Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Is Water Baptism for the Body of Christ? - Part 1

The question that I have been struggling with since I moved away from an Acts 2 view of the birth of  the church is, "What about baptism?" Is that for us today? Where are we told in Scripture that we are to be baptized? Is it required for salvation as some say? Or is it just required for obedience as others say? 

There are two primary arguments made today to justify baptism. I once made them and practically every denomination does the same. The argument will inevitably start in the Gospel of Matthew with the ministry of John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1-12, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, (2)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (3)  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (4)  And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (5)  Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, (6)  And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (7)  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8)  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (9)  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (10)  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (11)  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (12)  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

What should be immediately obvious in these verses is that there are actually three baptisms spoken of and only one of them involves actual water. John says that he was baptizing them with water, but one would come after him who would baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire. That is three baptisms and they are not all the same. 

So, who was John baptizing? Jews. His baptism was called the baptism of repentance. However, he also says that Jesus, the one who would come after him and mightier than he, was going to baptize them also, not with water, but with the Holy Ghost and with Fire. That begs the question, "When were they to be baptized with the Holy Ghost?" Well, that happened at Pentecost for those who believed. Well, "When were they to be baptized with fire?" The context makes it clear that the fire baptism that is was not a good thing and it is not the "fire" experience that many charismatics talk about today. Notice the colon at the end of verse 11? They are used before explanations or reasons. Therefore, verse 12 gives the explanation of the reason for this fire baptism. It is obviously about a judgment that was to come after the nation had repented, i.e. Tribulation. 

There is a fourth baptism mentioned in Luke 12:49-50 where our Lord said, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (50)  But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!"  This was a reference to when God the Father baptized his Son with the sins of the world on the cross. 

So, we have seen that there are four baptisms mentioned in the Bible: water, holy spirit, fire, and wrath. Water by John, Holy Spirit and Fire by Jesus, and Wrath by God. Which leaves the question, "Which of these baptisms are for the church?" The answer is simple, "Neither." 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Our Gospel

I am amazed that when I point out the obvious difference between the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace, they get all befuddled and even defensive. Why? It is so obvious! 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us that the Gospel that saves us is a belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This could not have been taught in the Gospels because it had not happened yet. What is so hard to understand about that? Again, what was bad news to the Jew was good news to the Gentile. Romans 1:16 tells us that it is obtained simply by faith/belief with no works required. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that that faith is in the completed work of Christ on the cross. Also, compare 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. Furthermore, Ephesians 2:1, 2:8-10, 11-13 tells us that no works are necessary under the Gospel of Grace at all. Only belief. That is the Gospel that Paul referred to in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Acts Study | Session 40 | 28:1-31

In today's final study of the book of Acts, we find Paul making his defense before the Jews in Rome and being asked to clarify what he thought of this sect that is spoken against everywhere. Paul proceeds to explain that Jesus was the hope of Israel and they listened until he quoted from Isaiah 6 about how the Jewish nation would not see, hear, or understand and that God sent salvation to the Gentiles without them.

Chapter 28

VERSE 1: And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. Today this island is known as Malta which was inhabited by Phoenicians. Interestingly, the name in Phoenician means refuge. 

VERSE 2: And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. The word barbarous was a word that was used by the Greeks of anyone that did not speak their language. It didn't mean, like it does today, savage, uncultivated, or cruel. It just spoke of unintelligible language. 

VERSES 3-4: And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. (4) And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. You can only imagine that the people on the island knew after a brief minute that the passengers of this ship consisted of guards and prisoners. They basically believed that Paul had it coming for whatever he had done to become a prisoner and they assumed that it was murder. It was basically the belief in karma which is from Hinduism and teaches basically what goes around comes around. 

VERSES 5-6: And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. (6)  Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. Now they are sitting back waiting and watching for Paul to fall over dead. Didn't happen, and now he was a god. Reminds me of when he and Barnabus were in Iconium in chapter 14 and they went from trying to stone them to thinking Barnabas was Jupiter and Paul was Mercurius (Acts 14:1-15). 

VERSES 7-9: In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. (8)  And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. (9)  So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: Now we need the head honcho, Publius who had offered then lodging whose father lay ill. Again, we see Paul healing which was part of the Kingdom ministry that I believe ceased once the offer was off the table because obviously, Paul was not able to do it later (2Tim 4:20).

VERSE 10: Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary. Obviously, Publius was very grateful and showed it. 

VERSE 11: And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. This verse makes it obvious that they stayed there for three months, which means this would have been around January or February when they departed. In Greek mythology, they were known as the twin half-brothers or the Gemini Twins. They were regarded as the patrons of sailors to whom they appeared as St. Elmo's fire is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere. It appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name. Sailors considered it as a good omen as that it was thought to be a sign of the presence of their patron saints.

VERSE 12: And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.  When it speaks of Syracuse, it is speaking of an island and Sicily and not New York. 

VERSE 13: And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: Interesting that the word compass is not referring to an actual compass, but a direction. It actually means to go around. Rhegium is Reggion, Italy which is down at the bottom of the country (the toe). 

VERSE 14: Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. Again, pretty apparent that Paul's arrest was pretty relaxed. Randy White makes a point of mentioning that we do not know who these brethren were: Kingdom or Grace, but it would seem to be Grace considering their location. 

VERSE 15: And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. The Appii forum according to Barnes was a city about 56 miles from Rome, so he is close. The three taverns were located about 8 to 10 miles from Rome. 

Notice that he thanked God, and took courage. After all, he had been waiting for this day a long time (Rom 1:9-11; Rom 15:23, Rom 15:32). 

VERSE 16: And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. Upon arrival, the centurion transfers custody of the prisoners (276 of them), except for Paul who gets to stay by himself with one soldier to keep watch over him. 

VERSE 17: And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. The chief of the Jews would be the leader of the local synagogue. At this point makes a point of bringing him up to date as to why he is there and denies the Jewish accusation that was made against him in regards to the law of Moses, circumcision, and the customs. Of course, Paul had taught the opposite to the Gentiles with the Grace Gospel, but never to the Jews. 

We have to assume this to be the case or he is lying. Think about that. Teachers must come to the conclusion that Paul had not received the mystery yet, or that he was indeed preaching two gospels in my humble opinion. 

VERSE 18: Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. You remember that Agrippa said, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar" (Acts 26:32). 

VERSE 19: But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. Of course, the Jews did not accept Paul's innocence on either count, Jew or Roman, and he was left with little option but to appeal his case to Caesar. 

The latter part of the verse is conflicting to me in that Paul had plenty to accuse his nation of by this point. Yet, the only way that I can explain it is that Paul, in a spirit of forgiveness, even though wrongly accused, wished no ill will upon his people, the nation of Israel. 

VERSE 20: For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. Notice Paul says because of the hope of Israel. What is the hope of Israel? Their Messiah! Simeon referred to it as their consolation in Luke 2:25. Ultimately, this word is connected to the Kingdom (Jer 16:7). 

Paul referred to it in Acts 23:6. Paul says that the reason he is in these chains is that he preached that to the nation and they rejected it. Now many today, will read this passage and say that Paul was under arrest for preaching the gospel, and he was, but not the Gospel of Grace. 

VERSE 21: And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. The word brethren in this verse should not be understood as believers. Instead, it is speaking of just other Jews. So, context is the key, as with everything that we study in the Bible. From everything we can see here, these were unbelieving Jews that Paul was speaking of here. The good thing here for Paul is that this made them an unbiased jury that had not already formed an opinion one way of the other at this point. 

VERSE 22: But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. Well, here we go! Notice that they refer to the believing Jews as a sect again. Remember, it is translated as heresy. The word heresy by definition means any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. The word in and of itself is not necessarily bad. 

Randy White points out something interesting when he says, " Even by this late date (63 A.D.) there had not been a removal from the Jews by the members of the Way, though the sect was spoken against by Jewish brethren. If this is true, there is the almost astonishing fact that believers in Jesus Christ (such as the Apostles) are living within Judaism, and thus clearly obedient to the laws of Judaism."

Historically, Kingdom Believers still saw themselves as a part of Judaism, and not something else, let alone another religion. They were simply believing in the promises given to their fathers in the Old Testament in regard to the coming Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom. Remember that even the derogatory word Christian was used against them initially.

VERSE 23: And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. In the last verse, after Paul had given them an update about why he was there, and that he was innocent of the charges made against him, asked him what he thought of this sect, we know that everywhere is spoken against. The fact that Paul expounds and persuades them out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets should make it pretty clear that he is not speaking of the Grace Gospel because it can not be found there (Rom 16:25). Again, we have got to stop looking at the book as the birth of the church, and more so about the diminishing of Israel (Rom 11:12). 

It is obvious to me that Paul's greatest desire still at this point was for the nation to repent and accept Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah which was first required for the Kingdom to be given. So, no, he is not talking to these guys about the Grace Gospel. Another point to be made here is that the Grace Gospel was the Gospel of the uncircumcision (Gal 2:7) and not the nation of Israel. 

VERSE 24: And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. Some did, some didn't. Paul's only obligation was to be faithful in sharing it, as is ours. We are not responsible for the outcome. 

VERSE 25-27: And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, (26)  Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: (27)  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Paul's conclusion was by quoting Isa 6:9-10. According to the next verses in Isa 6:11-13, judgment should have fallen upon the nation for their refusal to listen. However, that is where grace comes in that only Paul knew about.

As we already established, the Hebrew Scriptures did not know the mystery of the temporary postponement and the age of grace. Only Paul was told about that! 

VERSE 28: Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. Paul know reveals this mystery to them that God is not going to bring that judgment on them, and will instead, take the message of salvation to the Gentiles without them via the Grace Gospel. And, as we have already established, God was going to tod this through the message he gave Paul. 

VERSE 29: And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. And, they walked away about confused. 

VERSE 30: And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, The time that Paul spent in his own hired house would have been in the mid-60s. Notice that there is nothing said about a soldier being assigned to him as mentioned in Acts 28:16. It was during this time that he wrote his prison epistles; Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. 

VERSE 31: Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. And during those two years, he preached the kingdom of God, and those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, as I see it, and I can only speak for myself, I believe this verse is saying that Paul preached both gospels during those two years. In other words, Paul believed that the Kingdom offer was still on the table at this point. 

Randy White puts it this way, "To deny that Paul was preaching the kingdom of God is to deny scripture. To deny that the kingdom that he was preaching is the future, physical, fraternal kingdom of God is to venture into make-believe."

There are four reasons he would have taught the kingdom at this point: 

1. He had no other message at this point. 

2. He was simply giving information about the now-withdrawn offer of the kingdom. 

3. The kingdom is still offered, and thus still needs to be proclaimed, while at the same time the Gospel of the dispensation of the grace of God is also being offered. This is the “overlap” position that I have taken in this study. (Now I know that some will disagree with that assessment, and I reserve the right to disagree with it later myself, but for now, that is the way I see it.) Of course, all Scripture has to be compared with Scripture. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. As we study through the Pauline Epistles, I may very well have to change my view on this, and I certainly willing to do so. 

4. His definition of the Kingdom was spiritual which is the standard evangelical answer today. 

Whatever he was teaching, he did it with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Sadly though, by the time he writes 2Tim 1:15, all they which are in Asia had turned away from him.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Acts Study | Session 39 | 27:1-44

In today's study, Paul and his companions still find themselves at sea and things are seemingly going from bad to worse. However, an angel of the Lord appears unto him with encouragement that while the ship was going to sink, all on board would be saved if they did not try to flee, and that he would safely arrive in Rome.

Chapter 27

VERSE 1: And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. The we indicates that Luke was writing this. The fact that Paul is allowed to travel with his friends speaks to the amount of freedom that he had even though he was still technically under house arrest. 

VERSE 2: And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. Aristarchus was first introduced in Act_19:29 when he and Gaius were caught up in the riot in Ephesus. 

VERSE 3: And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. Again, it is obvious that Paul's "arrest" was a pretty loose one. 

VERSES 4-8: And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. (5)  And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. (6)  And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. (7)  And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; (8)  And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. Just a little bit of Paul's travel itinerary. 

VERSE 9: Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, The fast that Luke is referring to is the Day of Atonement which would mean this was after the month Tisri which would have been part of September and part of October (Lev 23:27). Barnes said, "Historically, this is the time of the autumnal equinox, and when the navigation of the Mediterranean was esteemed to be particularly dangerous, from the storms which usually occurred about that time. The ancients regarded this as a dangerous time to navigate the Mediterranean. 

VERSE 10: And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. It seems from the passage that Paul was merely speaking out of natural perception of what was going on around him rather than something supernatural. 

VERSE 11: Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. Paul was overruled. 

VERSES 12-13: And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. (13)  And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. Love that word commodiuous. It simply means suitable. Luke filling the details as any good physician would do (Col 4:14). We also see this attention to detail in his Gospel. Many see Acts as just part 2 of Luke's gospel account. 

Matthew, Mark, and Luke make up what are called the synoptic gospels because they are so similar. John breaks the mold. However, Luke's has more words and is the most detailed. 

VERSE 14: But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. The word used for tempestuous is where we get the word typhoon which might have accounted for the weather conditions. The word Euroclydon simply means that it came from the East. It is what we would call today a Northeaster. 

Barnes says that "interpreters have been much perplexed about the meaning of the word, which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The most probable supposition is, that it denotes “a wind not blowing steadily from any quarter, but a hurricane, or wind veering about to different quarters. Such hurricanes are known to abound in the Mediterranean, and are now called Levanters, deriving their name from blowing chiefly in the Levant, or eastern part of the Mediterranean."

VERSES 15-17: And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. (16)  And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: (17)  Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. To let a ship drive means to let go of the wheel and let it go where it may. The words we had much work to come by the boat just means that they had a hard time saving the lifeboat. 

Another navigational term is undergirding the ship which simply means that they pass cables or rope completely around the ship in order for it to hold together. I looked it up and it is called frapping, "To frap a ship is to pass four or five turns of a large cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of a ship to support her in a great storm, or otherwise when it is apprehended that she is not strong enough to resist the violent efforts of the sea.”

VERSES 18-20: And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; (19)  And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. (20)  And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. Again, this is just Luke's attention to detail. To lighten the ship means that they began to throw things overboard such as the cargo. As a result, they had all lost hope of surviving the ordeal. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see how Paul was responding to this because, after all, God had told him he was going to Rome. 

VERSES 21-24: But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. (22) And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. (23)  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, (24)  Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. The word abstinence is referring to how long they had gone without food. Some have presumed that this was because of a spiritual fast, however, have been in a typhoon myself, I feel fairly confident it had nothing to do with anything spiritual. 

Also, Paul feels compelled to say, "I told you so." However, after that statement, he does say something that an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve has told him that there is really no way he could have known without divine intervention. 

Now many Mid-Acts teachers will say that the fact that an angel is speaking to Paul is proof that the time of the Kingdom offer was still on the table. Of course, the assumption is that once the Kingdom is off the table, all of the marks of the Kingdom, tongues, miracles, raising the dead, healing with handkerchiefs, etc, ceases. Again, this why the Mid-Acts approach is not very palatable to Charismatics. 

Of course, the message of the angel was Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Apparently, it was very important that Paul take the message to Rome. Can't help but ask, "Why?" Some would say so that the Great Commission could be fulfilled (Mat 28:19-20 and Act 1:8).  Rome being the uttermost. Did God use Paul to fulfill this (Act 28:30-31)? 

VERSES 25-26: Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (26)  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. Paul offers encouragement, but also says that we must be cast upon a certain island. No details as to why, but that is what he was told by the angel. Maybe God already knew that the people on that island would respond and need Paul's ministry, e.g., Publius' father who would have already been sick of a fever (Act 28:8). 

VERSES 27-29: But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; (28)  And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. (29)  Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. I believe the fourteenth night speaks to since the storm started. Notice that they sounded, and found it twenty fathoms, and then again and found fifteen which means they were running into shallower waters, i.e., approaching land. To sound meant to cast a line and a lead into the water to determine the depth. Today, they use sonar. In this case, a fathom is five to six feet, so about 90-120 feet. 

VERSES 30-32: And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, (31)  Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. (32)  Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. Paul must have had a suspicion that the crew was about to make a bolt as they let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship. The word colour means pretense which is to pretend or feign. Notice the words as though. In other words, they were acting as if they were going to do it. 

It was at this point that Paul spoke up and told the centurion and the soldiers that Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. At this point, they dropped the lifeboat. Again, they are listening to Paul against all odds. 

VERSES 33-38: Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven't eaten anything. (34)  Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head." (35)  After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. (36)  They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. (37)  Altogether there were 276 of us on board. (38)  When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. Seems that Paul is in charge at this point as he encourages them to eat something since they hadn't in fourteen days since the storm started. Also, very interesting to see who gives the credit to for all that is happening in v.35. This is also one verse that is used for us blessing our food before each meal. 

VERSES 39-41: And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. (40)  And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. (41)  And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. They were still looking for land when they saw what appeared to be a bay with a beach and decided to aim for it. So, they pulled up the anchors (other translations say they cut them loose and the KJV places it in italics), loosed the lowered the rudders back into the water, raised the mainsail, and aimed for the shore. Remember earlier they let go of the wheel (v.15), now they are taking control. Finally, the ship rams ashore with the hinder part of the ship being broken apart by the waves. 

VERSES 42-44: And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. (43)  But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: (44)  And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. There is no doubt that God granted favor to Paul in the eyes of the centurion in that he goes against the counsel of the others even though his neck was on the line if the prisoners did escape. Remember, it was life-for-life under Roman law. In the end, God miraculously delivered all souls on board. 

It reminds me of the favor that God showed Daniel at the hands of Melzar who allowed them to try their vegetarian diet instead of eating the king's meat. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Acts Study | Session 38 | 26:12-32

In today's study, we find Paul still before Agrippa giving his testimony for the third time. Of course, his point is to prove that he is not guilty of the accusations that were being leveled against him by the Jews which were initially in regard to him not teaching the Mosaic Law but had transitioned to him being a seditionist in an effort to get him indicted by Roman law.

VERSES 11-12: And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. (12)  Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, Can't help but notice where Paul was persecuting these followers of Jesus of Nazareth, in the synagogues. They, just like Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus, and even throughout the book of Acts, continued to worship in the synagogues and participate in the temple. And understand, the problem that Paul had with them then was the exact same problem that his accusers were having with him now, the believed and were teaching the resurrection. 

VERSES 13-14: At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. (14)  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Paul once again gives his testimony about his conversion of the Damascus Road. Remember that Paul did not get his new name until after he had received the mystery in Acts 13:9 when he first preached the grace gospel in Acts 13:38-39. 

Another interesting thing that we pick up from this third time giving his testimony is that he says that the voice spoke to him in the Hebrew tongue. 

VERSES 15-17: And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. (16)  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; (17)  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, Notice to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. This tells us that not everything was revealed to Paul at his initial conversion but would be later (2Cor 12:1; 2Cor 12:7). It is important that we not forget that he is giving his conversion experience in Acts 9 and not 1Tim 1:15-16. 

VERSE 18: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. The message that was given to him was to turn them from darkness to light. Who is them? The nation of Israel. At first glance, it might be easy to conclude like many that Paul is talking about the grace gospel, but not so because this is his Damascus Road experience. Yes, forgiveness is common to both gospels as is Gentiles through proselytization. So, Paul was not only sent to the Jews from his conversion in Acts 9, but also to the Gentiles. 

The gospels are similar, but that does not make them the same. This will become glaringly obvious in vv.20-22. 

Remember that Moses and the prophets said nothing about the grace gospel. 

VERSES 19-20: Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: (20)  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Paul further tell Agrippa that he did exactly what God told him to do. Remember that Paul is still trying to defend the accusations that had been made against him that he was teaching against the Law of Moses, circumcision, and the customs. Therefore, he is is proving that since his conversion in Acts 9, he has been doing nothing but teaching the Law of Moses, circumcision, and the customs to the Jews. 

Also, remember that the Jews knew that none of these accusations would stick as a means of prosecution by the Romans. Therefore, they had also accused him of being a mover of sedition in Acts 24:5.

Also, we see from these verses that Paul was preaching the Kingdom Gospel is that his message was that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. That is clearly not grace. 

VERSE 21: For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Again, Paul is stating that the reason the Jews are determined to kill him is because he was not only preaching the resurrection to the Jews, but also the Gentiles. Remember Acts 22:20-22?

VERSE 22: Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: I believe the help of God that he is referring to is Lycias. Paul is also saying that everything that he taught to both small and great is those things that the prophets and Moses said would happen. 

Remember that Jesus fulfilled the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament that Moses foretold  (Deu 18:15) as well as the prophets (https://www.newtestamentchristians.com/bible-study-resources/351-old-testament-prophecies-fulfilled-in-jesus-christ/) Paul's message to the Jewish nation was well-grounded in the Scripture; which, by the way, do not speak of the age of grace. 

VERSE 23: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. Remember that the Old Testament foretold of the suffering Christ rising from the dead, to redeem the Jewish nation, who would reach the Gentiles. That was Plan A. cf. Isa 42:1; Isa 49:6; Isa 60:1-3; Zec 8:23. Sadly, this did not happen. The Great Commission included this same plan (Mat 28:19-20). 

VERSES 24-25: And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. (25)  But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. It is interesting that Festus blurts out that Paul was beside himself and that much learning had made him mad. Why did he blurt out? I believe that as a Gentile, he thought that the idea of the dead coming back to life was a little too much let along all of these prophecies and hopes hanging on it. 

VERSE 26: For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. Now, Paul, relying on Agrippa's Edomite past, says that he knows the things that he is talking about. Also, Paul notes that these things were not done in a corner. In other words, the whole known world was aware that something was special about this man Jesus. 

VERSES 27-28: King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. (28)  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Paul apparently knew that Agrippa believed the Old Testament Scriptures. Agrippa's response is interesting in that he says you almost persuade me to be a Christian. Why would he use the word Christian? Paul was not teaching the Grace Gospel here at all. Maybe it is because in all three places the word Christian is mentioned in the Bible, it seems to be referring to believing Jews. In Acts 11:26, it is doubtful that Paul had received the mystery by this time. The term simply meant that they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Here in Acts 26:28. And Peter mentions it in 1Pet 4:16, and he for sure was not referring to Gentiles. Simply Jews who suffered for their belief in Christ as the Messiah. Just something to think about, or blow your mind as the case may be. 

Again, can't help but point out the word persuade which means to convince by argument as true or false. Oh, that we would do more of this today. Again, I am convinced that too many Christians are just too lazy to do the hard work needed to study their Bibles. They would prefer to be spoon-fed. I saw a meme the other days that said, "Pastors feed and lead and sheep follow and swallow." That is patently false, my friend! We should never ever follow and swallow. 

VERSE 29: And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. Here we see Paul's desire that not only Agrippa but also his entire nation would come to the same faith in Jesus of Nazareth as he had. 

VERSES 30-32: And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: (31)  And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. (32)  Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar. Confirmation at last! Paul had done nothing wrong as far as Rome was concerned. The interesting thing that I see here is why didn't they just dismiss Paul at this point? What did they write to Caesar? 

Again, I believe politics was still in play here. They just wanted to be rid of him to appease the Jews. However, God was going to use it to get his man to Rome! 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Acts Study | Session 37 | 25:1-26:10

In today's study, we find that Festus had replaced Felix as governor and was trying to figure out what to do with this man Paul who was being accused by the Jews. Paul is brought before him to give an account of the complaints that had been made against him and decides to try to get him back to Jerusalem to give an account of himself before the Jews again. Paul refuses at this point and appeals to Caesar. Festus then takes Paul to Agrippa to find an accusation that he might write in regards to Paul's appeal. 

Chapter 25

VERSE 1: Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. This is Porcius Festus who had replaced Felix. Historically, they were both sitting on a land mine because the Jews were hard to govern as Pilate also knew full well. 

After Felix and Festus came Albinus and then Florus which ended in what has been called the War of the Jews from 66-73AD. It is also referred to as the Jewish-Roman Wars because they were a series of revolts against Roman rule that eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Josephus details these events in his work The Wars of the Jews: or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem.

Festus is merely at the beginning of these events and was very interested in investigating anyone who was accused of inciting the Jews to rebellion. Remember that Lycius mistook Paul for the Egyptian insurrectionist in Acts 21:38).

VERSES 2-5: Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, (3)  And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. (4)  But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. (5)  Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. Again, the Jewish were actively trying to get Rome to transport Paul so that they could ambush and kill him, but Festus appears to be a little too smart for that. 

VERSE 6: And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought. Again, we see this word bema that is used for judgment seat here in this verse. Of course, we know that the ultimate judgment seat will be the one that we will all appear before in 2Cor 5:10.  

VERSE 7: And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. Of course, as Paul has already stated, they have no proof of anything that they are accusing him of. 

VERSE 8: While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. Again, Paul states his innocence in regard to the charges. Again, Paul is saying that he has not been teaching against the Law of Moses, or circumcision, or the customs (Acts 21:21). Folks, we are in chapter 25 and Paul is still preaching these things! 

Randy White points out three things at this point. 1. Paul was under the law, and thus we are as well. This is the conclusion of much of Covenant Theology but disregards the clear teachings of the book of Galatians. 2. Paul was not under the law and was not speaking honestly in this verse, i.e., he was lying.  3. Paul was under the law because he was a Jew living in an age when the Kingdom was still being offered to the Jewish nation, but he also taught personal salvation from all sins outside the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39) according to the revealed mystery. The conclusion is that this is a unique period of transition in which Israel is slowly diminishing (see Rom 11:12) rather than a sharp divide between dispensations.

VERSE 9: But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? The word But means that Festus knew that Paul was innocent, but still chose to do the Jews a favor and drag it out for a trial in Jerusalem. It is obvious that he is appeasing the Jews for political gain. 

VERSE 10: Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. Paul, knowing his rights as a Roma citizen, makes it clear that he did not want to be part of Festus' political games, and that Felix knew full well that he had nothing wrong. In actuality, Festus had nothing concrete that would demand that the trial continue (Acts 25:25), he was merely seeking political favor. 

VERSE 11: For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. Paul readily admits that if he did something wrong, he is willing to pay for it with his life. However, if he did nothing wrong, which he knew full well he had not, he appealed his case to Caesar. Again, only a Roman citizen could have done this. Paul knew his rights and he demanded them. Same with us today I believe. I get tired of little weak-spined Christians making it sound like the church needs to lay down and let the world run over them. 

I believe that much of Paul's appeal was a knowledge that the Lord had already told him that he was going to Rome (Acts 23:11), so why not let Rome pay for the transportation. 

VERSE 12: Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. Festus had no choice but to honor Paul's request. 

VERSE 13: And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. Now we meet Agrippa II and his wife Bernice. Agrippa's father is the one that killed James and fell over dead when he gave not the glory to God in Acts 12:20-22. That means that Herod the Great would have been in grandfather. 

Bernice was an entire other matter, many believe that she was Agrippa's sister. It seems that she was, therefore, on the surface, it looked like an incestuous relationship. Josephus said that later during the First Jewish-Roman War, "she began a love affair with the future emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus. However, her unpopularity among the Romans compelled Titus to dismiss her on his accession as emperor in 79. When he died two years later, she disappeared from the historical record."

VERSES 14-17: And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: (15)  About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. (16)  To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. (17)  Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. Now Festus takes it upon himself to bring Agrippa and Bernice up to speed with Paul's case.    Notice that he says that Paul should have seen his accusers face to face. This did not happen as that the Jews that made the accusations that came down from Asia were never present as Paul pointed on a couple of occasions. Those who were pressing the issue were merely those who did not like Paul and his message in regards to the resurrection and the implications that came from that and wanted to see him destroyed. 

VERSES 18-19: Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: (19)  But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. In other words, Paul was not accused of anything that the Romans would have given two rips about. Instead, he, just like Felix, saw that the accusations had nothing to do with the laws of Rome and everything to do with Jewish superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. Again, the Jews were merely upset that Paul preached the resurrection. Remember that we spoke earlier that the meaning of the word superstition just means a belief in the spirit world. 

VERSES 20-22: And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. (21)  But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. (22)  Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. Know Festus had roused Agrippa's curiosity and he too wanted to quesiton him as well. 

VERSE 23: And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth. Now Paul is brought in to stand before Agrippa. 

VERSES 24-26: And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. (25)  But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. (26)  Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. Festus makes it pretty clear that he can find nothing to charge Paul with and that he has nothing to write in regard to his case. He then implores Agrippa to come up with something. Remember that Paul had been given the option to go back to Jerusalem and face that circus or appeal to Caesar. 

VERSE 27: For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him. So, it seems that the entire purpose of this questioning was to find something to write to Caesar in regards to what Paul is appealing to him about. It would certainly be strange to have a man standing before you appealing a charge that was never leveled against him. I am sure that Festus knew that would not reflect positively on his resume. Again, the whole thing was a joke, but God was using the stupidy of man to do his will in Paul's life in taking the Gospel of Grace to Rome, the capital of the Gentile world at that time. 

Chapter 26

VERSES 1-3: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: (2)  I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: (3)  Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. Paul begins to speak for himself as requested. Notice that Paul acknowledges that Agrippa was an expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Interestingly, the Herodian dynasty were Edomites (Eze 25; Obadiah). 

VERSES 4-5: My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; (5)  Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. Paul now begins to share his background. He was first among his nation and known by the Jews. Earlier we learned that he studied at the feet of Gamaliel. 

VERSES 6-7: And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: (7)  Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Paul says that he now stands and is being judged for the hope of the promises made of God unto our fathers. He is making it clear that the only reason he is standing there was that he preached the resurrection. It wasn't about Mosaic Law, circumcision, and customs at all. Understand that none of this was anything that Rome was interested in. He also points out that Christ was the fulfillment of all of the promises that were given to the nation. 

VERSE 8: Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? In other words, why should any of us be surprised that God can raise the dead? God he flung the stars into space, made man from dirt, breathed life into his lungs, etc. I mean the resurrection should be just as credible as everything else that God has done. Paul said in 1 Cor 15:12-14, Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

VERSES 9-10: I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (10) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. Paul is referring to his pre-conversion life when he actively went after the followers of Jesus. Notice the word saints is used 95 times in the KJV. I am heavily leaning at this point in my studies to the word only being applicable to Jewish believers (1Cor 1:2; 2Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1-3; Eph 1:1, etc.)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Acts Study | Session 36 | 23:1-24:27

In today's study, we find Paul before the council in Jerusalem attempting to give a defense of himself in regard to the accusations that were laid against him. However, the council was divided over the issue of the resurrection. Upon hearing that some of the Jews had made a pact to kill Paul, he escorted him to the governor, Felix, before whom Paul would again explain his innocence in regards to all that he was accused of except being a follower of Jesus who had resurrected from the dead.

Chapter 23

VERSES 1-2: And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. (2) And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Well, that didn't go far! Ananias was historically crooked as a dog's hind leg. 

Josephus records that later he and his brother were murdered by a band of the Sicarii some years later after being caught in an aqueduct where he had concealed himself. What goes around comes around. 

VERSE 3: Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? Interestingly, Paul uttered prophetic words at this point. 

VERSES 4-5: And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? (5)  Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. Paul apologized, not because his words were not true, but because he did not realize who this idiot was. His point seems to be that he was being accused of violating the Law and yet they were violating the Law by condemning him without a fair trial (Deu 25:1-2). Paul's apology seems to stem from Exo 22:28. To me, it is the same thing as respect the office even if you do not respect the man. 

VERSE 6: But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. Paul immediately perceived that his audience was divided and he was going to take advantage of it. The Greek word for perceived speaks of intimate knowledge or absolute knowledge. Remember, he ran with these guys and knew them well. 

They both were influential Jewish sects in Israel very much like our system today. The Pharisees were the "Constitutionalists" in that they believed that the Torah had to be obeyed to the letter. The Sadducees were the leftist elites who believed that the Torah was a good guideline, but were much more secular in their views.  

The Pharisees were members of the middle class and were committed to upholding the Mosaic Law. On the other hand, the Sadducees represented the aristocracy, and leaned to the left and embraced Hellenism. Leaders among the Pharisees were referred to as Rabbi, while most of the Sadducees operated as priests and were members of the Sanhedrin. 

The Pharisees believed in the afterlife, heaven, hell, and that man will be judged on the basis of his adherence to the Torah and his works while on earth. The Sadducees did not believe that man would experience resurrection after physical death. Paul knew this and used it to pull the Pharisees over to his side. 

VERSES 7-8: And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. (8)  For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. It worked! Understand that in the end, both of these groups had rejected the Messiah of Israel. 

VERSES 9-10: And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. (10)  And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. The Romans had to intercede again to save Paul's life. 

VERSE 11: And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. Now, once again, just like back in Acts 18:9-10, the Lord steps in to encourage him to keep plugging away because he has to go to Rome to bear witness of him. 

VERSES 12-15: And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. (13)  And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. (14)  And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. (15)  Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. They are after him again. Remember, he, like Peter, and Stephen, is accusing the nation of rejecting their Messiah. That was not a popular message. 

VERSE 16: And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. Machiavelli said that in order for conspiracies, to be successful, it must pass through all three stages (initiation, the plot itself, and the period after the plot). Conspiracies fail because so few can navigate all three stages successfully. Conspirators who wish to succeed should keep silent about their intentions until the last possible moment: The first, the safest and, to tell the truth, the only [remedy against being discovered], is not to allow the [fellow] conspirators time to give information against you, and to tell them of your plan only when you are ready to act, and not before. Machiavelli did not write these words until the 1500s, so they were not aware of these pitfalls. 

VERSES 17-22: Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. (18)  So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. (19)  Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? (20)  And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. (21)  But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. (22)  So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. Fortunately, for Paul, God's providence no doubt, his nephew was able to bring the captain up to date in regards to the conspiracy. Amazing how God used this captain in Paul's life! Hard to believe he will not be in Heaven as much time he had spent with him. 

VERSES 23-24: And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; (24)  And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. This was a pretty huge escort. No doubt, the chief captain took this threat seriously. 

VERSES 25-26: And he wrote a letter after this manner: (26)  Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. Now for the first time, we learn the chief captain's name who first appeared in chapter 21 when he first saved Paul's life from their hands. I find it amazing how well this Roman officer had treated and protected Paul. 

VERSES 27-30: This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. (28) And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: (29)  Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. (30) And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. He just gives a recount of what had happened and how he had handled it. Understand that at this point, the Romans could have cared less how the Jews handled their religious issues, but when it crossed over into civil issues, that was Roman territory. 

VERSES 31-35: Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. (32) On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: (33)  Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. (34)  And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; (35)  I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall. Again, all of this was possible because Paul was a Roman citizen. 

Chapter 24

VERSE 1: And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. Who is Tertullus? He was apparently an orator and was going to serve as the prosecuting attorney against Paul. My next question is why? His name is clearly Roman. It seems that the Jews hired him to make their case. Barnes points out that it was most likely because they were ignorant of roman law and needed his help to make their accusations stick. 

VERSES 2-4: And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, (3)  We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. (4)  Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. He obviously had lawyer skills in that he knew enough to butter up the judge. 

VERSES 5-6: For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: (6) Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. Now he lays out his accusations in that he accuses Paul of being a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition among all the Jews, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

First, they accuse him of being a pestilent fellow. The word literally means plague or disease. The accusation seems to be that Paul was a corrupting influence on the Jews. Of course, this goes back to the original accusation that taught them to forsake the law of Moses, not circumcising their children, nor walk after the customs (Acts 21:21). 

Also, they are accusing him of being a mover of sedition. Literally, this means that he sowed dissension among the Jews. Again, the accusation is that he was teaching doctrines contrary to the laws and customs of Moses. 

The last accusation is interesting in that he accused of being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. The word ringleader means one standing first in the ranks. The point is that Paul was the primary instigator in this whole thing. The sect of the Nazarenes is interesting also. The word sect is where we get our word heresy. The Nazarenes is a reference to those who followed the Nazarene, Jesus. 

VERSES 7-8: But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, (8)  Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. Tertullus pretends that they would have judged Paul righteously if Lysias had not intervened, but we all know that they were going to kill him on the spot a couple of times. 

VERSE 9: And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so. Of course, all of the Jews present nodded in agreement with Tertullus' assessment of how things would have gone. 

VERSE 10: Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: Now Paul is asked to speak for himself. 

VERSES 11-13: Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. (12)  And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: (13)  Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. Paul, of course, disavows the charges that had been laid against him. Of course, his defense is that they can not prove anything that they were accusing him of. 

VERSES 14-15: But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: (15)  And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. While he denied being a seditionist and pestilent, he does confess that he was a follower of the way. Remember, it was called the sect of the Nazarenes in v.5. 

He goes on to say that he worshipped the God of his fathers and believed everything that was written in the law and the prophets. And that he has hope in regards to the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust. I believe Paul is merely pointing out that he believes the law and the profits point to Jesus. 

VERSE 16: And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Paul is merely saying that he lives his life without consciously offending others. That doesn't mean that he didn't offend, but that he never purposefully offended (Rom 12:18). 

VERSE 17-18: Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. (18)  Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. Now he begins to recount what actually happened in the temple. He was there to merely bring the offerings that were required to complete the vow that he had made. Notice that he calls out the Jews from Asia. 

The very fact that we are in chapter 24 and Paul is still purifying himself in the temple is further proof that he was still living under the Law. Here he is denying that he was a mover of sedition or profaning the temple as he was accused in vv.5-6.

VERSE 19: Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. He then points out that the the Jews from Asia who made the charge should be there right now. 

VERSES 20-21: Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, (21)  Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day. Since the "eyewitnesses" aren't there, they have nothing against Paul, unless they are just accusing him of believing in the resurrection of the dead which was no reason for him to be in front of Felix. 

VERSES 22-23: And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. (23)  And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. Felix was beginning to understand that this was a religious matter and not a Roman one. Therefore, he would wait to hear again from Lysias, and Paul is placed under house arrest until he could do that. Obviously, Felix did not see Paul as a threat. 

VERSE 24: And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Historically, Drusilla had divorced her first husband, Gaius Julius Archelaus Antiochus Epiphanes, to marry Felix. She was the granddaughter of Herod the Great and daughter of Herod Agrippa. She was also the sister of Agrippa II. Old Felix had for sure married up. Interestingly as well,  both she and their son, Marcus Antonius Agrippa, died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 99 AD.

VERSE 25: And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul teaching righteousness, temperance (self-control), and the judgment to come implies that Paul had been teaching the Kingdom to the Jews. The judgment to come refers to what will happen at the Second Coming in Rev 19:11-21). That message is hardly a grace message. In response, Felix trembled. Understand that the Kingdom message was a threat: repent or else. Grace is just the opposite. 

VERSE 26: He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. Close, but no cigar. While Felix did feel some conviction and even fear over the prospect of what Paul had to say, in the end, the crooked politician rose to the surface. 

VERSE 27: But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound. Acts 28:30 makes it clear that Paul remained under house arrest the entire time. He stayed that way until Felix was removed and replaced by Porcius Festus. 

Historically, Felix was accused of using a dispute between the Jews and the Syrians of Caesarea as a pretext to slay and plunder the inhabitants. Though he was not immediately punished by Nero, Porcius Festus decided his was too tarnished to remain in that capacity. He eventually died of tuberculosis. To appease, Paul's accusers, on his way out, he left Paul under house arrest. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Acts Study | Session 35 | 21:15-22:30

In today's study, find Paul arriving in Jerusalem where he gives an update on what God is doing among the Gentiles. He was also informed that some of the believing Jews were concerned that he was not teaching obedience to the Mosaic Law to the other Jews. A plan was put in place to show them that was not the case, but it ended with his arrest after Jews from Asia came and stirred up the people.

VERSES 15-17: And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem. (16)  There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge. (17)  And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. Paul finally arrives in Jerusalem where prophetically everything is going to go bad. The word carriages is just a way of saying baggage. 

VERSE 18-19: And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (19)  And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. Now Paul is giving an update to James and the elders who were present in regards to what God is doing among the Gentiles with Paul's grace ministry. Remember that they had already approved of the message at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 (Gal 2:6). 

VERSE 20: And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: This is a very interesting verse in that it records their response to Paul's update about what God is doing specifically among the Gentiles. In response, they say that God is also working among the Jews who are believing and are zealous of the law. This verse alone clearly demonstrates that there is an overlap of the Kingdom and Grace or Pauline Gospel. If there is only one gospel at this point, this would have been no reason to celebrate! 

VERSES 21-22: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (22)  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. More verses that clearly indicate that Paul was teaching a different gospel that did not require law-keeping. The posturing of the question, i.e. they vs. we, indicates that they did not believe that Paul was actually telling the Jews to forsake Moses, not to circumcise their children, or to stop walking after their customs. Obviously, Paul was not because he was still preaching the Kingdom to the Jews. And, of course, they want to hear it from Paul himself. 

VERSES 23-24: Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; (24)  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. Now they are going to initiate a plan that will demonstrate to the questioning Jews that Paul has not forsaken Moses and the Law. Remember that he has been trying to get back to Jerusalem to fulfill the vow, most likely Nazarite (Acts 18:18). They have four other men who are Jewish that had also made the same vow. The was a photo op of sorts. The fact that Paul went through with this was proof that he did believe that the nation was still under the Law. 

VERSE 25: As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Again, this verse proves that Paul was teaching another gospel to the Gentiles that did not require a keeping of the Law. They are making a reference back to the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:28-29). The more I study, the more confused I am that most in the church reject this! It is clearer and clearer to me every day without hesitation. There simply is no grounds to assume that there is only one gospel. 

VERSE 26: Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. Now we see Paul doing exactly what was suggested by his Jewish brethren that he publicly enter the temple with other Jews to demonstrate that he was not teaching that they were to forsake the Law of Moses. Again, we suspect that this was a Nazarite vow mentioned in Num 6. That means that he was sacrificing a lamb as a sin offering (Num 6:14). 

So, what about those who say that there is one gospel at this point? Making sacrifices in the temple hardly goes along with the Gospel of Grace! Why would Paul do this then? Because the Kingdom Gospel required it!

VERSES 27-28: And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, (28)  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. The seven days is a reference to the time required under the Nazarite vow in Num 6:9. However, Jews which were of Asia, most likely from the event in Acts 19:9. Their charges were that Paul teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. Understand that the context of their accusations are distinctly Jewish. 

Two things that are obvious, 1. they are confusing his message to the Gentiles as the same that he preached to the Jews. Not so. This accusation alone, at least in my opinion, proves that Paul preached two gospels. This should give a moment of pause to those who insist on "one gospel". If there is, then Paul is guilty of everything that he is being accused of! 2. The last charge that he brought Greeks into the temple was patently false as Luke will explain in the next verse.

VERSE 29: (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) They had apparently assumed that Paul had entered the temple with Trophimus an Ephesian. Again, this proves that these accusers were from Ephesus. 

VERSE 30: And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. Who needs facts!! Sounds like the morons that are running around today. 

The word moved means agitated. As a result that took Paul and drew him out of the temple. We need to do our own homework folks. "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see."

VERSE 31: And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Their motivations are clear in regards to what they intended to do with Paul exactly what they did with Stephen in Acts 7.

VERSES 32-33: Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. (33)  Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. Well, we now that Agabus was not a false prophet (Acts 21:10-11).

VERSES 34-38: And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. (35)  And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. (36)  For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. (37) And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? (38)  Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? Now Paul requests permission to speak to the chief captain who asked him if he could speak Greek. The question from the guard is more of an act of surprise because it is obvious that Paul asked the question in Greek. 

The captain apparently believed that Paul was an Egyptian who had stirred some people and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers. We are not told why the captain had made this assumption. However, Josephus gives some historical background when he said, "this Egyptian which strikingly accords with the statement here recorded by Luke...came from Egypt to Jerusalem, and said that he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go with him to the Mount of Olives. He said further that he would show them from thence how the walls of Jerusalem would fall down: and he promised them that he would procure for them an entrance through those walls when they were fallen down." He further says that “these he led roundabout 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. But Felix, who was apprised of his movements, marched against him with the Roman soldiers, and defeated him, and killed 400 of them, and took 200 alive. But the Egyptian escaped himself out of the fight, but did not appear anymore.” And for some reason, this Roman captain believes that Paul was him. Most likely because Paul appeared to be stirring the people up as well. 

VERSES 39-40: But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. (40)  And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Paul then assures him that he is not the Egyptian and is instead a Roman citizen and asks permission to address the people. Remember that we talked about how Paul was uniquely Jewish and Roman. It was his trump card. 

Chapter 22

VERSES 1-3: Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (2)  (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) (3)  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Pretty obvious that the guy who did the chapter divisions did not pay close attention to where the commas are. 

Paul is not getting ready to give a defense of himself to the council. The word for defense is apologia which means an answer in regards to the accusations that had been made against him by the Jews that he was teaching them to disregard the Law of Moses. 

Notice also that he spake to them in the Hebrew tongue. I believe he did this because it was their heart language. He points to his education and background as proof that he knows the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and is zealous toward God as ye all are this day.

VERSES 4-5: And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (5)  As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. Now in his defense, he points out just how zealous he was in how he persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.He even points out that the high priests are witnesses that he had received letters to go and bring them bound to Jerusalem to be punished. 

VERSES 6-16: And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. (7)  And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (8)  And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. (9)  And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. (10)  And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (11)  And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. (12)  And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, (13)  Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. (14)  And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. (15)  For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. (16)  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Now Paul just shared a bit of his testimony as to his conversion experience on the Damascus Road. Notice that he says in v.16 that Ananias told Paul that he needed to be baptized to wash away thy sins. This is clearly not a part of the Grace Gospel. However, there is nothing that Paul has said thus far that they would disagree with, but that is about to change. 

Verses 17-18: And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; (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. The event Paul speaks of here is jumping three years forward when Paul visited Jerusalem, disputed with the Grecians (Greek-speaking Jews), and they tried to kill him in Acts 9:26-29. Interestingly, and pertinent to Paul's defense at this point, he was preaching the Kingdom Gospel. Of course, he not received it at that point. 

VERSES 19-20: And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: (20)  And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. Again, Paul is attempting to show that he is one of them. 

VERSE 21: And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And...this is where he lost them. 

VERSES 22-23: And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. (23) And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, Yep, he lost them right after the word Gentiles rolled off his tongue. Notice that the Jews began to cry out, tear off their clothes, and threw dust into the air. That is a lot of vitriol. To me, it is pretty obvious that at this point, they were planning on stoning him (Acts 7:58). As for throwing dirt, it was just a way for them to express their anger and indignation with Paul (2Sam 16:13). 

My question is why did they come unhinged at this point? My answer is that Paul was basically telling them that God had rejected them. No, God was not rejecting them. They were rejecting him and were losing their favored nation status. Today God does not see people as Jews or Gentiles, just believing and unbelieving. Today, Israel has no special status in the dispensation of grace. They will again someday in the Kingdom, but not now. 

I also believe that the Jewish leaders knew the prophecies that spoke of the Jews going to the Gentiles after the Kingdom was established, but did not realize that they had already rejected said Kingdom and God was going to do it another way: Paul. Understand that in the Old Testament, there are no prophecies about the Gentiles hearing the truth before Israel is restored. Again, these are the unsearchable riches of Christ that Paul said has been kept secret since the world began (Eph 3:8). 

VERSE 24: The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. Of course, the Roman captain didn't know what to make of it, so he decided to force some answers out of Paul. 

VERSE 25: And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? Oops, trump card played again!

VERSES 26-29: When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. (27)  Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. (28)  And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. (29)  Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. Unlike what is happening in our society right now, Rome respected citizenship and the rule of law. Paul was also quick to point out that his citizenship was not purchased like the captain's had been. 

VERSE 30: On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them. The next day, to know for sure what the Jews were accusing Paul of, he loosed him and put Paul before the chief priests and counsel.