This Week’s Reading Schedule
Tuesday’s (today’s) Bible Reading is Acts 25-28
Wednesday, April 4: Psalm 6-10
Thursday, April 5: Psalm 11-15
Friday, April 6: Psalm 16-20
Next week we will read Joshua.
The overall year’s plan is here.
It’s amazing that after two years, Paul is still on the mind of the Jews in Jerusalem. Some had sworn not to eat or drink until he died, and those men either died of thirst or broke their vow. Either they, or replacements, were still ready to ambush him if he could be brought back to Jerusalem.
But they have no better luck with Festus than they did with Felix.
Paul appeals to Caesar, which ends all the attempts to get him to Jerusalem.
Festus grants his appeal. The Holman Bible Dictionary suggests that while such an appeal was usually granted to Roman citizens, it did not have to be.
Paul is now to appear before Herod Agrippa.
I think it’s worth looking at this case from the Roman point of view, which has been mentioned several times in the narrative. To the Romans, it simply looks like a religious dispute. To Festus, it’s a question of whether some man named Jesus is alive.
Festus must truly have had difficulty writing a charge! Could he have written: "This man claims that Jesus of Nazareth is alive, while the Jews believe he is dead"?
That would have gone nowhere in a court of Law.
I’ve mentioned paying attention to summations of the Gospel. There are three of them here:
… to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me. (v. 18, NASB)
I … kept declaring … that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. (v. 20, NASB)
The Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of his resurrection from the dead he would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. (v. 23, NASB)
The first and third of these are things we might repeat, but would our modern version of "faith alone" allow us to describe our Gospel like Paul does in the second quote here?
If not, maybe we should re-examine what we’re teaching.
It would be easy to believe that Paul knew that the ship was in danger because he was an apostle and prophet. It is true that Paul was an apostle and prophet, but I am convinced that we live our lives far more out of control and out of the knowledge of God’s will than we have to. Paul was always looking for the guidance of God, and God provided it a lot.
It has been my experience that God has much to say to us if we will follow in Paul’s footsteps, even if our lives are not as powerful or renowned as the life of the great apostle.
Paul promises the whole crew they will be spared. The angel has told him that he will be spared, and the rest of the crew is spared as a gift to Paul; not for their own sakes, but for Paul’s sake.
I found that very interesting.
Note that by this point in the story, the entire crew and the soldiers have complete faith in Paul’s words to them.
While the very heart of the New Covenant suggests that our lives ought to be marked by the ability to hear the voice of God and know the will of God (Acts 2:17,18; Jn. 10:3-5,27), miracles like we read about here happened among the apostles, other evangelists (e.g., Philip), and those especially gifted (1 Cor. 12:4-11).
Acts ends with Paul in prison in Rome, awaiting trial, but having seemingly unlimited freedom to preach the Gospel.
No one knows for certain what happened after those two years, but early Christian tradition holds that Paul was released and went west to preach the Gospel in Spain and perhaps even Britain before returning to be martyred in Rome.
Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance [i.e., martyrdom], after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience. (Clement of Rome, 1 Clement 5, A.D. 96)