Acts 28

28:1-6 Paul bitten by viper on Malta.
28:7-10 Paul’s ministry to those on Malta.
28:11-15 Paul’s safe arrival in Rome.

28:1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.

28:2 The islanders [of Phoenician ancestry; island of Malta (from Canaanite word for “refuge”)] showed [continued to show] us unusual kindness. They built a fire [to warm survivors who were chilled from being in the sea and because of the foul weather] and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.

Note: When was the last time you showed “unusual kindness” to someone?

28:3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

28:4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”

28:5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.

28:6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

28:7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official [probably a political authority, like a governor] of the island [literally “first man of the island”]. He welcomed us [either only Paul (and Luke), Julius, and ship’s owner or the entire crew/passengers (276 people)] to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably.

28:8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands [only reference in Acts that mentions both prayer and laying on of hands] on him and healed him.

28:9 When this had happened [good news travels fast], the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.

28:10 They honored us in many ways [a reminder that unbelievers do good deeds] and when we were ready to sail [after spending three winter months on the island (28:11)], they furnished us with the supplies we needed [islanders provided for the needs of their guests].

28:11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.

28:12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days.

28:13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli.

28:14 There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.

28:15 The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.

28:16 When [after spending three months on the island of Malta (Acts 28:11)] we [Luke was still with Paul] got to Rome [during this two-year period Paul wrote Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon], Paul was allowed to live by himself [Paul considered a low-risk prisoner], with a soldier [to whom Paul apparently was chained, at least some of the time (Acts 28:20)] to guard [“a captive audience”] him.

After spending three months on the island of Malta (Acts 28:11), Paul finally arrived in Rome. He had already visited some of the most beautiful cities of his day and yet had eagerly longed to visit Rome (Rom. 1:15). His arrival in this influential city fulfilled the promise of the Lord that he would one day preach the gospel there (Acts 23:11).

Considered a low-risk prisoner, Paul was permitted to stay by himself in his own rented quarters. This arrangement gave him more freedom than a typical prisoner. However, the presence of a soldier who guarded him was a reminder that he was nevertheless a prisoner. Some of the soldiers who guarded Paul may have become believers as they listened to him share the gospel over a period of two years (see Phil. 1:13).

28:17 Three days later [after arriving in Rome] he called [since Paul could not go to the synagogue, he summoned members of the synagogue to visit him; Paul had freedom to invite people to visit him, but did not have freedom to move about city] together the leaders [capable of influencing others] of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.

Three days after arriving in Rome and settling into his rented quarters, Paul was ready to meet with Jews in the city. Since he could not go to the synagogue, he summoned the leaders of the Jews to visit him, even though he did not know them. Even within limiting circumstances we can make new acquaintances, which will give us new opportunities to witness. These Jews were likely leaders of various synagogues but not an official ruling body. Paul’s purpose in meeting with them was to state his innocence of the charges against him. He summarized the events that had led to his arrest in Jerusalem and maintained his innocence of all charges of violating Jewish customs.

28:18 They [the Roman authorities (cf. 23:29; 25:25; 26:31)] examined me and wanted to release me [cf. Acts 26:32], because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death.

Paul pointed out that the Roman authorities who examined him wanted to release him. Claudius Lysias, the Roman army commander who had protected Paul from the Jews in Jerusalem, affirmed Paul’s innocence in a personal letter to Felix (Acts 23:29). Festus, Felix’s successor, also said that Paul had done nothing to deserve death (Acts 25:25). And King Agrippa and Festus again reaffirmed that Paul had not committed a capital offense (Acts 26:31).

28:19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own people [Paul was a loyal Jew; although he had been falsely accused, he did not want to retaliate; Paul did not bring counter charges against his own people].

Even though the charges against him were groundless, Paul felt no other recourse than to appeal to Caesar. However, he made it clear to the Roman Jewish leaders that he had no intention of bringing any charges against his own people. Paul was a loyal Jew and did not want to harm his own countrymen. Instead, his greatest desire for his fellow Jews was for them to come to faith in Christ (see Rom. 9:1-5).

28:20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel [cf. 23:6; 24:15; 26:7; 28:20; Paul believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel] that I am bound with this chain.”

Paul’s reason for calling the Roman Jewish leaders together was to explain why he was a prisoner. He was a prisoner because of the hope of Israel or because he believed that the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah—the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel. Christianity was not some illegitimate or dangerous sect, but instead the ultimate fulfillment of Judaism. This conviction was the source of contention between Paul and the Jews.

28:21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you.

The Roman Jews told Paul that they had not received any letters or oral reports about him from Judea. This is not surprising since Paul’s ship was probably among the first to arrive in Rome after winter. And, because of winter travel conditions, it is likely that the Jews in Jerusalem had not yet had an opportunity to send an emissary to communicate with their counterparts in Rome. Or, it is possible that they had given up hope of having Paul prosecuted since he had appealed his case to Caesar.

28:22 But we [Roman Jews] want [indicates they were receptive to what Paul had to say] to hear [because they knew little about this movement] what your views [concerning the Jesus movement] are, for we know that people everywhere [indicates that the awareness of Christianity had spread throughout the Roman world] are talking against this sect [from Gr. word hairesis from which we get our word heresy; considered an illegitimate branch of Judaism].”

While the Jewish religious leaders had not received any reports about Paul, they had heard about the Christian movement. Awareness of Christianity had spread throughout the Roman world. In fact, people everywhere were speaking either against or about this sect. The word sect translates a word from which our word heresy derives. The Jewish leaders in Rome were interested in hearing what Paul had to say about this growing movement. Like Paul, we should always take advantage of opportunities to talk to others about what we believe and why we believe it.

28:23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying [lodging; own rented quarters (cf. Acts 28:30)]. From morning till evening [shows intensity of Paul’s appeal and the depth of his concern for his own people (cf. Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1)] he explained [to lay out, to set forth] and declared to them the kingdom of God [the rule of God in the hearts of people] and tried to convince [persuade] them about Jesus [must always be the focus of our witnessing] from [cf. Acts 17:2-3; Paul’s message/witness was grounded in Scripture] the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

On a prearranged meeting day, large numbers of Roman Jews came to meet with Paul. Though confined to a house, Paul readily made appointments with and witnessed to people who were interested enough to come to him.) Those who came were interested in hearing what Paul had to say about the Christian movement and Paul was eager to preach the gospel to them. He witnessed to his guests from dawn to dusk. Using the Old Testament prophecies and references to the Messiah, Paul tried to persuade them concerning Jesus.

Jesus must always be the focus of our witnessing. Paul explained how passages from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets had been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Christian witness should learn how to use the Scriptures to share with others about Jesus.

28:24 Some were convinced [but not necessarily converted] by what he said, but others would not believe [cf. parable of the sower in Matt. 13:1-8, 18-23].

The response to Paul’s teaching and testimony was mixed. As is almost always the case, some of those present were persuaded by what he said. This does not necessarily mean that they were converted, but that they found Paul’s arguments convincing. Some of these may have actually become Christians. Others, however, did not believe. The parable of the sower teaches that all people will not respond in the same way to the message of salvation (see Matt. 13:1-8,18-23).

28:25 They disagreed [out of harmony] among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement [a desperate warning]: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet [cf. Isa. 6:9-10: God told Isaiah that people would not heed his message; cf. Jesus’ use of this passage in Matt. 13:13-15, Mk. 4:12, and Lk. 8:10]:

The Jews who were persuaded by what Paul said and those who did not believe argued among themselves. Paul had a final and solemn word for these unbelieving and arguing Jews. The particular Old Testament prophecy he quoted applied specifically to them. Citing Isaiah 6:9-10, he compared them to their stubborn forefathers who had refused to hear and heed the word of God. Paul’s guests began to leave when they heard this statement, perhaps angered by the comparison. How eternally dangerous to refuse to hear and believe, yet many do just that.

28:26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing [opportunity to hear] but never understanding [to comprehend]; you will be ever seeing [opportunity to see] but never perceiving.”

28:27 For this people’s heart has become calloused [to become fat, to become dull]; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent [to send as an authoritative representative] to the Gentiles, and they will [indicates receptivity] listen!”

When the Jewish leaders in Rome rejected the gospel, Paul determined to find others—Gentiles—who would listen and respond to the gospel. He told these unbelieving Jews that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles. This does not mean that the Jews were excluded from the opportunity to receive God’s salvation. Instead it emphasizes the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s people.

The message of Acts is that God’s salvation has been sent to all peoples. When we encounter people whose hearts and minds are closed to the gospel, we can make plans to find others with open minds, which will give us other opportunities to witness.

28:29 After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.

This verse emphasizes again the fact that the Jews were arguing or debating among themselves (see Acts 28:25). The gospel challenges people to think about what they believe and in what or whom they are trusting in for their salvation. Those who left Paul’s residence continued to debate among themselves about what they had heard that day.

We should be patient and understand that these periods of debate and reflection are important in the conversion process. The Holy Spirit continues to work in the hearts and lives of those who have heard the truth of the gospel.

28:30 For two whole years [may indicate that the time period for Paul’s accusers to appear had elapsed] Paul stayed there [cf. Phil 1:12-14 re: how gospel flourished during his imprisonment] in his own rented house and welcomed all [cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23] who came to see him [indicates many opportunities to witness].

The events recorded in the book of Acts began in Jerusalem and ended in Rome. Paul stayed two whole years under house arrest in Rome. Even though he was confined to his own rented house, Paul enjoyed a measure of freedom. He was allowed to have visitors and graciously welcomed all who came to see him—Jews as well as Gentiles. As a result, God’s work never slowed down.

During this period, Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians and told them that his imprisonment had “actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). Even within limiting circumstances Paul took advantage of opportunities to witness to all the people who came his way.

28:31 Boldly [candidly, forcefully] and without hindrance [the Romans did not hinder Paul from sharing the good news; implies that the Romans (at this time) did not see Paul’s message as subversive] he preached the kingdom of God and taught [strong tradition that Paul wrote the prison epistles at this time (his first Roman imprisonment): Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon / Paul released and wrote First Timothy and Titus / Paul arrested and wrote Second Timothy (his “last will and testament”) / Paul executed (beheaded) by Roman authorities in A.D. 67/68] about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book of Acts ends on a triumphant note. The Romans did not hinder Paul from sharing the good news. This indicates that, at this time, they did not consider Paul’s message to be either dangerous or subversive. Sadly, that attitude on the part of the Romans would change in the coming years.

Paul had the freedom to preach with full boldness about the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke did not record what happened to Paul, only that in a period of about thirty years, the gospel had spread from Jerusalem, across Asia Minor, all the way to Rome, the center of the world.

From Rome, the gospel has continued its march across continents and oceans, touching people of every tribe, and nation, and tongue. May God use us to write the continuing story of Acts as we faithfully tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Note: What to do when facing limitations.
L = Look for creative opportunities to share the gospel.
I = Invite others to meet with you.
M = Make the most of difficult situations.
I = Initiate conversations with those around you.
T = Talk freely about what Jesus has done for you.
A = Ask questions that can give you insight into what others believe.
T = Take practical steps to get to know others.
I = Inspire interest in the gospel through godly living.
O = Open the door for others to approach you.
N = Never allow obstacles to discourage you.
S = Stand firm on the truth of the gospel.

Acts 27

27:1-8 Paul sails from Caesarea to Fair Havens.
27:9-12 Paul’s warning about potential danger on the seas ignored.
27:13-20 Paul caught in a storm.

Acts 27:14
27:14 Before very long, a wind [from Gr. word from which we get English word typhoon] of hurricane force, called the “northeaster [a severe winter storm],” swept down from the island [the mountains (over 7,000 feet high) of Crete].

Acts 27:18-26
27:18 We [Luke was present with Paul] took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they [the crew] began to throw [jettison or eject] the cargo [grain as per v. 38] overboard [desperate measure to lighten the ship; cf. Jonah 1:5].

27:19 On the third day, they threw [to hurl] the ship’s tackle [presumably included the mast and spare sails] overboard with their own hands.

27:20 When neither sun nor stars [navigational aids; without these they had no way of determining where they were] appeared for many days and the storm continued [worsened] raging [to lie upon: describes the pressure of a violent tempest], we finally [after exhausting all personal efforts] gave up all hope of being saved [rescued].

Note: Can you think of a time when you gave up hope but God rescued you?

27:21 After the men had gone a long time without food [probably lost appetite because of desperate situation and/or seasickness], Paul stood up [in the midst of the storm] before them and said: “Men, you should have taken [to obey] my advice [cf. Acts 27:10] not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss [Paul shared this in order to prepare them to receive his heaven-sent encouragement (vv. 22-26)].

27:22 But now I urge [to advise, to recommend] you to keep up your courage [to cheer up; word occurs three times in this chapter (see also vv. 25, 36)], because [reason] not one of you [276 people on board as per v. 37] will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

Note: How do you keep up your courage in times of crisis? How do you encourage others in times of crisis?

27:23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am [stresses Paul’s intimate relationship with God; Paul belonged to God] and whom I serve [stresses Paul’s dedication to God; Paul was faithful to his divine calling] stood beside me

27:24 and said, ‘Do not [command to stop an action in progress] be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar [cf. Acts 23:11 re: the Lord’s earlier disclosure that Paul would bear witness in Rome; the storm would not frustrate God’s purpose for Paul]; and God has graciously given [to grant as a present] you the lives of all who sail with you.’

27:25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith [unwavering confidence] in God that it will happen just as he [God] told me [a contrary view never entered Paul’s mind].

27:26 Nevertheless, we must [certainty] run aground on some island.”

27:27-32 In the midst of the storm at sea.

Acts 27:33-36
27:33 Just before dawn Paul urged [repeatedly encouraged] them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food — you haven’t eaten anything.

27:34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive [while they could not save the ship, Paul urged them to take practical measures to insure their own survival]. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head [stresses God’s providential care (cf. Matt. 10:30); cf. Paul’s reassuring words in v. 22; v. 34 was additional assurance].”

27:35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks [a normal Jewish custom before meals] to God in front of [served as a reminder of the God who had assured their safety; Paul’s example enhanced his witness] them all [many pagans]. Then he broke it and began to eat.

27:36 They were all encouraged [Paul’s confident faith lifted the spirits of those aboard the storm-tossed ship] and ate some food themselves.

Acts 27:42-44


27:42 The soldiers [responsible for safe delivery of prisoners; failure to carry out responsibility meant death (cf. Acts 12:19; 16:27)] planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping.

27:43 But the centurion [Julius] wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept [to hinder] them [the soldiers] from carrying out their plan. He [centurion had the authority to make this decision] ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land.

27:44 The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way [swimming or holding on to planks; cf. Acts 27:43-44b] everyone [276 people as per v. 37] reached land [island of Malta] in safety [thus fulfilling Paul’s prophetic utterance in Acts 27:22].

Acts 26

25:1-7 Paul charged before Festus (successor of Felix: Acts 24:27).
25:8-12 Paul’s response and his appeal to Festus to take his case to Caesar.
25:13-27 Festus consults with Agrippa (visiting in Caesarea) re: Paul’s case.
26:1-23 Paul’s testimony.

Acts 26:15-23
26:15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting [to persecute Jesus’ disciples was to persecute Jesus (cf. Matt. 25:40)],’ the Lord replied.

26:16 ‘Now get up [cf. commissioning of Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:1,3) and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:7-8)] and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint [a divine appointment] you as a servant [under-rower: lowest echelon of rowers on a slave galley; word also used in 1 Cor. 4:1] and as a witness [from root word for “martyr”] of what you have seen of me [refers to Paul’s vision of Christ on the Damascus road] and what I will show you [Jesus’ subsequent appearances to Paul (cf. Acts 18:9; 22:17-21; 23:11].

26:17 I will rescue [to take out, to choose] you from [divine protection] your own people [Jews] and from the Gentiles. I am sending [as an authoritative representative; derived from same Greek root that means “apostle”] you to them [Gentiles]

26:18 to [Paul’s ministry objectives] [1] open their eyes [spiritually] and [2] turn them from darkness [spiritual] to light [spiritual], and [3] from the power of Satan to God [cf. Col. 1:13-14], so that [results of salvation] [1] they may receive forgiveness of sins and [2] a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me [cf. Eph. 2:19].’

26:19 “So then, King Agrippa [cf. what Ananias said about Paul in Acts 9:15; others in the room were listening to Paul as well (cf. 26:30)], I was not disobedient [Paul obeyed and followed the call of God] to the vision from heaven.

26:20 [Paul crossed geographical boundaries to share gospel] First to those in Damascus [Acts 9:8-25], then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea [Acts 9:26-29], and to the Gentiles [Paul crossed racial barriers to share the gospel] also, I preached that they should repent [to change one’s mind about sin and about God] and turn to God and prove [true repentance evident in changed life] their repentance by their deeds [do good deeds because we are saved, not to obtain salvation].

26:21 That is why the Jews seized [to lay hands on] me in the temple courts and tried to kill me [cf. Acts 21:31; 23:12-15].

26:22 But I have had God’s help [aid; cf. Acts 26:17] to this very day, and so I stand [emphasizes Paul’s stability and fidelity] here and testify [witness] to small and great alike [Paul crossed social barriers to share the gospel; gospel for all people]. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets [e.g. Isa. 53] and Moses [the law] said would happen [Paul’s message in harmony with the law and the prophets]

Paul spoke in his own defense before King Agrippa and also used the opportunity to share his personal testimony. Like Paul, every Christian should be prepared to share his or her personal testimony with others. Paul saw himself as one in debt or under obligation to all who do not know Christ (see Rom. 1:14), whether small or great. He was willing to cross geographical and social barriers because he understood that the gospel is for all peoples. And, Paul affirmed that his message was securely anchored in what the prophets and Moses said would take place.

26:23 that the Christ would suffer [difficult for Jews to accept suffering Messiah] and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles [emphasizes that the gospel is for all people].”

The first-century Jews did not expect the Messiah to suffer. However, the prophets and Moses said that the Messiah must suffer. The suffering of Jesus on the cross was indeed so great that it was beyond description. In fact, a new word was invented to describe the kind of suffering experienced during crucifixion—the word excruciating. This word literally means “out of the cross.”

Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and was the first to rise from the dead never to die again. As the resurrected and living Lord He proclaimed light to Jews and Gentiles alike—a reminder that the gospel is for all peoples.

26:24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind [cf. 2 Cor. 5:13; Mk. 3:20-21], Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane [a way of saying that Paul was out of touch with the real world; cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-25].”

Confused by all of the talk about Moses, the Messiah, and a resurrected man, Festus shouted, You’re out of your mind, Paul! Festus had earlier told Agrippa about this “dead man whom Paul claimed to be alive” (Acts 25:19). Perplexed, Festus concluded that Paul had spent so much time with his head buried in Old Testament scrolls that he had lost touch with reality. After all, any sensible person knows that people don’t rise from the dead.

26:25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied [Paul’s courteous reply left the door open for witnessing to the governor in the future]. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.

When Festus ridiculed Paul and what he was saying about Jesus, the apostle rejected the governor’s statement but in a respectful manner, leaving the door open for witnessing in the future. Paul courteously replied to the governor that he was not out of his mind. He asserted that his testimony was true and reasonable. In fact, the words he was speaking had eternal implications for those listening.

Festus knew that Paul was not mad. And, as governor, he would not have sent a madman to be tried before Caesar. It is possible that his nervous outburst indicates he was under conviction. When people ridicule us, our efforts to witness to them, or the gospel, we still need to show them respect so they will still be open to further witnessing.

26:26 The king is familiar with these things [the basic facts of Paul’s message], and I can speak freely [openly, boldly] to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner [this was a common Greek idiom in Paul’s day; Christians openly proclaimed the gospel; Christianity was a very public movement].

Paul did not argue with Festus. Instead, he turned his attention back to Agrippa to whom he had been speaking boldly. The Jewish king knew about these matters, that is, the basic facts of Paul’s message. The Christian movement and its message were not something done in a secluded corner or in secret. Christianity had been fully public since the day of Pentecost when three thousand people converted to faith in Christ in Jerusalem.

Although Christianity had started small, it was no longer a small movement but rather one that was spreading throughout the Roman Empire. Paul’s own ministry had been done in public and subject to scrutiny. Surely these things had not escaped Agrippa’s notice.

26:27 [Paul put Agrippa on the spot and pressed for a decision] King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets [who had foretold Christ’s coming]? I know you do.”

Paul, becoming increasingly bolder in his witness, began to press for a decision. Addressing the king, he asked, do you believe the prophets? Before Agrippa could answer the question, Paul answered it for him: I know you believe the prophets. Agrippa did know what the prophets had written about the messiah. He could have corroborated all that Paul had said. Paul’s question now forced Agrippa to take a stand. If he believed the prophets and what they had written about the messiah, then he must either affirm or deny that Jesus is the one about whom the prophets wrote.

26:28 Then Agrippa [perhaps felt uncomfortable] said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time [rapidly] you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Agrippa found himself in an awkward position. Denying the prophets would have put him at odds with his Jewish constituency. Affirming his belief in the prophets would have forced Agrippa to deal with Paul’s claims concerning Jesus. So, instead of answering Paul’s question, Agrippa, like a seasoned politician, evaded it by asking another question.

People under conviction often find ways to resist the truth. Like Festus, Agrippa heard the gospel and yet stopped short of making any decision concerning Christ. His reply indicates he would not be as easily persuaded to become a Christian as Paul’s other converts had been. Sadly, the king missed this opportunity to gain something he would never lose—eternal life.

26:29 Paul replied, “Short time or long [the important thing was to make a decision for Christ] — I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am [free in Christ; a Christian], except for these chains [perhaps Paul lifted his manacled hands; messenger was bound but message could never be bound].”

When Agrippa rejected Paul’s witness and refused to become a Christian, Paul continued by expressing concern for the king. Paul politely replied that whether easily or with difficulty, the most important thing was to eventually become a Christian believer. And, Paul’s concern was not only for the king, but for all the people who were present in the room that day.

The only thing that Paul did not wish for those listening to him was that they end up in chains. When people reject our witness and refuse to become Christians, we are to express genuine concern for them and do nothing that will make further conversation impossible.

26:30 The king rose [thus ending the dialogue; shrugged off opportunity to receive Christ], and with him the governor [Festus] and Bernice and those sitting with them.

Agrippa ended the dialogue. Perhaps he did so because he was uncomfortable or under conviction. He had certainly heard enough to advise Festus about Paul’s case. Sadly, rather than making a decision concerning Christ, the king and all those in the room got up and walked away. Ironically, by refusing to make a decision concerning Christ, they faced a sentence greater than any sentence Paul would ever face.

26:31 They left the room, and while talking with one another [Festus and Agrippa], they said, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

When they had left the room, Festus and Agrippa, the two highest ranking officials, talked with each other. They concluded that Paul had not violated any Jewish laws worthy of either death or chains. Paul had already been declared innocent by the Pharisees (Acts 23:9), by Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:29), and by Festus (Acts 25:25).

Only Paul’s enemies continued to insist that he had done something worthy of death. Soon, Paul would sail for Rome and away from his murderous enemies. His appearance before governors and kings was a fulfillment of Jesus’ words (Luke 21:12). Paul would continue to faithfully share the gospel with people from all walks of life until the day of his death.

26:32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Note: Sharing the gospel with secular people.
S = Secular people have little or no interest in the gospel but need to hear it.
E = Every person deserves an opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel.
C = Communicate the gospel in terms secular people can understand.
U = Use your personal testimony to explain what Christ has done for you.
L = Love others regardless of how they respond to your witness.
A = Always leave the door open to future witnessing opportunities.
R = Refuse to give up on the salvation of any person.

Acts 24

24:1 Five days later [from the time of Paul’s arrest in the temple; Paul’s accusers arrived from Jerusalem] the high priest Ananias [cf. Acts 23:1-5] went down to Caesarea with some of the elders [perhaps senior members of Sanhedrin] and a lawyer [orator, speaker in court] named Tertullus [common Greek name; a Jew acquainted with Roman and Jewish law], and they brought their charges [to bring an accusation, to indict] against Paul before the governor [Felix].

24:2-9 The Jewish charges against Paul presented by Tertullus.

Acts 24:10-16
24:10 When the governor motioned [to wave, to motion with the hand] for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation [Felix had some experience in handling such matters]; so I gladly [confidently; with good courage] make my defense.

24:11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago [certainly not enough time for Paul to have done all he was accused of] I went up to Jerusalem to worship [not to stir up trouble].

24:12 My accusers did not find me arguing [to discuss, to teach, to dispute] with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd [dissension; sedition, which was against Roman law] in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city.

24:13 And they [Paul’s Jewish enemies] cannot prove [to substantiate, to put evidence alongside of argument] to you the charges they are now making against me.

24:14 However, I admit [confess] that I worship the God of our fathers [Paul had not forsaken the faith of his fathers, rather he saw Christianity as the fulfillment of Israel’s faith] as a follower of the Way [term refers to Christianity], which they [erroneously] call a sect [heresy; faction; Tertullus characterized Christianity as a sect of Judaism (Acts 24:5)]. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets [OT bears witness to Jesus Christ; Paul saw Christianity as the fulfillment of all “that is written in the Prophets”],

24:15 and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection [only Pharisees believed in resurrection, Sadducees did not] of both the righteous and the wicked [both would face God’s judgment].

24:16 So [therefore, in light of Paul’s belief in the resurrection and that he would one day stand before God] I strive [to exercise, to take pains, to drill; word has a note of moral strictness about it; cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27] always to keep my conscience clear [without offense, unharmed, uninjured; Paul did not do or say anything for which his conscience would condemn him later] before God and man [integrity is vital to our witness].

24:17-21 Paul continued defense/challenged accusers to present charge against him.

Acts 24:22-27
24:22 Then Felix [the Roman governor in Caesarea], who was well acquainted [perhaps more than the Jewish leaders gave him credit for] with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias [the commander who had sent Paul to Caesarea (cf. Acts 23:23-26); he had already written a letter re: incident (cf. Acts 23:25-30)] the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide [to examine, to determine] your case.”

Felix, the governor of Judea, presided over the case against Paul. Felix was married to Drusilla, a Jewish woman who likely kept him informed about what was happening among the Jews.

As a Roman official, Felix was accurately informed about the Way, or knew about the Christians. He probably knew that the charges against Paul were without merit and that the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5) were not troublesome revolutionaries. But, instead of acquitting Paul and risking trouble with the Jews, Felix adjourned the proceedings.

Felix decided to postpone judgment until Lysias personally arrived in Caesarea. However, Lysias, the commander who had sent Paul to Felix, had already submitted a written report of the incident that had occurred in Jerusalem (see Acts 23:23-26).

24:23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard [protective custody] but to give him some freedom [indulgence, privilege] and permit his friends to take care of his needs.

There is no indication that Felix ever sent for Lysias. It was easier for Felix to postpone the matter indefinitely than to pass judgment. Had Lysias come, Felix would have had to deal with the whole troubling matter. Instead, he placed Paul under house arrest and under the watchful guard of Roman soldiers. Perhaps motivated by the fact that Paul was a Roman citizen, Felix gave his low-risk prisoner a measured amount of freedom. He allowed Paul’s Christian friends to visit him and care for his needs.

24:24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla [Felix’s third wife; daughter of Herod Agrippa I (who had James killed as per Acts 12:1-2) and a sister of Herod Agrippa II (cf. Acts 25); left her first husband to marry Felix], who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus [Paul took advantage of every opportunity to share Christ].

Several days after the trial, Felix and his wife Drusilla expressed an interest in meeting with Paul. Drusilla was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I, the man responsible for the execution of the apostle James (see Acts 12:1-2). She had left her first husband to marry Felix. Because she was Jewish, her marriage to Felix, a Gentile, was contrary to the Jewish law. Drusilla may have been the one most interested in meeting with Paul. Felix seems to have had other motives for doing so (see verse 26).

Whatever the reason behind their desire to visit with the great apostle, Paul took advantage of the opportunity to speak with them about faith in Jesus Christ. We too must be prepared for unexpected opportunities to share the gospel with others.

24:25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness [right behavior that honors God], self-control [the control of the passions and desires, often used regarding the controlling of sexual desires; resisting temptation] and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid [became terrified; struck with fear and trembling] and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient [have spare time; procrastination is the thief of souls (cf. 2 Cor. 6:2)], I will send for you.”

Paul geared his message specifically for his private audience. He spoke to Felix and Drusilla about righteousness, or measuring up to God’s standards. Failing to measure up to God’s standards is the basis for the judgment to come. Paul also addressed the topic of self-control, something that Felix and Drusilla both lacked. Drusilla had divorced her husband to become Felix’s third wife and Felix had a reputation as a self-serving official who hesitated at nothing to further his ambitions.

Convicted by Paul’s message, Felix became afraid. However, instead of repenting and placing his faith in Christ, he dismissed Paul. Felix was interested in Paul’s message until the point it touched the sin in his own life. Sadly, we have no record that Felix ever made matters right between himself and God. Someone wisely noted that procrastination is the thief of souls. Today is the most convenient time for any sinner to repent (see 2 Cor. 6:2).

24:26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so [because of financial expectations] he sent for him frequently and talked with him.

Even when Felix declared he wasn’t ready to become a Christian, Paul kept talking to him at every opportunity. When people tell us they are going to wait about becoming a Christian, we are to keep talking to them about their relationship with God at every opportunity. Felix sent for Paul quite often over the two-year period of Paul’s imprisonment.

Sadly, this is not an indication that Felix was interested in spiritual matters. Instead, Felix was motivated by greed and the hope of getting a bribe from Paul, presumably to buy his freedom. Although bribes were against Roman law, bribe-taking was common throughout the empire.

24:27 When two years had passed, Felix [failed personally, officially, spiritually] was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews [Felix did the wrong thing because he was only interested in being politically correct], he left Paul in prison.

Acts 22

Acts 22:1-21 [cf. Paul’s testimony in Acts 9 and 26]

22:1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”

22:2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic [generally, Jews born and raised outside of Palestine could not speak Greek or Hebrew, so Paul spoke to his audience in Aramaic; this gave weight to Paul’s Jewish credentials], they became very quiet. Then Paul said:

22:3 [Paul’s Jewish credentials] “I am a Jew [cf. 2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5; Paul identified with his listeners], born in Tarsus [city on southeastern coast of Asia Minor; city had a university] of Cilicia, but brought up [nursed, nourished] in this city [implication is that Paul was sent to Jerusalem while still young, perhaps 13 or 14 years old (cf. Acts 26:4)]. Under Gamaliel [highly regarded Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin; considered the best Jewish teacher of his day; Paul became a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) like his teacher] I was thoroughly [strictness, exactness] trained [instructed] in the law [written OT law as well as oral interpretations (often referred to as the traditions of the fathers)] of our fathers and was just as zealous [Paul actually was more zealous: cf. Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:6] for God as any of you [those who had accused Paul of violating Jewish law as per Acts 21:28] are today.

22:4 I persecuted [to pursue, to hunt an animal; cf. Acts 9:1] the followers of this Way [earliest self-designation of the first believers in Jesus at Jerusalem; see Jn. 14:6] to their death [actual death as per Acts 26:10], arresting both men and women [shows how far Paul went in his zeal for Judaism] and throwing them into prison,

22:5 as also the high priest and all the Council can testify [details of Paul’s testimony could be verified]. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

22:6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light [brighter than the midday sun] from heaven flashed around me.

22:7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me [words that pierced his heart], ‘Saul! Saul [Paul’s Jewish name]! Why do you persecute me [a challenge to Paul’s misdirected way of life; forced Paul to reexamine his direction in life]?’

Note: This verse contains one of five double expressions in the New Testament. Each double expression reveals something about the concern of Jesus.
• “Saul, Saul” expresses His concern for the sinner (Acts 22:7).
• “Simon, Simon” expresses His concern for the saint (Lk. 22:31).
• “Martha, Martha” expresses His concern for our service (Lk. 10:41).
• “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem” expresses His concern for society (Matt. 23:37).
• “My God, my God”“ expresses His concern for sin (Matt. 27:46).

22:8 “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. “‘I am Jesus of Nazareth [the Son of God, not the impostor that Paul had imagined Him to be], whom you are persecuting [to persecute the church / Jesus’ followers is to persecute Him],’ he replied.

22:9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice [heard the sound, but did not understand the message] of him who was speaking to me [the experience was personal yet could be confirmed by others].

22:10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked [submitting to His authority]. “‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do [which would be different than Paul’s original intentions].’”

22:11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus [where he fasted for three days (Acts 9:9)], because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

22:12 “A man named Ananias [a Jewish Christian who lived in Damascus] came to see me [three days after the Damascus Road experience]. He was a devout [pious, godly] observer of the law [Jew; Paul introduced to Christianity by a devout Jew, not a lawbreaker] and highly respected by all the Jews living there [Damascus].

22:13 He stood beside me and said [cf. Acts 9:17], ‘Brother [first time Paul addressed as brother] Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment [“immediately” (Acts 9:18)] I was able to see him.

22:14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One [cf. Acts 7:52; Jesus the Messiah] and to hear words from his mouth.

22:15 You will be his witness to all men [including Gentiles] of what you have seen and heard.

22:16 And now what are you waiting for [emphasizes that Paul needed to act]? Get up, be [submit yourself to] baptized [pictured the change that had already taken place in Paul’s life] and wash your sins away, calling [“having previously called upon His Name” (Wuest); “The calling on the Lord effects the washing away of sin.” (Rienecker/Rogers)] on his name [cf. Acts 2:21; 4:12].’

22:17 “When I returned to Jerusalem [after his conversion (cf. Acts 9:26-30)] and was praying at the temple [indication that he had not renounced his Jewish heritage], I fell into a trance [received a vision from God]

22:18 and saw the Lord speaking. ‘Quick [urgency]!’ he said [a warning; a command] to me. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they [cf. Acts 9:29 re: Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem who tried to kill Paul] will not [regardless of how it is presented] accept your testimony about me [Christ].’

22:19 [Paul did not want to leave Jerusalem] “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these men know [Paul’s reputation as a persecutor of Christians] that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you.

22:20 [cf. 22:4] And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed [indicates that the stoning of Stephen still weighed heavily on Paul’s mind], I stood there giving my approval [cf. Acts 8:1] and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

22:21 “Then the Lord [had other plans for Paul] said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles. [cf. Gal. 1:11-12]’”

Acts 21

21:1 After we had torn ourselves away from them, we put out to sea and sailed straight to Cos. The next day we went to Rhodes and from there to Patara.

21:2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.

21:3 After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.

21:4 Finding the disciples there, we stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.

21:5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.

21:6 After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home.

21:7 We continued our voyage from Tyre and landed at Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for a day.

21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.

21:9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.

21:10 After we had been there [in Caesarea at house of Philip the evangelist (cf. 21:9), one of original deacons (Acts 6:1-6) and associate of Stephen; Paul knew value of spending time w/ believers (spiritual / emotional renewal)] a number of days, a prophet named Agabus [previously predicted a famine in Judea (cf. Acts 11:27-28)] came down from Judea [perhaps from Jerusalem, thus he was likely aware of the feeling there toward Paul].

21:11 [example of enacted prophecy (see also Neh. 5:13; Isa. 20:2-6; Ezek. 4:1-13); Agabus’ prophecy reinforced warning Paul had received from God (Acts 20:23, 21:4); not intended to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem, but to prepare him for what would happen there] Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt [long cloth wrapped around the waist], tied his own hands and feet with it and said [Agabus’ prophetic utterance probably a warning rather than a prohibition; not “don’t go” but “this is what to expect if you do go”], “The Holy Spirit [points to the divine origin of the prophecy] says, `In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles [Jews only had power to persecute, not prosecute; God would use this for His purposes].’”

Note: Have you ever failed to obey the Lord because you feared particular consequences?

Note: “If we are to wait to do a work for the Lord until every possible hindrance has been removed and every obstacle overcome, we will never attempt to do anything.” (Pearls from Many Seas)

21:12 When we heard this, we [Luke included himself] and the people [all present were united in their concern for Paul’s welfare] there pleaded [tried to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem as had the Christians in Tyre (Acts 21:4)] with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.

Note: Have well-meaning friends ever tried to deter you from doing what God wanted?

21:13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking [crushing, pounding; words describe a powerful emotional experience] my heart? I am ready [prepared] not only to be bound, but also to die [cf. Lk. 22:33] in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. [Paul wanted to do God’s will (cf. Lk. 22:42), even at risk to personal safety]

21:14 When he [Paul deeply convicted that he must go to Jerusalem] would not be dissuaded [interplay between individual conviction and counsel of fellow believers], we gave up [to be still; to be quiet] and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

21:15 After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.

21:16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.

21:17 When we [Paul and his entourage, which also included “some of the disciples from Caesarea” (27:15)] arrived at Jerusalem [a sixty-five mile journey from Caesarea], the brothers [either Mnason and his household (27:16) or the Jewish Christian community] received us warmly.

Paul and those traveling with him from Caesarea arrived in Jerusalem after a journey of sixty-five miles. When they reached Jerusalem, they received a warm reception from the brothers there. The term brothers probably includes the Jewish Christian community as well as Mnason, the man with whom Paul and his friends were to stay (see Acts 27:16).

Missionaries like Paul depended on the kindness and hospitality of believers like Mnason. Paul also may have presented these brothers with a large financial gift from the Gentile churches for the poor in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1-3).

21:18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James [the brother of Jesus; leader of the mother church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:13-21)], and all the elders were present [emphasizes the importance of the meeting].

The following day Paul and the representatives of the Gentile churches met with James, the brother of Jesus. He was the leader of the mother church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:13-21). The presence of all the elders suggests that this was a very important meeting. Although, we are not told how many elders were present, those there were eager to hear Paul’s report of what God had done among the Gentiles on his third missionary journey.

21:19 Paul greeted them [Paul displayed an attitude of sincere humility and submission before these Christian colleagues] and reported [as on previous occasions (see Acts 14:27; 15:12)] in detail [a step by step account] what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.

Paul greeted James and the elders who had assembled to hear his report. God had clearly used Paul in a mighty way on his recent missionary journey, yet Paul displayed an attitude of sincere humility and submission before these Christian colleagues. These men had faithfully labored in Jerusalem while Paul served on the mission field.

The work of God’s kingdom requires faithfulness on the part of those who labor abroad and those who labor at home. Paul, as on previous occasions (see Acts 14:27; 15:12), gave a detailed step by step account of what God did among the Gentiles through his ministry.

21:20 When they heard this [the report of Paul’s successful ministry among the Gentiles], they praised God [for the way in which He had chosen to work among the Gentiles]. Then they said to Paul [had arrived in Jerusalem in A.D. 56 or 57, a time when Jewish nationalism and anti-Gentile attitudes both were at an all time high]: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law [indicates these new converts were likely influenced by the Judaizers].

Luke briefly described the reaction of James and the elders to the report of Paul’s successful ministry among the Gentiles. They could not help but praise God for the way in which He had chosen to work among the Gentiles. However, these leaders knew that others in Jerusalem did not share their sentiments.

In the time Paul had been away, thousands of Jews in Jerusalem had believed and were added to the church. These new converts, perhaps having been influenced by the Judaizers, were zealous for the law. Paul had arrived in Jerusalem at a time when Jewish nationalism and anti-Gentile attitudes were at an all time high.

21:21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles [the dispersion Jews] to turn away [Gr. “apostasian” from which we get our word “apostasy”] from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children [the truth is that Paul had Timothy circumcised before the second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3)] or live according to our customs [the truth is that Paul had taken a Jewish vow while in Corinth (Acts 18:18); Paul did not violate Jewish customs or the Law of Moses (1 Cor. 9:19-23)].

After Paul described what God was doing among Gentiles—no doubt emphasizing they were saved by faith and apart from the law of Moses—he was told about some unfair criticism of him by Jewish Christians. Evidently, someone had started a rumor that Paul urged Jews to abandon Moses, that is, to turn away from the law. However, the evidence was to the contrary.

While Paul opposed circumcision of Gentile converts, he had never told Jewish Christians to turn away from the practice. In fact, prior to the second missionary journey Paul had encouraged Timothy to submit to circumcision (16:1-3). Nevertheless, these rumors had spread widely and, as often happens, had taken on a life of their own.

We too may face criticism that is unfair for a variety of reasons, including that it distorts what we believe or have done.

21:22 What shall we do [a rhetorical question; James and elders had already worked out possible solution]? They will certainly hear that you have come [word of Paul’s arrival would spread throughout the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem],

The leaders then asked the question, So what is to be done? Anyone who has ever dealt with false rumors has asked similar questions in the hope of finding workable solutions. However, the leaders of the Jerusalem church already knew the answer to their own question. Knowing that word of Paul’s arrival would spread throughout the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem, James and the elders had already worked out a positive response among themselves. While positive responses may not satisfy our critics, God still expects us to react in positive ways.

21:23 so do what we tell you. There are four men [Jewish Christians] with us who have made a vow [a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:13-21); cf. Acts 18:18].

The elders hoped their proposed solution would convince the Jewish Christian community that Paul was still true to the Jewish law. The plan was not complicated at all. There were four Jewish Christian men in the Jerusalem church who had made a vow. These men seem to have taken a Nazirite vow (see Num. 6:13-21) as a way of expressing their piety. This vow required that these men abstain from wine and meat for thirty days and allow their hair to grow. At the end of their vow they were required to cut their hair and offer it at the temple (see Acts 18:18).

21:24 Take these men [four Jewish Christians], join in their purification rites and pay their expenses [a generous gesture], so that they can have their heads shaved. Then [as a result of this public gesture in the precincts of the temple] everybody will know there is no truth in these reports [rumors] about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

The leaders suggested that Paul join the men who had made a Nazirite vow. He was to take them to the temple, share in the purification ceremony, and pay for them to get their heads shaved. The leaders hoped that this generous and public gesture would demonstrate to others Paul’s careful observance of the law and silence the false rumors about him. Paul agreed go along with the leaders’ suggestion in order to help preserve the peace in the Jerusalem church.

21:25 [James and the elders restated and reaffirmed the decision of the Jerusalem Council…] As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

James and the elders then restated and reaffirmed the decision of the Jerusalem Council concerning the Gentiles. They assured Paul that the decision of the council, made years earlier, was still in effect and had not changed. While Gentiles were not required to live by the Jewish Torah, they were expected to observe some basic matters that would make fellowship possible between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

21:26 The next day Paul [willing to go a “second mile” in the interest of preventing trouble in the church and advancing the gospel] took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

Paul was willing to go a “second mile” in the interest of preventing trouble in the church and advancing the gospel. By symbolically identifying with the four men carrying out this act of piety, Paul once again became “all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22) in the hope of winning some of them.

The next day, Paul went to the temple and purified himself along with these men and announced the date when Nazirite ceremony would be completed. Like Paul, we too should be willing to take positive actions that will help counter unfair criticism made against us that will not compromise our convictions.

21:27 When the seven days [Nazirite purification process required seven days (cf. Num. 6:1-20); James suggested Paul do this to discredit rumors and make him acceptable to the Jews (vv. 23-26)] were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia [perhaps from Ephesus] saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up [to pour together, to cause confusion; continual action] the whole crowd and seized [to place hands upon] him,

The Nazirite purification process required seven days. As those days were about to end, some unbelieving Jews from the province of Asia, most likely Ephesus, were in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Pentecost. Paul had spent three months of his three year stay in Ephesus speaking to Jews in the local synagogue, trying to persuade them that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 19:8). So, these Jews knew Paul well. These individuals, who had unsuccessfully tried to silence Paul in Ephesus, saw an opportunity to stir up trouble for Paul in Jerusalem. When they saw him in the temple complex, they stirred up the whole crowd into frenzy and seized Paul.

21:28 shouting [screaming], “Men of Israel [an appeal to those who loved the laws and customs of Israel], help us! This is the man who [note charges] [1] teaches all men [Paul had not taught all men] everywhere [Paul had not been everywhere] against our people and our law and this place [a false rumor (cf. Acts 21:21); Paul not antagonistic toward Jews]. And besides, [2] he has brought [led] Greeks [Trophimus as per v. 29] into the temple area [inner courts leading to the temple building, a place where Gentiles were not allowed] and defiled [to pollute; to make common] this holy place.”

The angry Jewish mob appealed for help from the men of Israel, or those who loved the laws and customs of Israel. Pointing at Paul, they leveled two charges against him.

The first charge was similar to that leveled against Stephen—speaking “against this holy place and the laws (see Acts 6:13).”

Second, they accused Paul of having violated the temple by taking Greeks beyond the court of the Gentiles, a violation punishable by death. However, Paul was aware of what could and could not be done at the temple. And, his purpose for being there was to establish his Jewishness in order to silence his critics. He would never have endangered himself or others by violating any restrictions or protocol.

21:29 (They [the Asian Jews] had previously seen Trophimus [representative of Ephesian church who had accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 20:4)] the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed [a wrong assumption; jumped to the conclusion] that Paul had brought him into the temple area.)

The Asian Jews who seized Paul were like the religious leaders who were always looking for opportunities to find fault with Jesus. These Asian Jews had previously seen Paul with Trophimus, his Gentile Christian companion. Without taking the time to check the facts, they erroneously concluded that Paul had taken his Ephesian friend beyond the Court of the Gentiles into the part of the temple reserved exclusively for Jews.

We too may face criticism that is blatantly false and has no basis in fact or is based on false assumptions. This is just one of many ways in which the enemies of Christianity try to make Christians look bad. I have Christian friends who live in countries closed to the gospel who have experienced such false accusations. Many of these individuals have suffered subsequent social ridicule or alienation, physical abuse, and other forms of persecution. To their credit, each of them demonstrated a Christ-like response and, by so doing, discredited their accusers.

21:30 The whole city was aroused [even though they had not examined the validity of the charges], and the people came running [emotions also running at full speed] from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut [Levitical temple police closed the doors separating the temple from the court of the Gentiles].

21:31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander [named Claudius Lysias as per Acts 23:26; military tribune; highest-ranking officer in Jerusalem] of the Roman troops [housed in the fortress of Antonia, which was built into northwest corner of temple area] that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.

21:32 He at once took some officers [centurions (commanders of one hundred men) and their men] and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

21:33 The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done.

21:34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks.

21:35 When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers.

21:36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”

21:37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?” “Do you speak Greek?” he replied.

21:38 “Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert some time ago?”

21:39 Paul answered [see v. 38 re: question asked the commander of the Roman regiment (v. 31)], “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen [Paul later told Claudius Lysias of his Roman citizenship (see Acts 22:25-29)] of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.”

Paul was rescued from the angry mob by the Roman regiment stationed at the Fortress of Antonia, located next to the temple area. Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:26) was the commander of this regiment. Paul spoke to him in Greek and identified himself as a Jewish man and as a citizen of Tarsus. He later divulged his Roman citizenship to Claudius (Acts 22:25-29).

Paul asked for permission to speak to the people who believed the false criticism against him. He spoke to the angry mob about his zeal for the law, his conversion, and his commission from God; to the Sanhedrin he declared his Pharisaic heritage and beliefs. To help counter any false criticism made against us, like Paul, we can make positive statements that reflect our relationship with God and reveal the charges are indeed false.

Note: How to deal with criticism.
C = Critics are not always correct.
R = Respond to undeserved criticism in positive ways.
I = Ignoring criticism will not make it go away.
T = Take corrective measures when you receive constructive criticism.
I = Investigate the facts carefully before you say anything critical to others.
C = Counter unfair criticism with positive actions that will not compromise your convictions.
I = Inform critics who are misinformed.
S = Speak the truth in love to those who criticize you.
M = Maintain your integrity and a positive Christian witness in the face of all criticism.

21:40 Having received the commander’s permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic:

Acts 20

20:1-6 After the riot in Ephesus, Paul traveled through Macedonia to Troas.
20:7-12 Paul restored Eutychus to life in Troas.
20:13-16 Paul stopped at Miletus on his way back to Jerusalem.

Acts 20:17-24
20:17 From Miletus, Paul sent [to call, to summon from one place to another; Paul (in a hurry to be in Jerusalem in time for Pentecost as per v. 16) asked the Ephesian elders to meet him in Miletus (about thirty miles south of Ephesus)] to Ephesus [Paul spent three years in Ephesus (20:31)] for the elders [spiritual leaders of the church; later called overseers (20:28)] of the church.

Note: Luke recorded Paul’s messages in…
• Acts 13:16-41 — to Jews in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia
• Acts 14:15-17 — to Gentiles on the streets of Lystra
• Acts 17:22-31 — to intellectuals on Mars Hill
• Acts 20:17-38 — to church leaders (the Ephesian elders) at Miletus

20:18 When they [Ephesian elders] arrived [in Miletus], he said [this is the only recorded speech of Paul which was delivered to Christians] to them: “You know [understand; knowledge viewed as a result of prolonged practice] how I lived [Paul lived a life of integrity before God and man] the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into [to set foot on] the province of Asia [Roman province of Asia (part of modern Turkey)].

20:19 I served [to serve as a slave] the Lord [Jesus was the focus of Paul’s ministry] with great humility [recognition of personal weakness as well as recognition of God’s power] and with tears [Paul wept because of those who rejected the gospel; cf. Rom. 9:1-5 for a glimpse into Paul’s heart], although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews.

20:20 You know that I have not hesitated [to draw back in fear, to shrink from, opposite of to speak boldly] to preach [to tell or announce; Paul had one message he proclaimed in public and private settings] anything that would be helpful [spiritually profitable, of advantage] to you but have taught [instruct] you publicly [in the synagogue (19:8) and then in the school of Tyrannus (19:9)] and from house to house [a more private kind of teaching; individuals, families, home churches].

20:21 [re: the heart of Paul’s message] I have declared to both [Paul was not partial toward any particular group or race] Jews and [cf. Acts 19:8-10] Greeks that they [both Jews and Gentiles are saved exactly the same way] must turn to God in repentance [a change of mind and a change of direction] and have faith [trust, commit, surrender] in our Lord Jesus.

20:22 “And now, compelled [driven, directed] by the Spirit [Paul went where the Spirit directed him to go], I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there [cf. Rom. 15:31 (probably written shortly before Paul’s meeting with the Ephesian elders at Miletus)].

20:23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me [cf. Acts 9:23-24; 14:5-7; 21:3-4,10-14] that prison and hardships [cf. Acts 21:27-36] are facing me.

20:24 However, I consider [reckon] my life worth nothing [of no account] to me [cf. Phil. 3:7-11], if only I may finish the race [cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 2:2; Phil. 2:16; 3:13-14; 2 Tim. 4:7] and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace [Paul had profoundly experienced God’s grace; cf. 1 Tim. 1:12-14].

20:25-27 Paul told elders they would not see him again.
20:28-31 Paul warned of persecution from without and apostasy from within.
20:32 Paul commended the Ephesian elders to God.

Acts 20:33-35
20:33 I have not coveted [to desire] anyone’s silver or gold or clothing [Paul had a spiritual focus].

20:34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs [Paul was a tentmaker (cf. Acts 18:3)] and the needs of my companions.

20:35 In everything I did, I showed [to show under one’s eyes, to give an object lesson] you that by this kind of hard work [emphasizes the hardness of the work and the weariness it brings] we must help [to take another’s part] the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said [the following words not in the gospels, thus indicating that much of what Jesus said was not recorded (cf. Jn. 21:25)]: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

20:36-38 Paul and the Ephesian elders prayed and tearfully parted.