ACTS CHAPTER TWENTY THREE


DISSENSION, DIVISION AND DELIVERANCE

SUGGESTED TEACHING OBJECTIVES:

Introduction: Every time God tells a Christian to do something, He adds a promise of reward. Matthew 28:18-20. "Lo, I am with you always." Every time Paul got in trouble as he carried out the great commission, he was consoled by the fact that God was with him. This brings greater consolation than success. We can even be happy and victorious in times of seeming failure when we realize God is present with us. We find this so in this chapter. We find:

The Courage -- Vs. 1-5

Vs. 1 -- "Earnestly beholding." There was no resentment or hatred in this look. He hoped some would be saved. Paul said he had lived conscientiously before God until this time. Paul was in earnest. Even when he persecuted the Christians he thought he was doing right. I Timothy 1:13. He had lived by Jewish standards better than these men even. Philippians 3:16. As a Pharisee he had been unconverted, but there was a heart honestly seeking righteousness, and that is no doubt why he was quickly saved when God spoke to him on the Damascus Road.

Vs. 2-3 -- Ananias was the leader of the seventy member council (Sanhedrin). Paul called him a whited wall. Why? Outside he appeared white and clean and righteous but inside he was unsaved and corrupt and dirty and had a black heart. Just like a wall of rotten boards that have been painted with white paint.

Vs. 4-5 -- It was against the Jewish law to speak thusly to the High Priest and when Paul was made to know that was to whom he had spoken he quickly apologized. Exodus 22:28. Remember, Paul had been beaten and kept in prison unjustly. His righteous indignation caused him to so speak to the High Priest whom he hadn't recognized. Paul had an eye affliction. But he was man enough to apologize. Many a man has the courage to fight but is not man enough to stand up and say, "I was wrong, I apologize."

The Conflict -- Vs. 6-10

Vs. 6 -- The Sadducees were materialists. They didn't believe in the supernatural, in angels nor in the resurrection. They were Sad-You-See. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection. These two groups made up the Sanhedrin. Paul realizing his case was hopeless before this group, decided to divide the enemy over the doctrine of the resurrection. I believe he was seeking an opportunity to preach the resurrection of Christ.

Vs. 7-10 -- Dissension followed by a great division which occurred after Paul's statement. Jesus had promised His followers that He would see that they knew what to say when he was accosted by the enemy and He did here for Paul. Matthew 10:17-19.

Note: We must never cower and be fearful that we will not be prepared before our enemies. God will never leave us nor forsake us and will enable us in time of need.

The division was so great that a great mob fight began. God was still looking out for His servant, so He had the Roman captain ready to deliver Paul.

The Comfort -- Vs. 11

He was carried back into the castle ' out of all this conflict and confusion, where he seemed almost to be "pulled to pieces", his body bruised and mangled, his mind evidently distressed, his heart broken over what seemed altogether absolute defeat and failure and then, Jesus graciously appears and approves and comforts and encourages His faithful servant. Jesus had faced the Sanhedrin and had heard the same cry, "Away with him.   Away with him" Now Jesus assured Paul that he would be taken care of until he reached Rome.

God was telling Paul that he was immortal until his work was done. When He gives us a work to do, He will watch over us until that work is done, if we are faithful.

It was so with Jesus. He was often near death but He said, "My time is not yet come." John 7:6. He went ahead with His work and before any could slay Him there had to come a time when He could say "I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do." John 17:4 What a comfort it is to know that we serve a loving, powerful God who works in the affairs of men on our behalf.

The Conspiracy -- Vs. 12-22

Vs. 12-15 -- Over 40 men vowed to kill Paul. I wonder if these men starved to death. God had promised to protect Paul and these men didn't have a chance to fulfill their evil plans. It is ridiculous to work against God. God's way will triumph in the end and all those who will not submit to God's way are foolish, indeed. cf. Acts 9:5 "kicking against the pricks". Ephesians 2:1-3; II Timothy 2:24-26; John 14:6.

Vs. 16-22 -- This young man was greatly blessed of the Lord. God had him so positioned in life (the nephew of Paul) that He (God) could use him in an important matter. Risking his life for Paul and God, he told the chief captain willingly what he needed to know and as a result God's goal was achieved.

God has tasks for us. Ephesians 2:10. It is no accident that we live where we do and at the time we do. God wants to use us and have our acts written in His record books in heaven.

The Convoy -- Vs. 23-24

What a convoy. What protection. Isaiah 41:10. What an escort for one prisoner. He must be an important person. He is to spend a couple of years at Caesarea and then he will be escorted on to Rome at the Roman Government's expense. We will see that Paul will do more for the Lord as a prisoner of Rome, bound, than any other man in all human history has done, free.

The Romans knew the malice and hatred of the Jews and took these precautions to protect their prisoner. Preachers still need protection today. They need to be surrounded by the prayers of their people, by the love and cooperation of their flock.

The Communication -- Vs. 25-30

The letter was written in a way that would bring a favorable impression of the Roman Captain by Felix . Lysias wanted the governor to know he was taking care of all Roman citizens so he said, "I rescued him when I heard that he was a Roman citizen!" He didn't tell the truth. He did not know until after Paul's arrest that he was a Roman citizen. This is a practice of guile and deceit and is a terrible sin.

The Confinement -- Vs. 31-35

Paul was confined in Herod's Judgement Hall for five days while his future accusers were plotting their attack and coming to make formal charges at Caesarea, a sea coast town.

Conclusion: Summarize the chapter and comment about Paul's troubles, his deliverance and his evident patience. God had told him that his future was in His Hands so Paul was leaving it there and not fretting about his imprisonment. God will take care of our future. Let's not fret and worry about it. Hebrews 13:5,6.