Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Acts 23-25

In Acts 23, Paul faces the Sanhedrin and declares that he has "fulfilled [his] duty to God in all good conscience to this day." "Knowing that some were Sadducees and the others Pharisees," he tells them that he is "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee." This started an argument between the various members of the Sanhedrin, and some of the Pharisees defended him. The commander took Paul back to the barracks to protect him. "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.'"

The next morning, several of the Jews formed a conspiracy to kill Paul, but Paul's sister's son found about it and went to the centurions. The commander had a detachment of his centurions take Paul to Caesarea, with a letter to the Roman Governor Felix saying that he found "no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment." In Caesarea, Paul was kept under guard in Herod's palace.

Acts 24 tells about Paul's trial, about a week later, in front of the Governor. The high priest (Ananias) had come to Caesarea with a lawyer named Tertullus to present the charges, of being "a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world." Paul defended himself, saying that he didn't argue with anyone in the temple or stir up crowds in the synagogue or anywhere else in the city. And he professed his belief in God and that he was "a follower of the Way." "Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings." He told the commander to keep Paul under guard but "give him some freedom." Later, he spoke with his wife ("Drusilla, who was a Jewess") and then sent for Paul and listend to him talk of his faith in Jesus. "Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now!'" For two years Paul remained in prison until Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.

In Acts 25, Paul is tried before Festus, who wants to send him to Jerusalem to be tried by the Jews. But Paul said that he was standing in Caesar's court, where he should be tried. After Festus conferred with his council, he agreed that "to Caesar you will go!" A few days later, King Agrippa arrived at Caesarea and Festus discussed Paul's case with him. Agrippa expressed interest in hearing Paul for himself. And Agrippa entered Festus' audience room the next day, and Paul was brought in to see him.

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • Paul's pugnacious side is on display here. He's not going to back down, at all, from his beliefs or acquiesce to those who want him stopped.
  • This is another section of the book that carries the unmistakeable air of historical truth.

Psalms 36:1-22

The psalmist here is again giving us essentially proverbs. As we saw so often in the book of proverbes, we've got the comparison of the wicked and the righteous, and how trust in the Lord is essential for a good life.

Psalm 37
Of David.
1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.

9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.

11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great peace.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.

15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.

16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

18 The days of the blameless are known to the LORD,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

20 But the wicked will perish:
The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields,
they will vanish—vanish like smoke.

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;

22 those the LORD blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be cut off.

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