from the crowd?
- How did Jesus affirm Paul?
- What did some men vow to do?
- Who told Paul of the plot to kill him?
- What did this young man do privately?
- What did the captain tell Paul’s nephew?
- How was Paul presented safe to Felix?
- Who did the captain write a letter to?
- What did the letter say?
- How does this chapter end for Paul?
Group Application Discussion Questions
What should you do when crisis and criticism surface in your life?
Dr. Oscar T. Moses