This chapter is filled with twists and turns, conspiracy and politics. But one thing that remains solid is Paul’s steadfastness to obey God at all cost. I love how Chapter 23 launches. Paul is standing before the high council, and in verse 1, we see the grit Pauly boy has with his accusers. 1 Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began:
First off, I would love to see Paul’s game face. Secondly, Paul is respectful, but he is most certainly not a pushover. No one knows quite what to do with Paul and his confidence.
In chapter 24, he is called a cult leader of the Nazarene’s!!! (And the assault on Christianity is still happening today.) However, because of Paul’s citizenship, he can request an audience with the leaders of Rome.
Paul is a slippery guy, and no matter how hard the religious leaders try to catch him, he is like a bar of soap; as soon as they put the squeeze on him, he shoots out of their hands and into the direction God wants him to go. It’s almost like God uses prisons and persecutions to give Paul free transportation to spread the Gospel. BRILLIANT!
That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.” Acts of the Apostles 23:4, 11-12 NLT
40 Jewish leaders are set to kill Paul. The conspiracy is ridiculous against him, but he is shown great favor with the political leaders. Read verses 27-30 -It is very reminiscent of Joseph in prison. You got to read it to see it. He is given a 470-soldier escort to the governor of Rome! This scrappy missionary is given bodyguards, a horse to ride, and free transportation. What looked like prison and persecution was literally a mission trip fully funded by the government.
When God calls us to something, He will provide in a most unique and unusual way. Our job is to be like Paul when the doors open, confident in our Lord that he will buy the bus tickets when he calls us to a territory.
One last thing I want to point out. While Paul is sitting in a prison cell and the religious leader's plot to kill him, the Lord appears to Paul to encourage him. When God informed Paul, he would be a witness to Rome; he essentially was saying, “You won’t die here in this jail cell. There is still more to come.” What has God used in your life that may have looked like a prison but was actually a propeller? What promises and encouragement have you received from King Jesus that remind you that your suffering now is not the end and that your “Rome” is waiting for you?