GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD
Hearing the truth but not listening
Jerry A Collins
A significant characteristic of sin is that it enslaves a person. In John Jesus comments everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. Sin is personified as a cruel master. This same picture is used in Romans 6:15-23. 2 Peter says, By what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. It is the idea of the mastery of oneís will by any person, idea or substance. We are not as depraved as we can be. In other words, we are not as sinful in our actions as we can be, but every dimension of our humanity is infiltrated by sin. Every part of our lives is enslaved by, under the dominance of sin. This is why we cannot believe what we are capable of sometimes. Sin has us by the throat. We choke on it and stumble over it. It reaches out to trip us up as we even attempt to run away from it. It blinds us. It binds us. It also deceives us. The Apostle Paulís accusers are bound by their mutual hate for him and his message. Their enslavement to their hatred is evident by their constant conniving to falsely accuse him, use people to get to him, and plans to kill him. We will learn that people enslaved to sin will be motivated by that sin to destroy us. We will also learn what kind of response we must have to this unjust treatment as well as how the Lord uses these situations to accomplish what He has purposed to do.
1. THE ASSASSINATION IS PLOTTED 1-5
1-3: Festus in office for only 3
days is urgently entreated to judge Paulís case in
4-5: But no device formed against
Godís purposes can prosper. Surprisingly, Festus declines to have Paul brot to
2. THE ACCUSATIONS ARE PRESENTED 6-12
6-7: First, he demonstrates his independence by refusing their initial request and in no hurry to go back to Caeserea. Second, once he has returned he wastes no time in giving them the hearing they sought. So, he can now give them their Ďfavorí without being suspected of being too soft on the new job. Now Paulís opponents lodge Ďmany and grevious complaintsí against him. So, if one approach had not worked, they will try another. The accuracy of their accusations are the least of their concerns. Success for their case is everything. Beyond their reach for two years, their recent plot failing, their desperation seen in raising the level of angry accusations. They had reason to be desperate since their defeat had already been predicted by Gamaliel who had warned in Acts 5:39 against fighting against God.
8-11: By contrast Paulís
self-defense is orderly and clear. Taking each accusation he specifically
denies all of them. He is seen in full possession of his senses while his
opponents rave on with their unsubstantiated allegations. The servant of Christ
does not participate in the wild desperation of His enemies. We learn by
example that God has not given him or us
the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of good judgment 2 Timothy
1:7. However, weak their arguments, Felix is swayed unjustly desiring to
ingratiate himself to the Jews at Paulís expense. The pull of what is just over
what is politically expedient emerges as clearly as it had with Felix before
3. THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE HEARING† 13-27
This segment sets the stage for Paulís speech in Acts 26 by recording the visit of King Agrippa and Bernice to Caeserea.
13-22: Here the interest of Agrippa is aroused. After Festus brings Agrippa up to speed, he describes the charges leveled against Paul 18-19 seemingly disinterested in all of it. In we already learned of this doctrine being widely scorned among the intelligent of the day. Aloofness from faith is often the case form those wanting the esteem of the worldly.
23-27: This hearing is being held in hopes of finding something to communicate to the Emporer 26 since it seems irrational to send a prisoner against whom there are no charges specified 27. These words could scarcely be found more condemning to what is going on. It was irrational to do this and to hold a prisoner like that. And so it happens that the case is decided before the prisoner is heard. Injustice all the way around. How many have thrust aside the truth simply not to look foolish before others they deem important!
1. Live for an audience of one only.
2. Expect worldly injustice because of your witness.
3. Confidently trust the Lord to work out His plan as it unfolds.