Acts 24:22-27 - The Coming Judgment

Luke tells us that Paul spoke to Felix on righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment
We explored righteousness and self-control last week.
Today we will dive into what Paul most likely said to Felix on the “coming judgment.”


There will be a judgment:
Ecclesiastes 3:17 (ESV) — 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 (ESV) — 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Acts 17:30–31 (ESV) — 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Romans 14:12 (ESV) — 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) — 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Teaching on the coming judgment was mandated by Jesus himself.
Acts 10:42 (ESV) — 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.

This of course makes perfect sense.
Judgment is one of the many things required for the Gospel to carry any weight.
The Gospel is nonsense if there is to be no judgment.

“Proclamation of the love of God always presupposes that all men are moving towards God’s judgment and are hopelessly exposed to it.” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (941).

Using Paul’s words to Felix to as an example, what does it matter if a man is righteous or self-controlled if there is no judgment?

What is judgment and why is it necessitated?
“Judgment is the product of a “controversy” or lawsuit.” The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (610–611).
Judgment is not a random or arbitrary action of God BUT a decision based on the whole body of “controversy” between Him and man.

What is the controversy between God and man?
Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Paul further described the “controversy” between God and man this way:
Galatians 6:7–8 (ESV) — 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

“All human acts are a sowing [of the controversy]; God’s judgment is the related and self-evident reaping.” TDNT (940).

So a life (heart, mind, action) lived “sown in the flesh” creates “controversy” or enmity between God and man which requires judgment – a verdict to be rendered.

God made us, so why are we liable under God’s judgment anyway?
Reason 1:
Romans 5:12–14 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

We are liable because of a fallen nature.

Reason 2:
Proverbs 4:4 (ESV) — 4 he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.
Galatians 3:10 (ESV) — 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Galatians 5:4 (ESV) — 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
Romans 2:12 (ESV) — 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
James 2:10 (ESV) — 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

We are liable because we have broken God’s law.

Reason 3:
John 6:27–29 (ESV) — 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works [sowing or will] of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 3:18 (ESV) — 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

We are liable because of unbelief in Jesus Christ.

“The basis of judgment remains our response to God’s will as embodied in his general and special revelation focused in Jesus Christ.” New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (633).
“There is no hope for the man who seeks to justify himself at the judgment.” New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (337).

Who is the judge?
John 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

The judge had to be judged!
Isaiah 53:7–8 (ESV) — 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

Luke 24:19–20 (ESV) — 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned [literally delivered up to a judgment] to death, and crucified him.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, was “by oppression and judgment” condemned to die - and he had to because:

Hebrews 10:11–14 (ESV) — 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

When is judgment?
Matthew 24:29 (ESV) — 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) — 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Matthew 24:36 (ESV) — 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

What happens at judgment?
The Acquitted:
Mark 13:27 (ESV) — 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Philippians 3:20–21 (ESV) — 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The Guilty:
2 Peter 3:7 (ESV) — 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
The word that spoke forth creation will also bring forth judgment!
Romans 2:5 (ESV) — 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Revelation 20:15 (ESV) — 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

2 Thessalonians 1:5–10 (ESV) — 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Believers will be acquitted, BUT those that “sowed in their own flesh” will be found guilty and condemned to hell.
Judgment is the separation of the sheep, righteous and the elect from the goats, unrighteous and the non-elect.

POI – Being found guilty or acquitted is not based on works but…
“The meaning of faith in Christ is nothing less than the truth that Christ’s ‘good works’, i.e. his perfect obedience in life and death, are imputed to us here and now and will stand to our account on the judgment day. In this fundamental sense there can be no justification for anyone apart from ‘works’, i.e. the obedience of Christ in life and death which represents the only basis for human standing before God.” New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) (632).

However, “If a person is truly reborn by the Spirit, the scrutiny of God will certainly uncover evidences of this in their ‘works’. But these works are the direct fruit of the Christian’s having been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.” New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.) (632).

1 John 3:17–18 (ESV) — 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

The acquitted are also then judged by their works:
1 Corinthians 3:8–15 (ESV) — 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

1 Corinthians 4:5 (ESV) — 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) — 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Those in Jesus are not to fear judgment:
1 John 4:17–18 (ESV) — 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

The guilty are also judged based on their works:
Matthew 11:21–24 (ESV) — 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Revelation 20:12 (ESV) — 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

“The absolute, unerring accuracy of God’s judgment will ensure that unbelievers’ punishment in hell fits their iniquity. Each person’s life will be individually evaluated, and each person’s punishment will be consistent with that evaluation. Thus, Scripture teaches that there will be varying degrees of punishment in hell.” MacArthur, J. (2000). Revelation 12-22 (254). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.

Descriptions of Judgment:
Revelation 20:11–15
Matthew 25:31–46

Given the certainty of the “coming judgment” and Jesus’ mandate to teach on it, it is plainly obvious why Paul spoke to Felix on such matters.
In speaking on the judgment, the entire scope of the Gospel message is encountered.

It must also be said that the complexity and nuances of Judgment as a topic far outpace the treatment given to them here.
We have only scratched the surface…but I hope it has been beneficial.
Questions concerning how many judgments there are and when they all take place were not really my concern.
I just wanted to get an idea of what Paul may have said to Felix and I think we did just that.


Acts 24:22-27 - Righteousness & Self-Control

Diving Deeper outline for Acts 24:22-27.

The title is drawn from Paul's words to Felix in verse 25.
Using Paul's teachings elsewhere, we will discuss what Paul likely said to Felix concerning righteousness, self-control and judgment.
And as important, we will explore what he might say to those of us who are saved on those topics.

This week will only cover righteousness and self-control; judgment will be discussed next week.


Acts 24:22, 27 - But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case." 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

Felix's Response to Paul and Tertullus:
Lysias was a witness to many of the events being discussed – more so even than the accusers present.
And as such, Lysias gives what opinion about Paul's case in his letter to Felix (Acts 23:29)?
Was Lysias a reliable witness (review witness insights from lesson a few weeks ago)?
Therefore it makes perfect sense for Felix, in verse 22, to await Lysias' arrival in order to hear his testimony.
However, before we assume too much virtue in Felix's jurisprudence, verse 27 makes clear that no matter the evidence Felix's intentions were to placate the Jews.
As a result, Paul was held in custody for 2 years.


I also want to more closely examine Paul's words to Felix.
Paul, instead of bribing Felix (verse 26), laid out his Gospel argument and had 2 years to do it.
Instead of justifying paying a bribe and getting out, he edured once again "for the sake of the Gospel."

Acts 24:25 - And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, "Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you."

Just by way of interest, Paul's outline is uncannily similar to Jesus' words in John's Gospel:
John 16:8-11 - And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The first question I have is why would Paul speak to Felix, the man sitting in judgment over him, concerning these things?
Titus 2:15 - Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

1 Peter 3:14-16 - Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Romans 1:16 – "I am not ashamed of the Gospel."

So now let's dive deeper into righteousness, self-control and judgment using Paul, Peter and others as our source.

Luke described the way in which Paul spoke of these things – "he reasoned about" them.
Reason is to speak or dispute with someone in such a way that you "mingle thought with thought."
In other words, Paul laid out the premises of a reasoned argument as he so often did and as Peter advocated.

Righteousness (sinner in need of a savior):
The word used here means "the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God."

Jesus put it like this:
Matthew 5:48 - You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So what did Paul teach on obtaining a "state approved of God"?
Something he often described as being justified.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Galatians 2:15-16 - We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Romans 10:9-13 - because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

So our belief in Jesus (His death, burial and resurrection) makes it possible for us to "attain a state approved of God."
Because he is righteous, those who are in him are also justified as righteous.
Paul was telling Felix that he was a sinner, why he was a sinner and that he was in need of a savior – Jesus.

Peter put it like this:
1 Peter 1:14-16 - As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

And Peter's insight leads us to Paul's next topic of discussion with Felix – self-control.
In Jesus, we are confronted with moment after moment in which we are not to be what we once were.
How are we not to "be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance"?

Self-Control (repent and live a life of obedience):
The word used by Paul in this context means "the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites."

Paul illustrates the art of self-control by using an athlete as an example:
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 - Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

And he talks about self-control resulting from training:
Titus 2:11-12 - For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Our new life is to be one of self-control over our bodies and mind.
Paul reveals that self-control is linked to purpose not aimless running or beating the air.
He says self-control is found in training by the grace of God.
So our purpose (with respect to self-control) is to allow ourselves to be trained by God to live a life of self-control with respect to our worldly passions, our old nature.

So how do we "discipline" the mind & body to keep it under control?
How do we train to renounce "ungodliness and worldly passions"?

1) Self-Control is a fruit of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

And in Philippians Paul tells us:
Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose.

So the admittedly more mysterious way we learn self-control is though God's grace and Spirit.
He desires for us to live a life of self-control.
And to that end, as believers, we have the following abilities:
An ability to recognize the areas in our lives where self-control is needed.
An ability to recognize the difference between our life when lived in self-control and when not.
An ability to recognize the damage done to our life when not lived in self-control.
And a desire to live a life of self-control to begin with!

2) Self-Control is a function of the MIND:
Knowing what we do about where we need to exercise self-control in our life, we have a responsibility to act.

Ephesians 4:17-24 - Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Proverbs puts it like this:
Proverbs 23:7 – As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

In the book, The Criminal Mind, the authors make the case that a criminal is made not by his environment but by his thinking (the mind) and the choices made as a result of that thinking.
They say that criminal behavior is a result of "the thinking errors of the criminal."

John MacArthur points out that what they devote a 2 volume book was revealed in Scripture.
Romans 1:28 - And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

So we have a choice to make as Christians.
Will we seek a renewed mind or will we, by doing nothing, live in the shadows of our former debased mind?

As John MacArthur puts it, we need to DECIDE if we want to live life with a "Christ-Centered Purpose" or in a "Self-Centered Emptiness".

He argues that where we are in either of the two is based on a series of choices.
"A choice made often enough becomes a habit. And a habit reaps a personality and a personality reaps a character and a character reaps a destiny".

So where we are in our relationship with Jesus comes down to "a series of choices."
We must learn that to make the hard choices can provide a pleasure rooted in Christ that long outlasts and surpasses the choices made that appeal to wordly and bodily pleasures.

We must train our minds to see obedience and renewal as more pleasurable than worldly and bodily pleasures.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 - We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Obedience and the mind are linked together as one following from the other.
If the mind is submitted to Christ, it can make correct choices.

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think [the mind] about these things.

And evidence of an obedient and renewed mind is if we think on these things.

How do we train or renew our mind to think on these things and to desire self-control over wordly pleasure?

We must recognize that as long as we linger in the shadows of the debased mind our mind and body will desire worldly and ungodly pleasure.

So to stay out of the shadows, we must remain in the light of God's word.
We must study, learn and know God's word to renew our minds!
And these things begin with one of a man's least favorite 4-letter words - READ.

Back to Paul & Felix:
Felix, was on his 3rd marriage with Drusilla.
He had married Drusilla when she was 16 after he forced her away from her then husband.
He was a crooked and self-indulgent governor.
Paul was bold to speak to his judge and jailor about self-control and a need to be made righteousness.

Had he just paid the bribe it seems he would have been released.
And he could have easily justified doing so..."I can speak the Gospel with those that would respond", or "Wouldn't my time be better spent encouraging young believers in the churches I planted", etc.
But because he did live life with a "renewed mind" he made the right choice.
Once again, Paul proves to be an awesome example of a life given to Christ.


Acts 24:1-21 - Paul & Jesus on Trial

Acts 24:1-21 – Paul & Jesus on Trial
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 24:1-21

The title is drawn from Paul’s trial as revealed in our text.
It also deals with the root of the Jews disdain for Paul which is to be found in Jesus.


Acts 24:1-2a - And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case against Paul. 2 And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him saying:…

Tertullus was a “forensic orator” otherwise known as a lawyer hired by Ananias and company.
Their plan was apparently to accuse Paul of violating both Jewish & Roman laws.

Paul’s Roman Violations:
Acts 24:5a – For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world

Stirs Up is the Greek word kineo and it means “to set in motion.”
Therefore, they were arguing that Paul purposely set out to cause riots as he traveled throughout the Roman empire.
And if true, this could have been condemned as treason - crimen majestatis. – Easton’s Bible Dictionary
This is one reason Lysias (Acts 22:30) and Felix probably didn’t just let Paul go.

Another Biblical example of imprisonment due to riot/insurrection:
Luke 23:25 - He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

POI - Gallio, a Roman official, acted somewhat differently that Lysias or Felix.
Interestingly, Gallio (Acts 18) was less patient with the Jews efforts to “work the system”.
He saw what was really going on and had nothing to do with it.

Acts 18:14-15 - But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. 15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.”

******** Paul’s defense ********
Acts 24:11-12 - You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city.

Acts 24:17 - Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings.

Paul made a few points to refute Tertullus’ 1st claim.
Witnesses could verify that:
A) He came to Jerusalem to bring alms and offerings – Paul’s business in Jerusalem was religious not political.
B) He had spent about 7 “days in purification”. – In obedience to James, he did this with some Jewish believers.
C) He had been in Caesarea 5 days. – Lysias and Felix himself were well aware of this.
D) He could not have begun an insurrection in 7 days – remember he had been out of Jerusalem for 3+ years. He didn't have enough time.

How do we know the time frame?
Acts 21:26-27 - Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. 27 When the seven days were almost completed,

Acts 24:1 - And after five days

Paul’s Jewish Violations:
Acts 24:5b - and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.
Acts 24:6 - He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him.

Ringleader” is a military term which means “one who stands in the front rank.”
Sect” carries with it the idea of “heresy” or “false teaching.”
The implication here is that Paul is the leader of a heretical movement rooted in Jesus of Nazareth.
And the military imagery seems to be an attempt to paint this heretical movement as a political threat which relates to the Roman violations.
And picking up on the Asian Jews fabrication, He accuses Paul of desecrating the temple.
Acts 21:28b - Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

POI – It is significant to see how a Gentile’s physical presence in the temple would defile it, but under Jesus’ new covenant the converted Gentile is now in fact the temple – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
This is an outrageous thought to the Jew and a reason they had such animosity towards Jesus and Paul.

******** Paul’s defense********
Acts 24:14-15 - But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Acts 24:18a - While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult.

Paul made a few points to refute Tertullus’ 2nd claim.
A) I worship the God of our fathers.
B) I believe in the Law and the Prophets
C) I have a hope in a resurrection.
D) These are exactly what my accusers before you believe.
E) I was purified, in the temple & so there were no crowds (Paul wouldn’t be w/Gentiles during purification).

Paul’s summation:
Finally, Paul went on to make some basic observations about his accusers.

Acts 18b-21 - But some Jews from Asia—19 they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. 20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, 21 other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’ ”

He rightly pointed out that the Asian Jews, who were supposedly the witnesses to these so-called transgressions, weren't even there to testify.
In fact, the ones present and making accusations weren’t witnesses to any of the things they are claiming.
The only thing they witnessed was the council meeting.
So the only legitimate gripe they had is that Paul started an argument concerning the resurrection of the dead.


Last week we examined the methods employed by the Jews to stop the Apostles and their message.
We determined that some of the reasons for this involved jealousy (Acts 13:45) and loss of status quo.
In our text today, we see they traveled 2 days and hired a lawyer to see to it that Paul was done.

It is clear that there is more going on than just jealousy and a power struggle.
The Jews believed that what they were trying to do was the right thing to do for God and for Judaism.
They believed that Paul’s teachings (and by extension Jesus') were heresy.

And of course this all has to do with Jesus.
Paul’s sect of Judaism was rooted in Jesus.
The Jews had a problem with Paul because they had a problem with Jesus.

Very briefly, I want us to try and understand just one of many reasons why.
Remember, we already made mention of the Gentile & temple relationship.

With the help of William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith, we can get an appreciation for why Jesus (and by extension Paul) was so problematic for the Jews.

Jesus’ View of His Authority:
A typical rabbi’s teaching style was seen to be authoritative because the source material from which they taught was deemed to have authority.
They would quote the law, the prophets or oral law and explain what it means.

Jesus, in stark contrast, taught as one who was the very source of authority – even above that of the law and the prophets.
The best example of this is seen in the Sermon on the Mount.
In Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, & 43, we see the following method:
“You have heard that it was said…///…But I say to you…”

Here we see that Jesus “placed his personal authority on a par with that of the divine law” and “he adjusted the Law on his own authority.” - Craig

We get a Scriptural glimpse of the crowds recognition of this authority in Matthew 7:28-29.
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Jesus authority was evident to others.

But Jesus’ view of His authority is even more profound than this.
Take, for example, Matthew 5:31-32.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Here, Jesus claims the authority to actually change, correct and reinterpret the law! (See Mark 10:2-9)

Jesus seems to assume an authority over Torah that no Pharisee or OT Prophet assumed – the authority to set it aside.” – Ben Witherington.
The extent that this would have offended the Jew cannot be understated or exaggerated.
For a man to claim the authority to change, correct or reinterpret the law would have been outrageous!

In fact, Jewish Scholar Jacob Neusner says:

Jews believe in the Torah of Moses…and that belief requires faithful Jews to enter a dissent at the teachings of Jesus, on the grounds that those teachings at important points contradict the Torah. And therefore, because that specific teaching was so broadly out of phase with the Torah and covenant of Sinai, I could not then follow him and do not now either. That is not because I am stubborn or unbelieving. It is because I believe God has given a different Torah from the one that Jesus teaches; and that Torah, the one Moses got at Sinai, stands in judgment of the torah of Jesus, as it dictates true and false for all other torahs that people want to teach in God’s name.

Understanding Jesus view of himself as one who is the source of authority, i.e. God, really begins to help explain the layers of animosity the Jews held toward Jesus and His followers.

Only God could give law, and most of the Jews did not accept that Jesus was God.
And this, as I stated earlier, is just one of many ways that Jesus offended the Jews.

So it is no wonder that the Jews were so offended by Paul and his message.
And all of this makes Paul's conversion (a Pharisee of all Pharisees) even more remarkable!


Acts 23:23-35 – Bible as History

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 23:23-35

The title is drawn from a recognition that the Bible is linked to secular history.
Luke writes about not only the history of Paul's current predicament but also inserts the story into the Roman geographical and political realities of that time.
Here we examine some examples and some implications of linking revelation with history.
But first, I have a couple of points about Paul's immediate history.


Acts 23:27 - This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.

Our lesson text today contains much review, so we will use that as license to review even further.
To live a life in obedience to Christ, was to live a life mired in threats, intimidation, imprisonment and even death.
In Acts, we see a pattern of apostle persecution that began with some restraint but quickly escalated to violence.

Acts 4:21a - And when they had further threatened them, they let them go…
Acts 5:18 - They arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.
Acts 5:33 - When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
Acts 5:40 - and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them
Acts 7:58 - Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.
Acts 8:3 - But Saul was ravaging the church…he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Acts 9:23-25 - …the Jews plotted to kill him,…watching the gates day and night in order to kill him
Acts 9:29 - …But they were seeking to kill him.
Acts 12:2 - He killed James the brother of John with the sword,
Acts 14:5 - When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them,
Acts 14:19 - …they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.
Acts 16:23 - …they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison


Acts 23:29 - I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.

There never was an attempt made by the Jewish leaders and laymen, that we know of, to discredit Jesus’ miracles, His death or the empty tomb.
In fact, they readily admitted the power of this testimony.
The Jews claim was that the apostles were teaching against the law.
The Jews first handled the problem posed by the apostles by asking them to speak no more of Jesus or else – Plan A.
In fact, Gamaleil advocated reason and pragmatism.

As time went on, however, it became clear that the apostles were unfazed by threats.
So as we just saw, the Jewish leaders were more & more willing to resort to violence.
To garner support for violence, they realized it was necessary to stir up intense hatred of the apostles.
So enter Plan B – turn the public against the apostles by falsely accusing them of corrupting the laws and customs of Moses.

Jerusalem, we have a problem – Plan A:
The Jewish leadership and layperson of Jerusalem were all in agreement that Signs & Wonders were taking place.
However, the apostles rightly attributed the source of the Signs & Wonders to a resurrected Jesus.
Plan A was to convince the apostles to stop this attribution and shut up.

Acts 4:13-17 - Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.

Acts 4:21b - finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.

Plan A not working:
Frustration was building among the Jewish leadership, but Gamaliel argued for a reasonable solution.
Like previous movements, he argued, if the movement is bogus it will die.

Acts 5:34-35 & 38-40 - But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men…..38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

Too much at stake so time for Plan B – divide and conquer:
The problem with Gamaliel’s approach was that if the movement didn’t die, the status quo might.
And given the power of the apostles argument and witness, this possibility was unacceptable.

Acts 6:10-14 - But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”
**Notice here, like in Acts 4:13-17 that the influence of the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit was not in question.

What exactly was at stake for the Jewish leadership?
Why such violent opposition to the apostles’ message?

Further evidence of Plan B in action:
Acts 13:45 - …they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.
Acts 13:50 - …incited the devout women and the leading men, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas.
Acts 14:2 - …stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
Acts 17:5 - …Jews were jealous..formed a mob, set the city in an uproar
Acts 17:13 - …they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds.
Acts 18:13 - saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
Acts 21:20b-21 - …you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.

***The tactics of the Jews had even lingered and brought doubts to the believing Jews.
Acts 21:27-28 - …stirred up the whole crowd…the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

POI – The Jews’ Plan B strategy was also employed by Gentiles.
Acts 16:21 - They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.

Acts 19:27-28 - And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” 28 When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

POI - Scripture paints a clear picture of the Jews treatment of the apostles, the tactics used and their motivation.
For me, the apostles’ willingness to endure this for Jesus, a dead man, demonstrates not only the probability of their claim that He in fact was raised from the dead but also the power of this risen Christ to sustain and encourage during hardships suffered on His account.
They had nothing to gain (they weren’t politicians or power brokers) and everything to lose.


I am fascinated how Scripture is so deeply rooted in and intertwined with secular history.
And unlike many other religions, the authority of Scripture is linked to its accurate depiction of that history.
Of course the best example of this is that, “Christianity is belief in a person, a genuine historical individual – but at the same time a special individual, whom the church regards as not only human, but divine.” – William Lane Craig

By contrast, little of the Koran is rooted in the actions of persons that existed in a secular historical context.
The Koran is a revelation of God to Muhammad over a period of about 23 years.
Its 114 chapters consist mainly of spiritual teachings and their application not a publicly recorded and verifiable history.
For example, chapter 30 entitled “The Romans” makes no mention of any names or specific places.
So historically, there is nothing at stake.

But in our text today, Scripture unashamedly plants itself right in the middle of Roman politics and jurisprudence.
And it does so in such a way that if its historical context is found to be inaccurate, the authority of Scripture itself could be called into question.

Antonius Felix:
Acts 23:24 - Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor

Luke claimed that Antonius Felix was the governor of the Judean Province of the Roman Empire.

Secular historians agree.
Felix is known to have been in power from about 52-58 A.D.
Bronze coins minted during his time in power have been discovered.

And interestingly:
He had 3 wives &, in fact, one of his wives was the 2nd cousin to Emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.).
He had a son die in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
Historians at the time of Felix wrote that he “practiced every kind of cruelty and lust”.
He was known to put down disturbances with “severity.”

In our verses today, Luke reveals the below odd conversation.
Acts 23:34-35 - On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.

In fact, there was a Roman practice know as “Forum Domicilli” that would have given Felix the option of sending Paul back to the province of his birth to have a hearing.

We see the same thing going on with Pilate and Jesus.

Luke 23:6-7 - When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time

If Felix was never governor of the Judean Province, how does that help or hurt the authority of the Bible?

Acts 23:33-35 - When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.

Luke claimed that the governor of the Judean province and Herod’s praetorium were in Caesarea.

In fact, we know that about 6 A.D., the administrative capital was moved from Jerusalem to Caesarea.
Due to its status as the capital, Caesarea contained a Roman built aqueduct, hippodrome, a amphitheater and Herod’s praetorium was converted into the governor’s palace.
Having been there, I can tell you that even in ruins it is a beautiful place.

Interestingly, it is in the amphitheater that was found a seat marker for Pontius Pilate; it had his name inscribed on it.

Other references to Caesarea:
Acts 8:40 - But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Acts 21:8 - On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.

Philip evangelized in and lived in Caesarea.

Acts 10:1-2 - At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.

Peter came to Caesarea after his vision and met up with a converted Roman centurion.

Acts 18:22 - When he [Paul] had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.

As with Felix, if Caesarea was not the capital, or did not have Herod's palace, or was not the capital in which the governor would have resided, we may have a problem with the authority of scripture.
I find it difficult to divorce the teachings of Luke with the history in which it happened.

It is in the context of all this history that the our faith finds one of its many reasons to be probable.
The more we confirm the accuracy of the historical context of the Bible, the more probable it becomes.
Therefore, an effective Christian apologetic is rooted in the truth of the history in which it was born.
I love the boldness demonstrated by God by putting his revelation smack dab in the middle of human history.
I have heard it said, "if God and the Bible are true, why didn't God make it loud and clear?"
I think this is one way that He did exactly that!

But as important, is that in our text today we find the continued fulfillment of God’s call to Paul that he, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” – Acts 9:15-16


Acts 22:30 - 23:11 - In All Good Conscience

Acts 22:30 - 23:11 - In All Good Conscience

Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 22:30-23:11

The title is drawn from Paul’s words in 23:1 where he describes his life as one lived in all good conscience.


Background of conscience in OT:
OT has no concept of conscience so there is no Hebrew word for conscience in the OT.
The closest the OT comes, most believe, is when it uses a phrase involving the word “heart”.
The phrase is translated as “offence” or “stumbling block” or “pangs” of the heart.
Some translations now translate this phrase as “pangs of conscience” or something similar - 1 Samuel 25:31.

Background of conscience in Greek culture:
Koine or common language Greek, the language the NT was written in, does have a word for conscience - suneidesis
It first turned up in the 400-500 BC time frame.
It was the idea that “humans have w/in themselves one who is aware of their behavior.” - Pannenberg
Or to put another way, it was used to denote self-consciousness or cognizance NOT morality.
However, most unusually, the writer Euripedes some 100 years later did use it in Orestes in a moral context.

Background of conscience in NT:
A couple of interesting things happen with the New Testament writers, like Paul, who wrote or dictated in Greek.
1st, the 4 Gospels do not use the word at all; it first appears in our text today.
2nd, the meaning of the word is changed by the NT writers, especially Paul, from its common secular meaning.
He used it, like Euripedes, to refer to an awareness of right and wrong BUT as established by God.
As Zodhiates says, “The testimony of the Spirit in man’s heart concerning his obligation to God.”

However, Paul also used the concept behind the original meaning of the Greek word but with a twist.
That is to say “humans have w/in themselves one who is aware of their behavior” and that “one” is either the world OR the Spirit of God.
For example, we possess either a self-consciousness/cognizance informed by the righteousness of Christ (the new Adam) OR the sin and death of the old Adam.
Or more specifically, consider Paul’s contrast of the believer and unbeliever in Romans 6.

Slave to Righteousness == Slave to Sin
Freed from Sin == Slave to Sin
Newness of Life == Life Found Wanting
Old Self Crucified == Old Self Lives
Alive to God == Condemned by God
Under Grace == Under Law

Our understanding of who we are is rooted in either one or the other of these realities.
This is an oft overlooked usage of the conscience concept in Paul’s theology - Pannenberg.

Paul co-opting this word gives insight into how Paul engaged a Hellenistic culture (like at Mar’s Hill) in a relevant way w/o compromising truth and at the same time provided deeper insight to the Christian in his new life.
For me, it also highlights why God chose the Greek era to bring Jesus and the NT.
The Greek language was capable of richly conveying His revelation.

Acts 23:1 – Our text:
With regards to his conscience, Paul’s work as an apostle of Christ was done in “obedience to his obligation to God’s testimony on his heart” and therefore, regardless of the fact that he had fell into disrepute as a Jew, his conscience was clean.
This ticked the counsel off because he was claiming God as the authority behind this “sect of Judaism” that he was teaching.

Paul’s theology of conscience (a few examples):
In his epistles, Paul developed a theology of conscience to explain God’s truth and to disciple the believer.
We will explore some of the implications of his teachings.

1) One who has never heard of the God of Israel or the Law is still accountable to the God of Israel.

Romans 2:14-16 - For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Paul taught that the very capacity & presence of a “law to themselves”, regardless of its moral or cultural context, was evidence of a transcendent law of God “written on their hearts.”
And so the conscience (obligation to right over wrong) “bears witness” to an accountability to God as one evaluates the guilt/“accusing thoughts” or the lack of guilt/“excusing thoughts” of ones actions.

Many say, if God is so concerned about humanity’s reconciliation with Him why didn’t he just spell it out clearly.
Paul is saying here that God spelled it out with, among other things, your conscience.
The ambiguity is not from God but from man!
The conscience is not of cultural origin as man would believe but of transcendental origin!

BTW - Atheists have a conscience and are moral people too.
They would argue morality is just an obligation to society or themselves not an “obligation to God”.

2) Conscience can be “defiled” and “seared” OR “clear” and “good” so be cautious to care for yours and others.

Care for Others Conscience:
1 Corinthians 8:7-13 - But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

1 Corinthians 10:27-30 - If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone [a believer] says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?...33 [because Paul is] not seeking my own advantage.

We are not to offend the conscience of weak or new believers.
If the weak or new believer violates their own conscience, especially due to our following or leading, their own conscience can become hardened or as Paul puts it “the weak person is destroyed.
Paul even says that to “make my brother stumble” by “wounding his conscience” is to “sin against Christ.”

In fact, Paul says it would be better to offend the host and not eat the meal, if by doing so you are protecting the conscience of the believer that is concerned that it is food that was offered to idols.
Our Freedom is not meant to offend the weaker conscience.
That is, we should not cause our freedom to be slandered by expressing it in ways that offend a weaker brother.”- JM

Care for Our Conscience:
We can also wound our own conscience.
This is why Paul says in Romans 13:5 - Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
When we resist God’s will we can injure our own conscience making it less receptive to our “obligations to God.”

3) Teaching and living God’s truth accurately is a witness to a God informed conscience.

Acts 24:14-16 - But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. 16 So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.

2 Corinthians 1:12-14 - For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and acknowledge and I hope you will fully acknowledge— 14 just as you did partially acknowledge us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

2 Corinthians 4:1-3 - Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.

1 Timothy 1:3-5 - As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Paul believed and taught the truth giving him a clean conscience before God and man.
Paul had a conscience informed by God and so behaved with godly sincerity not by earthly wisdom.
Again, Paul taught the truth and did not tamper with God’s word and so did not weaken but commended ourselves to everyone’s conscience.
And Paul again linked teaching a different doctrine or speculations to having a negative impact on one’s purity, faith and conscience.

All of humanity has a conscience but only the Christians’ is informed by the truth of the Spirit and Scripture.
Our conscience needs to be watered and nurtured.
This is done by learning God’s word which is to say learning our obligations to God and being obedient to them.
“The person who has considerable knowledge of God’s Word will have a more sensitive conscience…the neglected and resisted conscience becomes more insensitive and eventually may stop giving warning signals about wrongdoing.” JM

Hebrews 10:19-22 - Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

What are some things we do or don’t do that can weaken our conscience and therefore our walk in Christ?
Not speaking the Gospel (huge one for me – I can feel my conscience writhing when I resist).
Not tithing.
Not coming to church.
Not studying and learning God’s word.
Not raising your kids in the admonition of the Lord.
Resisting authority.
Confusing priorities.

The more we disobey these calls on our life the more we wound our conscience – a sin against Christ.
Our life is supposed to be informed by and lived in context of our “newness of life” as Paul says in Romans 6.
Our conscience testifies to us about this.
When we ignore or disobey our conscience, despair and dissatisfaction are sure to follow.
So if you have a lackluster walk; one that is apathetic and stagnate, I think this very well could be your problem!


Acts 22:3-23 - Paul's Defense

Acts 22:3-23 - Paul's Defense

Diving Deeper lesson outline for Acts 22:3-23.
Lesson taught over 3 weeks.

Lesson title is drawn from Paul's stated intent behind the speech made to the Asian Jews.


Acts 22:3-5 - I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

Paul associates the following with his Judaism:
Spoke Aramaic – Vs. 2
Raised in Jerusalem
Educated by Gamaliel according to the law
Zealous for God
Persecutor of the Way

POI – The wisdom of Gamaliel
Acts 5:33-39 - When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

He cites witnesses:
High Priest
Whole council of elders
Brothers in Damascus

And a chain of evidence:
From them I received letters to punish the Way

In fact, elsewhere Paul outlines even more evidence for his Judaism:
Descendant of Abraham
Member of the tribe of Benjamin
A Pharisee
Blameless under the law

Romans 11:1b - For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3:4-6 - If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

And it is certainly possible that he built his case even more thoroughly than Luke reveals:
So zealous for traditions I was a prodigy
Witnessed & approved of Stephen’s execution
Ravaged the church

Galatians 1:14 - And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Acts 8:1-3 - And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

None of this was in any way offensive to the Jewish Mob – the Asian Jews.
In fact, much of this may have been new and impressive info for them.
The Saul that Paul was speaking of would have been at the front of the line in their persecution of Paul
This would help explain why just prior to this they were trying to kill him and now they were continuing to listen to him.
It is not unreasonable to expect, that with some of them, Paul had achieved his desired affect.
Which is to say, they began to question “This guy was awesome, but what happened to him?”

The answer was about to come.


Acts 22:6-11 - “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

In fact, on the way to persecute in Damascus:
Had a physical encounter with objective consequences
Blinded by light from heaven
Fell to the ground

Jesus talked to me:
Jesus of Nazareth was an allusion to the historical man who was crucified and buried and whose body was no longer in its tomb (the Asian Jews would have known this – Acts 19:17 – Jesus name extolled).
Jesus told me that persecuting the church was a persecution of him.

Cites witnesses to the physical encounter and consequences:
Those who were with me saw the light
Those who were with me saw I was blinded by it and had to lead me to Damascus
“Those who” were also the witnesses to Saul’s zealous Judaism, his persecution of the way and of the letter.

Cites a reason for the event:
Jesus has something for me to do and it is not to persecute the church.

In these verses, Paul was describing an event that changed his life.
The change it produced he would reveal soon enough.
What is in view here as Paul is making his defense, however, is that the event and its objective affects had witnesses.
Presumably, Paul’s story could be investigated and verified, otherwise, to use it as evidence for his the truth of his claims would have been merit less.

“The conversion and apostleship of St. Paul alone, duly considered, was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a divine revelation,” – George Lyttelton; Observations on the conversion of St. Paul

POI – Interesting to notice what Paul did not say in his defense.
When speaking the Gospel, we are often taught to give a testimony that describes our life before and then after our salvation & we typically talk about subjective, emotional aspects of our salvation – “peace”, “satisfaction”, “happiness”, etc.
Paul made mention of none of these things in his defense.
He spoke more about objective reasons behind his conversion; things much more useful to the audience if they wished to investigate Paul’s defense.
I think we should endeavor to adopt Paul’s strategy.


Acts 22:12-16 - “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Paul cites another witness:
Devout man according to the law
Respected by the Damascus Jews
(Acts 9:14 – Jews who knew Paul was coming to persecute the Christians & would have known Ananias was a Christian).
A witness to my blindness
Healed my blindness

Why cite a Christian as a source when speaking to the Asian Jews?
Wouldn’t this hurt Paul’s argument?

The answer to the above question is found in an understanding of the role of witnesses in Jewish law.
This, admittedly, is a very basic understanding.

First, it is necessary that there be testimony from at least two witnesses to establish the possibility of an event (crime).

Deuteronomy 19:15 - “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

Second, the quality and relationship of the witnesses must be established and examined.

The Jewish Law Annual states with respect to witnesses that, “what is being sought is a common denominator that serves to render the witnesses a single unit, that is, some factor that links together persons who would otherwise be simply a number of discrete individuals. It is clear that the connection between them is formal and accidental, without involving any personal element, and there is no logical or substantive reason to suppose that this connection has any influence on the case.”

When we apply this by comparing Ananias, the “those who were with me” from Acts 22:9 & 11 and the high priest and elders from Acts 22:5, we see a picture of witnesses whose connection is “formal and accidental”, without any “personal element” and that their connection is not some sort of collusion.

We see this because Annanias, a well-respected Jewish follower of Christ from Damascus, is quite different both in his beliefs and in his geography from the other witnesses.

Yet they all can testify to the following “common denominator”:
Paul was zealous for the law.
Paul persecuted Christians.
Paul encountered Jesus.
Jesus spoke to Paul.
Paul was blind.

Their relationship to the events Paul was recounting was the only thing that made the witnesses “a single unit”.
So the fact that they could, if interrogated, paint a picture that would have had all the aforementioned similarities gave their testimony incredible weight!

God orchestrated a series of events that provided actual historical reasons to believe in Paul’s message.
No one had to just take his word for it…and neither do we.
The Bible can withstand all the scrutiny we wish to throw at it.

This devout, respected, law abiding, healing Jew (Ananias) revealed:
God of our fathers (God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob)
Appointed (CHOOSE) Paul to know God’s will
To see Righteous One
To hear His voice

POI - That Paul was appointed or chosen by God reveals God’s role in calling us to Him.
As a side note, God also chose the disciples.
Luke 6:13 - And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles

The audience would have rightly understood the term “Righteous One” as referring to the Messiah.

Isaiah 24:16 - From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
Acts 3:14 - But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
Acts 7:52 - Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Ananias, as a witness, was corroborating Paul’s story and declaring that God chose Paul to see and hear the Messiah!
This was a remarkable claim Paul was making before the Jewish mob and it would not have been lost on them.

The purpose of the call on Paul:
Witness for Jesus what was seen and heard – THE BOOK OF ACTS.

The effects of the call:
Sins forgiven in name of Jesus

The idea of being immersed in water and its symbolic relationship to purification was not new to the Jews.
When you go to Jerusalem today, you see the remains at the temple mount of the Mikveh baths.
The Jewish Mikveh Laws were founded in the ceremonial washings taught in the Pentateuch.

Leviticus 8:6 - Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.
Leviticus 16:4 - He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.

And interestingly, Ezekiel & Zechariah prophesied about a cleansing to come in the days of the Messiah symbolized with water.

Ezekiel 36:24-28 - "For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you…You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people; and I will be your God"

Zechariah 12:10; 13:1 - "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son…On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity"

It is amazing to me that even with all these claims, the mob remained attentive.
Paul had declared that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and that Jesus had forgiven Paul’s sins.
It was presumable that many of the Jewish mob had also picked up on the relationship drawn between Jesus the Messiah and a symbolic water purification.
Perhaps the mob was still enamored with Paul’s Super Jew credentials.
But it was also possible that this points to the persuasiveness of Paul’s argument to at the very least, garner a respectful hearing.

But all that was about to change.


Acts 22:17-23 - “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ” 22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air… [enter the Roman tribune].

Paul’s time in the temple paints a beautiful picture of restoration:
Paul left Jerusalem a “slave to sin” and came back a “slave to righteousness”.
He left Jerusalem persecuting followers of Jesus and now was praying in the temple as a follower of Jesus.
He left Jerusalem irrevocably alienated from God and returned having been called and fully restored.

So we have the completion of Paul’s defense.
He made a brilliant, event and witness based case for Christ.
And he ended with this beautiful picture of a Jew restored and completed in fellowship and prayer with Jesus Christ in the temple.
A temple which had its purpose completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ!

POI – It can’t be overstated how remarkable this return to Jerusalem must have been for Paul.
One would speculate that when Paul entered the temple everything from the sights, smells, and symbolism must have struck him with a clarity that, in spite of all his Super-Jew qualities, he had never known before.
One would speculate further that his prior life must have now seemed hollow and counterfeit compared to what he now knew through Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:4 - For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
What a huge burden lifted!
What undo burdens have we placed on ourselves???

Paul is puzzled:
Paul seemed to be of the opinion that if he responded to God’s call then surely his former piers would respond as well.
Therefore, when Christ warns him to leave Jerusalem, he is puzzled by it.
He even gives his reasoning to Jesus – “I imprisoned”, “I beat”, on Stephen’s death “I myself was standing by and approving”.
In other words, if one who was “blameless under the law”, “a pharisee”, “zealous beyond his years”, “persecutor of the Way” could be restored, then surely others would do so as well.
Yet, Jesus knew differently.
Thus, Paul began a life of submission to the will of God no matter the cost.

The J-Bomb drops the G-bomb:
Jesus’ will for Paul – ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’
In fact, it was God’s will for Paul before Paul was even born.

Galatians 1:15-16 - But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul described this call to preach to the Gentiles this way:
This calling made possible by grace and power of Jesus
A mystery made know to me by revelation from Jesus
A mystery withheld from previous generations
That mystery being that Gentiles are fellow heirs

Ephesians 3:1-9 - For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,

Jews are outraged:
Up to this word they listened to him…
What ensued next reminds me of the 2001 Space Odyssey movie when the chimpanzees went nuts.
Paul claiming that God was going to do business with Gentiles sent them over the edge.
The question is why?

First, we need to see what informed their cultural bias (very similar to our cultural baggage lesson a few weeks ago).

The OT is full of references to “the nations” in a negative light.
And when taken out of context and coupled with a history of oppression by “the nations” it is easy to understand the Jews hatred of the Gentiles.

“I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples” – Leviticus 20:24
“abominations of the nations” – 2 Chronicles 33:2
“despicable practices of the nations” – 2 Kings 21:12
“the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean” – Leviticus 18:24
“you shall perish among the nations…your enemies” – Leviticus 26:38
“he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them” – Psalm 106:41

But in spite of these characterizations, the OT is also clear in God’s intent for “the nations”.

The Gentile call in the OT:
Both Luke in Acts 2:21, and Paul in Romans 10:13 interpreted the prophet Joel’s words as referring to a call of Gentiles.
In fact, they quoted the prophet word for word.

Joel 2:32a - And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Moses speaks of a blessing for the nations all the way back to Genesis.

Genesis 26:4I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

The restoration of Israel was prophesied to include Gentiles.

Amos 9:11-12 - “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, 12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.

Not to mention Ruth coming to God in faith & Jonah’s ministry to Nineveh.

Since the OT taught that God called the Gentiles the NT Jews had no Biblical reason for their objection.
So we are left with and understandable but worldy/culturally informed bias toward Gentiles.

I think it may have played out like this:
Strike 1 - It is not just Paul’s call to preach to the Gentiles.
Strike 2 - It is not just that Paul’s call to preach to the Gentiles came from Jesus of Nazareth.
Strike 3 - But, it is that this call to preach to the Gentiles took place inside the temple!

The temple was the ultimate expression of God’s covenant and relationship with the Hebrew nation.
To say that God confirmed this call to the Gentiles in the temple, was for the Jew a defilement of temple purity.
But for Paul it was a highway sign that read “the Gentiles are grafted in” as he taught in Romans 11.

There is another monumental implication for the Jew with regards to God’s call to the Gentiles.
Namely, what it means to be Jewish.

Romans 2:28-29 - For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Romans 9:4-8 - They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

It is as if Paul is saying that to be Christian is to be Jewish and to be Jewish is to be Christian.

We can draw some modern day parallels to Christianity today:
Today there are “Christians” who reject Paul’s Christianity just as many Jews rejected his Judaism.

Recently, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted to allow homosexual pastors.
And it declared that Scripture offers no clear teaching on homosexuality.
It therefore reasoned that one’s stance on homosexuality is best left up to one’s conscience.

In opposition, Lutheran theologian Robert Benne explained that, “The liberating movements fueled by militant feminism, multiculturalism, anti-racism, anti-heterosexism, anti-imperialism, and now ecologism have been moved to the center while the classic gospel and its missional imperatives have been pushed to the periphery.”

So, as a worldly, cultural bias and incomplete understanding of the implications of Scripture clouded the Jews view of God’s will to include Gentiles, so to have the same things contributed to the ELCA’s Scriptural relativism.

Albert Mohler, in refuting the ELCA’s reasoning (which they borrowed from Martin Luther), explained that Luther did teach that we are to be “bound by our conscience”, but he taught that the conscience was in turn bound to Scripture and not bound to the world (feelings, emotions, etc.).

Paul's defense and the Jews rejection confirmed what Jesus revealed to him in them temple years earlier.
Yet, Paul continued to recognize in his Epistles that God's covenant and call to the nation of Israel will find fulfillment.


Acts 21:37-22:2 - Paul's Personal Apologia Introduction

Acts 21:37–22:2 – Paul’s Personal Introduction
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 21:37-22:2

In verse 22, Paul described his forth coming statements as a “defense”.
Next week we will deal with the WHAT and WHY of the defense.
Today’s lesson is simply a brief introduction.

And to that end, it will be useful to understand Paul’s actions and motivations through the lens of 1 Peter.

1 Peter 3:14-17 - But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

1 Peter 4:14-16 - If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

In these verses, Peter unknowingly described precisely what Paul experienced in Acts 21 & 22’s lessons.

From 1 Peter 3:14-17:
Vs. 14 – “suffer for righteousness’ sake” – Acts 21:27-36
Vs. 15 – “in your hearts honor Christ” – Acts 21:23 & 26
Vs. 15 – “prepared to make a defense” – Acts 22:1
Vs. 15 – “with gentleness and respect” – Acts 21:37-40
Vs. 16 – “when you are slandered” – Acts 21:28 & Acts 21:38
Vs. 17 – “suffer for doing good” – Acts 21:26
Vs. 17 – “should be God’s will” – Acts 9:16

From 1 Peter 4:14-16:
Vs. 14 – “insulted for the name of Christ” – Acts 21:28
Vs. 15 – “none of you suffer as a murderer…” – Paul’s suffering was a result of what?
Vs. 16 – “let him not be ashamed” – Acts 22:3-21 (next weeks lesson)

Although all the parallels are worth examining, we will focus on Peter & Paul’s shared desire to make a defense.
It is worth noting that Paul engaged in two types of defenses in the course of his ministry.
One is the “gospel defense” that Paul regularly made as demonstrated in Acts 13:16-41; 17:2; 17:17; 18:4; 19:8.
The second is the “personal defense” made in our text today.

So in light of all that was going on, why did Paul desire to make a personal defense (apologia)?
The first reason has to do with a clarification for the Roman soldiers; the second an identification with the Jewish mob.


Acts 21:37b-38 & 39a - And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?”…39a Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city.

Who was the Egyptian?
There was a lot of Jewish Nationalist unrest under Roman rule at this time and as a result there were violent revolts.
The Roman tribune made the assumption that Paul was one of the Jews involved in these revolts.
The “Assassins” mainly targeted those Jews who sympathized with Roman interests.
However, when Paul spoke Greek to the tribune, it became clear to the him that Paul was something other.

The historian Josephus provides further insight into the Egyptian:
This Egyptian is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. l. xx. c. 7. sec. 6. Bel. l. ii. c. 13. sec. 5) who says that he pretended to be a prophet, and persuaded a multitude of people to follow him to the top of mount Olivet, telling them that they should see the walls of the city fall down before them; but Felix attacked them with horse and foot, killed 400 on the spot, took 200 prisoners, and put the Egyptian himself to flight.
Smith, J. H. (1992; 1996). The new treasury of scripture knowledge. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson.

This is another of many historical correlations between Biblical and Secular history found in Acts.

Paul’s reply:
Paul emphatically states that not only am I not Egyptian but I am a Jew from a prominent Roman city.
Due to this revelation and his ability to speak Greek, many commentators speculate that the Roman tribune began to suspect that Paul may have been a Roman citizen.
Paul would confirm that suspicion shortly.

So Paul clears up the Roman misconception.
He is then left with his identification with the Jewish mob.

But first, a interesting Point of Interest.

POI – Paul’s actions in our text also serve to underscore principals from previous lessons.
Acts 21:37a & 39b & 40a- As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?”… 39b I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40a And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people.

Romans 13:3 tell us that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad”.
The Roman presence was clearly a deterrent to the violent conduct of the Jewish mob – Acts 21:32.
This is another example of how political power served (in this case) to protect Paul from being beaten to death - a terror to bad conduct.

But the Romans did more than just protect Paul physically.

Paul submitted to the authority of the tribune as demonstrated by his humility and respect.
As a result, the tribune allowed Paul to make his defense to the Jewish mob.
So we see another example of “Blessed by Submission” and not “Diminished by Submission.”


Acts 21:40b-22:2 - And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: 22:1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet.

The second reason for Paul’s personal defense was to identify with his fellow Jews as shown with “brothers/fathers.”
I think he sought to do this both to demonstrate their shared heritage and because he desired to see them saved.

To the first point, Paul’s defense spoken in Aramaic was just the first of many ways he would demonstrate how much he and the mob had in common.
It is interesting that Paul’s use of Aramaic had the same affect on the Jews as his Greek had on the Romans.

To the second point, Paul’s words in Romans reveal what underlies an affection for the Jewish Mob who sought to kill him.
Romans 10:1 - Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (unbelieving Israel) is that they may be saved.

He longed to see them complete their relationship with the God that had redeemed Israel out of Egypt generations before.
And to that end, Paul was about to establish that – “LIKE YOU, I AM JEWISH AND SERVE YAHWEH.”