On Trial in Jerusalem

KEY VERSE: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” —Philippians 4:13

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 22:30 through 23:11

AS THE Apostle Paul and his little group made their way toward Jerusalem, they came to Caesarea. While there, a prophet by the name of Agabus “took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, 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 the Gentiles.” (Acts 21:11) But Paul would not be dissuaded, and pressed on toward Jerusalem. When he arrived at his destination, he went directly to James, and all the elders were present. Then Paul reiterated to them what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they had heard it they glorified God. But they also warned Paul that the Jewish believers were angry about some of the things they heard he had been teaching, especially his doctrine that those who came into Christ were no longer under the Law of Moses, and if this be so, they should no longer circumcise their children, neither walk after the customs of the Law.

Paul chose to go directly to the people and endeavor to convince them concerning the doctrine of Christ. He was eventually apprehended in the synagogue, turned over to the mob, and beaten and bound with two chains, but the chief captain gave him permission to speak to the people. When he had finished his defense, the mob turned on him again and would have slain him except that he was brought to the castle to be examined by scourging. Here Paul declared his Roman citizenship and because of this they were afraid to abuse him. The next day he was brought before the council and the chief priests to stand trial.

During the trial Paul discerned that there were two factions among those who were to judge him—the Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection of the dead, and the Sadducees, who did not. The apostle very skillfully brought the matter of the resurrection to the fore as one of the points about which he was being called into question. This caused great dissension between the two groups, so that there was no verdict. But because of the great disruption it was necessary to put Paul back into protective custody.

We should consider the matter of the resurrection because it is one of the great fundamental doctrines of the Gospel of Christ. When Adam was condemned to death in the Garden of Eden, this did not mean that he was only going to appear to die and in reality he would be more alive than ever on the spiritual plane of life. The Bible indicated he was to go out of existence, saying, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:19; Rom. 5:12,19; I Cor. 15:22) It was Satan who told Eve the lie that she would not surely die. (Gen. 3:1-6) Because of the just sentence passed upon Adam, all his children—the world of mankind—inherited death instead of life.

This would have been the hapless lot of the world if God had not held forth the hope of a resurrection from the dead. All the promises to the nation of Israel for a future kingdom would be meaningless, except to those living at the time of its establishment, if it were not for the fact that through the resurrection all the past generations of Israelites—and the rest of mankind as well—will come back here on the earth and have an opportunity for life under the very favorable conditions of the kingdom. Jesus said, “The hour is coming when all who are in their tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28,29, RSV) The resurrection of judgment is described so beautifully by the Prophet Isaiah. “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”—Isa. 26:9

Since the Apostle Paul declared his Roman citizenship, the Jews no longer could have jurisdiction over him, and arrangements were made for him to be transferred to Rome to be tried under Roman law. But the apostle had made his witness to the Jews in Jerusalem and now, by the Lord’s arrangement, he was being placed in a position where he could witness in Rome.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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