Southern Christian University

Acts Class Session 10

James A. Turner


Hello students.  I think we begin tonight with Acts chapter 21:7.  We are still following Paul's journey to Jerusalem with the messengers of the churches to carry the bounty of those Gentile churches to Jerusalem.  Acts 21:7, "When we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, we saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.  And on the morrow we departed and came unto Caesarea: And entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven; we abode with him."  It looks like that Caesarea must have been the permanent home at this time for Philip and his family.  You remember that he is the one that carried the gospel to the Samaritans.  He is one of those seven that were chosen by the brethren as given in Acts 6:1-6 to take care of needs of the Grecian widows.  The apostles laid their hands on those seven and gave them miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.  We read in verse nine, “this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied  Would this not mean that they had miraculous gifts that would aid them in teaching (I Corinthians 12:4-11)?.  Of course, they would have not have been teaching in the public assemblies of the church, for that is forbidden by other references. 


From I Corinthians chapter fourteen, it looks like the tongue speakers in the church at Corinth thought that their gift was the greatest gift, and they wanted to show off on every occasion even when it was not appropriate to do so, but Paul told them that the gift of prophecy was more important.  The gift of prophecy was primarily the ability to teach where they would not otherwise have enough understanding to teach.  Joel 2:28 as quoted in Acts 2:17 it reads, "Upon my servants and upon my handmaidens will I pour out of my spirit and they shall prophecy."  So that Old Testament passage gives room for women to have had miraculous gifts in the miraculous age, which was the childhood age of the church (I Corinthians 13:8-12; James 1:25; Ephesians 4:7-16). The childhood age of the church is over, and none have miraculous gifts or powers. During the miraculous period today.  the apostles could impart miraculous gifts to others by the laying on of their hands. 


Acts 21:10 "And as we tarried there some days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, naked Agabus."  He is the same prophet that went to that first Gentile church at Antioch of Syria, chapter eleven, and told the brethren through the spirit that there was going to come a famine in Judaea.  And those fine brethren at Antioch of Syria determined to send relief, every man according to his ability before the famine came on.  And they sent it to Jerusalem by the hands of Paul and Barnabas.  "And coming to us and taking Paul's girdle, he bound his own feet and hands and said, Thus saith the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of Gentiles."  Jesus was condemned by the chief priests and elders, and they delivered him to the Gentiles, and in a similar way, this is going to happen to Paul, that the Jews will hand him over to the Gentiles.  "So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."  They really did not intend to do that, they had planned to kill him.  "And when we heard these things, both we and they of that place  So Luke and the other messengers of the churches and the brethren at Caesarea tried to get Paul not to go to Jerusalem.  besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, What do ye weeping and breaking my heart?  For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done."  Notice how they stated that, the will of the Lord be done.  Jesus prayed three times in the garden, “not my will, but thine be done,”  and when they saw that Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem, they said, “The will of the Lord be done 


Think how Paul did not count his life dear unto himself to the point that he wanted to do everything that he could to make Christ known.  And he was ready to go to Jerusalem in spite of all the testimony coming through the medium of the Holy Spirit.  Going back to chapter twenty, he talks about how that the Holy Spirit was speaking in every city that bonds and afflictions would abide him.  Acts 20:22-24, "Save that the Holy Spirit testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  But I hold not my life of any account as dear unto myself, so that I may accomplish my course and the ministry, which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."  And so Paul was determined, even though his life would be in  danger, to go to Jerusalem. 


Acts 22:15, "And after these days we took up our baggage, and went up to Jerusalem.  And there went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, bringing with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge."  Does that mean that Mnason of Cyprus had more than one dwelling place?  It looks like he did.  So certain of the brethren from Caesarea went with Paul and the messengers to Jerusalem, bringing with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, “with whom we should lodge.”  There were a number of messengers with Paul, and that would indicate that Mnason must have had a house of considerable size to accommodate Paul and all those messengers of the church.  "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly."  That shows that the bounty of those Gentile churches was accepted.  Paul wrote the book of Romans just before they left Corinth with the bounty of the churches, and when he wrote that book, he did not know whether the Jewish people would even receive the bounty from the Gentile churches or not.  Evidently the breach between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians had become so abrupt over the matter of circumcision and the keeping of the law that Paul did not know whether they would accept the contribution, and he asked those Roman brethren to pray that they would accept it.  I am reading from Romans chapter 15:30, "And I beseech you, brethren, by the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me."  It is characteristic of Paul when he asked brethren to pray for him to give some specific things that he wanted them to pray for him about.  Notice what he wants them to pray for him about here, one, “that I may be delivered from them that are disobedient in Judaea  Well, he was, but he was delivered by the Roman soldiers.  "And that my ministration which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints."  The fact that they received them gladly implies in a very strong way that the contribution was accepted by the Jewish brethren.  "That I may come unto you in joy through the will of God, and may together with you find rest.  Now the God of peace be with you all.  Amen."  Paul was able to go to Rome, but not in the way that he thought he would go.  He went as a prisoner when he went, but he must have gone in the fullness of the blessings of Christ.  Looking at verse twenty-nine there of the reading, "And I know that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessings of Christ."  We will notice when we get to the reading about that voyage to Rome, that it looks like for a long time that Paul was discouraged about going to Rome as a prisoner


Back to Acts 21:17, "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.  And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.  And when he had saluted them, he rehearsed one by one the things which God had wrought among the Gentiles through his ministry.  And when they heard it, they glorified God, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands, there are among the Jews of them that have believed; and they are all zealous for the law  and they have been informed concerning thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs."  Some were probably giving a wrong report on Paul in regard to verse twenty-one there.  Paul did stand up for the Gentiles that circumcision and the keeping the requirements of the law were not to be binding on the Gentile people, but the people of Israel had had that law of circumcision for a long time.  I do not know of any statement that Paul made that the Jews were to turn away from circumcising their children, but that was the report that the apostles and elders had received about Paul.  "Teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles  to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs."  I do not know any statement where he was teaching the Jews in Gentile territory that they were to cease from circumcising their male children at eight days old. 


Acts 21:22, "What is it therefore?  This they will certainly hear that thou art come:  Do therefore this that we say to thee."  So they have advice to give Paul.  They thought that their advise might prevent the Jews from being stirred up against him.  "Do therefore this that we say to thee:  We have four men that have a vow on them.  These take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads:  And all shall know that there is no truth, in things whereof they have been informed concerning thee, but thou thyself also walkest orderly, keeping the law."  We have already read where Paul had his hair shorn at Cenchrea because he had a vow,  and does this not seem to say that there were Jewish Christians at this time that were still following certain things in respect to the Old Testament religion?  "They have been informed concerning thee, but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, keeping the law.  But as touching the Gentiles that have believed, we wrote you in judgment that they should keep themselves from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what is strangled, and from fornication."  They are referring to that letter that they wrote at the conclusion of that conference at Jerusalem, as we studied about in Acts chapter fifteen, that we wrote to them that these are the necessary things for Gentile Christians to abstain from.  And remember in that letter that they also said that we did not send out those men teaching that doctrine, that you have got to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses in order to be saved.  They also sent two of their members to tell them by word of mouth. 


Acts 21:26, "Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them, went into the temple, declaring the fulfillment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them.  And when the seven days were almost completed It must have been on the sixth day that these Jews caused a riot, and were about to kill Paul. the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel help:  This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place:  And moreover he brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath defiled this holy place."  That was a lie, he had not brought Greeks into the temple, but some of them supposed that he had.  Is it not  strange when people want to find something against a person, it is strange sometimes what they can suppose they have done.  "For they had before seen with him in the city Trophimus the Ephesian."  Trophimus, going back to Acts twenty, was one of the messengers of the churches, as stated there, from Asia.  And, of course, Paul was at Ephesus for three years, so he is from the city of Ephesus.  "whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple."  But Paul had not carried Trophimus, the Ephesian, into the temple.  "And all the city was moved, and the people ran together:  And they laid hold on Paul, and dragged him out of the temple:  And straightway the doors were shut.  And as they were seeking to kill him, tidings came up to the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in confusion." 


The soldiers were quartered in the palace adjoining the Jewish temple, and so news goes up to the chief captain that all Jerusalem was in confusion.  It looks like that the chief captain must have known what the Jewish people would do when they got that mob spirit, that they would kill him if he did not do something immediately.


Acts 21:32,  "And forthwith he took soldiers and centurions and ran down upon them,  A centurion is over a hundred soldiers, and so does that mean that about two hundred soldiers?  Luke used centurions in the plural there  and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left off beating Paul."  Do you think they would have left off beating him if the chief captain and the centurions and the soldiers had not come down?  I think not.  "Then the chief captain came near and laid hold on him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and inquired who he was, and what he had done, and some shouted one thing, some another, among the crowd:  And when he could not know the certainty for the uproar, he commanded him to be brought into the castle.  And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the crowd.  For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, Away with him."  Meaning we want that man put to death, away with him.  And notice there in verse thirty-five, as he went up to the stairs of the castle where the soldiers stayed, that he was borne of the soldiers.  I get the idea that they were probably pushing him up above them on their shoulders so that the people could not harm him.  "For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.  And as Paul was about to be brought into the castle, he saith unto the chief captain, May I say something unto thee?  And he said, Does thou know Greek?"


Paul was reared at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, and Cilicia   was Gentile territory.  He grew up in that Gentile territory, and thus knew how to speak the Greek language, and then he was later educated at the feet of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, and by his natural ability he could speak Greek and Hebrew, and plus as an apostle, he had miraculous abilities in regard to other languages.  "Art thou not then the Egyptian, who before these days stirred up the sedition, and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the assassins?  But Paul said, I am a Jew of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city:  And, I beseech thee, give me leave to speak unto the people,   and when he had given him leave, Paul standing up on the stairs, beckoned with the hand unto the people.  And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew language."  This makes at least the second time that we have read about Paul that he beckoned with the hand.  I believe I mentioned when we read that the first time, that I get the idea that Paul was somewhat a  master of assemblies, that he could beckon with his hands in such a way that the people would take notice, and he would be saying in substance, I have something important to say to you, and get the attention of the people.  And he got the attention of those who had been trying to kill him.  "and when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew language, saying,


Chapter Twenty-two

Brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I now make unto you."  So Paul makes a defense before that mob of people who had been trying to kill him.  There is not room for much doubt that they would have killed him had he not been rescued by the Roman soldiers.  "And when they heard that he spake unto them in the Hebrew language, they were more quiet: And he saith, I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as ye all are this day."  Do you remember from Acts chapter five that the Sanhedrin court was ready to kill those apostles, but how Gamaliel, who was also a member of the Sanhedrin, told them about how that there had been attempts in the past to lead away people, and those  attempts came to nothing?  He also said, if it is of God, you need to be careful.  You cannot fight against God, and they heeded his advice, and beat them, and commanded  them not to teach anymore in the name of Christ.  "Brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as ye are all this day."  He is saying, I was once zealous, trying to destroy the Christian religion just like you are today.  I was reared and instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers.  He was a Pharisee, as he states in chapter twenty-three, the son of a Pharisee, and he was very zealous, he thought, for God. 


Well, he was zealous, but not according to knowledge.  "Even as ye all are this day.  And I persecuted this Way unto the death."  Going back to Acts8:2-4, “And devout men took Stephen out and buried him  And Luke says, “as for Saul he made havoc of the church committing both men and women to prison.  And they were all scattered abroad from Judaea, and they went everywhere preaching the word.”  And so he is talking about that day when he had persecuted the church and carried that persecution, as we read in Acts nine, even to foreign cities.  "I persecuted this way unto the death."  There is no telling how many people Paul had a part in seeing that they were put to death because they were Christians.  "Binding and delivering into prison both men and women.  As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders:  From whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and journeyed to Damascus, to bring them also that were there unto Jerusalem, in bounds to be punished.  And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and drew nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shown from heaven a great light round about me."  You remember we read about this in the ninth chapter of Acts, and we read about it here.  And we will read  about it again, I believe, in chapter twenty-six.  "And I fell unto the ground and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  And I answered, Who art thou, Lord?  And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.  And they that were with me beheld indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.  And I said, What shall I do, Lord?"  And so here Paul is repeating what happened on that occasion.  He asked Jesus of Nazareth as to what he should do.  Meaning, “What shall I do to be saved?”  He had thought that Christ was an imposter.  But Christ appears to him, and when he asked, "Who art thou, Lord?  He said, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest."  And so as stated here, Saul, as he was called then, asked Jesus the question, “What shall I do, Lord  But notice that Jesus did not tell him what to do in order to be saved.  The gospel had been given into the hands of earthen vessels (I Corinthians 4:7) even during the miraculous days of the church.  "And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus and there it will be told thee of all things which are appointed of thee to do." 


Some preachers today would say, “Saul, you do not have to do anything, you have believed,  and as soon as a person believes on Jesus, he is saved.”  But Jesus told him to go on into the city, and there he shall be told thee “of all things which are appointed for thee to do  Christ has appointed that every man is to do some things in order to be saved.  when Peter preached that first sermon on Pentecost, it says, “with many other words did he testify and exhort saying, save yourselves from this crooked generation (Acts 2:40).”  There is something that each individual must do in order to save himself or herself! 


"And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.  And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well-reported of by all the Jews that dwelt there, came unto me, and standing by me, said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight.  And in that very hour, I looked up on him.  And he said, The God of our fathers hath appointed thee, to know his will, and see the Righteous One, and hear the voice of his mouth.  For thou shalt be a witness for him unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard."  I think when we read from chapter nine, that we turned and read this reference and also the reference in Acts twenty-six where Paul repeats about the time of his conversion.  And all three accounts emphasize that the Lord appeared to him to make him an eyewitness. "And now why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name."  Now Ananias did not need to say to Saul, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, like they said to the Philippian jailer as recorded in Acts sixteen, because Saul had seen the Lord in the way,  and he did not tell him to repent, for he had gone without food and had been praying for three days showing his repentance.  He had not been baptized for the remission of his sins, and so he told him what to do to complete his obedience to the first principles of the gospel and receive salvation.  "And now why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name." 


Do you remember Romans the tenth chapter where Paul quotes from Joel 2:32, when that time came when God would pour out his spirit upon all flesh, and verse thirty-two there reads, "And whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  And then he raises the question, “How shall they call on him whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe on him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?”     Which shows that in order for sinners to call upon the name of the Lord in such a way as to be saved, they first must be taught the gospel.  They must at least know and believe those three primary facts of the gospel that Paul speaks of in I Corinthians 15:1-4, "For I delivered unto you first of all how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."  Every person must have those basic facts of the gospel preached to them.  They must believe those facts (John 3:16, 8:24; Hebrews 11:6), and they must repent of their sins (Acts 2:38, 17:30), and then they must be baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38, 8:35-39),  and then  baptism puts alien sinners into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-7), and into his church which is his spiritual body (I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4-6).  And so Ananias says to Saul, "And now why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name."  And think of the many thousands today in our American society that want to still contend that baptism is a none essential, that it has nothing to do with  the forgiveness of sin.  Well, this passage reads “and wash away thy sins, calling on his name  Well, somebody says, “You know there is nothing in the water to wash away a man's sins!”  Absolutely not, other than Christ has commanded it (Mark 16:16) in order to apply his blood. 


In II Kings chapter five we  read about Naaman who was captain of the Syrian army that had leprosy.  And a little Jewish maiden told his wife that if he was with the prophet in Israel, he could be cured of his leprosy, and so the king sent him to the prophet Elisha, and Elisha just told his servants to tell him to go down to the Jordan river and dip seven times.  At first that captain was ready to go away in a rage.  He said, I thought the prophet would do some great thing, that he would come out and lay his hands on me and I would be cured of my leprosy. Some today are like Naaman, they want to tell the Lord how they want to be saved!  And he wanted to know if the rivers of Damascus were not cleaner and better than the old muddy river Jordan.  The servants told him, if he had told you some great thing to do, would you not have done it?  And they convinced him he ought to go and when he dipped that seven times, his leprosy was gone.  Was there anything in that old muddy river Jordan to cleanse him from leprosy?  Absolutely not.  And there is nothing in  water that cleanseth.  It is the blood of Christ that cleanseth, but it is at the point of baptism that an alien sinner applies the blood of Christ.  His blood was shed in his death, and baptism is a likeness of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3-7, 6:17-18).  And it is at the point of baptism that the alien sinner applies the blood of Christ which cleanses him from all sin. 


Acts 22:17, "And it came to pass that when I had returned to Jerusalem, while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem:  Because they will not receive of thee testimony concerning me."  You see that Paul was reasoning, they know how I persecuted the church, and surely I can do a great work here in Jerusalem.  But the Lord tells him otherwise.  "While I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem:  Because they will not receive of the testimony concerning me.  And I said, Lord, they themselves know that I am imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:  And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I was also standing by, and consenting, and keeping the garments of them that slew him."  Do you remember that the latter part of Acts seven shows that  to be the case?  "And he said unto me, Depart:  For I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles."  So the Lord said, leave Jerusalem, and I have work among the Gentiles for you.  "Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." 


Acts 22:22, Well, notice verse twenty-two, "And they gave him audience unto this word, and they lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth:  For it is not fit that he should live."  And again that “away” means that this fellow ought to be killed.  Remember how sharp that division was between Jews and Gentiles.  The Jews looked upon the Gentiles as being heathens, and that it was wrong to go into a Gentile person's house.  And so they said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth.” Kill Him!  But they had given him audience until he mentioned about God telling him that he would send him to the Gentiles, and then they are really stirred up.  They lifted up their voice, and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth:  For it is not fit that he should live.  And as they cried out, and threw off their garments, and cast dust into the air.  And the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, bidding that he should be  examined by scourging; that he might know for what cause they so shouted against him." 


And that process was continued by  some police officers, for centuries, to try to beat the truth out of a man by scourging him, by giving him a severe whipping.  " that he might know for what cause they so shouted against him.  And when they had tied him up with thongs.  Ready to beat him,  and that would have been a severe beating.  Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?"  Again Paul appealed to his right of citizenship, and it prevented him from receiving a scourging.  And remember back there in chapter sixteen when the magistrate sent to tell Paul and Silas that they were free to go, that Paul said, “They beat us, being Romans uncondemned, and they put us out privily, nay verily let them come and take us out  And so Paul did occasionally appeal to the rights of his citizenship, but he never did carry it to the extreme.  "And when the centurion heard it, he went to the chief captain, and told him saying, What art thou about to do for this man is a Roman?  He said, Yea.  And the chief captain answered, With a great sum I obtained this citizenship.  And Paul said, But I am a Roman born." 


Nowhere does the Bible tell us just exactly what that meant.  Does it mean that his father or his grandfather or some of his ancestors back there had done something that the government really approved of, and as a result they were made free?  But all men can do is just speculate because the Bible doesn't tell us.  "They then that were about to examine him straightway departed."  Those that were about to give him that severe beating.  "They departed from him.  And the chief captain also was afraid, when he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him."  He had gone contrary to the law, even by having him bound and ready to scourge him.  "And on the morrow desiring to know the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him, and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together, and brought Paul down, and set him before them."  All of the council would refer to the highest court, the Sanhedrin court, and so Paul is to make his defense before the highest court of the Jews.  Chapter twenty-three tells us about making his defense before the council, how he divided that council, and again they were about to kill him when he was rescued by soldiers again.  But we will count chapter twenty-three as the beginning place for our second period of this Class Session.  Thank you.  A brief recess was taken. 


Chapter Twenty-three

We are ready to begin with chapter twenty-three.  Paul is making his defense before the Jewish council, the Jewish Sanhedrin, the highest court of the Jews.  "And Paul looking steadfastly on the council, said, Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day."  That is a statement that Paul affirms several times, that he had gone according to a good conscience, but he had surely done wrong back there when he was persecuting the church, and having Christians put to death.  You cannot find a better example of a man having a good clear conscience and doing wrong than you have in Paul.  Now our conscience is given to assist us in making right decisions, and we are not to go contrary to our conscience.  If we do, we sin, as taught in Romans 2:13-15 and 14:20-23, but the conscience by itself is not sufficient.  It must be educated.  It must be taught what is proper for a person to do.  Turn to I Timothy 1:12 where Paul talks about that God had mercy on him because what he did, “he did it ignorantly in unbelief  There is a big difference between a man doing wrong ignorantly and doing wrong and knowing that he is doing wrong.  "And I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:  Howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with grace and love which is in Christ Jesus.  Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all of his longsuffering, for an example of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life."  So Paul says that the Lord had mercy on him because he did it ignorantly in unbelief, and another reason that the Lord could show that by saving him, that he could save the chief of sinners.  And so the Lord can save the chief of sinners.  So Paul here affirms before the court that I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day.  "And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by to smite him on the mouth.  Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall:  For sittest thou to judge me according to the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?"  Now this comes as near of Paul going to the extreme in defending his citizenship as any passage you will find.  But it looks like he gets control of himself immediately.  I get the idea that he really got stirred up there for a few seconds, and rightly so, but at the same time, he admits that he had done the wrong thing and apologizes.  Of course, the high priest had done wrong, and what Paul has said is true, but he ought not to have done what he did, and immediately he apologized for it.  "And they that stood by him said, Revilest thou God's high priest?  And Paul said, I knew not brethren, that he was high priest:  For it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people."  That is from from Exodus 22:28. 


Acts 23:6, "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Brethren."  It looks like he does this  deliberately to divide the council.  Paul, knew how that those two sects fought against each other, and how that on many occasions they differed in a big way "But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees."  Remember that Paul is a Pharisee.  "He cried out in the council, Brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee:  Touching the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.  And then when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: And the assembly was divided."  So he divides the court by saying, "Touching the hope of the resurrection of the dead I am called in question. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit:  But the Pharisees confess both.  And there arose a great clamor: And some of the scribes of the Pharisees part stood up, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man:  and what if a spirit has spoken to him or an angel."  The Pharisees were very naturally divided against the Sadducees  because they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, or life after death, nor in spirit or angel. 


Acts 23:9, "And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain fearing lest Paul should be torn in pieces by them commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the castle."  So a second time he is rescued by Roman soldiers.  You see the chief captain surely thought that he was in great danger.  I guess he had enough experience of that court of the Jews to know how that they could divide and how angry they could get, and what they would do if they got angry.  “And the night following the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer:  For as thou hast testified concerning me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness of me at Rome."  Do you think that Paul must have been very much discouraged for the Lord to give him that message?  And the night following, the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer.  And remember how Jesus, on several occasions, spoke those words to his disciples.  "For as thou hast testified concerning me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."  So that shows that the Lord had been pleased with the way he had testified for him at Jerusalem and promises that he's going to go to Rome.  "So must thou bear witness also at Rome."  And Paul may have been reasoning that I will never get to go to Rome.  Remember that he had planned to go to Rome after he had carried that bounty to Jerusalem.  "And when it was day, the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul."  Consider how many times the unbelieving Jews persecute and plan to kill Paul?  "And they were more than forty that made this conspiracy:  And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul."  I believe those fellows had a long fast or else they went against their vows.  About forty of them vowed that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 


Acts 23:15, "Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you, as though ye would judge of his case more exactly:  And we, before he comes near, are ready to slay him.  But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the castle, and told Paul.  And Paul called unto him one of the centurions, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain:  For he hath something to tell him.  So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and asked me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say to thee.  And the chief captain took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, What is it that thou hast to tell me?  And he said, The Jews have agreed to ask thee to bring down Paul tomorrow unto the council, as though they wouldest enquire somewhat more exactly concerning him. Do not thou therefore yield unto them: for there lie in wait for of them  more than forty men, who have bound themselves under a curse, neither to eat nor to drink till they have slain him: And now are they ready, looking for the promise from thee.  And the chief captain let the young man go, charging him, Tell no man that thou hast signified these things to me."  This chief captain recognized how determined they were to kill Paul, and look how many men that start out carrying Paul to Caesarea. "And he called unto him two of the centurions, and make ready two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea; and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred; at the third hour of the night."  So four hundred and seventy men leave at the third hour of the night to carry Paul on the way, or at least part of the way to Caesarea. 


Don’t you know that this means that the chief captain recognized that his life was in great danger for him to take four hundred and seventy men when they first started out at the third hour of the night, and he bade them provide that,  " they might set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.  And he wrote a letter after this form:  Claudius Lysias  (he was the chief captain)  unto the most excellent governor Felix greeting.  This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be slain of them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman."  He lied there, he was even ready to examine him by scourging when he learned that he was a Roman.  "And desiring to know the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth before their council:  Whom I found to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds."  So when Lysias examined Paul, he didn't find that he had done anything worthy of death or, for that matter, any reason why he should be bound.  That would mean that he had done nothing wrong.  "And when it was shown to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to thee forthwith, charging his accusers also to speakagainst him before thee.  So the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.  But on the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle."  So would not that mean that four hundred of them returned back to the castle, and the seventy men carried him on to Caesarea.  Of course, they had traveled far enough then that Paul wouldn't be in danger or not likely to be.  "And when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the letter to the governor, presented Paul also before him.  And when he had read it, he asked of what province he was.  And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; I will hear thee fully, said he, when thine accusers are also come.  And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's house."  And so after Paul was delivered to Felix, he inquired where he was from, and he was from Cilicia.  And he said, I will hear you when your accusers come, referring again to the Jewish court. 


Chapter Twenty-four

"And after five days the high priest Ananias.  He is the one that commanded them to smite Paul contrary to the rules of the court.  came down with certain elders, and with an orator named Tertullus, and they informed the governor against Paul."  Instead of putting their case personally against Paul, they have an orator to present their case for them and then they enter in accusing him.  "And when he was called Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy much peace, and that by thy providence evils are corrected for this nation.  We accept it always, and in all places, most excellent Felix, with all thankfulness.  But that I be not further tedious unto thee, I entreat thee to hear us of thy clemency a few words.  For we have found of this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of insurrection among all the Jews from throughout the world, and the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:  Who moreover hath said to profane the temple of whom also we laid whole.  From whom thou wilt be able by examining him thyself to take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him."  So what do they accuse him of?  Number one, he is a pestilent fellow; number two, he is a mover of insurrection, causing trouble among all the Jews throughout the world; three, he is the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; and four, he tried to profane the temple, and when he did, we laid hold on him.  So they bring four charges there against him.  And Tertullus says, "That whom thou will be able by examining him thyself to take knowledge of all these things whereof we accuse him."  He is guilty of all of them.  "And the Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that these things were so."  And so the chief priest Ananias and the elders had the orator to present the charges, and then they also affirm that those charges were true.  Remember that the chief captain Lysias had already said in that letter to Felix that he had not found anything against Paul that made him worthy of death or of bonds.  Don’t you guess that Felix has had enough experience with the Jewish people, that he is somewhat set on notice that Paul is not guilty of all of these things? 


Acts 24:10, "And when the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, Paul answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been for many years a judge unto this nation, I cheerfully make my defense."  So Felix had been governor long enough that Paul says you know something about what I will be telling you about.  "Seeing that thou canst take knowledge that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship at Jerusalem."  Now they had called him a pestilent fellow, a mover of insurrection among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, and one who assayed to profane the temple.  Paul is glad to answer their charges.  "Seeing that thou canst take knowledge, since it was not more than twelve days that I went up to Jerusalem to worship."  And remember that it must have been on that sixth day that he was standing at purification for those men that took seven days for them to fulfill their vow.  "And neither in the temple did they find me, disputing with any man, or stirring up a crowd, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city: Neither can they prove to thee the things whereof they now accuse me."  So Paul denies their charges, and said they cannot prove any of them.  "Neither can they prove to thee things whereof they now accuse me.  But this I confess unto thee."  He does pick up on that charge that he is a ring leader of that sect of the Nazarenes.  "But this I confess unto thee, that after the Way which they call a sect, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and which are written in the prophets: Having hope toward God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection, both of the just and the unjust."  Do you guess the Sadducees were with them on this occasion when he said that, that there will be a resurrection both of the just and to the unjust? 


Acts 24:16, "Herein do I also exercise myself, to have a conscience void of offense toward God, and men always."  Note again that good conscience that Paul had, he exercised himself to have a conscience void of offense toward God and men always.  "Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and bring offerings."  I believe verse seventeen ought to put us on notice that the bounty carried by those messengers of the churches were not for saints only because here Paul speaks of bringing alms to my nations and offerings.  And let us turn to II Corinthians nine, and I think the reference there indicates that it was to be for others beyond the saints.  In II Corinthians nine, Paul is teaching that they would be richly blessed for their making up a bounty to send to Jerusalem.  Picking up with verse ten, "And he that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; you being enriched in every thing to all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God.  For the ministration of this service not only for the needs of the saints, but aboundeth also through many thanksgiving unto God; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministration they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberality of the contribution unto them, and unto all." See, that is showing that it went beyond the saints.  Some few years ago, some brethren were teaching that the church is to help saints only.  But notice that a number of these churches had joined together in this effort to supply the needs of the people of Judaea.  For the liberality of your contribution unto them and to all, and that is surely beyond members of the church.  "And while they themselves also with supplication on your behalf, long after you for reason of the exceeding grace of God in you.  Thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift." 


Back to Acts 24:17, "Now after some years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.  Amidst which they found me purified in the temple, with no crowd, nor with tumult.  But there were certain Jews from Asia who ought to have been here before thee."  They brought the charges against me that I profaned the temple, and if I did that, they ought to be here to testify against me.  "Who ought to have been here before thee and to make accusation, if they had ought against me.  Or else let these men themselves, say what wrongdoing they found, when I stood before the council.  Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question before you this day.  But Felix had a more exact knowledge concerning the Way.  (The Christian way) deferred them, saying, When Lysias the chief captain shall come, I will determine your matter."  This shows that governor Felix sees that Paul is not guilty, but he smoothes things over with the Jewish council by saying that when Lysias the chief captain comes down, “I will determine your matter, and he gave order to the centurion that he should be kept in charge, and  should have indulgence and not to forbid any of his friends to minister unto him."  Surely that shows that Felix recognized that he was not guilty.  "But after certain days Felix came with Driscilla his wife, who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ Jesus.  And as he reasoned of righteousness, and of self control."  It is said that both of them were to the contrary, of righteousness and self control, especially Felix.  He engaged in all kinds of wrongdoings and did not exercise self-control.  "And as he reasoned of righteousness, and self control, and the judgment to come, Felix was terrified, and answered, Go thy way for this time, and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me."  Why was Felix terrified?  Paul had presented that God has appointed a day in which he is going to judge the world.  And if a man has not taken those steps to be a righteous man before God and exercise self-control, he will be doomed then, and so we read that Felix was terrified. There are those today, that when they hear plain teaching are terrified, but they make the same mistake that Felix and his wife Drusilla made, “when I have a more convenient season, I will call thee unto me.”  But that convenient season, as far as the Bible says, never came.  A convenient season, to turn away from the lust of the flesh and following  the way of the world, which is Satan’s way, does not come very convenient for most people.  But they ought to be ready to listen to the Lord's invitation and turn from that broad way that leads to destruction and turn to the Lord (Matthew 7:13-14).  Remember Jesus gave that great invitation, “Come unto me all ye that are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30).”  The Bible tells us that the way of the transgressors is the hard way, and to follow the Lord is the easier way and it will give men eternal salvation, but Felix brushed it aside.


The great majority of the people today brush aside the Lord’s way and choose the broad way that becomes the hard way even in this life and then it is “eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord of from the glory of his power” (II Thessalonians 1:8-10) into an eternal “lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15, 21:6).” There are seven references in the Revelation which speak of them, “that dwell upon the earth.” Please read them: Revelation 3:10, 6:9-10, 8:13, 13:8, 13:14, 17:1-2, 17:6. When you read all of them together they are Satan’s followers who are interested in the here and now. They are earth dwellers! Are you an earth dweller or a heavenly dweller (Hebrews 11:13-16, 13:12-14). How do you spend most of your time, energy, talents, money, and other material things (Colossians 3:1-3)?


Back to Acts 24:26, “He hoped with all that money would be given him of Paul, whereof also he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him."  You can see that Felix was a politician looking for all the spoils of office that he could get.  I guess he reasoned that if Paul  brought all of those gifts to his people, then he can surely raise a lot of money for his release, and if they will give me a lot of money, I will release him.  And for that reason, he called Paul and talked with him on several different occasions. There was no money raised for Paul’s release because that would have been wrong.  Felix goes out of office and leaves Paul bound.  "But when two years were fulfilled, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus:  And desiring to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in bonds."  If Felix had been a man of high moral standards like he should have been, he surely would have released Paul, but he wanted to show the Jews a favor, so he left him bound. 


Chapter Twenty-five

As soon as Festus comes into office, the Jews go to him and ask him a favor, and again they are laying a plot to kill him on the way.  They wanted him to send Paul down to Jerusalem..  See, Paul is at Caesarea, and they want him to send him down to Jerusalem for them to try him, and again they made a plot to kill him in the way.  "Festus therefore having come into the province after three days, went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea."  Caesarea was the capital of that province so far as the Roman government was concerned.  "And the chief priest and the principle men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they besought him, asking a favor against him, that he would send him to Jerusalem, laying a plot to kill him on the way.  Howbeit Festus answered, that Paul was kept in charge at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart thither shortly."  Now it is thought by many that Paul was at Caesarea for two years.  I am not sure whether that conclusion is correct or not, but if it is, it looks like that Paul did less during that two-year period of his life than any time after he became a Christian.  "That he himself was about to depart thither shortly."  Go back to Caesarea.  "Let them therefore saith he, that are of power among you, go down with me, and if there is anything amiss in the man, let them accuse him."  If he has done anything wrong, let them bring their charges against him at Caesaria .  "And when he had tarried among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea: And on the morrow he sat down on the judgment seat and commanded Paul to be brought."  


So Festus did as he had promised them, in a few days, and I will go back to Caesarea, and I will hear his case there.  So the next day, after he gets back to Caesarea, he sets on the judgment seat, and commands Paul to be brought in, to be tried by the Jewish council.  "And when he was come, the Jews that had come down from Jerusalem stood round about him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove.  While Paul said in his defense, Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all."  Meaning against the Roman government.  I have not sinned against the law of the Jews,  I have not sinned against the temple,  and I have not sinned against Roman law.  "But Festus desiring to gain favor with the Jews asked Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?"  Forty men had bound themselves under a vow back there, that they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul,  and Paul was suspicious that they were planning do such a thing again.  But Festus wants to show the Jews a favor and he wants to know if Paul will go to Jerusalem to be tried of the Jews there.  "Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?"  Remember he refused to hear the case at Jerusalem back there at the beginning.  He told them he would hear it at Caesarea, but he wants to show the Jews a favor. 


Acts 25:10, "But Paul said, I am standing before Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged."  Would he be saying, you ought to render a decision?  "I am standing before Caesar's judgment seat where I ought to be judged.  To the Jews, have I done no wrong, as thou also very well knowest."  So Paul was able to see that Festus recognized that he was not guilty.  "If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die:  But if none of those things is true whereof these accuse me."  And they surely had not proved anything against him.  "Whereof these accuse me, no man can give me unto them.  I appeal unto Caesar." Paul was a Roman citizen, and he had a right to make an appeal before Roman authority, before Caesar,  and he appeals his case to Caesar.  "Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Thou hast appealed unto Caesar?  Unto Caesar shalt thou go."  It would be interesting to know what Festus and those Jews said after Paul appealed to Caesar.  But surely Festus knew that as a Roman citizen he had a right, and he could not deny that right of Paul to appeal unto Caesar.  So after he talked with the Jews, the Jewish council, he said to Paul, “thou hast appealed unto Caesar, unto Caesar shalt thou go  But Festus is in a peculiar situation.  He is now supposed to send Paul to Rome for trial, and he doesn't even have any charges against him, and that presents a problem.  "Now when certain days were   passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and saluted Festus."  Don’t you know that Festus was glad when king Agrippa comes, he has a prisoner here that he is supposed to go to Rome for trial, and he does not even have any charges to specify against him.  "And as they tarried there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, There is a certain man left inprison by Felix:  About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for sentence against him.  To whom I answered, It is not the custom of the Romans to give up any man before that the accused have the accusers face to face, and have had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter made against him.  When therefore, they were come together here, I made no delay but on the next day sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought.  Concerning whom when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge of such evil things as I supposed:  But had certain questions against him of their own religion, and of one Jesus who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.  And I being perplexed have to inquire concerning these things, asked whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.  But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be kept till I should send him to Caesar.  And Agrippa said unto Festus, I also could wish to hear the man myself.  To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. 


Acts 25:23, And so on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and they were entered into the place of the hearing with the chief captains and the  principal men of the city.  At the command of Festus Paul was brought in."  Now notice that king Agrippa and Festus and the chief captains and the chief men of the city, there must have been quite a number of people, the principal men with the chief captains.  And so before the Jews and principal men of the city, Paul is to make his defense before the king.  "And Festus said, King Agrippa and all men who are here present with us."  There must have been quite an assembly present.  "Ye behold this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews made suit to me, both at Jerusalem, and here, crying out that he ought not to live any longer.  But I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor, I determined to send him."  He did not have any  other choice.  He would either send him or release him.  "Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my Lord.  Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before thee, king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I may have somewhat to write."  Meaning that after you hear the case, maybe there will be charges that you can specify against him.  "For it seemeth to me unreasonable in sending a prisoner, not withal to signify the charges against him."  That would seem a little strange, wouldn't it, to send the man all the way to Rome to be tried by the emperor that didn't have a single charge against him.  How are they going to try him if there are no charges against him? 


Chapter Twenty-six

"And Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.  Then Paul stretched forth his hand, and made his defense."  And again he stretched forth his hand.  Don’t you know that he must have gotten attention from that audience that was assembled there to hear his case.  Notice how he begins,  "I think myself happy, king Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before thee this day concerning all the things whereof I am accused by the Jews; especially because I know thee to be an expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: Wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently."  So evidently king Agrippa was better acquainted with the customs and questions of the Jews and in a better position to judge the matter.  "Wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.  My manner of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among mine own nation and at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; having knowledge of me from the first, if they be willing to testify, that after the straightest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."  And you remember that Saul of Tarsus, as he was called back there, had obtained letters from the chief priest to go to Damascus to bind those that called on the name and carry them back to Jerusalem and put them in prison, when they were arrested by that great light from heaven and a voice from the Lord.  "And now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:  Unto which promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to obtain.  And concerning this hope, I am accused of the Jews, O king.  Why is it judged incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"  We will stop there for this period and pick up 26:9.  A brief recess was taken.


Picking up with Acts 26:9, Paul is making his defense before king Agrippa.  King Agrippa had more knowledge concerning the customs of the Jews and, evidently, about the way of Christ.  And Paul says to him, why is it judged incredible with you, speaking to king Agrippa, if God should raise the dead.  And then he begins and talks about he had thought back there before the Lord appeared to him, that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  We will plan to finish chapter twenty-six, and then I will get Brother Patterson to come in here and help with the map, so that I can trace on the map from Paul leaving Ephesus on that third journey, and going up to Troas, and then over to visit again the churches of Macedonia, and then he went down to Greece, and stayed at Corinth for three months.  We will plan on doing that after we complete reading chapter twenty-six.  "I verily thought within myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And this I also did in Jerusalem:  And I shut up many of the saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them."  So Paul was surely in that sense a murderer.  Even though he was doing those things with a good conscience, he had a part in having no telling how many of the people of God put to death.  And no wonder he speaks of himself as a chief sinner inthat reference that we read from I Timothy.  "And punishing them oftentimes in all of the synagogues I strove to make them blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto foreign cities.  Whereupon as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission of the chief priests.  At midday, O king I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them that journeyed with me.  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying unto me, in the Hebrew language, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  It is hard for thee to kick against the goads.  And I said, who art thou, Lord?  And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.  But arise, and stand upon thy feet:  For to this end have I appeared unto thee." 


Notice that verse sixteen really emphasizes the fact that Jesus appeared to Saul to qualify him as an eyewitness of him, and to make him an apostle.  "But arise, and stand upon thy feet:  For to this end have I appeared unto thee, to appoint thee a minister and a witness both of the things wherein thou hast seen me, and of the things which I may appear unto thee."  And so the Lord is going to make other appearances to him.  "Wherein will I appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee."  And again he is emphasizing the fact that he was chosen especially as an apostle to the Gentiles, but remember when he went to Gentile territory, that it was his custom to go first, as we read in Acts seventeen when he went to Thessalonica, ”as his custom was he went into the synagogue of the Jews.”  At Antioch of Pisidia, he and Barnabas went first into the synagogue there.  And when some of the Jews were hardened and began to contradict the things that were spoken by them, they testified against them.  They said, “it was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken unto you, but seeing ye have thrust it from you, and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo we turn to the  Gentiles  So those references show that it was God's will  -- Even as they traveled from place to place teaching the Gentiles, that it was God's will that the gospel first be carried to the Jewish people, but he is an apostle primarily to the Gentiles.  "To open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." 


Before people hear the gospel of Christ, they are in the darkness of sin and in the power and control of Satan.  They are following Satan, and Christ is sending Paul to the Gentile people to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.  "That they may receive remission of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by these in me.  Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:  But declared unto them of Damascus first, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea."  And remember after his conversion that he started teaching the Jews in the synagogue at Damascus.  And he did a great job, showing that Jesus, that Jesus was the Christ.  Reading again from Acts 9:17, "And Ananias departed, and entered into the house; and laying his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord even Jesus who appeared unto thee in the way which thou camest hath sent me, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  And straightway there fell from his eyes that were scales:  And he received his sight and arose, and he was baptized.  And he took food, and was strengthened."  Saul had gone for three days without anything to eat, he had been praying because he knew that he was a sinner.  "And he was certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus.  And straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, that he is the Son of God.  And all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that in Jerusalem made havoc of them that called upon this name, and he had come hither, for this intent, that he might bring them bound before the chief priests?  But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews that dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the Christ."  And so Paul had done a good job back there at the beginning of his ministry, proving that Jesus was the Christ. 


Let us pick up with Acts 26:19 again, "Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:  But declared both of them unto Damascus first, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance."  So Paul taught that first at Damascus, then at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God.  Repentance is a turning, turning from the wrong way to the right way, turning from the power and control of Satan to the power and control of God.  Turning from the way of darkness as Paul says in the Colossian letter, “translated them out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son (Colossians 1:13.  Acts 26:21, "For this cause the Jews seized me in the temple and was about to kill me."  "Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand unto this day, testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses did say should come:  How that Christ must suffer, and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead, shall proclaim both to the people, and to the Gentiles."  Do you remember how it is stated in the forty-second chapter of Isaiah, that it was not enough that Christ would be raised up for Israel, but that he would be also a light for the Gentile people? 


Reading again from Isaiah forty-two verse one, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; I have chosen in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; and he will bring justice to the Gentiles.  He will not cry, nor lift up his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench; he will bring forth justice and truth.   He will not fail nor be discouraged, till he hath set justice in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law.  Thus saith Jehovah, he that created the heavens, and stretched them forth; he that spread abroad the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto all the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness."  This whole passage is referring to Christ.  "And will hold thy hand, and will keep thee and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of that prison house."  Out of that prison house of sin and darkness.  "I am Jehovah; that is my name:  And my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.  Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare:  Before they spring forth I tell you of them."  That is one of the distinctions between God and the idol gods, God told the people a long time before it came to pass what was to come to pass.  As stated here in verse nine, "Behold the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare:  Before they spring forth I tell you of them."   


But reading now from Isaiah forty-nine, picking up with verse five, another reference about Christ, "And now, saith Jehovah that formed me from the womb to be his servant."  And remember he's spoken of as God's servant in Isaiah forty-two.  "To bring Jacob again to him.  (The people of Israel)  And that Israel be gathered unto him for I am honorable in the eyes of Jehovah.  And my God has become my strength.  Yea, he saith it is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up to the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth."  So several references are talking about how that Christ would be a light to the Gentiles.  And here Paul is saying that God had delivered him from the people and from the Gentiles, that he might be able to open their eyes, that they might turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan under God, that they may receive remission of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in him.  We will read verse nineteen again, "Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:  But declared both to them at Damascus first, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.  And for this cause the Jews seized me in the temple, and assayed to kill me."  Now for what cause?  Would that not go back to what Paul was doing, declaring to Jews and Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance?  "For this cause the Jews seized me in the temple, and assayed to kill me.  Having there obtained the help that is from God."  So Paul recognized that his help was from God.  Even though the Romans soldiers had rescued him, he recognized that God was behind his rescue, that God had worked in his providence, and he was still alive because of God's special providence. 


Acts 26:22,, "Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand unto this day, testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses did say should come:  How that Christ must suffer, and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead, should proclaim light both to the people, and to the Gentiles."  Both to the people of Israel and to the Gentile people.  "And as he thus made his defense, Festus saith with a loud voice, Paul, thou art mad; thy much learning is turning thee mad.  But Paul saith, I am not mad, most excellent Festus; but speak forth words of truth and soberness.  For the king knoweth of these things, unto whom I also speak freely:  For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him; for this has not been done in a corner."  All of the teaching and God delivering him from the people, those things had not been done in a corner.  "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know that thou believest.  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian?  And Paul said, I would to God, that whether with little or with much, not thou only, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except these bonds.  And the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them."  Remember that the principal men of the city and the chief captains, they were present.  But king Agrippa, after he tries Paul, is not able to help Festus to have something to write in the way of charges. 


Back to Acts 26:30,"And the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:  And when they had withdrawn, they spake one to another saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds."  So they all agreed that this man is not guilty.  "And Agrippa said unto Festus this man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar." 


Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter twenty-seven begins with that long journey from Caesarea to Rome where Paul is in prison for two whole years in his own hired dwelling, but able to preach and teach those that came unto him in his own hired dwelling, none forbidding him.  But now I will get Brother Patterson in here and try to go over the map.  You remember that in Class Session nine that we followed the journeys of Paul until we got to Ephesus on that third journey?  And I would like for us to pick up at Ephesus and follow him on his journey from Ephesus to revisiting the churches of Macedonia, and then going to Greece for three months, and then going to Jerusalem with those messengers of the churches, carrying the bounty that those Gentile churches had raised for the poor in Judaea. 


And again I would like to first call attention to Acts eighteen,  that verse twenty-two is the end of the second journey, and verse twenty-three is the beginning of the third journey.  "And having spent some time there, he departed and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia in order, establishing the disciples."  Which means that he was revisiting those churches again.  He revisited those churches at Galatia that he and Barnabas had established on that first journey as recorded in Acts chapters 13 and 14.  He revisited them again on this second journey, first in company with Silas and then with Silas and Timothy.  And as they visited those churches, they were delivering the decrees from the apostles and elders.  They wrote that letter saying they had not sent out those false teachers, and there were just four things that they bound on the Gentiles:  They were to keep themselves from the pollution of idols, fornication, things strangled, and from blood.  And in Acts 16:4, "As they went on the way through the cities."  Those cities where they had been established, those churches on the first journey.  "They delivered them the decrees to keep which had been ordained of the apostles and elders that were at Jerusalem.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily." 


I read that reference again to stress the point that when Paul revisited these churches on the second journey, that they were not having any problem in respect to that false teaching by those willful false teachers that they later have.  And when he revisited them on that third journey, there was nothing said about them  having that problem, but it was after he had visited them    on that third journey, that the problems came up in the churches of Galatia.  Those false teachers moved to those churches and started teaching those Gentile brethren in all those churches of Galatia: Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe -- teaching them that the Gentiles had to be circumcised and  keep the law of Moses in order to be saved.  And the burden of the epistle to the Galatians was that these men are false teachers, they are willful, false teachers, and if you follow them, you will lose your salvation in Christ.  Remember Galatians 5:4, "Ye are severed from Christ.  Ye that would be justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace."  They had already lost their salvation by being led by those false teachers. 


Please remember that Paul had first gone to Ephesus on the return part of that second journey.  He went into the synagogue at Ephesus, and they wanted him to stay with them longer, but it was not his will to do so then,  but he told them if it was the Lord's will, he would return to them, and it was the Lord's will, and after he had gone back and had further instructed the brethren in the churches, he went to Ephesus. Evidently Ephesus was the place that he wanted to go on that second journey when he wanted to go into Asia and was forbidden.  He wanted to go into Bithynia and the Holy Spirit prevented him to go there.  But passing by Mysia, he came to Troas where Luke joined them, and they established the three churches in Macedonia:  Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. 


Now on this third journey, he goes back and revisits these disciples, and then he goes to Ephesus.  After the uproar caused by Demetrius and the silversmiths and those of like trade, we read in Acts twenty, that after the uproar -- Look at Acts 20:1-2, "And after the uproar ceased, Paul having sent for the disciples and exhorted them, took leave from them, and departed to go into Macedonia.  And when he had gone through those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece.  And when he had spent three months there.  And the plot was made against him by the Jews.  As he was about to sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia  Luke is really briefing things there, and telling about him revisiting the churches of Macedonia and the churches of Greece, and staying in Greece three months and  ready to sail to Jerusalem with that bounty of the Gentile churches, and he learned that a plot was laid to kill him. 


Reading again from Acts 20:3, "And when he had spent three months there, the plot was laid against him by the Jews, as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia.  And there accompanied him as far as Asia Sopater of Berea."  So you see they had a messenger of the church from Berea.  "And of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus."  So two messengers from Thessalonica.  "Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy."  So two from Derbe, Gaius and Timothy.  "And of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus."  And Trophimus, remember as we have already read, was from Ephesus.  And so a representative of the church from Ephesus.  "But these had gone before and were waiting for us at Troas."  And from the pronoun us, we know that Luke joins the company again.  "And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days where we tarried seven days."  So from Philippi Luke goes with Paul to Troas, and they are at Troas for seven days, which means, we know from Acts 20:7, that they worshiped at Troas at least one Lord's day, if not two first days of the week. 


And then we read about them continuing on the journey, picking up with Acts 20:13, "And we going forth to the ship, set sail for Assos."  Right here is Assos, just a little ways from Troas, I guess about ten miles.  So they are sailing along the coastline, going to Jerusalem.  "There intending to take in Paul for so had he appointed intended to go by land."  I wonder why he wanted to go by land from Troas to Assos, but that is what it says, and  he did.  "There intending to take in Paul.  For so had he appointed, intending himself to go by land.  And when he met us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene."  Mitylene is somewhere along here.  That is where Mitylene is, and they were just traveling down the coastline.  "And sailing from thence, we came the following day over against Chios; and the next day we touched at Samos, and the day after we came to Miletus."  And it is from Miletus that Paul calls together the elders from the church at Ephesus and tells them how that he wants them to be faithful to the Lord and “feed the church of God which he purchased with his own blood.”  And so from Miletus he calls for the elders to meet him there because he wanted to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost. 


Acts 20:16, "For Paul had determined to sail past Ephesus, that he might not have to spend time in Asia:  For he was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost."  Picking up now with chapter twenty-one.  After he gave that discourse to the elders of the church, they fell on his neck and kissed him.  "And when it came to pass that we were parted from them.  (the Ephesian elders)  And had set sail, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the next day unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara.  And having found a ship crossing over unto Phenicia, we went abroad and set sail.  And when we had come insight of  Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we sailed unto Syria, and landed at Tyre."  So again they are moving down the coastline.  We have mentioned these places.  And they left Cyprus on the left, and then they land, the ship lands at Tyre.  Verse three, "And when we had come insight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left, we sailed on to Syria, and landed at Tyre:  For there the ship was to unlade her burden.  And having found the disciples, we tarried there seven days: And these said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not set foot in Jerusalem.  And when it came to pass and had accomplished these days, we departed and went on our journey; and they all the wives and children brought us on our way, until we were out of the city.  And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed.  And bade each together farewell, and went on board the ship; but they returned to their home again.  And when we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais, and we saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.  And on the morrow we departed and came to Caesarea."  Caesarea is where Paul stayed during that length of time that he was tried by the chief captain Lysias and governor Felix and Festus and then by king Agrippa, he was at Caesarea.  And so on this journey, they go to Caesarea to the house of Philip.  And from there, they start on toward Jerusalem.  Verse fifteen, "After these days we took up our baggage, and went up to Jerusalem."  Where they were received well of the apostles and elders.  So that completes the third journey.  Sometime later maybe we will find an opportunity to pick up and follow Paul on his journey to Rome for trial.  And we will call this the end of this Class Session.  Thank you.