COME, FOLLOW ME LESSON AIDS: October 14–20 Philippians; Colossians “I Can Do All Things through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me”

VIDEO: Acts 22–28 | Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler | Scripture Central | Paul’s last witnesses and his Roman imprisonment

Total
0
Shares


I’m Taylor.

And I’m Tyler.

This is Scripture Central’s Come Follow Me Insights. This week, Acts 22 through 28.

So as we jump into today’s lesson, we actually need to go back to chapter 21 and pick up a couple of items that we didn’t get to in the last lesson that actually fit beautifully with these chapters that we’re covering today. So if you look at the Paul’s mission, third missionary journey map, it shows you as he finishes that mission and comes into the coastline, that Eastern Mediterranean coastline, that’s where the beginning part of chapter 21 picks up the story.

When he gets these stories where he meets again with Philip, we saw him earlier. He’s one of the seven who was called, and also a man named Agbos. And there seems to be all these instances where people are trying to convey to Paul that they have felt the inspiration that he should not go up to Jerusalem, but Paul will not be dissuaded.

Yeah, he’s not dissuaded. You’ll see this pattern over in verse 4, there’s a group of disciples who urge him not to go to Jerusalem. In verse 12, when we heard these things, the prophecy of Agbos in verse 10 and 11, that whoever owns this girdle is going to be bound, and they all know that’s Paul’s okay. So we have these foreboding feelings. And then it says in verse 12, When we heard these things, notice the we, Luke would be included in that mix now, both we and they of that place besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Very similar to, once again, Peter trying to dissuade the Savior from going down to Jerusalem.

Well, you even have that in verse 14, where the disciples finally say, The will of the Lord be done. And you might think Paul seems to be the one who’s willful here, willfully wanting to get himself up in Jerusalem. But Paul also has access to inspiration, and we can understand that Paul is being driven by the Spirit to do this. This is what is part of his mission to do, even if it results in being bound and taken to Rome.

It’s a beautiful example that is left for us here in this chapter. Paul’s words, if you look closely, in fact, at verse 13, his answer says, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. He’s saying, Look, this isn’t a struggle for me. I’ve given my life to the Lord. Now I’m ready to go and give my life for the cause in Jerusalem. A powerful example of how deeply converted Paul the Apostle has become at this point. Now, once they get to Jerusalem, you’ll pick up the story in verse 18, The day following, Paul went in with his son to James, and all the elders were present. And thus begins a fascinating discussion because James, once again, a little reminder, seems to be the leader of the Judiizer group in Jerusalem. And so he gets Paul back home in Jerusalem, and he says, verse 20, When they had heard it, they glorified the Lord. And said unto Paul, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are all zealous of the law.

So this is probably more than a decade after the ascension of the Savior. And here’s James saying, look at all these Jews who are believing. They’ve joined the Christian movement and they’re still zealous of the law. And we don’t want to do any damage with this group here. And you pick up verse 21, They are informed of thee that thou teachest all the Jews, which are among the Gentiles, to forsake Moses. So their solution is fascinating. James and these other Judaismizers in Jerusalem, they come to Paul and they say, Look, because there are a lot of rumors going around Jerusalem, and they’re all going to find out that you’re here, and they’re all going to make accusations against you because they’ve heard what you’ve been preaching out in those gentile areas and they’re going to be really concerned. So we’ve got a solution. We have some men here who are taking a Nazareth vow. Why don’t you go ahead and take that Nazareth vow with them? Go into the temple, one of the four chambers of the court of the women, the chamber of the Nazareths. You can shave your head, you can make this vow, and that will silence any rumors that you don’t like Moses or the law of Moses.

Paul had already done a nigh’s right vow. We saw some chapters earlier. So Paul is not in a situation where he would say, Well, absolutely never do that, because he has already done something like this.

Here we go. Verse 26, if you turn the page over, it says, Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself with them, entered into the temple to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until then an offering should be offered for every one of them. So when the seven days were almost ended, so this is a week long vow before you make that final offering, the Jews, which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stood up all the people and laid hands on him. And what are they crying? They’re yelling to everybody, Hey, this is the guy we’ve been telling you about. And here he is in our sacred space because these Jews from the diaspora all around the Mediterranean region and further into the east, they come to Jerusalem for these festival times of year. And all of the people from up in Turkey and Greece, these devout Jews who have come to Jerusalem, now they see their public enemy, number one, Paul, in their temple taking a Nazareth vow. They’re very confused. So they get all of the people, the men of Israel in an uproar.

And then there’s this other detail, verse 29, For they had seen before with him in the city, Trophimus and Ephesian, whom they suppose that Paul had brought into the temple.

Suppose. They didn’t verify. We have mob mentality here. And again, the temple platform area is about 25 American football fields large, huge. And this is the best place in Jerusalem to get a large crowd. And so this creates a big challenge. The Romans, in fact, have built a fortress right next to the temple to solve for this very issue whenever a riot might break out. Could you imagine having a police precinct in one of our temples today, just in case the LDS members in the temple break out in a riot inside the temple. It’s just, it’s unconscionable, unfathomable. But back then, we had these people who just broke out in riots. And this sets off this long chain of engagements that Paul has with different leaders. And we get a repeat over these next chapters of his story, again and again, of what brought him to this point. So it’s interesting that we get to hear Paul’s story of conversion multiple times. And he’s also trying to convey, I am a Jew who happens to worship Jesus as my Savior. Now, we think there’s a clear distinction today between Christianity and Judaism. In Paul’s mind, there wasn’t that much of a difference.

But some of these Jews, they really felt Paul was the cause of their troubles.

And because of this supposed bringing Trophimus the Gentile, this Ephesian into the temple, that that rumor spreads. And keep in mind, if you look at the temple mount, they have this 500 cubic square area that is marked off with what is called the soreg. It’s this lattice work fence. And there are 13 openings in the soreg where you can walk through. Gates, if you will. And off to the side of each one, written in Greek and Latin, is this inscription that says, Gentiles, beware. If you pass this point, you’re going to be responsible for your own death. We will kill you. So they’re thinking that Paul has now defileded the temple, supposing that he’s brought this Ephesian with him into the temple. So they’re dragging him out of the court of the women and out into the court of the gentiles beyond this 500 cubic square sacred space. They’re in the vicinity now, we would assume, of the Antonia Fortress in that northwest corner of this huge temple mound. Well, the Centurians the Roman soldiers are watching this happen and they say, We got a problem. And so they come running down the stairs, go into the mob, into the crowd, and they grab Paul away from this group who are ready to kill him right there in the court of the gentiles.

And of course, Paul’s like, Hey, now that I have the audience gathered, could I please have a moment to speak to the people? And we imagine there’s the staircase going up into the fortress, and from there he can talk to the people.

And it’s beautiful because Paul’s able to speak to the Romans in their language, and they’re confused by that. They’re saying, How do you do this? And then he turns and he can speak to the people in their language as well. And thus opens chapter 22 with his speech to the men down in the court of the gentiles as he’s up on the stairway leading into the Antonio fortress. And he says, verse 3, I am verily a man, which am a Jew born into Tarsus, a city in Cillicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel. That will get a lot of people’s attention because Gamaliel was one of the best teachers in the Pharaoh’s cycle school.

Of Hallel. And highly respected. So if you’re one of the top students of one of the highly respected teachers, well, you’re obviously somebody to listen to as well.

So now he gives them his story and tells about his conversion on that road to Damascus. You see, by the way, in verse 9, They that were with me saw indeed the light and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. But if you go back to Acts 9, verse 7, it says the opposite. And keep in mind that back there in chapter 9, Joseph Smith, in his translation, shifted the meaning in chapter 9 to match exactly what’s going on here with this first retelling of the story in Acts 22, verse 9. And then he tells about Anna and I’s healing him, and he’s giving all of this story, reminding them that I was there when Steven was stoned. And we turn the page over in verse 21, he says to the group that the Lord told him, Depart, for I will send the far hence unto the gentiles. Now you’ll notice that that steps over a line for many of the people.

Oh, yeah, because Judaism, it’s by birth. Today, we think about religion as something that you choose. There’s conversion. And in the ancient world, particularly among the ancient Israelites, the Jews, they didn’t see conversion the way we think about it. You were born into it. And I would use a quick example. In India, there’s a religion that emerged about 500 years ago called Sikhism. And they similarly believe that you are born into whatever religion or family God wants you to be in. It’s how the Jews felt. And so the idea that gentiles could become Jewish or Israelite for some Jews was really problematic and causes all this massive stir where they want to lay hands on Paul.

So at that point, verse 22 says, They gave him audience unto this word. That was it. And then lifted up their voice and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live. So they cast off their clothes. They threw dust into the air. It’s this massive uproar right there in the temple. And so the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle or the Antony of Fortress and begged that he should be examined by scourging.

So if you beat people, that somehow will get what you need out of them.

You’ll somehow find the truth that way. And so they bound him, and Paul turns to the centurion and says, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman and uncondemned, by the way, I haven’t had a fair trial. You’re now going to execute a punishment on me? And so the centurion instantly stopped, goes to the leader. The chief captain says, By the way, this man’s a Roman. And so he says, Are you really a Roman? Yes, I am. And then he says, The chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained This freedom. And Paul said, I was free born. So Roman citizenship is this fascinating thing. There are a variety of ways you can get your citizenship. And when you got it, it was worth an awful lot. You could be born into it like Paul, which would imply that his father had Roman citizenship. You can purchase it like the chief of the chief captain here has obviously paid a great sum of money to purchase his citizenship. Or if you do great favors for Rome individually or your family, Cesar can appoint citizenship to you, or an entire city or a region.

If they do something spectacular to help Rome, everybody in that city can get Roman citizenship. How did Paul get his citizenship? We don’t know. He was born in to it, but we don’t know at what point his parentage achieved this Roman citizenship. But he’s using it very effectively at this point.

And clearly, it’s really valuable. You imagine, if you look around the world today, there’s different nations. And if you are born in a certain nation, you get certain privileges that a foreigner doesn’t. So if I was born in the United States, so if I went to Germany or to China or Brazil, I’m not going to have certain privileges there because I wasn’t born into that nation. I won’t have certain rights. And this was a very significant thing throughout the ancient Roman world. And people throughout the Roman world were hankering to get Roman citizenship because of the enormous advantage as it provided, including, for example, a fair trial, at least in theory, versus had he just been any typical Jew, the Romans would not have felt bad to beat the guy and possibly beat him to death. He’s not a Roman citizen, so our laws don’t protect him.

So in verse 30, it tells us that on the morrow, because he would have known the certainty whereof he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands and commanded the chief priests and all the council to appear and brought Paul down and set him before them. So we have this trial in front of the Jewish leadership, the Sanhedrin, with lots of guards from the Roman cohort standing there to make sure nothing goes wrong with this trial.

And I love how Paul, both who has a good brain and has inspired how he handles himself in this situation, recognizing that the Jewish court itself is divided into different theological factions, and that he knows he’s not going to get a fair trial. All he needs to do is to express his theological view, and the sides will start fighting and forget about him.

Which is exactly what he did. So they begin by smiting him at the high priest’s request, at which point Paul turns and says something pretty rough against the high priest. Verse 3, it says, Paul said unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall. For sitest thou to judge me after the law, and commandeth this me to be smitten contrary to the law? I’m not condemned. Once again, you’re smiting me. And then everybody says, Paul, are you really going to revile God’s high priest like that?

That’s just crazy. The high priest has just reviled the law of Moses in his action, and Paul calls him out for that. And everybody wants to protect the immorality of the high priest because of his position. So you just get a sense of just the wickedness. And instead of standing for what was true, regardless of who is living the truth or not, they want to hold up the position, even if the person holding the position was doing immoral acts. Actually, to be more specific, they’re trying to uphold the person themselves and not the position. But because that person is in that high, lofty position, well, he can’t do anything immoral, so you can’t think bad about him. It’s really, really wrong.

But even then, Paul apologizes. In verse 5, he says, I whist not, or I didn’t know, brother, and he was the high priest. For it is written, thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. There is a definite deference given to that position. Paul’s like, I didn’t know he was the high priest, or I probably wouldn’t have said that. Then this is where Taylor mentioned earlier, verse 6 says, Paul is looking at the group and he perceives part of Sadducee, part of Pharaoh. So he simply says, Look, I’m a pharisee. I’m the son of a Pharaoh. Of the hope and the resurrection of the dead, I am called into question. Question. Boom, that’s it. He did what he needed to do. Now, these two groups start fighting and bickering back and forth about the resurrection because the Sadducees don’t believe in resurrection. And so they’re contending so sharply that it says, verse 10, When there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down and to take him by force from among them and to bring him back into the castle, back into the safety of the Antony Fortress.

I have seen debates break out in the back of an elder’s core meeting, but never this level where you worry that somebody’s going to have their tie ripped off.

This is intense. Verse 11 tells us that the night following, the Lord stood by Paul and said, Be of good cheer, Paul, for as thou has testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. Verse 11 right there, that’s a game changer for Paul because up to this point, he’s been ready to lay down his life and let whatever happens happen to him in Jerusalem. And at that point, he realizes, oh, the Lord is standing here saying, I have another mission for you, Paul. You need to bear witness of my name in front of Caesar. Are you noticing that there probably isn’t any other apostle in the ranks at that time who would have had the access to get into Caesar’s court to bear witness of Christ in Caesar’s royal court? But Paul does because of his citizenship and because of his connection with all of these gentiles up in the Greco Roman world of Turkey and Greece and Italy. And so at this point, Paul knows, okay, I can’t be killed here in Jerusalem. I got to get to Rome.

Even though there’s a plot by over 40 men, you get this long narrative here explaining all the details of how the plot was discovered, how it was communicated to the Romans, and how they dealt with it, and then how the Roman who protected Paul wanted to prove to his superior that he was awesome at protecting this Roman citizen. So it’s very interesting the intricacies of what happens here to protect and preserve Paul’s life, both by it was Paul’s nephew as well as this Roman Roman soldier.

Yeah, it’s a sad story on one level that all these men took this vow that we will not eat or drink until Paul is dead. Well, he’s not going to die for years at this point.

And I’ve often wondered, I wonder if Luke had ever found out whatever happened in those men, did they all die from starvation.

So in verse 23, we make our way up with this huge group of men protecting Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea Meritimah, which is, again, the capital city of the Roman leadership in the region. And then you’re introduced to this new character, the governor, Felix. So now in chapter 24, we get the high priest Ananias descending with the elders with a certain orator named Tertullus to Caesarea to come and try to finish Paul off in the eyes of these Romans. And so Tertullus, this orator, he began to accuse Paul, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence. There’s a little bit of flattery going on here. We’re so grateful for your leadership, Felix.

It’s a lot of flattery. The Jews really had a pretty tense relationship with their Roman overlords. They are just absolutely kowtowing to the Romans in order that they can kill Paul. It’s pretty sad, you see.

These are pharisees.

Oh, pharisees. Wrong guys.

Verse 5, For we have found this man, a pestulent fellow and a mover of sedition. There’s a key word for Roman leadership. He’s causing sedition among all the Jews throughout the world and a ring leader of the sect of the Nazareens. So he’s stirring up all these people and he’s trying to now profane our temple. And so you get in verse 10, it says, Then Paul, after the governor had beckened unto him to speak, answered, for as much as I know that thou has been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself. I don’t need an orator to speak for me. I’m going to give my own defense. So he steps up and he starts telling his story again and pointing out the fact that the point of contention from his perspective is that there’s a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. It says in verse 21, Except it be for this one voice that I cried, standing among them, touching the resurrection of the dead, I am called in question by you this day. So he keeps bringing it back to this major friction point for them.

And it says, When Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them and said, When Lysias, the chief captain, shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. In other words, he wants his guy who was in charge of all of that experience to come and give his own testimony. Because at this point, he doesn’t know who to believe or what to believe. So it says, After certain days, when Felix came with his wife, Dr. Sula, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And so they’re listening. And then you get a little detail that Luke throws into the mix here in verse 26, He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him. He’s looking for a bribe, a buyout.

Which was quite common in the ancient world. And unfortunately, in some places till today where there’s corruption, where leaders dispense justice depending on how much money they can get for the acts they do to preserve people’s lives or to give them benefit.

Verse 27 tells you that after two years, Portiaes Festus came into Felix’s room or took Felix’s place, and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound. He knew he was innocent by this time, but he left him bound. Why? To show these leaders of the Jews a pleasure. And you’re going to see that again in chapter 25 with Festus in verse 9. It uses the exact same phrase.

So we got to imagine for these Roman rulers who were in the place of Pontius Pilate, we now have Felix and then Festus, they have this rabbit rousing group of Jews, and they’re thinking to themselves, how do I maintain the peace? So they’re willing to hold an innocent man in order to appease the rabbit rouser crowd of some of the Jews. And the question we have to ask ourselves in our lives, are we willing to do what’s right, even if there are people for the wrong reasons will be angry at us for doing what’s right?

So here we go again. Take 2, now Festus instead of Felix, and he listens to some of the arguments. The high priest and the chief of the Jews, in verse 2, informed him against Paul, and, B esought him, they pled, bring him down to Jerusalem to judge here. So they’re pleading with Festus to bring him up to Jerusalem, knowing that they can set a trap along the way where they can kill Paul before he even gets to Jerusalem. So when Festus asks Paul, if he’s willing to go up to Jerusalem to be judged there, I love what happens in verse 10. It’s a it’s it’s it steals Paul’s fate. Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat where I ought to be judged. To the Jews have I done no wrong as thou very well knowest. These are bold words. But as a Roman citizen, he is now using one of his rights as a citizen, which is, nobody else is going to judge me. I get to go to Caesar’s judgment seat. I’m going to be judged of Caesar in Rome.

And that eventually convinced his fests. He seems to have some sense of judgment. And we’ll just skip ahead just briefly to verse 16. He says, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die before that he, which is accused, have the accusers face to face and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. So even the pagan Romans had a sense of justice, particularly for their own citizens. And they realized Paul at least deserves that we deliver justice to him and not have him executed simply because a crowd is shouting about it. He needs the opportunity to stand face to face against his accusers and have his side of the story heard.

So now, let’s do trial number three, King Agripa II, a great grandson of Herod the Builder that we sometimes call Herod the Great. He’s the one who was the king when the savior was born. So his great grandson, Herod Agripa II, and Bernese, his sister, come to Caesarea. And Festus tells them all about this fascinating case. And he says, Hey, I have to write letters to Caesar to go to Rome with this prisoner, and I don’t know what to exactly write. And Agripa says, Perfect, because I want to hear the case. And then you’ll know some of the things that you can write in this letter of accusation to send with Paul to Caesar’s judgment seat. So we gather everybody together in chapter 26, and we’re going to tell the story yet again. And at this point, Paul is in the middle of telling all of this detail about the Lord Jesus Christ, what he had suffered, how he had died, how he was buried. And then you get to verse 23, the that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead and should show light unto the people and to the gentiles.

Now, that’s a trigger point, not just for Sadducees, but especially for Roman leadership who are Pagans in their religious practices, and they believe the Greek philosophy that there is no such thing as resurrection. So for Paul to be talking about this being that he worships, this man who’s become a God to him, that he died under Roman hands and was resurrected, Festus breaks in at that point.

We have Paul in some of his letters saying, foolishness to the Greeks, stumbling block for the Jews. And that Jesus, in that culture and time, was hard for everybody to accept because of the cultural baggage they brought to their encounter with Jesus.

So Festus jumps in in verse 24 with a loud voice. He says, Paul, thou art beside thyself. Much learning doth make thee mad. Basically, this is ridiculous. Resurrection of your God, come on. And And Paul’s response is, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I speak forth the words of truth and soberness. And then he turns to Agripa, for the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him. For this thing was not done in a corner. King Agripa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. And then Agripa said unto Paul, Almost, thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Now, in most English translations today of the Bible, verse 28 is translated not in a, I’m that close to being baptized. Most other English translations, besides the King James version, will say things like, Really? In such a short period of time, you think you’re going to convince me to become a Christian and to give up all that I have? All of this power and might and Majesty is the sense, the feeling going on here.

But either way, it’s beautiful how Paul responds, I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day were both almost and altogether, such as I am, accept these bonds.

This word persuade comes from the same root word that we have in Greek for faith. And so the whole core here is Paul has faith in Jesus Christ. He’s been preaching to other people to have faith in Jesus Christ. And we have this leader essentially denying or saying, I refuse to be persuaded. I refuse to have faith or trust in the things that you are saying. Or if we want to translate it how we have in the King James, it’s like, Well, I almost trust and almost believe, but not enough. And the invitation is for all of us. Are we willing to be fully persuaded to be all in on faith in Jesus Christ?

It’s powerful. So now, look at the conclusion. They went aside, they huddled off to the side, talking among themselves. And they came to the conclusion, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agripa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty if he had not appealed unto Caesar. Now, I just have to jump in here and say that is true on paper legally. But what we’ve seen with Felix and now Festus is they both knew he was innocent and should have already been set at liberty, but they didn’t do it. So what guarantee would it be that Agripa would show up and say, Yeah, we have to set him free. Or would he say, we need to keep the peace among the leadership of the Jews. Let’s not set him free. So just because on paper it looks like, yeah, he’s innocent and he would have been set free. The reality is thanks to that vision of of the Lord standing by him at night, Paul doesn’t care about any of that. He’s not relying on Festus or Felix before him or Agripa now to set him free because Paul has already been set free by the Lord, and he’s on the Lord’s errand.

And he, quite frankly, doesn’t care at this point what these men in great power, in their own minds, are going to do to him.

I also think it’s an interesting lesson of how mob mentality that people can get really passionate about something, and that somehow they convince themselves that that strong, driving passion is evidence that they are based on fact and truth or reality. And we know from all these stories that these Jewish leaders had everything opposite. But because they felt so strongly about their opinion, they tried to create an alternate reality, which eventually got Paul out of their midst. That’s what they wanted. They didn’t care what was true. They only wanted their world view to be reconfirmed, which meant Paul was no longer around.

Which now brings us to the final two chapters of Luke’s book of the Acts. So if we take the final journey to Rome, the map, and we try to recreate a little portion of it here, you have Turkey, here you have Greece, and over here you have Italy with Sissili down there and Malta over here. We have Crete, this island here, and we have Cypress. This over here. So we’re leaving from Caesarea, where he’s been judged. And we start on this journey, and he gives you some detail about that journey, sailing up over the island of Cypress, and we start working our way along the coastline. Ideally, you just jump across the Aegean Sea and then you come around the southern end of Greece and you jump across the Adriatic Sea and you make it to Italy. But as is the case with many of us in our life’s journey, that which we have mapped out doesn’t always play out the way we anticipated. So you see here in verse 1, it says, It was determined that we should sail into Italy. I think this is significant, Taylor, because this isn’t Luke getting his information about this perilous journey, third hand or later on.

He’s going through this with Paul.

Which is interesting. Imagine Luke. Luke is the one who provides us the gospel of Luke in the Book of Acts. I just want you to think about these words that we have loved and have so helped us to understand Jesus were delivered by a man who experienced these things with Paul. He knew of God’s power, Jesus’ power to say physically and spiritually.

Who, by the way, let’s remember, Luke was a gentile. He’s a convert to the Church later on, living over here, probably in Troy near Ephesis. And he’s journeying with Paul at different points. And now he gets to be with Paul during this as a Gentile going towards Rome under the direction of Julius, a centurion of Augustus’s band. So they leave and Paul is on less than house arrest in verse 3. He’s given the liberty to go to his friends and refresh himself while they’re getting the ship to go east or to go west, rather. It says, verse 4, When we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cypress because the winds were contrary. Here we go. We’re headed west and we’re sailing verse 7, very slowly, many days and scarce were come over against Cnitis, the wind not suffering us. So we sailed under Crete over against Salmona. So they then come down under Crete sailing because the winds just were not working for them. And this is where this story gets, in my mind, fascinating. I love this thing. Look at verse 8, And hardly passing it, they came came unto a place which is called the fair havens.

Nowhere unto was the city of La Silla. So they come to this spot on the southern side of this island of Crete, and it’s near the Fair Havens near La Silla. Now, when much time was spent, because it took us way longer than we thought, because the winds were not working for us, and we’ve delayed how much, it says, sailing was now dangerous because the fast was now already past. So the fast would be Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, which happens late September, early October, depending on the lunar cycle of that year. So it’s the beginning of what we would call today the fall season. Well, sailing on the Mediterranean Sea started in late September, early October, after the fast, after Yom Kippur, notoriously dangerous. And we’ve seen that it’s been rough just getting to that point. So at this stage, it says Paul admonished them. So Paul stands up. Oh, and keep in mind, let’s put this in context. If you look over at verse 37, take a quick peek ahead, you find out that there are 200 three score and 16 souls on the ship, Luke and Paul being two of those.

So there’s 276 people. That gives you a sense of the size and the scope and the scale of this group of sailors, soldiers, and prisoners, and other passengers that we don’t know about.

Yeah, this is not a small Galilean fishing ship. And so when the storms arise here, it is very serious.

So in this group, picture it, 276. For those of you in a regular sized ward, picture about 276 in a sacrament meeting, one person standing up and saying, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage. Not not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. Now, can I just say that for most of the 275 other people on that ship, this would have been very odd to have a prisoner stand up and say that. It’s like, Who do you think you are? And why should I listen to you? Well, watch what happens. This is fascinating. This is one of my favorite lessons of all of the scriptures on the principle of follow the prophet. Verse 11 starts by saying, Nevertheless, in spite of what Paul just said, the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship more than those things which were spoken by Paul. Are you seeing? Let’s turn to the experts of the world. Let’s turn to the guy who owns the ship and who’s in charge of the ship and ask him. And it says, verse 12, Because the fair havens, or the haven, was not commodious to winter in.

So if we stay here, like Paul’s suggesting in the fair havens, we have to spend the winter here and it’s not commodious. It’s going to be very uncomfortable. The more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means, they might attain to Phenness, and there to winter, which is in the Haven of Crete and lies toward the southwest and northwest. Now, notice this. If we can just limp our way in this boat over to this westernmost end of Crete, then we can get to this city, Phenness. It’s a much better place to stay. It will be commodious to winter in, is the principle here. Oh, and let’s add one more verse, And when the south wind blew gently, did you catch that? There’s this gentle south breeze blowing, and I’m not a sailor, but I know enough about sailing that if you’re in that location trying to get to that location, probably one of the best breezes you could have would be a gentle south breeze because then you just put your sails at that 45 degree angle, that gentle south breeze hits that sail and just tucks you along that coastline over to Venice, and it’s just a pleasant afternoon ride.

Everything’s great. Are you noticing? All of the experts say go. We don’t want to spend winter here, so we would prefer not to stay. Oh, and the gentle south breeze is telling me it’s perfect, which would cause me to look up Paul and think, What does he know? He’s crazy. And so they disregard his counsel. Verse 14 opens with an interesting word, but, brothers and sisters, can I suggest that every time you and I choose to go against what the prophets have counseled us to do, anytime that we stack up a list of all the reasons why we’re right and they may be wrong, or why they may be misinformed or not completely understand our situation, or have our best interests in mind, whatever it may be, any time we go against what they say, mark it. There’s going to be a verse in our own Journal that will start with the word but. In this case, But not long after, there arose against it a tempestuous wind called Eurocliden. Eurocliden being an east wind. And you’ll notice that throughout scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, an east wind is always a wind of destruction, a wind that brings with it death, a wind that is you lose control, which is exactly what happens in this ship.

Verse 15, it says, When the ship was caught and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. We just needed to go this little teeny distance and we had the safety of the shore right on our right-hand side. But because of this violent east wind, this Euroclidon, we no longer have control of the ship, so we now have to let her drive. Isn’t that a beautiful principle in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that there’s safety in following the prophets. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have major storms, but we’re going to be able to weather those storms better. They would have been at the Fair Havens when this terrible storm came. And yeah, it might not have been a very commodious winter, but they wouldn’t have experienced all these struggles that we’re about to read about coming up. So they now lose control. They no longer can use their agency to decide what to do with the ship. So they let her drive. And running under a certain island, which is called Clouder, we had much work to come by the boat, which when they had taken up, they used helps undergirding the ship, fearing less they should fall into the quicksand they strake sail and so were driven.

So it’s just getting worse and worse and worse. So what do we have to do? The next day, they lightened the ship. And the third day, they cast out with their own hands the tackling of the ship. These things at the back of the Fair Havens, everybody would have said, oh, that is essential for our voyage on the sea. You have to have tackling of the ship. Well now, things that you thought were essential are weighing you down, and they’re saying, we’re going to die. We’re going to sink because of this storm and the waves that are coming in. We have to lighten the ship, lighten the load. We have to simplify our life. So they start throwing out things that before were seen as essential. And when neither the sun nor the stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. At this point, everybody’s sitting there saying, we’re dead, we’re all going to die. All hope is taken away. Don’t you love what happens in verse 21? Paul stood up after long abstinance, and he said, Sirs, you should have hearkened unto me and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

So he doesn’t dwell on that, but he reminds them, I warned you that this would happen. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer. Don’t you love that? This great apostle speaking for the Lord now, the exhortation to the group is, Be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you but of the ship. I don’t know about you, but if I’m in a ship that big with 276 people, and now this guy who had told us not to leave and we left, now we’re having struggles, if he stood up and said, I’m going to make a promise, we’re going to lose the ship, but we’re not going to lose anybody’s life. None of the 276 of us are going to die. I’m speaking for myself, I would have had a really hard time believing that if I’m just a random passenger on this ship. But I love the response here. He tells them why. Verse 23, he griever, there stood by me this night, the angel of God, whose I am and whom I serve, saying, fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar. And lo, God has given thee all them that sail with thee.

Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be with us, even as it was told me. Can you see a pattern? That God’s prophets, one of their messages is to be of good cheer. Put your focus on the Lord. Trust in his promises, they’re sure. And so he said, we’re going to be cast upon a certain island. And then verse 27 says, But when the 14th night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight, the shipman deemed that they drew near to some country. So they sensed, it’s night time, so they sounded, which means they dropped that weight down in and it’s got a rope with not s tied every so many feet, and they can tell how far down the sea floor is. And then they sound again and they realize we are coming into land. We’re getting closer to something. So they put down the anchors and they wait for the day. And at that point, you can picture a group of the sailors getting together saying, this is our chance. Let’s get out of here. Verse 30, The ship and we’re about to flee out of the ship.

And when they had let down this lifeboat into the sea under the color as though they would have cast anchors out of the for ship. We’re just going down here to go and get the anchors out of the front. Paul knows what’s happening. And so he said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. You’ll notice what’s happened now with our centurion and our soldiers? They don’t question Paul anymore. They trust him completely. So they run over and the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat and let her fall off, preventing these shipmen, these sailors from getting in and getting to land on their own. And so then Paul tells them, Everybody eat up. Everybody eat, not a hare of your head is going to fall from any of you. None of you are going to be harmed. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all. And when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. And we were all in the ship, 203 scorned, 16 souls.

So now we lighten the ship and the next morning when the sun comes up, the ship is lighter so we can get in closer to this island, which we find out later is Malta, and the ship gets torn apart. But all of the people get into the water. Some grab wood, others swim to shore on their own. And instead of killing them like the soldiers said in 42, the centurion, willing to save Paul, commanded that they which could swim, should cast themselves first in the sea and get to land, and the rest came to shore on boards. So the centurion refused to let the soldiers kill the prisoners because they’ve e has learned to trust what Paul says. I imagine that if that centurion were here today, he might remind us of the power that comes from not trusting in the arm of flesh or trusting in our own preferences or trusting in our own logic and reasoning, but putting faith in God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by following the prophet and the seers and the revelators that God has chosen for the earth, which now brings us to chapter 28.

So now we get to the story where they’ve landed on Malta. And listen to the way that Luke describes a people, verse 2, And the barbarist people showed us no little kindness.

The.

Word Barbarist is like the people who are untrained, uncouth. They’re like the outsiders, the foreigners, people who don’t want to hang around. And here’s Luke who often sees, like he learned from his master Jesus, how to see people who are often unseen. He really describes them with the technical term you might get in the Greco Roman world. He says, They treated us with kindness. I just love humanity that Jesus teaches us to treat people with kindness. And even those who may not know Jesus have the light of Christ and can also live with kindness. And of course, here it’s wintertime and they get the fire and they’re getting taken care of. And we get the story of Paul now having survived shipwreck, what is he going to experience? The Viper comes out of the fire and bites his hand.

And it doesn’t even just bite his hand, it fastens on his hand. So you can picture these locals watching Paul as he put a bundle of sticks on the fire and a Viper comes out and attaches to his hand. So Paul’s got this snake and it’s a very poisonous Viper. He somehow gets it off and he keeps going to work. Well, all the locals say, We’ve got a solution. No doubt this man is a murderer whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. Keep in mind, under pagan worship, under this Greco Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses, they see the gods and goddesses as giving vengeance to those who have done wrong. And he’s saying, Well, if Pose didn’t quite do him in, then this other God of the serpents is going to finish him off because he’s clearly done something very wrong. Probably he’s a murderer. And so they’re just watching with their clock ticking, waiting for Paul to pass out and then die. But it says, verse 5, He shook off the beast into the fire and he felt no harm. How be it? They looked when he should have swollen or fallen down dead suddenly.

But after they had looked a great while and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a God. We’ve seen this pattern with Paul before going the other direction.

It’s one or the other. They can’t just be a servant of God who’s experiencing life.

So we get introduced to Pueblius, who is the chief man of the island, and he lodged us three days courteously in his home. Well, Pueblius has a father who lay sick of a fever, of a bloody flux. And Paul entered in, prayed, laid hands on him and healed him. And then when they saw this, others also, which had diseases on the island, came and and Paul healed them as well. And then it says, They laided us with such things as were necessary, and they finished their winter experience there. And it says, After three months, we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the aisle whose sign was Castor and Pollux. And then they went over and landed on the mainland of Italy. And now we’re going to work our way up the western Coast of Italy before heading into Rome. Some of you may be a little bit confused by the ending of the Book of Acts here in chapter 28. It ends with Paul arriving in Rome. He’s on house arrest. He doesn’t get to go and testify in front of Caesar yet in this story. And we know that multiple things are going to happen.

He’s going to write multiple letters. He’s going to have visitors. And this could go on for a couple of years. But it’s fascinating that Luke ends his gospel here at the Chapter 28 with Paul just on house arrest. Now, what do we know about the ending of Paul’s story? Christian tradition holds that he is killed by Nero in Rome, and as a Roman citizen, you can’t be crucified. So tradition also holds that Peter is killed by Nero in Rome, and that tradition is that he was crucified upside down. But because Paul’s a Roman citizen, you can’t crucify him. So the tradition is he is beheaded in Rome. And we know that Nero dies in June, June ninth of the year 68. And possible that Paul and Peter both killed that spring before Nero’s death, we each is fascinating because Luke is ending his record here, this book, probably a few years before that point, and we just don’t get the end of the story. So we’re going to have to pick up more of the details else later on with some of Paul’s latest Epistle, the very last ones that he’s going to write, the pastoral Epistle to Timothy and Titus.

And I like how it ends because we end on this note, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Let’s remember, what is the purpose of the Book of Acts and the scriptures in general to point us to Jesus Christ? So instead of fixating on the death of Paul and ending the story there where we end thinking about Paul, we end thinking about Jesus and what Paul would have us be focused on, which is spreading God’s kingdom. So it’s very interesting that we know how it ends for Paul, but the kingdom of God does not end.

That’s a beautiful principle. So in closing, we’ve covered a lot of Paul’s perilous journey to Jerusalem first and now to Rome. That’s his story. I wonder what our story is in the bigger scheme of things. And if it points people to the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s our goal is to be on his errand, to hearken to his voice, to hear him, to follow his prophets with faith in God, faith in his Son Jesus Christ, faith in the Holy Ghost. And move forward carrying forth the kingdom of God into all parts of the world that we have any an influence with. That’s our hope and our prayer for all of us as we move forward in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Now that your love and.

Spread light and goodness. You.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.