Vs. 16, “When we got to Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him.” Before Paul would arrive, he would have a ministry at Malta. God would give him the powers to withstand a attack by a viper (Satan perhaps) and the power to heal others. They would stay at Malta until the weather would clear 3 months later. Paul would fine great encouragement upon meeting other Christians who would reach out to him. Paul would get straight to business as he would minister first to the Jews & then to the Gentiles. Once again, it was almost inevitable that some would turn from the message of salvation…in fact, it was prophetic from Isaiah that they would turn. Paul would be in house arrest for two years and it would be during this time that he would write the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon. He would be released from prison and for three years it is believed he visited some of the past churches. After the three years of freedom, Paul would imprisoned again and this time he would be marytred.
Regarding application…The End is not really the End. We began this book reading about the birth of the church and its subsequent acts or events. But in reality…the book of acts (story of the church) is not yet completed. The Holy Spirit continues to work today in believers! Perhaps the book of Acts will end when the Second coming of Christ occurs…but until then…may we continue in the same endeavor & passion that the early church had. We are truly blessed to be living in a time that is so crucial to the salvation story. The work of the church has not yet been completed…it is a continuing story. What we do in our lifetime could very well be included in the final revision of the book of Acts =)
Vs. 1, “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.” Here we have the record of Paul’s voyage to Rome. It is believed that this chapter is one of the finest descriptions of a sea voyage in the ancient world. If we could watch this as a movie, it would be a thrilling & dangerous encounter! God would warn Paul that sailing during the fall time would be disastrous, but the centurion would not listen to him….rather he listened to the Pilot of the ship rather than the Pilot of our lives! It started ideal and as if it were the right choice until the hurricane winds came. It would seem Satan would try to prevent Paul from arriving, but God’s will prevailed!
Regarding application…Grace (Eunhye). Vs. 24-25, “…Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” Did these unbelieving men deserve God’s grace? Of course, not…but that’s what makes Grace…Grace. As I always remind us, “Undeserved acceptance & love”. Even though God would warn them through Paul not to go through the storm, the stubborness of man would shine through. Yet, God in his Grace would spare their lives. Sometimes, we…like Paul must use our faith to give courage to those of little faith or none. Paul was a walking testimony of God’s grace…this would help him to see that no matter who he would meet, God’s grace could be extended to them as well! Let us remember God’s grace & give it to others!
Vs. 1, “Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense.” This testimony of Paul is not a defense of himself…rather it is a proclamation of the gospel with the evident purpose of winning Agrippa and the others present to the Lord! This is a dramatic scene, and this chapter is one of the very best exhortations from Scripture! Paul gave respect & patience as he thoughtfully outlined his testimony of Jesus. Paul was nearly successful in winning Agrippa to Christ…but in the end, he would turn from the truth. Agrippa’s comment on Paul being set free was true…however, the Jews in the region would have killed him and God knew the appeal to Casaer was the only way to save Paul.
Regarding application…Our Mission. Vs. 18, “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” We had a lock-in last night and we talked about our mission in this life. We get so caught up in the here & now of our lives, that we forget the essence of our being. God doesn’t need us to help save the world, but he chooses to use us anyway! Therefore, we…like Paul….have a mission. We actually have a purpose!!! How sad it is to see Christians who have somehow forgotten the reason why they live. The task is overcoming overwhelming odds beyond human belief…but with a small amount of faith, God can move mountains! Through the eyes of Jesus, Satan is already defeated…it’s just a matter of time. Let us stand up in faith and help to turn the lost from darkness to light…from Satan to God!
Vs. 11, “If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” It has now been two silent years that Paul had been wrongfully imprisoned. Festus, the new governer, was a more honorable man than Felix and would not allow Paul to be tried in Jerusalem. But Festus was still desiring to please the Jews as well. When Paul was questioned about going back to Jerusalem, it was then that Paul appealed to Caesar. The appeal to Caesar was the right of any Roman citizen, and therefore gave Paul his opportunity to finally go to Rome. Paul knew that if he was transported to Jerusalem, he would surely die. God once again saved Paul with the Roman citizenship.
Regarding application…Laws. Vs. 12, “After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” As a Christian, we have every right to use the advantages of our countries laws to protect us! The United States has a law that we have the right of freedom of religion. If city council tried to shutdown our church, we could appeal to the US Supreme Court! There is nothing wrong for standing up against injustice. We can even use the Laws of countries to help us in our goal to spread the Good News. That is exactly what Paul did, and we must be responsible enough to know our rights so we can stand up if we are persecuted. I remember quite vividly the schoolyard fight I had with a young boy named JJ Reyling. We were all playing dodgeball and for some reason that day, everyone seemed to be tyring to get me out…especially JJ. I was so upset that I unleashed my 10 year old rage and went into attack mode. We punched and rolled all over until a assistant teacher ran to tear us apart. We had opportunities to share our version of what happened, and when I shared my story, I made an appeal (kind of like Paul) and shared how I was unjustly being targeted. To make a long story short…JJ didn’t get to go the class field trip the next week…and I did =) FYI – a couple of years later, JJ & I would become very close friends throughout our Junior & Senior high school years! Bottom line…it’s okay to appeal an injustice if your gov’t, school, parents, etc..permit it =)
Vs. 10, “When the governor (Felix) motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.” Paul would make his defense against the lies of Ananias & the Jews before Felix, but it would not be an easy road. Paul would spend over two years in prison and though the Lord had promised him he would go to Rome, Paul would find that God’s promises are not alway easy. Felix was kind enough to Paul to allow him to have members of the church care for him, but he would have Paul in prison for two years before he was succeeded from his position. Felix knew about the Gospel, but would not soften his heart to Paul’s message. He was so foolish as to hope that Paul would bribe his way out of prison and give Felix money. But Felix was a people pleaser and did not want to offend the Jews who wanted Paul dead.
Regarding application…Slander. Vs. 5-6, “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.” Napolean once said, “He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.” The Jewish lawyer Tertullus did both! Not only did Tertullus slander, but he flat out lied! People who oppose the Gospel will stop at nothing to distort the truth or promote a lie…just like its ringer leader, Satan (Father of lies). The moment we begin to gossip & slander about others is the moment we are not influenced by God, but by Satan. But Paul would respond admirably in the face of lies. How do you respond when people slander you? Think of all the “momma” jokes & the fights that broke out because of them over the years. When people slander you, mock you, etc…let us respond in such a Godly way that we silence our enemies. Paul did not cower in fear, but rather stood up for himself & spoke truth!
Vs. 12, “The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.” Paul is now a prisoner, and we will follow his life as a prisoner. From this point on we find Paul giving a defense of himself and his ministry. He will appear before several rulers. Because the Jews are plotting his death, he will be taken down to Caesarea. He will spend about two years there in prison before he finally appeals and is sent to Rome. We find Paul before the corrupt High Priest Ananias…where Paul somehow saves himself from sure death as he used a tactic to get the Pharisees and Sadducees to argue. We see the plot where the 40 men went the Sanhedrin to kill Paul, but God’s providence would protect Paul. The Roman captain (Claudias Lysias) was a good man who sent Paul down to Felix to be safe & have a trial.
Regarding application…Protection. Vs. 11, “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” What an awesome encouragement Paul would receive from the Lord! We see God’s providence in how Paul would be able to use his Roman citizenship to further the kingdom of God! Paul was truly the perfect candidate to be a light to the Gentile world. He had a mixture of both Jewish & Gentile backgrounds. Paul could take comfort in knowing that God would make sure Paul would arrive one day in Rome! God would show Paul that He would back up His promise when Paul’s nephew would happen to hear of the plot to kill him. I wonder how many times in our lives the Grace of God has protected us and we didn’t even realize it. Some of us may have had close encounters with death (car accidents, illness, etc…) Truly, truly…it was God’s protection upon you because your work on earth is not yet done. Our timetables of life all differ according to God’s will. But until the day God calls us home, we can find solace in knowing that the Lord is always with us!
Vs. 1, “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.” Paul now had the opportunity to speak to the Jewish mob who wanted him dead. Paul wisely stops speaking Greek & turns to the crowd to speak in a Aramaic Hebrew dialect. He gives them his testimony of where he came from, his conversion & then his calling. Paul had to have known when he got to his testimony about the calling to reach out to Gentiles, the mob was going to react badly, but his courage & trust in the Lord helped him to speak without shame. Paul shows us that it is also okay to use the human government to protect yourself…remember that God is ultimately in control.
Regarding application…Chances Are Limited. Vs. 18, “…Lord speaking. ‘Quick!’ he said to me. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.” At this point, the nation had already been guilty of three murders: John the Baptist, Jesus, & Stephen. They would have committed a fourth had not God use the Roman soliders to save him…kind of ironic actually. Israel’s chances were now over to a certain extent. Not all Jews…just those who had hardened their hearts & were guilty of these former crimes. The application behind this is: Don’t waste your time futiley sharing the Gospel to a people group if they continually reject it. The harvest is plentiful elsewhere too. Let us never take for granted the time we have on this earth. Our life is but a vapor in the wind.
Vs. 17, “When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly.” This would be Paul’s last missionary journey as he would arrive to Jerusalem. Some scholars believe Paul went to Jerusalem despite God warning him on a few occasions. But God would be glorified and work for the good of those who love Him. When Paul arrived to Jerusalem, he would find himself in a predicament. The Jewish Christians wanted to preserve the culture & Mosaic influence in the church…they had heard false rumors about Paul teaching the Gentiles to turn away from the Jewish customs. It is here that brings about some controversy for Theologians. Was Paul right in taking a Jewish Vow to appease the Jews? Did he sell out? Paul ultimately did the vow to help win the Jewish Christians to the Gospel. Yet, the Jews would find a cause to kill Paul as Paul was ironically in the temple to help save them. But God would intervene and Paul would use his Roman citizenship as protection from the Jewish mob.
Regarding application…Vows & Grace. Vs. 24, “Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.” Paul did not have to take this vow, but he did for his Jewish Christian brothers & sisters. Paul understood ultimately that he lived under Grace, not law. We as Christians would be wiser if we remembered these two things. Vows represents the cultures we live in…for the Jews, it was very important to uphold the customs. Paul realized that these customs did not make you saved, but he wanted to accomodate them the best he could. We are all one church. We labeled the churches back then Jewish & Gentile…and we label the churches today…Korean, Chinese, American churches, etc…. We must remember that we should do our best to accomodate each other, but also accomodate the culture we are with at the time. But I think all of us need to learn to give a little bit more so that Grace increases with our relationships with each other.
Vs. 1, “When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia.” After Ephesus, Paul would go on to Macedonia, Philippi, Troas & Miletus. Paul would write the book of Romans in Corinth (part of Macedonia). In Troas, Paul would raise Eutychus from the dead…upon preaching to the crowds on the first day of the week (Sunday). The name Eutychus means “Fortunate” and I suppose we see one other example of God’s incredible Grace! As Paul journeyed, he would meet with the Ephesian elders in Miletus to encourage them one final time. Here we observe an incredibly touching moment as Paul says his farewell to them.
Regarding application…Better to Give. Vs. 35b-36, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive. When he had said this, he knet down with all of them and prayed…” Paul might be a lot different things to different people, but one thing he was not…he was not selfish. I would like to say I am more of a giver than receiver…but I realize I have much work to do in this department. The more you give, the more you are blessed. The world cannot understand it….it’s mantra…the more you keep & take, the more blessed. We must change our ways of thinking. CTC Youth is helping bake and serve food tomorrow for our fundraising…I hope to see many givers bring their baked goods!
Vs. 1, “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus…” Paul is now on his third missionary journey and will spend over two years preaching the Gospel! In Ephesus, the spirit was so evident with Paul that even hankerchief’s and aprons that were touched by Paul were healing the sick when it was brought to them (vs. 12). The Seven sons of Sceva who tried to duplicate Paul’s exorcising of spirits show us that in order to expel a demon, you must be a Christian! These men had practiced sorcery…the spiritual world is battle that wages without us even realizing. Satan would continue in his efforts in Ephesus. The business people of Ephesus tried to bring a uprising in accusing Paul for the lack of people now buying their idols. That is an awesome thing that Paul was doing in Ephesus! The city was thrown into confusion, because Satan did not want a strong church in Ephesus…but God would prevail.
Regarding application…Bearing Witness. Vs. 10, “This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” This is an incredibly awesome fact!!! Isn’t this amazing? Because of Paul’s perseverance & love, he would be such a light that everyone in the region (thousands of them) would know & hear of the Gospel! Jesus would command it…Paul would show us that it is possible! Everything you say, everything you do, everything you represent is bearing witness to this world. Let us have the courage & resolve to obey our Lord!