Acts

Acts 20:4-23:35

(This is where this post belongs chronologically.  I was having a weird day.  Wasn’t in great health that day.   Read the wrong post…it threw the whole week off a day.  We are now back on track)

I will say it is WORTH a read again NOW that we finished ROMANS it makes even more sense!

Tale of the Tumbling Teen

The beginning of this read cracked me up!  I work in a classroom that is “self-contained”.  No one leaves!  Well, I have 2 other women in there that are trapped with me for 7.5 hours. (If they didn’t drink before this job…they might now 😂). You could imagine me coming into work-purse still on the shoulder, coffee spilling out of my cup, no makeup on yet and begin with “Wait till you hear what Paul wrote today!”  So when the guy at the beginning of the story FELL ASLEEP because Paul talked on and on and on…he fell out of the window! “Dear Lord, Thank you for putting my classroom on the first floor of a building so that my co-workers will never fall out of the window as I go on and on and on” 😴.


08-Paul 3rd missionary journey return trip | Worship Warriors Ministry

22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


Chapter 21

We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. 


10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”

That is THREE times people pleaded with Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem.    But here is the deal…Have you ever said the Lord’s prayer?  

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

Paul knew it was God’s will for him to go to Jerusalem, even if it meant beatings, hardships, and prison.

24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.


When Paul arrives in Jerusalem it doesn’t take long for false accusations to begin:

“You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you.

Paul did not tell them they could not circumcise, BUT Paul did not water down the Gospel either.  In a letter to Galatians he plainly states:

 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

If the Jewish people wanted to rely on circumcision as their salvation then they needed to rely on keeping ALL the laws.  Paul however even circumcised Timothy who was 1/2 Jew 1/2 Gentile so that during Timothy’s ministry it did not become an obstacle to his teaching.  It was no longer meant to be physical, it is not meant to be spiritual.


So then the Jewish leaders made Paul take a vow and perform purification rites and pay their own expenses.

  1. I assume this is a Nazarite Vow?  If it is, it is totally being used improperly and
  2. Purification?   Was he considered unclean??
  3. I don’t have a #3 😂

THEN…

Paul was falsely accused of bringing Gentiles into the Temple.  I will tell you this was a really big accusation.  When the Romans took the authority of capital punishment over from the Jews, the only request the Jewish leaders made was “the one thing we cannot tolerate is a dirty Gentile in our Holy Temple, can we be allowed to give them the death penalty for that and only that”?

YES, says Caesar.  What does he care…he was making Pizza.  (who gets it??)Little Caesars Pizza | LinkedIn

THEN…30 The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. 31 While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

Why?  What just happened?  We know that each region governor reported back to Rome.  The report was always to be “yes, things are peaceful and quiet…I am a wonderful governor”.  This was a BIG part of Jesus’ trial too.  The Jewish leaders were left alone ONLY if the Jews remained “not an issue”.  I would say a riot is an issue!

THEN….Paul speaks to the crowd.  Why did the soldiers even let him?  Because they probably panicked when they realized a Roman Citizen was just beaten!  Lord have Mercy….not good!!

What does Paul say???  And we all know Paul can drone on and on…He says the most powerful thing anyone could say then and still now.  YOUR TESTIMONY IN CHRIST.  Why?  No one can argue it!

I AM COMING SOON! : The LORD'S Will Be Done

THEN… They flogged him. (are you seeing the parallel yet in the whole story??) Jesus

Paul's Citizenship (Acts 22:17-29) | The Pulpit And The Pen

THEN… Paul played his Poker hand!

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 lot of money for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

SO…they handed him over to the Sanhedrin to deal with it. (they washed their hands of it) Oh, how I love Paul- he knows Ananias is the High Priest!  But he says  “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.’”

He also knows that the one thing that would divide the Sanhedrin was the one topic they disagreed about…The Resurrection!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, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”

It worked!  When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.


Paul always wanted to go to Rome: (just not like this)

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.”Paul was guarded by 470 soldiers when He was taken to Governor Felix. | True Bible Facts

To be continued….

Romans

Romans 14-16

Paul ends his letters to the Romans.  I am amazed at how applicable this is to us today. (I know it is all applicable, but this chapter stood out)

In Rome, many were struggling with the food restrictions Moses put before the Hebrews to keep them separate from the Canaanites.  Many were also still commemorating feasts and festivals, while others did not.  They were “adding to grace”.  They did not fully understand the full measure of our freedom in Christ. Remember Romans 11:

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

As we now live in a world of denominations, we are quick to judge what other believers hold to as a practice.  This is not salvation doctrine, but the traditions, beliefs, and practices others do or not do (because they are Christian, not to be a Christian)

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.


Chapter 15

Paul's Greeting of “Grace and Peace” | United Church of God

Paul wraps up how those strong in their faith in Christ should live in a relationship to those who are weaker. From Romans 14, we know that Paul equates strong faith with a sense of freedom to participate in things formerly forbidden by the law of Moses or Jewish tradition.

Now, though, Paul insists that those strong in faith should trust God enough to please others above themselves.   Christ lived both as a servant to the Jews and the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to them. Those promises included God’s plan to one day include the Gentiles in His family.

Paul ends with ‘his plan’ to visit Rome as he passes through.

23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

His plan and God’s plan are not the same.

Before he comes there, Paul will stop in Jerusalem (a dangerous task right now for him) and leave an offering to build up the church in Jerusalem.

The other day I posted the wrong reading.  Seeing now Paul’s love for Rome and his desire to go there on good terms breaks my heart.

31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Sometimes our prays are not God’s plans.  


Romans 16 is the final passage in Paul’s long letter to the Christians in Rome.

It contains four sections:

  1. his greetings to specific people in Rome,
  2. a quick and urgent warning about the danger of false teachers,
  3. greetings from those who are with him in Corinth
  4. final hymn of praise to God called a doxology.Athens, Berea, Cenchrea - New Testament Churches

Phoebe is a servant of the church a Cenchreae, a town not far from Corinth. She is described as a patron or benefactor to Paul and many others.  She will carry this letter to the Romans: a very dangerous task!

Priscilla and Aquila, a married couple Paul had spent much time within the ministry. Aquila was forced to leave Rome when Jews were banned from the city. Apparently, the couple returned after, perhaps accompanied by a man named Epaenetus, described as the first convert to Christ in the region where Priscilla and Aquila ministered.

Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Stop and think about that.  They are leading Bible studies.  Something you and I totally take for granted.  Think about the post I wrote about Nero and the persecution of the Christians.  Perspective: if that were today, and you were caught on your phone seeing what “today’s reading is”, do you look over your shoulder to see if someone will capture you, tie you to a stake in his garden, and then during a party light you on fire (alive) so that the party guests can look around at all the pretty flowers?

I divert.

The rest of Paul’s greetings include people we know little or nothing about outside of this list, though some seem to have been slaves, members of royal households, close friends, and groups that met together in several different house churches in Rome.

Before putting his quill down, Paul offers a quick warning about false teachers who might show up among the Christians in Rome.

Last, he sends greetings from those who are with him in Corinth, including his longtime partner and student in ministry Timothy ❤️.

Something new for me this year is seeing the “teamwork makes the dream work” approach.  For some reason, I pictured Paul traveling alone.  Paul seems to have always worked with a team. Which NOW makes all the scriptures about “gifts” and “being one body of believers” so much more important.

The Body of Christ (Book: I Am a Church Member) | First Baptist Church | Body, Christ, Books


STOP 🛑

Take a moment to be thankful for all those who have paved the way for us.2

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.