July 8, 2016
When Felix, the Roman governor over Judea, heard Paul’s testimony, he accused him of being “out of his mind.” Felix recognized Paul as an educated man, referring to his “great learning” (v.24). Yet, Paul’s report of his vision of the resurrected Christ was too much for the Roman governor. He dismissed it as insanity. Paul’s response was notable. He replied that his testimony was both “true and rational.”
This reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ observation that the testimony concerning Jesus as the Christ can only rightly be answered in one of three ways:
1) It was false and Jesus knew it = Jesus was a LIAR.
2) It was false and Jesus didn’t know it = Jesus was a LUNATIC.
3) It is TRUE and Jesus proved it = JESUS IS LORD!
Felix dismissed Paul’s testimony as lunacy. Yet, many others believed. The truth is, many are “out of their minds” in this world. However, it isn’t those who believe, but those who reject Jesus as Lord, who have been given over to a “debased mind” (Rom.1:28).
July 6, 2016
Paul’s defense before the Roman governor Felix was simple, yet profound. While it was aimed at showing that he affirmed the same Scriptures and God that his accusers did, it also had the effect of elevating even the governor’s awareness that there was a court higher than Rome’s. Paul’s hope was in God. Not in Rome, nor Jerusalem. But in God alone. The only judge in whom he hoped to find favor was the Lord and his hope was secured in Christ as his advocate.
July 5, 2016
Paul testified one last time before the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, but their hearts continued to be hardened. After being arrested by the Roman authorities, he heard Christ’s call to be encouraged and to set his sights on Rome. It seems that Paul’s final assignment was to testify of Jesus to those in authority in Rome. Paul had planted churches throughout Asia Minor and Greece, but his final mission was to represent Christ before the world’s greatest political leader, namely Caesar. If one viewed history only through a 1st-century lens, it would seem that Paul’s mission was a failure. Sure, he appeared before Caesar, but it ended with Paul’s execution. However, by the 3rd century, the Roman empire, including its emperor, had embraced Christianity.
July 3, 2016
Even though Paul was beaten and falsely accused by a mob in Jerusalem, he was still determined to tell them the story of his conversion on the road to Damascus. The only reason he was in the Temple area was because the apostle James had asked him to take part in a Jewish purification rite in order to show his observance of the law to those who accused him otherwise. Paul’s submission to Christ and to the apostle James is in view here. Paul was a man under authority. So, when his life was threatened, instead of making a plea for his own life, he made a plea for those who persecuted him, that they might hear and believe the gospel.
June 30, 2016
Have you ever fallen asleep during a sermon? Eutychus did and it nearly cost him his life. Fortunately for him, the Word came to him a second time and he awoke from the dead. Whether it was Paul’s overlong preaching, for he preached “even till daybreak,” or it was Eutychus’ lack of receptivity remains unclear. But one thing appears certain. Eutychus stayed awake for the rest of Paul’s sermon. 🙂
June 29, 2016
A riot broke out in Ephesus because the followers of the “Way” (A 1st-century description of Christ-followers) were accused of causing a decline in the sales of Diana figures made by the local silversmiths. The teachings of Christ had begun to influence the citizens of Ephesus and the region of Asia Minor to the point that it even affected their spending habits. Several Christians were dragged into the 25,000 seat Ephesian theater by the rioting mob. When one of the Christians named Alexander tried to make a verbal defense, the mob shouted him down. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to offer a reasoned defense of Christianity to a frenzied mob. Yet, today the city of Ephesus with its sexually perverted temple to Diana lies in ruins, while the followers of the Way continue. This should cause us to take heart when today’s Diana worshipers are shouting so loud.
June 27, 2016
When Paul met the Jewish tent-making couple, Aquila and Priscilla, in the city of Corinth, he found true partners in ministry and work. Paul was a bivocational church-planter and he needed work that provided a sufficient income with flexible hours. By joining with Aquila and Priscilla he found both. In Corinth he was given the flexibility to work and preach in one of Rome’s largest and richest cities. The couple even offered him accommodations in their home. When we think of Paul’s more famous gospel partners like Barnabas, Silas and Timothy, let us not forget his strategic partnership with Aquila and Priscilla. Christian business owners are often God’s provision for supporting and advancing the gospel. And they often become missionaries themselves, just as Aquila and Pricilla did as they followed Paul back to Ephesus and helped in the ministry there. Are you a tentmaker?
June 26, 2016
The Jews of Thessalonica that rejected Paul’s message formed a mob and dragged some of the believers before the city authorities. The accusation? Those “who have turned the world upside down” have now come to our city!” What they didn’t understand was that it wasn’t the men who were changing things, but the message. Furthermore, the world wasn’t being turned “upside down,” but right side up. For wherever the gospel is received, things are made right. O, that the gospel would turn this world upside down!
June 25, 2016
Luke, the human author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, included himself in the story of Paul’s journey to Philippi and his missionary work there. Although he never mentioned himself by name, he did change from his usual third person “they,” to the first person “we.” There are three “we” sections in Acts: 16:10-18, 20:4-21:19, and 27:1-28:30. Apparently, Luke traveled with Paul, Silas and Timothy from Troas to Philippi and then remained in Philippi after they left. Most of Luke’s writing in both Luke and Acts were from his interviews of eye witnesses and of his “orderly account” (Luke 1:3) of the same. Yet, in a few instances, Luke was himself an eyewitness. Luke, the “beloved physician,” as Paul called him (Col. 4:14), was too modest to even sign his name to his writings. Yet, nearly one third of our New Testament would be missing without his obedience to the Spirit’s inspiration. Luke, was there with Paul when they went down to the river outside of Philippi to pray.
June 24, 2016
The movement of the gospel from the Middle East into Europe began with a woman named Lydia. She heard the Good News from the apostle Paul while gathering with a women’s prayer group by the Krenides River outside the city of Philippi. Apparently, there wasn’t a sufficient population of Jews living there to establish a synagogue, so Lydia gathered with some local women to pray on the Sabbath. Can you imagine her delight when Paul, Silas and Timothy sat down near them and began to preach? Perhaps she had been praying for sometime for someone to come and open the Scriptures to them. And now, the Lord had answered her prayer. After receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, she was baptized, and so was her whole household. Her home became the first base of operations for the Philippi church as she insisted on the apostles staying in her house. Amazing how God first called a business woman to help open up the gospel to the Western world!