Roman Soldiers Marcing1Gazing intently at the high council,a Paul began: “Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!”

2Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth. 3But Paul said to him, “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite!bWhat kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?”

4Those standing near Paul said to him, “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?”

5“I’m sorry, brothers. I didn’t realize he was the high priest,” Paul replied, “for the Scriptures say, ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.’c

Notice Paul’s humility and quick ability to apologize.  Paul was a very accomplished man and certainly one of the best educated men in that room.  Yet he is so quick to apologize and submit to authority.  He instantly shows respect for someone who was, politically speaking, in a role of authority, even though spiritually the High Priest role was assumed by Jesus and Paul knew it.  

Why is “I’m sorry” so hard to say?  It shouldn’t be.  If Paul can say “I’m sorry”, we should be able to say it with ease.  

Lord, make me humble and able to quickly say I’m sorry and have deep respect for those you place in authority over me.

6Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!”

7This divided the council—the Pharisees against the Sadducees— 8for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these. 9So there was a great uproar. Some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees jumped up and began to argue forcefully. “We see nothing wrong with him,” they shouted. “Perhaps a spirit or an angel spoke to him.” 10As the conflict grew more violent, the commander was afraid they would tear Paul apart. So he ordered his soldiers to go and rescue him by force and take him back to the fortress.

11That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.”

We have a room full of divided beliefs here.  Sadducees are hard to understand.  They claimed to believe in the Jewish God, but not a life after death.  I personally think they were atheist who wanted the political power through the Jewish religion.  The Pharisees agreed with Paul about the resurrection, they just didn’t want Jesus to have resurrected!  Paul of course is our model.  There are some beliefs that are so hard to bridge that a unified goal can’t bring together.  The Sadducees and the Pharisees both wanted Paul dead, but this subject divided them immediately.

We need to be careful who we partner with, very careful, or we will accomplish nothing.

Lord, help me to choose my partners wisely, and when I’m choosing poorly, choose for me.

The Plan to Kill Paul

12The next morning a group of Jewsd got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13There were more than forty of them in the conspiracy. 14They went to the leading priests and elders and told them, “We have bound ourselves with an oath to eat nothing until we have killed Paul. 15So you and the high council should ask the commander to bring Paul back to the council again. Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way.”

16But Paul’s nephew—his sister’s son—heard of their plan and went to the fortress and told Paul. 17Paul called for one of the Roman officerse and said, “Take this young man to the commander. He has something important to tell him.”

18So the officer did, explaining, “Paul, the prisoner, called me over and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”

19The commander took his hand, led him aside, and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”

20Paul’s nephew told him, “Some Jews are going to ask you to bring Paul before the high council tomorrow, pretending they want to get some more information.21But don’t do it! There are more than forty men hiding along the way ready to ambush him. They have vowed not to eat or drink anything until they have killed him. They are ready now, just waiting for your consent.”

22“Don’t let anyone know you told me this,” the commander warned the young man.

Paul Is Sent to Caesarea

23Then the commander called two of his officers and ordered, “Get 200 soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight. Also take 200 spearmen and 70 mounted troops. 24Provide horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix.” 25Then he wrote this letter to the governor:

26“From Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings!

27“This man was seized by some Jews, and they were about to kill him when I arrived with the troops. When I learned that he was a Roman citizen, I removed him to safety. 28Then I took him to their high council to try to learn the basis of the accusations against him. 29I soon discovered the charge was something regarding their religious law—certainly nothing worthy of imprisonment or death. 30But when I was informed of a plot to kill him, I immediately sent him on to you. I have told his accusers to bring their charges before you.”

31So that night, as ordered, the soldiers took Paul as far as Antipatris. 32They returned to the fortress the next morning, while the mounted troops took him on to Caesarea. 33When they arrived in Caesarea, they presented Paul and the letter to Governor Felix. 34He read it and then asked Paul what province he was from. “Cilicia,” Paul answered.

35“I will hear your case myself when your accusers arrive,” the governor told him. Then the governor ordered him kept in the prison at Herod’s headquarters.

My oh my, how God twist and controls circumstances to accomplish his goals.  There are so many strange things happening here.  People hell-bent on killing Paul end up putting him in front of high ranking Roman authorities.  A young man hears a plot and for some reason the commander of a Roman garrison with hundreds of troops at his disposal talks to him and takes him seriously.  The next few years of Paul’s life are spent in prisons, of one form or another, and yet most scholars realize those years to be some of the the most influential years of Paul’s life.

Lord, when you are creating chaos in my life, give me the faith to  let you use it for your glory.