As we get near the end of the Acts of the Apostles, we learn more about the shipwreck that Paul experiences (2 Cor 11:25; Acts 27). Even though Paul is held bound as a prisoner, it seems he feels like part of the team to make sure they have safe voyage. Paul does nothing to escape injustice. He has visitors who tell him that everyone will be safe on the ship. Continue reading
Within a week after Paul was in the hands of the governor, Ananias was there to make accusations against Paul. He was held in Herod’s praetorium near Caesarea where the governor was. Paul’s accusers gave an eloquent presentation, but nothing of substance. They butter up the governor; they want to cover up their accusation of Paul. The judge, Felix, heard Paul and seemed to favor Paul somewhat. It seems Felix may have been a wise man, but not all pure. He never prosecuted Paul, but was hoping to get a bribe from him. His wife was Jewish, but there is no mention of how she reacted to Paul. Like Herod, who heard John the Baptist, Felix likes to listen to Paul, until Paul talks about God’s judgment. Paul ends up in jail there for two years until Felix dies. Continue reading
The annual Women of Christ Conference, sponsored by the Council of Catholic Women, will be held in Cedarburg, Wisconsin on Saturday, November 3, 2018. This is a special day of reflection and spiritual growth for all Catholic women and features spiritually uplifting speakers, such as Dr. Scott Hahn. St Joseph Church in Freeport will sponsor a chartered bus for this important event with boarding available at TriState Travel facility in Galena, the Stockton Recreation Park and St Joseph in Freeport. The anticipated cost for the bus is $25.00. Conference reservations will be available online beginning in August. Please watch your bulletin for further information regarding the conference, how to register and how to reserve your bus seat. This is a wonderful opportunity to commune with other Catholic women on this faith journey – please mark your calendar now.
Chapter 23 continues the argument and Paul’s ability to preach the gospel. Paul argues that he has remained free from guilt. He is ordered to be struck. Paul brings out that it is unlawful to be ordered to be struck. Then Paul finds out it was the High Priest that orders him to be struck. Continue reading
Paul makes his case in Jerusalem in the beginning of Chapter 22. He starts out by getting their attention. He is not getting attention just to glorify himself; his whole drive is to spread the good news about Jesus. He knows he needs to gain credibility for them to come to know Jesus, so he speaks in Hebrew (v2). My guess would be that he does not have a bad accent. Even when Peter speaks, the others comment on his accent right before he denies Jesus (Mt 26:73). My bet is that since Paul grew up in Jerusalem (v3), he was able speak well. He also drops the name Gamaliel. Gamaliel was a renowned teacher and was highly respected by most Jews at the time. Continue reading
Chapter 21 starts with Paul bouncing around a little while people are more and more aware of his death (v4 & 9-12). The Jews in Jerusalem were plotting to have him killed. Paul’s response is unexpected. Paul says, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? I am prepared not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of our Lord Jesus” (v 13). His faith in Jesus and his purpose in dying drives him on.
He trusts in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. This is enough to inspire most Christians, but his love for Jesus that drives him to death is something that even many Christians would hesitate on. Most people would think Jesus is there to bring nothing but good things. Paul seems to be driven more by love than a promise of good things. He is driven by love to give his love to God by way of sacrifice, and nothing else will do. He looks forward to it, but it is a heroism that few would.
I noticed here a small detail as well. Luke, the writer of this book, is using the word “we.” Luke is present in all these events and so is giving first-hand accounts of these events. Actually, Luke has been with Paul for quite a while. If you noticed, the Acts of the Apostles covers Paul’s life since his conversion. The Acts of the Apostles offers a great summary of Paul’s Christian life. Actually, most of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul’s life once his conversion happens. There is good reason for this.
It ties in to the reason he is about to go through his persecution and what leads to his death. Paul gets arrested, but only after the Jews of Jerusalem try to kill him. Accusations are made against Paul about his handling of the Gentile converts. He does not demand circumcision or any of the other requirements of the law except for the eating of food dedicated to false gods. Paul is the one chosen by God to go and convert the Gentiles. It is through Paul that the rest of the world is called into the fold of the Christ, the anointed one. He is truly living out the call that Jesus gave to the Church He founded: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18-19). Paul exemplifies the mission of the Church even to today.
Paul is driven for this purpose. He is accused of not doing as God commands (v21), but points to the higher command. He points to the unity that Jesus desires for us and only He can give (Eph 4:5). False accusations are given on this account (v 28 &29) but only as the old law had required. Even the Jews who believed did not recognize the authority that Jesus had regarding the law. They still do not see Jesus as God.
I am not sure what this means in Jewish understanding, but I noticed how when they take Paul out of the temple to kill him, the Bible says, “and immediately the gates were closed.” Sounds to me that God was not pleased. It would either mean that no admittance would be given, or the flow of His graces would now be shut. The riot that ensues is the commencement for the death of Paul in Rome. Paul’s death happened because he followed Jesus’ divine will. He exemplifies the Church’s mission to sacrifice and love. Ironically, Paul’s accusers echo Jesus’ death by yelling, “Away with him” (v 36). Paul’s mission, even in death, is united to Jesus.
The last half of Chapter 19 proves the difficulty in the change of culture that needed to happen for people to come to faith in Jesus Christ. A silversmith named Demetrius complained about how Paul was refuting his work, saying that his work was useless. Paul said he made false idols for worship, and that the works of human hands were not gods at all. That would mean Demetrius would be out of a job. A riot was almost started. It was so dangerous, the faithful made sure Paul would not come out and preach. It took some effort for the town clerk to convince the people to do everything through the legal system and not start a riot, which could have put everyone in danger. Continue reading