Big thank you goes to Beth for this week’s notes. If you have been reading them, then I’m sure like me, you will have been both challenged and blessed. Our passage today is Acts 23:12-22.
We get very little information about Paul’s life but in today’s passage, we discover that he has a sister and a nephew. I wonder whether they had accepted Christ. They certainly seem to be looking out for Paul while he’s in prison.
Here we see the Jews’ hatred of Paul reach even higher levels. Now, knowing that there is very little legal argument against him, they make a plan to kill Paul on his way to speak to the commander. They must have really believed that he was acting against God and was evil. How else could they be so convinced that this was what they should do? They agreed to abstain from food until he was killed, again reinforcing their commitment. This highlights again how wrong you can be. Just really believing something is not enough to justify it. We should base our beliefs on the bible and God’s word, not what we ‘think’.
In the midst of all of this suffering, God still has his hand on Paul; he still has work for him to do. ‘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.” (23:11) Although Paul is in prison, God is working for Paul. He allows his nephew, of all people, to overhear this plan. It’s not clear how he finds out about the plan; maybe he overhears it or maybe someone else tells him but God’s plans are clearly at work here. Sometimes, when we are suffering, it can feel like God has forgotten us but this is not true. Even in the suffering, God works for us. He is watching over us and protecting us.
I don’t know how old Paul’s nephew is but he’s certainly brave. Not only does he go straight to Paul to tell him but then, at Paul’s direction, he goes straight to the commander to tell him of the plan. I’m sure he was nervous. I’m sure he wondered whether he would be thrown into the cell next to Paul. Sometimes we need to be bold and courageous in standing up for persecuted Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Come back tomorrow to find out what happens to Paul!
‘I will speak out for those who have no voices
I will stand up for the rights of all the oppressed
I will speak truth and justice
I’ll defend the poor and the needy
I will lift up the weak in Jesus’ name’