Arrested! For most people, being arrested would mean the end of their lives, time to give up and throw in the towel, life is over, who would ever want to employ me again after my stay behind bars. But Paul was not 'most people.' Paul was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and a student of God's Holy Spirit. What did being arrested mean for loud-mouth Paul, who couldn't stop talking about the new King in town? It meant a captive audience in front of the most higher-ups anyone in those days could imagine. Having to speak to these leaders would have most of us shaking in our sandals, but not Paul. He couldn't believe this blessing and he used it to the fullest advantage he could. Paul taught us, as Christians, how to behave in front of the kind of captive audience that holds our lives in their hands. An analysis of Paul's behavior and responses during the five trials he had to endure are examined below.
First, the Jews took their shot at Paulliterally. In trying to kill him, Paul defended himself by reminding the Jews that he was also as Jewish as they were. Then the Romans took their shot at Paul for citing a riot among the Jews in the Temple by trying to lynch and flog him, until he shouted that he was also a Roman citizen as well. Upon his release, Paul stood before the Sanhedrin who, again, tried to kill him, but their plot was interrupted by Paul's relatives who quickly went to the Romans to protect Paul from their wrath. In a vision, the Lord told Paul that he would get his chance to go to Rome to proclaim Jesus there. Knowing Paul, he couldn't wait to get there!
During the trial before Ananias the high priest, Ananias commanded that Paul be struck across the mouth for comparing his good conscience in following God's laws with Ananias' bad conscience in breaking those same laws knowingly (Acts 23:2). Albert Barnes (n. d.), in his "Notes on the New Testament", remarked that "The anger of Ananias was excited, because Paul affirmed that all that he had done had been with a good conscience. The injustice of the command of Ananias is apparent to all. A similar instance of violence occurred on the trial of the Saviour." Paul, angrily, but righteously gave God the right to judge Ananias' apparent lack of obedience (Acts 23:3).
Paul's first real trial came in front of Felix, the governor of Caesarea. Ananias, the high priest, told Felix that Paul was a troublemaker and aroused the people to rioting because of his words of another king that was now in the world higher than Caesar. When it was his turn to speak, Paul stepped right in and told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and defended himself with it, well enough that Felix, who knew all about the proclamation of Jesus, invited his wife to hear Paul speak. Still, it was not enough to keep Paul out of prison (Acts 24:5-26). After those two years, Paul stood before Festus, Felix's successor, and gave an accounting of his innocence among the Jews and with Caesar. But Paul had his sights on speaking with Caesar and demanded to be heard before Caesar's court, the highest court of Rome Acts 25:8-11).
In Caesar's court, Paul stood before King Agrippa and his wife, Bernice. After an opening statement from Festus about Paul's innocence and lack of accusers, King Agrippa asked to speak with Paul himself. Paul, being Paul, gave a blazing account of his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus and told Agrippa the same gospel that he spoke of everywhere he went. When he was done, even the King though about becoming a Christian and then had Paul released (Acts 26:30-31).
In all of his trials, Paul spoke the simple truth about who he was and who it was that gave him the calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Because Paul knew that if anything happened to him, including death, he would have gone to be with Jesus. This gave Paul the boldness to speak without fear of what could happen to him. Matthew Henry (n. d.), in his "Concise Bible Commentary" says that "The manner of his (Paul's) speaking plainly shows what holy security and serenity of mind he enjoyed." It almost seems as if Paul was elated about being in front of these important people, because, if he could have convinced a King to convert to Christianity, the people of the King would have followed his lead. Paul set up his speeches in such a way that made sure he steered them to get him to the next plateau, onto the next highest authority within the Roman territories. Succeeding every time, Paul must have praised Jesus for each step he made that brought him closer and closer to the royal throne of Rome. We can almost see Paul hopping and skipping in joy all the way to the top knowing that the Holy Spirit was with him each step of the way. In these trials, Paul has taught us how to proceed in our own witness for Jesus Christ boldly and without fear. For our protector is Jesus, the greatest protector known to man.
Barnes, A. (n.d.). Barnes' notes on the new testament. Database 2012 WORDsearch Corp.
Henry, M. (n.d.). Matthew henry concise bible commentary. Database 2011 WORDsearch Corp.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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