Facing Crisis

KEY VERSE: “The night following the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou host testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” —Acts 23:11

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 21:26-33, 37-39

THE HOLY SPIRIT had testified that bonds and imprisonment awaited Paul at Jerusalem, and that prophecy was being fulfilled. He was arrested by Roman soldiers, largely to protect him from the Jewish mob and the riotous condition thus created.

Paul, ever alert for opportunities to bear witness to the truth, asked the Roman officer to allow him to speak to the mob from the steps of the castle, and this permission was granted. His witness was largely in the nature of a personal testimony as to the reason he had become a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth.

He reminded his hearers that at one time he felt the same way about Jesus’ disciples as they did and that he had been zealous in his efforts to stamp them out. He told of the miracle on the Damascus road by which he came to realize that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

Realizing that Paul was not pacifying his accusers, the Roman officer ordered him taken into the castle and scourged. As they began to carry out these instructions, “Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25) The centurion reported this to the captain, and warned him, “Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.” (vs. 26) After Paul convinced the captain that he was indeed born a Roman citizen, the situation changed. The captain knew that he must try to find out from Paul’s accusers what they had against him.

The chief priests and all their council were ordered to appear in the castle, and Paul was brought before them to plead his own cause. He said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” (Acts 23:1) With this, “the High Priest Ananias commanded them that stood by to smite him on the mouth.” (vs. 2) Paul, somewhat angered by this action, said to him, not knowing that he was the High Priest: “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the Law, and cornmandest me to be smitten contrary to the Law?” (vs. 3) When he was told that he had reviled a High Priest, he said, “I wist not, brethren, that he was the High Priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.”—vss. 4,5; Exod. 22:28

This was a noble reply which should have helped the Council to realize that here was a man who knew God’s Law and was endeavoring to live in harmony with it. But when men are blinded by intolerance and prejudice, they are seldom able to reason correctly.

Paul may not have known why a visit to Jerusalem was vitally connected with his going to Rome. But there is little doubt that when the Lord stood by him in the castle that night, and assured him that he would go to Rome, the whole picture opened up before him.

Now Paul knew that his visit to Jerusalem was not only to give a witness to the Jews in Judea, but when this was accomplished, he was to give a witness at Rome also.

The very next day, and for his own safety, Paul was escorted out of Jerusalem by the Roman army to the city of Caesarea, where he was to have an audience before the Roman governor. There Paul made an appeal to be heard before Caesar in Rome, rather than be returned to Jerusalem for trial. This was legally his right as a Roman citizen. In time Paul was brought to Rome.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |