Our church has long been done with our series on Acts but I’m still working on playing catch up on my writing about it here. This has been such a great time of learning for me to focus on the book of Acts and in the next 2 weeks I’m going to wrap it up. In case you missed my first What I’m Learning in the Bible post I am sharing what I have learned as our church studied through the book of Acts together over the past few months.
As a reminder, I am using this ESV Acts Study journal. Basically it has scripture on one page and then a blank lined page next to it for taking notes. Now that I’m a couple of months into this I can say that I highly recommend this journal.
There’s this plot to kill Paul and his nephew hears about it. I’ve mentioned this before and it’s always just so striking to me when the family members of the apostles are mentioned in Acts. I think so often we think about them in their roles in the early church that I forget that they had sisters and nephews and some of them even had wives. This really humanizes them to me and it brings to mind the families that they had.
After Paul’s nephew warns the tribune of the plot against Paul the tribune sends Paul off to the governor, surrounded by guards. The governor reads the letter from the tribune and decides to keep Paul in Herod’s praetorium under guard until his hearing. I wasn’t familiar with what Herod’s praetorium was so I looked it up. Apparently it was the headquarters of the commanding officer in Roman military encampments.
The chief priests and the Jews make their accusations against Paul and then he is able to speak. He gives his defense, explaining that he was not causing riots or defiling the temple. In verse 21 he himself tells the real reason they are after him, the heart of the matter- “It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead the I am on trial before you this day”.
Felix listens to him but then really passes the buck and does nothing. He doesn’t make a decision either way and keeps Paul in prison but allows him some liberties. Two whole years pass by and he’s succeeded by Porches Festus.
When Festus comes to power the chief priests and leaders seek him out to accuse Paul again, trying to set up another ambush. Festus tries to do the Jews a favor and asks Paul if he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there. Paul makes his appeal to Caesar and Festus agrees to send him.
Then Paul is brought before Agrippa the king, with Festus basically saying he doesn’t know what to write to Caesar about when he sends him.
Paul gives his defense. Again, he gets to the heart of the matter about why he’s on trial.
And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king!Acts 26:6-8
He goes on to explain how he was opposed to the early church and persecuted them until his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. And then I love the part beginning in verse 22:
To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.Acts 26:22-23
Festus tells Paul he’s out of his mind, but I love how Paul counters and says nope, and the king knows it too because “for this has not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). The events in the gospels and the book of Acts were not things done in secret, and that’s important to remember.
Next week I will wrap up the book of Acts!
Have any thoughts to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!