Week #141; Wed, Sep 09: Acts 20:1–24:27

CHAPTER OBSERVATIONS:

Acts 20:1, I. Paul in Macedonia and Greece; II. Eutychus Raised from the Dead; III. Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders

I. KEY TEXT (Paul in Macedonia and Greece): “After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.” (20:1-4)
A. INFERENCE: “These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.” (20:5-6)
1. FINDINGS: “Tumults or opposition may constrain a Christian to remove from his station or alter his purpose, but his work and his pleasure will be the same, wherever he goes.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
2. CRITERIA: “Paul thought it worth while to bestow five days in going to Troas, though it was but for seven days’ stay there; but he knew, and so should we, how to redeem even journeying time, and to make it turn to some good account.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “Paul gave a sermon before he departed. A young man named Eutychus was in the congregation, who slept during the sermon, was killed by a fall out of the window, but was raised to life again; his name means one who had good fortune, and he was true to his name.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
4. CAUSE: “Though the disciples read, and meditated, and prayed, and sung apart, and thereby kept up communion with God, yet they came together to worship God, and so kept up their communion with one another.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “It interrupted the apostle’s preaching; but was made to confirm his preaching. Eutychus was brought to life again.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “Sleeping when hearing the word, is an evil thing, a sign of low esteem of the word of God. We must do what we can to prevent being sleepy; not put ourselves to sleep, but get our hearts affected with the word we hear, so as to drive sleep far away.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

II. KEY TEXT (Eutychus Raised from the Dead): “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” (20:7)
A. INFERENCE: “There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered.” (20:8)
1. FINDINGS: “And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from a third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, ‘Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.’ And when Paul had up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.” (20:9-12)
2. CRITERIA: But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.” (20:13-16)
3. CONDITION: “It is possible that Eutychus was not already dead, although believed to be so. In that case, Paul’s loving embrace and prayer restored him from the swoon that might easily have become death.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “And as they knew not when they should have Paul’s company again, they made the best use of it they could, and reckoned a night’s sleep well lost for that purpose. How seldom are hours of repose broken for the purposes of devotion! but how often for mere amusement or sinful revelry!” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “So hard is it for spiritual life to thrive in the heart of man! so naturally do carnal practices flourish there!” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “We must do what we can to prevent being sleepy; not put ourselves to sleep, but get our hearts affected with the word we hear, so as to drive sleep far away. ” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

III. KEY TEXT (Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders): “Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them: ‘You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews/ how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.” (20:17-23)
A. INFERENCE: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (20:24-28)
1. FINDINGS: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away from them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.” (20:31)
2. CRITERIA: “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (20:32-32)
3. CONDITION: “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (20:33-35)
4. CAUSE: “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.” (20:36)
5. EFFECT: “And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” (20:37-38)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “Paul never gave in to temptations to water down the message in order to escape conflict. (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary). Don’t water down the gospel.

Acts 21:1, I. Paul Goes to Jerusalem; II. Paul Visits James; III. Paul Arrested in the Temple; IV. Paul Speaks to the People

I. KEY TEXT (Paul Goes to Jerusalem): “And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.” (21:1-4)
A. INFERENCE: “When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.” (21:5-6)
1. FINDINGS: “When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemals, and we greeted the brothers and stayed with them for one day. On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied. While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” (21:7-11)
2. CRITERIA: “When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’ And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, ‘Let the will of the Lord be done.’” (21:12-14)
3. CONDITION: “After these days we got ready and went up to Jerusalem. And some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge.” (21:15-16)
4. CAUSE: “Paul was urged not to go to Jerusalem.” (21:16)
5. EFFECT: “His purpose was inflexible. An unseen hand was beckoning; a voice which only he could hear was calling. He had no doubt as to God’s purpose, and went straight forward; though he was not insensible to the love and sympathy of friends.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Emulate Paul.

II. KEY TEXT (Paul Visits James): “When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed.’” (21:17-20)
A. INFERENCE: “They are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.” (21:21-22)
1. FINDINGS: “Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law.” (21:24)
2. CRITERIA: “But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.’” (21:25)
3. CONDITION: “Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.” (21:26)
4. CAUSE: “Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God they gave the praise. God had honored him more than any of the apostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary, glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul to go on cheerfully in his work. Acts 21:19” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “The religion Paul preached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He preached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, and repentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of the law. Acts 21:19” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Do likewise as Paul.

III. KEY TEXT (Paul Arrested in the Temple): “When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.’” (21:27-28)
A. INFERENCE: “For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.” (21:29)
1. FINDINGS: “Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion.” (21:30-31)
2. CRITERIA: “He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.” (21:32)
3. CONDITION: “Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done.” (21:33)
4. CAUSE: “Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks.” (21:34)
5. EFFECT: “And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed crying out, ‘Away with him!’” (21:35)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “But God seasonably interposes for the safety of his servants, from wicked and unreasonable men; and gives them opportunities to speak for themselves, to plead for the Redeemer, and to spread abroad his glorious gospel. Acts 21:27” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

IV. KEY TEXT (Paul Speaks to the People): “As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, ‘May I say something to you?’ And he said, ‘Do you know Greek? Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?’” (21:37-38)
A. INFERENCE: “Paul replied, I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.’” (21:39)
1. FINDINGS: “And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:” (21:40)
2. CRITERIA: “The commander had thought Paul was the Egyptian rebel leader who had led Jewish rebels out to the Mount of Olives. Felix, the Roman procurator, had put down that revolt. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded the incident about the Egyptian (Josephus, Jewish War, 2.261-263). Paul’s knowledge of the Greek language (21:37) proved to the Roman commander that Paul could not have been that Egyptian rebel (21:38). The “Assassins” (21:38) was a reference to the “sicarri,” from sica, Latin for a “curved dagger.” This radical group of Jews mingled with crowds at festivals and stabbed their pro-Roman opponents with hidden daggers.(Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “What nobler spectacle than that of Paul at this moment! There he stood, bound with two chains, ready to make his defense to the people. The Roman commander sits by, to enforce order by his presence. An enraged populace look up to him from below. Yet in the midst of so many dangers, how self-possessed is he, how tranquil!” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “The informers against him were the Jews of Asia, not those of Jerusalem – the Jews of the dispersion, who knew him best, and who were most exasperated against him. Those who seldom came up to worship at the temple in Jerusalem themselves, but contentedly lived at a distance from it, in pursuit of their private advantages, yet appeared most zealous for the temple, as if thereby they would atone for their habitual neglect of it.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
5. EFFECT: “Those are fittest to be employed against Christ and Christianity that are governed least by reason and most by passion; therefore Paul described the Jewish persecutors to be not only wicked, but absurd unreasonable men.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Take up a righteous defense.

Acts 22:1, I. Paul Speaks to the People (cont.); II. Paul and the Roman Tribune; III. Paul Before the Council

I. KEY TEXT (Paul Speaks to the People (cont.)): “’Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.’ And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: ‘I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.” (22:1-5)
A. INFERENCE: “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’” (22:6-7)
1. FINDINGS: “And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.” (22:8-11)
2. CRITERIA: “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight,’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’” (22:12-16)
3. CONDITION: “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him. And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” (22:17-21)
4. CAUSE: “To the story of his conversion, as given in Act_9:1-43, the Apostle here adds a detailed account of that memorable interview in the Temple, when he questioned the advisability of the Lord’s command that he should leave Jerusalem, and received his final and irrevocable commission to go to the Gentiles. It is a great privilege to be permitted to overhear this dialogue! How close and intimate is the disciple’s relationship with his Lord!” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “But there is a point beyond which we may not go, when we must accept without question the final instructions of our Captain.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “There are various social and political advantages which we can turn to account in our service of the gospel, but they cannot carry us very far, and ultimately we are better off if we step out upon the unwonted waters, simply because Jesus says, Come!” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)

II. KEY TEXT (Paul and the Roman Tribune): “Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow for the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.’ And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this.” (22:22-24)
A. INFERENCE: “But when they had stretched him out for the whips Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, ‘Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?’ When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, ‘What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.’” (22:25-26)
1. FINDINGS: “So the tribune came and said to him, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ The tribune answered, ‘I bought this citizenship for a large sum.’ Paul said, ‘But I am a citizen by birth.’” (22:27-29)
2. CRITERIA: “So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.” (22:30)
3. CONDITION: “This at once put a stop to his trouble. Thus many are kept from evil practices by the fear of man, who would not be held back from them by the fear of God. The apostle asks, simply, Is it lawful? He knew that the God whom he served would support him under all sufferings for his name’s sake. But if it were not lawful, the apostle’s religion directed him, if possible, to avoid it.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “He never shrunk from a cross which his Divine Master laid upon his onward road; and he never stepped aside out of that road to take one up. Acts 22:22” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “depart for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles—that is, “Enough; thy testimony is not to be thrown away upon Jerusalem; the Gentiles, afar off, are thy peculiar sphere.” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Don’t shrink from thy peculiar sphere . . .

III. KEY TEXT (Paul Before the Council): “But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.” (22:30)
A. INFERENCE: “. . . commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear—that is, the Sanhedrim to be formally convened. Note here the power to order a Sanhedrim to try this case, assumed by the Roman officers and acquiesced in on their part. (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary)
1. FINDINGS: “Paul received the same accusations from the Jewish leaders as Stephen had earlier (cf. 21:28 with 6:14). And only rescue by the Roman troops saved Paul from the same fate. Paul was falsely accused by the Jews of bringing Gentiles into the temple area. There were strict prohibitions against Gentiles entering beyond the barrier that separated the Court of the Gentiles from the courts that only Jews could enter. (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary)
2. CRITERIA: “Notices around the barrier read, “No foreigner may enter within the barricade that surrounds the temple and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death.” The “Roman regiment” (21:31) was a unit of six hundred Roman soldiers. One regiment was stationed at Antonia Fortress, just north of the temple area, at all times. (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary)
3. CONDITION: “To the story of his conversion, as given in Act_9:1-43, the Apostle here adds a detailed account of that memorable interview in the Temple, when he questioned the advisability of the Lord’s command that he should leave Jerusalem, and received his final and irrevocable commission to go to the Gentiles.” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
4. CAUSE: “A free-born Roman was Paul. More than once he had asserted his rights as a Roman citizen, as at Philippi. There are various social and political advantages which we can turn to account in our service of the gospel, but they cannot carry us very far, and ultimately we are better off if we step out upon the unwonted waters, simply because Jesus says, Come!” (F. B. Meyer Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “This Roman, who was a military man, kept Paul in custody, and appealed from the rabble to the general assembly. We may hope that in this way he intended Paul’s safety, as thinking the chief priests and elders would do him justice, and clear him; for their court governed by rules of equity. That which he is here said to aim at is the gratifying of his own curiosity.” (Matthew Henry Commentary In One Volume)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Trust Jesus.

Acts 23:1, I. Paul Speaks to the People (cont.); II. A Plot to Kill Paul; III. Paul Sent to Felix the Governor

I. KEY TEXT (Paul Speaks to the People (cont.)): “And looking intently at the council, Paul said, ‘Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.’ And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck? Those who stood by said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” (23:1-5)
A. INFERENCE: “Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.” (23:6-7)
1. FINDINGS: “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.” (23:8)
2. CRITERIA: “Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, ‘We find nothing wrong in this man.’ What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?’ And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.” (23:9-10)
3. CONDITION: “The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (23:11)
4. CAUSE: “See here the character of an honest man. He sets God before him, and lives as in his sight. He makes conscience of what he says and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, he keeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. Acts 23:1” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “It is the will of Christ, that his servants who are faithful, should be always cheerful. He might think he should never see Rome; but God tells him, even in that he should be gratified, since he desired to go there only for the honor of Christ, and to do good. Acts 23:6” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Be a faithful servant.

II. KEY TEXT (A Plot to Kill Paul): “When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, ‘We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul.’” (23:12-14)
A. INFERENCE: “Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.’” (23:15)
1. FINDINGS: “Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of the ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. Paul called one of the centurions and said, ‘Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.’ So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, ‘Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.’ The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, ‘What is it that you have to tell me?’ And he said, ‘The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him.” (23:16-20)
2. CRITERIA: “But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.’” (23:21)
3. CONDITION: “So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, ‘Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.’” (23:22)
4. CAUSE: “Paul knew that the Divine providence acts by reasonable and prudent means; and that, if he neglected to use the means in his power, he could not expect God’s providence to work on his behalf. He who will not help himself according to his means and power, has neither reason nor revelation to assure him that he shall receive help from God. Acts 23:12” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “Believing in the Lord, we and ours shall be kept from every evil work, and kept to his kingdom. Heavenly Father, give us by thy Holy Spirit, for Christ’s sake, this precious faith. Acts 23:12” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Abide in Jesus, do what He says. To abide is better than to do; it glorifies the Father. See John 15:1-11

III. KEY TEXT (Paul Sent to Felix the Governor): “Then he called two of the centurions and said, ‘Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.’ And he wrote a letter to this effect:” (23:23-25)
A. INFERENCE: “’Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.” (23:26-27)
1. FINDINGS: “And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.” (23:28-29)
2. CRITERIA: “And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.” (23:30)
3. CONDITION: “So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him.” (23:31-33)
4. CAUSE: “On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, he said, ‘I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.’ And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.” (23:34-35)
5. EFFECT: “God has instruments for every work. The natural abilities and moral virtues of the heathens often have been employed to protect his persecuted servants. Even the men of the world can discern between the conscientious conduct of upright believers, and the zeal of false professors, though they disregard or understand not their doctrinal principles. All hearts are in God’s hand, and those are blessed who put their trust in him, and commit their ways unto him. Acts 23:25” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Press on.

Acts 24:1, I. Paul Before Felix at Caesarea; II. Paul Kept in Custody

I. KEY TEXT (Paul Before Felix at Caesarea): “And after five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and a spokesman, one Tertullus. They laid before the governor their case agains Paul. And when he had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying:” (24:1-2)
A. INFERENCE: “’Since through you we enjoy much peace, and since by your foresight, most excellent Felix, reforms are being made for this nation, in every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude. But, to detain you no further, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.’” (24:3-4)
1. FINDINGS: “For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to find out from him about everything of which we accuse him.’ The Jews also joined in the charge, affirming that all these things were so.” (24:5-9)
2. CRITERIA: “And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied:” (24:10)
3. CONDITION: “’Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia–they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them; It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’” (24:10-21)
4. CAUSE: “Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God, to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Acts 24:10” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “Prophets and their doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul’s aim was to have a conscience void of offense. His care and endeavor was to abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. Acts 24:10” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: “. . . abound in the exercises of true religion at all times” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

II. KEY TEXT (Paul Kept in Custody): “But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, ‘When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.’” (24:22)
A. INFERENCE: “Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.” (24:23)
1. FINDINGS: “After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.’” (24:24-25)
2. CRITERIA: “At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him.” (24:26)
3. CONDITION: “When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.” (24:27)
4. CAUSE: “The apostle reasoned concerning the nature and obligations of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to come; thus showing the oppressive judge and his profligate mistress, their need of repentance, forgiveness, and of the grace of the gospel. Justice respects our conduct in life, particularly in reference to others; temperance, the state and government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not exercise himself in these, has neither the form nor the power of godliness, and must be overwhelmed with the Divine wrath in the day of God’s appearing. Acts 24:22” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
5. EFFECT: “A prospect of the judgment to come, is enough to make the stoutest heart to tremble. Felix trembled, but that was all. Many are startled by the word of God, who are not changed by it. Many fear the consequences of sin, yet continue in the love and practice of sin. In the affairs of our souls, delays are dangerous. Felix put off this matter to a more convenient season, but we do not find that the more convenient season ever came. Acts 24:22” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
6. RECOMMENDATION: Do not delay, come to Jesus now before the judgment.

 

 

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