“Instead they had some disagreements with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, a dead man Paul claimed to be alive.”
Acts 25:19 HCSB
Even here, while Paul is put on trial, he is using it to spread the name of Jesus. He is using his trial to spread the truth about Jesus. Clearly the Governor – Festus, is not a believer, at least not at the point where he is hearing this, but at the same time he is hearing the Good New. Jesus told Paul earlier that He would take him to Rome, and this is the road that Paul is taking to get to Rome. But along the way he is unwavering in his conviction of the fact that Jesus was risen from the dead.
“After some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and listened to him on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus. Now as he spoke about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix became afraid and replied, “Leave for now, but when I find time I’ll call for you.” At the same time he was also hoping that money would be given to him by Paul. For this reason he sent for him quite often and conversed with him.”
Acts 24:24-26 HCSB
While I do not know where Felix ended up, it appears he was not ready to receive Jesus because he was not ready to accept that he had to follow Jesus’ commands. It appears his conscience weighed on him and he couldn’t accept that he was a sinner and needed Jesus’ forgiveness. I know the feeling. It is hard to admit you need someone, even if that “someone” is the Son of God.
“But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck? ” And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest? ” “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,” replied Paul. “For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.””
Acts 23:2-5 HCSB
Paul, though he is obviously mistreated for no reason, apologizes for his actions, citing scripture. I recall other teachings he gave where he tells us to submit to earthly rulers because they would not be there if it hadn’t been willed by God. Jesus does the same with Pilot. This is tough for me – Ananias was key in the crucifixion of Jesus and Paul would have most certainly known this, but he still bows to scripture first.
““Then He said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ” They listened to him up to this word. Then they raised their voices, shouting, “Wipe this person off the earth — it’s a disgrace for him to live! ” As they were yelling and flinging aside their robes and throwing dust into the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, directing that he be examined with the scourge, so he could discover the reason they were shouting against him like this. As they stretched him out for the lash, Paul said to the centurion standing by, “Is it legal for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen and is uncondemned? ””
Acts 22:21-25 HCSB
Paul was afforded some rights being born a Roman citizen. It appears that those rights helped him to spread the word of Christ throughout the Roman world. Paul far from had it easy, I would venture he suffered more than most, but having his citizenship provided for more freedom to travel and spread the gospel to the gentiles.
“While we were staying there many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into Gentile hands.’ ” When we heard this, both we and the local people begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.””
Acts 21:10-13 HCSB
Another example of Paul’s willingness to do whatever is required of him for the Lord Jesus. He says this without fear, only sorrow for his brothers who are worried about him.
““And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Acts 20:22-24 HCSB
I am in awe of Paul’s dedication to the Kingdom of God. He knows what awaits him, but he goes anyway. He doesn’t care – the only thing he cares about is furthering the gospel.
“Then he entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things of the kingdom of God. But when some became hardened and would not believe, slandering the Way in front of the crowd, he withdrew from them and met separately with the disciples, conducting discussions every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. And this went on for two years, so that all the inhabitants of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the message about the Lord.”
Acts 19:8-10 HCSB
I find this interesting. Paul got a lot more converts not by arguing what was obviously the truth, but by bringing those whose hearts were ready and speaking to them directly.
“While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack against Paul and brought him to the judge’s bench. “This man,” they said, “persuades people to worship God contrary to the law! ” As Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of a crime or of moral evil, it would be reasonable for me to put up with you Jews.”
Acts 18:12-14 HCSB
Paul was prepared to wage his defense, but just as Jesus had said – we do not need to worry about what we are going to say when we are called to defend our faith, because it will not be us, but the Holy Spirit speaking for us. In this case, I believe that the Holy Spirit didn’t have to speak through Paul, but rather through Gallio. We needn’t worry about what we are going to say, the Lord will provide!!
“From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”
Acts 17:26-27 HCSB
I read this and see that God wants us to seek after Him. He could very easily FORCE us to worship Him, or not give us any choice by showing His great glory to us, but until then He wants us to seek after Him. To WANT to know Him and to CHASE after Him.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because all of us are here! ” Then the jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? ””
Acts 16:25-30 HCSB
Paul suffered mightily for the Name of Jesus, just as here. Yet, like here, it was for the benefit of the Lord. Had Paul and Silas not been beaten and imprisoned, the jailer might have never known the Lord. Who knows how many people he was able to influence after Paul left.