Coachlight Bible Study - Acts Chapter 21:26-23:11

Divine Encouragement

 

It is truly a pleasure reading about the apostle Paul in his travels throughout the Gentile nations to preach the Gospel and find out about many thousands of souls brought to Christ.† The many persecutions he endured and the Lord delivering him out of all of them is also great reading.† In this study he will be in bonds because of an angry mob of Jews causing a uproar and falsely accusing Paul and beating him. If Paul were like most men, he would have gladly accepted being carried off by the soldiers to get away from an angry mob that wanted to kill him. Instead, Paul spoke to the commander, asking if he could speak to this crowd. Amazingly, the commander gave him permission and it resulted in another riot.

†In this study we will see Paul bound, according to Agabusís prophecy of beatings and chains he would receive from the Jews at Jerusalem.† Paul, however, will give a speech by the permission the chief captain, to the mob that wants to kill him. The apostle used his liberty to give his testimony and to honor Christ so that he forgets the bonds he is in - and in fact, doesn't even† mention them.

Paul made this speech from the steps leading up to the Roman barracks. This is not the first or the last account of Paulís conversion on the road to Damascus. But Paulís own account of his conversion is unique in many ways.

We will study this by comparing this account with the defense of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7, and by comparing Paulís words here in Acts 22 with the other account in Acts 9.

There are 4 questions that we will go over in this lesson with some contrasts and comparisons of his treatment by the Roman commander - as a representative of the Roman government, and by the Sanhedrin - as representatives of the Jews. Paul seems to do much better at the hand of the heathen than he does his own countrymen.†

1. Why did Paul speak to this crowd in Hebrew when only a part of the crowd could understand this language?

2. What is the difference between Lukeís account of Paulís conversion and Paulís own account in chapter 22?

3. What was it about Paul's speech that caused the crowd to explode?

4. Since the charges against Paul and Stephen are very similar, what is the difference between their defenses?

While Luke doesnít mention that Paul was a little bit discouraged after his seemingly unsuccessful defenses and witnessing, he shurly could have been a little that way.† We will see him† receive encouragement from the Lord in this study

I.††††† The Uprising in the Temple - Acts 21:26-39

A. Asian Jews Stir Up The People - falsely accuse Paul

1. They saw Paul in the temple

2. They had seen Paul with Trophimus an

a. Ephesian earlier

b. They thought that Paul brought him into the temple


3. Kicked Paul out of the temple

a. Saying Paul taught people against the law

b. Saying Paul brought Greeks into the temple

c. Saying he had polluted this holy place

4. They were going to kill Paul

†B. Roman captain came on the scene

1. He had heard of the uproar

2. The Jews quit beating Paul when they saw him

3. Seeing Paul in the middle had him put in chains

4. Began interrogating Paul

a. Who he was

b. What he had done

c. Noise from the crowd was confusing

5. Had Paul put in the castle

6. The crowd yelled, "Away with him".

7. Captain surprised when Paul spoke to him in Greek

a. He thought Paul was an Egyptian who had previously

††††††† lead a disturbance

Josephus:

But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.

 

Eusebius:

But the Jews were afflicted with a greater plague than these by the Egyptian

false prophet. For there appeared in the land an impostor who aroused

faith in himself as a prophet, and collected about thirty thousand of those whom

he had deceived, and led them from the desert to the so-called Mount of

Olives whence he was prepared to enter Jerusalem by force and to overpower

the Roman garrison and seize the government of the people, using those who

made the attack with him as body guards.

But Felix anticipated his attack, and went out to meet him with the Roman

legionaries, and all the people joined in the defense, so that when the battle was

fought the Egyptian fled with a few followers, but the most of them were destroyed or taken captive."

Josephus relates these events in the second book of his History. But it is worth

while comparing the account of the Egyptian given here with that contained in the

Acts of the Apostles. In the time of Felix it was said to Paul by the centurion in

Jerusalem, when the multitude of the Jews raised a disturbance against the

apostle, "Art not thou he Who before these days made an uproar, and led out into

the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?"

 

b. Paul asked if he could talk to him

c. Commander is surprised

1. Paul spoke to him in Greek

2. He was a Jew not an Egyptian

3. He was from the north, (Cicilia) - not south, (Egypt)

C. Paul wanted to speak to the crowd

 

II. Paulís Defense Before The Crowd Ė Divide and Conquer Ė Acts 21:40 Ė 22:21

A. Paul spoke to the crowd in Hebrew

B. Paul was a Jew

1. Born in Tarsus - city of Cilicia

2. Taught by Gamaliel

a. According to the perfect manner of the law

b. To be zealous toward God

C. Paul persecuted Christians according to his zealousness

1. By killing

2. By chains

3. By Imprisoning - both men and women

D. Paul received a permission letter from the elders

1. To pick up those bound in prison in Damascus

2. To deliver them to Jerusalem to be punished

E. Paul on the road to Damascus

1. A great light shone around him from the sky

a. Paul fell to the ground

b. He heard a voice - "Saul, Saul, why persecutist me?"

c. Paul answered - "Who art thou Lord?"

d. The Lord said, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest."

e. Paul said, "What shall I do, Lord?"

f. Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do."

2. Paul was blinded by the light


F. The reaction of Paul's traveling companions

1. They saw the light

a. They were afraid

b. They couldn't make out the Lord's words

2. They lead Paul by the hand into Damascus

G. Paul meets Ananias of Damascus

1. A devout man

a. Followed the law

b. Had A good report from the local Jews

2. Ananias prophesied to Paul

a. "Brother Saul, receive thy sight."

b. The God of our fathers hath chosen thee,

1. To know His will

2. See that Just One

3. Hear the voice of His mouth.

c. You will witness to

1. All you see

2. All you hear

d. Don't just sit there

1. Arise

2. Be baptized

3. Wash away your sins - calling upon the Lord

H. Paul sees a vision while praying in the temple

1. Paul saw the Lord saying to him:

a. Quickly get out of Jerusalem

b. The Jerusalemites will not receive your testimony of Jesus

2. Paul replied

a. The Jews know that I beat and imprisoned your followers

b. Paul went along with Stephen's murder - kept his raiment

3. The Lord Commanded

a. Leave

b. I have a plan for you concerning the Gentiles

III. Another Riot - Acts 22:22-23

A. The crowd shouted

1. Away with him

2. He should not be able to live

B. The crowd acted

1. Cast off their clothes

2. Threw dust in the air


IV. Paul's Defense Before The Centurion - Acts 22:24-29

A. Chief captain tries to find out why the crowd was so furious

1. Command him brought into the castle

2. He should be examined by whipping

B. Paul speaks to the centurion at the whipping post

1. Isn't it against the law to whip a Roman citizen?

2. Especially an uncondemed Roman citizen

C. Centurion informs the chief captain that Paul is a Roman citizen

D. Chief captain confirms this with Paul

1. Asked what price his freedom cost?

2. Paul told him he was a freeborn citizen

E. Chief captain and the centurion were afraid

1. Because he was a Roman citizen

2. Because they had chained him

3. The next morning took off his chains

4. Called together the Sanhedrin

5. Had Paul appear before them

V. Paul's Defense Before The Sanhedrin Divide and Conquer- Acts 22:30 - Acts 23:8

A. Paul says he has lived in good conscience before God

B. Ananias (high priest) commanded Paul to be slapped

1. Ananias,

a. Son of Nebedaeus,

b. Ananias received the office from Herod of Chalcis (younger brother of Herod Agrippa I) in A.D. 47

c. Held it for eleven or twelve years.

2. He brought no credit to the sacred office.

a. Josephus tells how his servants went to the threshing floors to seize the tithes that ought to have gone to the common priests,

b. Talmud preserves a parody of Ps. 24:7 in that shows his greed

"...Some five years before this time he had been sent to Rome by the legate of Syria on suspicion of complicity in a sanguinary conflict between Judaeans and Samaritans, but was cleared and restored to the high priesthood by the Emperor Claudius, thanks to the advocacy of the younger Agrippa. His great wealth made him a man to be reckoned with even after his deposition from office; and he did not scruple to use violence and assassination to further his interests. His pro-Roman policy, however, made him an object of intense hostility to the militant nationalists in Judaea, and when the war against Rome broke out in A.D. 66 he was dragged by insurgents from an aqueduct in which he had tried to hide, and put to death along with his brother Hezekiah. His son Eleazar, captain of the temple, took fierce reprisals on his assassins."


C. Paul says to the high priest

1. God will smite you

2. You are a whited wall

a. With the law - Sit in judgment of me

b. Contrary to the law - Have me smitten

D. People around accused Paul of reviling the high priest

E. Paul reveals he did not know Ananias was the high priest

F. Paul divides and conquers the Sanhedrin

a. Paul knew that the Sanhedrin was two groups

1. Saducees - believe that their is no resurrection of the dead

a. No angels

b. No spirits

2. Pharasees - believe in both angels and spirit

b. Paul cries out in the council

1. I am a Pharisee

2. I am the son of a Pharisee

3. I am questioned because of the resurrection of the dead

V. Paul's Rescue From The Quarreling Sanhedrin - Acts 23:9 - 10

A. Scribes in the Pharasee part cry out

1. We find no evil in him

2. Lets not fight God - maybe a spirit or angel has spoken to him

B. Chief captain feared for Paul

1. Take Paul by force from the Sanhedrin

2. Put him back into the castle

VI. Paul Encouraged By The Lord In A Vision - Acts 23:11

A. Be of good cheer, Paul Ė calls him by name

B. As you have testified of me in Jerusalem

C. You must bear witness also in Rome

VII. Answers to Questions

 

Question One: Why did Paul speak to this crowd in Hebrew when only a part of the crowd could understand this language?

 

Paulís Use Of Languages

To The Roman Commander

To The Jewish mob

Spoke Greek

Spoke Hebrew

Impressed The Commander

Commander did not speak Hebrew

Proved he was not an Egyptian

Asian (Hellenistic) Jews didnít speak Hebrew


A.   The Hellenistic Jews started the riot

B.   Paul was like the Jerusalem Jews before his conversion

C.   If God could change Paul, He could change the Jerusalem Jews

D.   If Paul convinces the Jerusalem Jews, the opposition of the Asian Jews would crumble

E.    The Asian Jews were quieted by hearing Hebrew spoken

F.    This would be Paulís last change to preach to these Jews

 

Romans 9:1 †I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

Romans 9:2† That †I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

Romans 9:3† For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: {accursed: or, separated}

Romans 9:4 †Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:5† Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

 

 

Question Two: What is the difference between Lukeís account of Paulís conversion and Paulís own account in chapter 22?

Contrast of Paulís Conversion Accounts

Acts Chapters 6 and 7

Acts Chapter 22

Lukeís account is third person

Paulís account first person

Lukeís intention -† Show how the Gospel† spread

Lukeís intention Ė Show Paulís defense

Paulís escape by being lowered through an opening in the wall of the city, in a basket (9:19-25)

Paulís temple vision of the Lord only in (22:17-21)

 

It probably took a vision of the Lord to get Paul to be lowered in a basket

 

 

Question Three: What was it about Paul's speech that caused the crowd to explode?

 

A.     At first it looks like it was verse 21 only:

 

Acts 22:21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

 

B.     The† vision is a dialogue interrupted by Paulís response to the Lord

 

Acts 22:18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

 

C. It was also the command to forsake the Jews who would not receive your testimony Ė as Paul writes to the Romans:

 

Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

Romans 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Romans 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

 

Question Three: Since the charges against Paul and Stephen are very similar, what is the difference between their defenses?

 

Contrast Between The Charges and Defenses Of Paul And Steven

Similarity Of The Charges To Make Them Look Legal

Spoke blasphemous words against this holy place and the law

Teaches all men everywhere† against the people, and the law, and this place

Stevenís Defense Acts 6&7

Paulís Defense Acts 22

Turned to the Old Testament

Turned back to his testimony

Spoke from the history of Israel

Spoke from his own history

Difference between himself and the Jews

The similarity between himself before Damascus, and the Pharisees.

Gap between Israel and God the same as between the Israelites and God

Gap between Israel and the prophets

Doesnít defend himself, but indicts his accusers

Defends himself as a faithful Jew -† true to the Scriptures and his calling

 


VIII. Conclusion

 

†A. We can see Godís plan is fulfilled - everyone being used to promote the gospel.

We were told by our Lord, early in the Book of Acts 1:8 that the gospel would be preached , beginning at Jerusalem and extending to the uttermost part of the earth.

1. By Paul giving his testimony

2. By the mistakes of the Roman chief commander, who probably should never have allowed Paul to speak, through the Hellenistic Jews who accused and opposed Paul,

3. By the Jews - The gospel is going to Rome. The harder the Jews work to resist and overcome it, the more the proclamation of the gospel expands.

 

B. We can see Godís plan using Rome

1.      Rome becomes the tool of God to chasten His disobedient people

2.      Rome becomes the tool of God to protect Paul

3.      Rome becomes the tool of God to promote the Gospel Paul preached

4.      Rome becomes the tool of God to sack Jerusalem as Jesus prophesied:

 

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

Luke 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto..

 

C. We can see Paul loving his own people by sharing the Gospel with them even though they want to kill him for it.

 

 

D.    We see the power of† testimony Ė God used Paulís testimony to spread the Gospel to Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IX. Application

A. Our Encouragement Comes From The Lord

God sometimes uses people to encourage us, but it is God who is the source of all comfort and encouragement.

 

Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Romans 8:21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

 

B. Encouragement and assurance is often given by being reminded of something which we already know Ė maybe we have either forgotten or doubted

1. Paul was not told anything new by the Lord,

2. Assured that what he had already been told was still going to take place.

 

C. Encouragement need not be based on success -† faithfulness and obedience to Godís plan

1. Paulís testimony in Jerusalem had not been successful

2. The Lord told him that Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

 

D. There is Encouragement by being faithful to Godís plan

 

I Timothy 1:12† And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

I Timothy 1:13† Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

I Timothy 1:14† And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I Timothy 1:15† This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

I Timothy 1:16† Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

I Timothy 1:17† Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.