Day 346 Acts 20:4-23:35

Day 346
Acts 20:4-23:35

As it happened, Paul could see the final years of his ministry were before him. He knew his visit to Jerusalem would probably be his last opportunity to express his affection for his kinsmen in Judea and to deliver the contribution he had spent years collecting. The travelogue Luke provided is a fascinating narrative. Paul left Corinth with eight men, including Luke. Upon reaching Troas, he gathered with the church in the attic of a tenement house in order to teach and break bread with the believers there. That evening young Eutychus fell asleep as Paul’s sermon stretched on till midnight. His sermonic-snoozing turned tragic though when he fell through a window three stories to the ground below. Dr. Luke pronounced him dead at the scene. Paul went down and embraced Eutychus tenderly. He told those who had gathered around him, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him” (20:10). Then Paul returned to the upper room, broke bread, and stayed with the saints before departing just after sunrise.

Paul was hoping to reach Jerusalem by Pentecost in A.D. 57. He was aware of the dangers that confronted him everywhere he went and arranged for his companions to travel by sea while he preferred to walk the shorter route inland by himself. The time alone helped prepared him for the challenges that lay ahead. When the team rendezvoused in Miletus, he sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus, fifty miles away, to gather with him near the coast. In his appeal to the leaders of Ephesus, Paul reviewed his own practice as a model for ministry, shared his current concerns, and warned them of future dangers. They wept, kelt, prayed together, and embraced knowing that it was their last time to see him.

Paul then boarded a ship for the Syrian coast, reaching the city of Tyre where he stayed for one week. The next day he traveled to Caesarea, the provincial capital, and stayed in the home of Philip the evangelist and his four unmarried daughters, who were also prophetesses though they remained silent about Paul’s future. The prophet Agabus, however, who accurately predicted the Judean famine, took the tasseled belt Paul wore and demonstrably used it to predict what the Apostle would face by the Jews in Jerusalem. Agabus’ prophecy did not include a command to follow, but the others who heard it tried to dissuade Paul from going to Jerusalem. He knew their efforts were well-intended, but they were pummeling his heart. When they realized he wasn’t changing his mind, they commended him to the will of God.

A group from Caeasrea traveled with Paul to Jerusalem. As they entered the city, Paul irst escorted them through the outer wall and showed them the Temple. The next day he met with James and the elders. While James was still cautiously walking a fine line between recognizing Jesus as the Messiah and honoring Jewish tradition, some of the elders questioned Paul’s heritage. To prove his credibility, they urged him to join four other Jews by taking a vow and using a portion of the relief fund as proof that he had not abandoned the Law. He agreed out of out of his love for the Jewish people. As a result, he took the vow, paid the money, and followed the rituals, while also staying with the other Jewish men in the Temple. One week later some Jews from Asia spotted Paul and an uproar immediately broke out. Paul was dragged out of the Temple and beaten.

The melee was reported to Claudias Lysias, the Tribune, who had Paul arrested so that he could interrogate him. But the Tribune mistook Paul as an infamous Egyptian assassin. Paul told him he was a Jew from Tarsus and requested an opportunity to address the mob. Speaking in Hebrew, Paul told them his conversion story beginning with his days as a persecutor of the church to the day God stopped him in his tracks on the Damascus Road. When the mob became unruly, the Tribune ordered Paul to be flogged. Paul protested asserting that it was unlawful to flog him because he was a Roman Citizen. Had he been flogged, Paul might not have survived the ordeal. The Tribune was shocked because while he paid handsomely for his citizenship, Paul was a citizen by birth.

The next morning the Tribune set Paul before the Jewish Council, in the same spot where Stephen once stood during his defense. Ananias dealt as slovenly with Paul as he did with Jesus approximately twenty-four years earlier. In his defense, Paul appealed to his Pharisaic heritage which shrewdly pit the Sadducees against the Sadducees. The Tribune was less than amused by this intramural debate and ordered Paul back to the barracks. That night the Lord assured him in a vision that he would survive this trial and make it to Rome, which was a great promise given that forty Jewish assassins had recently vowed not to rest until Paul was killed. As it happened, Paul’s nephew informed the Tribune of the conspiracy against him. The Tribune then sent Paul off under the cloak of darkness with an impressively armed escort to stand before Governor Felix who, upon Paul’s arrival, confined him to Herod’s praetorium in Caesarea.

Dear Lord, we understand that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers us from them all. Thank You for Your rescue either now or ultimately, in eternity, from the trials that have the pontential to overwhelm us. We are grateful for your mercy in protecting us. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.