Acts 22:21-23:11 (Pastor Heo)
[Review last week]
The crowd was angry at Paul and mobbed him.
A Roman commander came and arrested him and started to take him away to calm the mob.
Paul asked to speak to the crowd, so the commander let him.
He spoke in Aramaic, so the commander didn’t understand – except that he riled up the crowd again.
He commanded Paul be taken and flogged.
“Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen?”
Surprised, the commander said, “I paid lots of money for my citizenship.”
Paul, “I was born one.”
Eventually, the commander handed him over to the Sanhedrin to deal with this.
21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
Paul the Roman Citizen
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
Before the Sanhedrin
30 The next day, since the commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
23:1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?”
5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'”
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)
9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
**11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” **
Now we see the picture:
Paul is standing before the Sanhedrin – much as Jesus once did. Jesus’ apostles Peter, James, and John were also there, and now here is Paul.
Look at how many great opportunities they had to be saved, but they missed them all.
“Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, ‘My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.'”
“Conscience” is one of Paul’s favorite words. (here and 24:16 “I did my best to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”) – He also mentioned this word 20 times in his epistles.
Conscience is the inner witness that approves when we do right and disapproves when we do wrong. It does not make the standards, it only applies the standards of any person – right or wrong, good or bad.
Conscience can be related to a window. God’s Word is the light. The cleaner the window, the more light shines in.
- Good / pure consciences are those that let God’s light in so that we are properly convicted when we do wrong and encouraged when we do right.
- Defiled consciences are those that have been sinned against so much, they become unreliable. These consciences become evil, seared consciences.
Imagine this situation with Paul. This is the Supreme Court.
Usually, when addressing the court, they will bow, and address, “Rulers of the people, and elders of the nation…” But Paul said, “My brothers…” – he put himself on equal footing with the court.
Due to this initial address, they were so angry. The High Priest ordered he be struck!
Paul said, “God will strike you! You sit in the seat of the Law, but violate that Law!”
Others, “He’s the High Priest.”
Paul, “Ooops, sorry, didn’t know that.” (is this truth or a lie? we don’t actually know)
Then, in THIS situation, he began his defense again.
To the crowd, he shared with his personal experience.
Now, to the court, he shared with his faith, in the resurrection of the dead.
- According to their doctrine, Sadducees were “sad, you see” and didn’t believe in spiritual things – they only believed in the visible, secular world.
- But the Pharisees believed in spirits, and angels, and the resurrection of the dead.
So, there became an uproar in the court over this, and Paul was again in the middle of it. He was taken out by the guards and thrown again into the dark barracks.
Imagine how Paul would feel in this situation. This was one of the darkest nights in Paul’s life. Paul was emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted and humiliated – he was completely alone and disheartened.
In this situation (we also can become like this) Jesus himself stood near Paul and said, “Take courage!”
“11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” “
This story is similar to the story in the OT with Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego. When these three spoke BOLDLY and the king threatened to throw them into the fire, the three said to him, “King! We do not defend ourselves before you only. God is able to rescue us from this fire! But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will never serve your gods, nor bow to the image of gold you have made!”
They were thrown into the fire, and the guards who took them close died from the heat. The king looked in, and saw FOUR! men. He’s an unbeliever, but he saw four men walking through the fire, unbound, unharmed. The fourth man looked like a Son of God.
(This is another pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ in human history.)
John 1:14 – We know that Jesus was incarnated as a baby.
But here, in the OT, we also see the incarnation of God.
And again, Jesus – the same yesterday, today, and forever – stood beside Paul and said, “Take courage!”
This same sentence is still being spoken by Christ to us today~ but some hear and others don’t here.
There are 5 times in the NT this encouragement is spoken by Christ. In all situations, it is ONLY Jesus Christ who said, “Take heart, take courage.” Only Jesus has the right to say this to us.
- To the bedridden paralytic – “Take heart! Your sins are forgiven.”
- A woman, subjected to bleeding for 12 years – touched his cloak (he knew who) – “My daughter, take heart! Your faith has healed you.”
- To his terrified disciples, on the stormy sea, Jesus approached by walking on the water (they thought it was a ghost) – “Take courage! It is I!”
- On the night before his crucifixion, in the upper room – “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in me.” (Also in John – “Take heart! For I have overcome the world!”)
- Here in Acts – to Paul
All of these are only said by Jesus.
If I say to you, ‘Take courage’ it will have a minor impact. But if CHRIST says this to you – directly, strongly – it will have a MAJOR impact on your life – because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
- So, HOW can we listen to his living voice today, now and here?
- A: Through his Word.
- John 1:1 “In the Beginning was the Word… we have seen his glory…”
- Romans 10 “Do not say in your hearts, who will ascend or descend to bring Christ to you? The Word is near you – in your mouth, in your heart.”
We can hear his Word through the Bible.
Also, in the OT, God said to Joshua this same message – multiple times, “Be strong and VERY courageous!”
- Joshua “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
- Psalm 1:2 “Blessed is the man who meditates on the word of the Lord day and night…”
HOW can we meditate on the Word of God?
We already know (in our hearts).
Do you know how to worry? You think about it all the time, all the ins-and-outs, all the bad possibilities. You are meditating on your worry…
If you think about something over and over in your mind – this is meditation.
- If you think negatively over and over in your mind, this is worry. If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.
- If you think about the Word of God over and over in your mind, this is meditation.
Merely shift your attention from your PROBLEM -> The WORD of God. The MORE you meditation on the Word of God, the less you will worry. (Your mind cannot think about both things at once. Whichever you meditate on will fill your thoughts.)
Romans 8:34 “Who is it that condemns us? Jesus Christ is sitting on the right hand of God and interceding for us.”
There are three messages here:
- Message of Courage (encouragement)
- Message of Commendation (praise) – “As *you have* testified about me in Jerusalem” – Jesus did not rebuke him for no (obvious) fruit, but Jesus praised him for his ministry. Remember, there is NO failure in our preaching the gospel to this world – because preaching the gospel ITSELF is success.
- Message of Confidence – “You *will go* to Rome.” (You will not die before you finish your mission)
Are you servants of Christ? Then you have a mission – given to you by Christ. And the servants of Christ are immortal until your task is DONE. No servant of Christ dies until his / her task is done – that which is given by Christ.
“Take courage” has so many messages
- …because I’m with you.
- …because I care for you,
- I’m responsible for you, your life,
- I will do my job through you,