The text with which we will be dealing really runs from chapter 21, verse 27, through the end of chapter 22. So it's a rather lengthy passage, and we will only begin to really touch on all that is here. And in weeks to come, we will _____ to accomplish it. But I attest that this morning, even though we are going to be talking about very, very simple historical narrative, that the Spirit of God will use this to be applied to your heart in a very positive way.
You'll notice that I have given you, inside your bulletin there, a little blue insert, Paul the Prisoner, Ambassador in Chains. Now this is just to be a little help that you can kind of carry along with you and kind of refer to as we go, because this helps you to identify the remainder of the book of Acts. This puts in perspective Paul's ministry as a prisoner. He has been free since his ministry began in the 9th chapter of Acts. He has roamed and wandered under the Spirit's direction without any bonds at all. The closest he has come to being a prisoner for any length of time occurred in Philippi, where he was in jail, and the Lord knew it wasn't time yet for his prison ministry, so he sent an earthquake and the whole jail fell apart, and he walked out.
But up until this time, he has been free. But beginning here in chapter 21, he becomes a prisoner. And as a prisoner, we find that he gives six separate defenses of his actions. And I've noted those for you in the top row of boxes there in that little kind of a diagram. The first defense begins in 21:18; the second in 22:30, etcetera, etcetera.
Now, you'll notice that these six defenses are given before the mob; the first one; before the council the second; the third and fourth before the governors who are Felix and Festus; the fifth one before the king, and the last before the Jews. And you'll notice, also, that there are three cities involved, the first two came in Jerusalem, the next in Caesarea and the final in Rome. And the result of the first accused, the next absolved, and the last awaiting trial.
So there you have basically the defenses that Paul gives in regard to himself, and the things, which he has done, which must be answered in terms of those who would accuse him. And so in each case, he defends himself, and of course, uses it as an opportunity to present again the truth which he has proclaimed so faithfully through the years of his ministry.
Now, in our study of chapter 21 this morning, we come to the first of these defenses. And you can look at your chart at a glance, and you'll find it is given before the mob at Jerusalem, and he is accused. So subtitle Paul's First Defense. We would give it the title, "How to give a positive testimony in a negative situation." And really folks, that could be the title of the whole rest of the book of Acts, because it continually is a negative situation in which he gives a positive testimony.
I suppose that every Christian is faced at times with the dilemma of how to give a positive testimony in a negative situation. I imagine that all of us are in negative situation. Now, some of us have been in those situations where we have sort of let out a little peep about our faith and the whole world seems to clamber after us and try to shut us up. And then we face the battle about whether we ought to say anything else.
Now, maybe on the job, you have given indication that you're a Christian, and somebody has rained down fire and brimstone, and so every time the opportunity presents itself to open your mouth, you sort of struggle a little bit inside. Or maybe you're out, as I was the other day. I happened to be playing golf with Matt, and there was a guy that was wanting to play golf with us, and he was kind of loud and anti-religious, and used the name of Jesus Christ quite at liberty. And so inside of myself, I'm saying to myself, "I don't want to talk to that guy about Jesus Christ. Since he is so concerned with talking about Jesus Christ, I ought to be at least willing to join his conversation and maybe turn it another direction." And you know, I battled in my own mind that very problem. And I don't think I said anything to him until the fifth hole, when I finally said, "This is ridiculous."
Here I am discussing with myself whether I ought to intrude in his life with Jesus Christ. And so we were walking along and I just said, "You know, I have to talk to you about Jesus Christ." And he said, "Well, you know, that's important to me. We just had a new baby, and we don't have any faith in our family, and we're looking for one." And so away it went. And so he's the newest member of our tape family. He's sending him tapes.
But you know, all of us have those times we struggle, and it isn't necessarily a negative situation, but it can be created into a negative situation when we fear our ego may get stepped on. But there are some really negative situations. Some of us get into situations where great disaster occurs and then the whole world watches to see whether our faith is any good or not.
How do you give a positive testimony in a negative situation? Well, I think a good way to learn how is to watch a man who did it. And rather than just listen to precepts about it, which we could, and we will recite to you from 1 Peter, I want you to see a man who did that very thing with his life. And see if you can't draw some conclusions with me as we go. Now, most Christian's testimonies are given in church, or in a group of Christians where we get up and tell everybody who knows the Lord how wonderful the Lord is. And we all say, "Yes, He's so wonderful." And we sit back and forth saying it to each other, and the minimum amount of testimony goes on before the God-hating, Christ-rejecting world. And really, maybe that's _____ the maximum. And I'm not downing testimony among believers. It's great for exportation and encouragement.
But as we come to the Apostle Paul, we see a man who knew how to take a negative situation and make it into a positive testimony. Now, if we saw in chapter 20 his courage, and in chapter 21 the first 15 verses or so, his humility, and we saw that even through the message last week on later into the chapter. If we saw those things earlier, what we're going to see now is his boldness. I mean there were ingredients, and there are ingredients that make for a great man. One is conviction, and then the courage to hold up to those convictions. Two is humility, and another one is boldness, and we're going to see that one here.
I think, just to add a footnote, as a prisoner from here on out, we ought to get some idea of how Paul viewed his imprisonment. And just to give you a point of reference at which you can make contact, I would call your attention to Ephesians chapter 3, and verse 1. You don't need to look it up. I'll just read it. It's very brief. Paul says, "For this cause, I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles." Now keep this in the back of your mind: Paul never viewed his situation as anything other than God authored, okay? He never viewed his imprisonment as an imprisonment of men. He doesn't say, "I write unto you, Paul, a prisoner of Rome." He's always a prisoner of whom? Jesus Christ. It was Christ who brought him into such predicaments.
In Philippians he says, "My bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace." He never saw himself as a prisoner of men. He saw himself only as a prisoner of the will of Jesus Christ. And so consequently, his imprisonment represented nothing but a new ministry. It didn't mean the end of anything. It meant the beginning of something. He says to them, "My bonds in Christ are made manifest in all the palace.
And at the end of Philippians, he says, "The saints greet you chiefly that are of Caesar's household." It's just a question of winning people to Christ who were available to be reached through prison. And I love what he says when he says, "I may be bound, but the Gospel is not bound." And so he never says his imprisonment as having anything to do with men, but always with God. And God uses him to give a glorious testimony; positive witness in every one of those trials, even though they were all negative situations.
As we move toward verse 27 of Acts 21, we are reminded that Paul is arrived in Jerusalem. He has tried to conciliate the Jewish Christians. The Jewish Christians there in Jerusalem had heard that he was an arch subversive. That he was anti-Jewish; that he had thrown out all the Jewish customs, and he was against everything that had been the ceremony and tradition of Jewish life, and that wasn't true. Paul was himself still very much Jewish. I mean here he was at the feast of Pentecost. That's observing a feat. He attended the synagogues on the Sabbath. He had taken a Nazarite vow himself in chapter 19, and shaved his own head. He was involved in all of these various things.
The Apostle Paul had not thrown out all of Jewish tradition. He was in transition. It was taking time for those old things to die. They had been engrained so much. But yet, some of the Judaizers that told these Christians he was anti-Judaistic, and so they were a little anti-Paul. And when he arrived in town with all his Gentiles buddies, all of his friends, and he came there with the purpose of bringing the money to the Jerusalem saints because they needed it, and to show love from the gentile’s church, his welcome was good from some, but the others were greatly concerned because the tens of thousands of Jewish Christians thought he was a subversive.
And so in order to kind of change his reputation, they had him go to the temple, fulfill a Nazarite vow with four other guys, pay the bill for the whole thing in hopes that the Jewish Christians would say, "Hey, if he would do that, he's certainly not as anti-Jewish as we've been led to believe." And he did that, and I'm convinced, though the text says nothing about it, that it must've had a positive effect on the Jewish Christians.
Well, it didn't have any effect at all on the Jewish non-Christians. None whatsoever. And we meet them as we're introduced to the mob in verse 27. And like any mob, you know how to describe a mob. A mob is a body of people with no head. And this mob is no different than any other mob. They are a wild, maniacal group of people, who in a frenzy try to murder the Apostle Paul, and they haven't got the foggiest idea what they're doing, or why they're doing it. But that's rather typical of a mob.
Now, our text, which is lengthy, falls into five parts, and it runs all the way through chapter 22, verse 30, just to get the entire first phase of his defense in, that's that full passage. And we're not going to attempt to do that, but just kind of get in on the first couple of things. But it begins with point one, the attack of the mob. The attack of the mob, and we see that beginning in verse 27. "And when the seven days were almost ended." Now you'll recall that we told you last time that the particular Nazarite vow, which was a Jewish way, a Jewish custom way of expressing gratitude to God for a special deliverance; these people who were involved in this vow, who were joined by Paul, needed to finish up a seven-day purification.
At the end of the seven days, they offered sacrifices and it was done. So that is the seven days referred to in verse 27: the seven days of the finishing of the Nazarite vow. "And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews who were of Asia," now that's a reference not to China and but to Asia Minor. And Asia Minor was a Roman province. Asia Minor was a province in which where the city of Ephesus Laodecea, Philadelphia, Thyatyrus, Sardis, Smyrna; those cities referred to in Revelation chapter 2 and 3.
So some Jews who were from Asia, when they say him in the temple, do you think they recognized him? How many years had he spent in Asia in the city of Ephesus? At least three. And in those three years, he had not only a dramatic effect on Ephesus and established a church there, and taught day and night in the school of Tyrannus, but it also created tremendous havoc in the synagogue. So the Jews from Asia may well have met him in the city of Ephesus.
I am convinced in my own mind that they were from Ephesus. The reason is the mention of Asia and the mention of Trophimus in verse 29, who was an Ephesians, and they know him. So the fact that they know Trophimus indicated they must've been somehow connected to Ephesus, and the fact that they were so uptight about Paul indicates they might have been a part of that synagogue in Ephesus that Paul devastated for Christ. He moved into that place, and he wanted even the leader of the synagogue.
So when they saw Paul, these Ephesian or at least these Asia Minor Jews, they really saw their opportunity. Now, there had been a riot back in Ephesus earlier in the book of Acts, and they tried then to kill Paul, but cooler heads prevailed, and they couldn't accomplish it. But now they really saw their opportunity because there was an entire city of Jews. You see, Gentiles had squashed the riot earlier, but now there weren't any Gentiles to do that in the sense of population. It was just a mass of Jews, so they saw their opportunity.
When they saw him in the temple, they stirred up all the people. The interesting thing: The word stirred up, though there are other English statement stirred in the New Testament, the actual Greek word used here is only used here, and it means confused. "They confused the mob." Mobs are always confused, as I just said, and they confused the mob, and they laid hands on Paul. Here's Paul in there finishing up his Nazarite vows, and a whole bunch of these Jews from Ephesus descend on him, grab him, and they stir up the confusion of the mob, and this crying and yelling, verse 28, "Crying out, men of Israel, help."
So they got Paul, and they stirred up a mob. Now when they had a mob in Jerusalem at feast time, I mean they had a mob. Historians tell us it could be 2 million people there. Two million people milling around that city at feast time. Now the term Pentecost, and it was the feast of Pentecost as we've seen in past study, Paul wanted to get there at Pentecost, and that was a time when people really moved in Jerusalem from everywhere. That's why those Asian Jews were there. It signifies the 50th. Penta means 50. This is 50 days after Passover. And it was the Old Testament feast of harvest sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, and sometimes called the Day of First Fruits.
It celebrates the first fruits of the wheat harvest, does Pentecost. And so it was that celebration. But after the exile, it had become kind of a different celebration. It was said that the Torah, the Law, the Law of Moses, was given 50 days after the Exodus. So the feast of Pentecost then became associated with the celebration of the birthday of the Law. Now, mark that because that's very important, because it helps us to understand the attitude of the people. They were in the midst of a celebration of the Law, which means they were celebrating Jewishness to its nth degree. At this particular celebration, the concentration on the Law leads me to conclude two things: One, the fact that Paul wanted to be there indicates that he does revere the Law. In fact, in Romans 7, he said, "I delight in the Law of God." So he wasn't anti-Jewish Law. He wasn't anti-law. In that sense, he delighted in God's Law. But the fact, also secondly that it was a Jewish celebration of the law, means that the crowd was hyper concerned about the Law and it's sanctity.
And so anybody who stood in blatant opposition would be the most flagrant kind of violator of the very thing they were celebrating, and that tends to create the kind of antagonism that this group uses to really try to kill Paul. So they stir up the crowd and the headless mob, and they start yelling, "Help." And of course, that's just as if some blasphemy has occurred, or some terrible defamation of the character of God, or the character of Moses. This is some slander that has occurred, desecration of the sanctuary, and they cry out, 'Men of Israel, Help." And then they announce the problem. "This is the man," and they've got him by now, "that teaches all men everywhere against the people and the Law and this place."
Well, that's a fairly broad indictment, I'd say. "Teaches all men everywhere." That's rather general, and all-inclusive. And notice the accusation, "against the people." First accusation he is anti-Semitic. Now, that would be a little difficult to really accuse an individual of being anti-Semitic when he's a Jew. I mean even the bible says, "No man ever yet hated his own flag." You say, "Why would they accuse him of being anti-Jewish? That is an accusation that is still going on today." Jewish people have never been able to live with the fact of the conversion of a Jew to Christ. You see, because the Jewish person associates his religion with his race, historically.
Now today it's not so much so, but historically Jews connected their religion to their race in a way that was indivisible. And so when somebody gave up his religion, he gave up his race in their minds. That's why you've heard about Jewish people that have come to Christ and been ostracized from their family. So the Jewish mind is tantamount to absolute rejection of Judaism, when in fact, if they knew anything about the Word of God, it's just complete to Judaism because Jesus is the Messiah.
And the one who would reject the Messiah would be rejecting his own Judaism. If you want to know who the real rebel is against Judaism, it's the unbelieving Jew who will not accept his Messiah, not the Christian. The Christian Jew is the one who has accomplished that which God has designed to be accomplished through Judaism; that has faith in his Messiah who has come and died and risen, living, interceding today.
So they first accused him of anti-Semitism, and this is a common thing. I remember preaching on television, and I preached on Jewish conversion. And I probably was a little strong for a television audience, and I tend sometimes to be that way. And I was talking about the fact that Jewish people who had been responsible for the rejection of their own Messiah needed to come to Jesus Christ. And I went on and on, going. Man alive, we got letters you wouldn't believe. There was character defamation threats and there was threats that they were going to get the FCC to put us off the air, and so forth and so forth and so on. And we were accused of anti-Semitism. And the makeup lady who made me up the time when I would do that was Jewish. And the next week she was going _____. I mean it really created a problem, and she didn't want to do our program anymore and all this, simply because to them, to come to Jesus Christ is to reject everything that Judaism is, when in fact it's the very opposite. To reject Jesus Christ is to reject everything that Judaism is.
So they said, "He's against his people, and against the Law." And man alive, at that time of the year at that feast, that kind of accusation would really flip everybody out because they were celebrating the Law. And then they said he's against the Law, they meant he's anti-God. He's anti-Moses. He's anti-biblical. And then to sum it up, "And against this place that is the temple."
You know, at least the mobs in Jerusalem weren't very inconsistent. They always followed the same pattern. Mobs don't really have a lot of brains, but when in Jerusalem, no matter what the occasion, they came up with the same thing. I'm thinking of Acts 6, verse 9. Do you remember an earlier fellow by the name of Stephen? Stephen was a preacher not unlike Paul, and in verse 9, they arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, the Cyrenes and the Alexandrians of them Cilicia and Asia, arguing with Stephen.
Now, various Jewish groups that came from other countries established their own fellowships, their own synagogues. So Stephen was interestingly enough pretty much a preacher to Hellenist Jews; Jews from outside of Jerusalem. Well, they got into an argument with Stephen, but they couldn't handle him. Verse 10 says, "They weren't able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke." He was too much for them. So when you can't argue with somebody on a logical basis, you revert to violence, right? You just beat them up.
So they got some men, and they said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." Blaspheming Moses is something, but God also. "And they stirred up the people, and the elders and the scribes, and came on him and caught him, and dragged him into the council, and they paid off false witnesses." It's amazing how religion is so pure in its own worship, and yet so impure in the dealing with other things. They set up false witnesses. They bribed people to give false testimony. This man ceases not to speak blasphemous words against the holy place." So they accused him of blaspheming the Law, blaspheming God, and blaspheming the temple. And we heard him say, "This Jesus of Nazareth would destroy this place and change the custom which Moses delivered us. And all that sat on the council looked steadfastly on him, and they saw his face, as it had been the face of an angel." That was just a divine rebuke. But they said the same thing essentially back in Acts 21, didn't they, against Paul? And if you want to go back to Jesus, basically they accused him of the very same thing: violating the law.
The accusations were general, however, and they really couldn't do much to the guy for that. So they came up with a specific in verse 28. And further, this is really what he's done that's bad: He brought Greeks into the temple and polluted the holy place. Now that's a very strong accusation. You say, "How do they know he did that?" Well, verse 29 says, "They had seen with him in the city Trophimus, an Ephesian who they supposed Paul had brought into the temple." They didn't see him in the temple, they just assumed and supposed that. That was another lie. They had no evidence. You say, "Maybe Paul did bring him in." No, he didn't. You say, "How do you know he didn't?" Because that would really be stupid. You mean Paul just spent seven days going through a Nazarite vow to convince the Jews that he honored their customs, and then he turns right around and hauls a Gentile in there? I mean give him more credit than that; he's not going to undo in one act all he's done in seven days.
I'll tell you something else: If he had dragged Trophimus in there, he would've dragged him in there at the cost of his life, and he wouldn't have done that to his friend. No, of course Paul didn't take Trophimus into the temple; sacred place. They just _____ it out. Trophimus was a Gentile. It says in verse 29, "He was an Ephesian." And for a Gentile to enter the temple was terrible. The Gentiles could only go to the outer court. In fact since that was true, it became known as the Court of the Gentiles. And between that and the inner court, the next court was called the Court of the Women, and it got that name because the women could go into that court. And then further on in the men went, and then of course the priest and the high priest all the way into the holy of holies. But in the outer court, the Gentiles could go.
Now, between the outer court and the inner court, the Court of the Women, the temple treasury, was a barricade. And periodically, along pillars on the barricade were placed signs. And they were written in two languages, Latin and Greek, so that all the pagans could read them. This is what they said, and interestingly enough, we have found two of those from Herod's temple. Archaeologists discovered one in 1871, another one in 1935, and they both said the same thing: "No man of alien race is to enter within the barricade that goes around the temple. And if anyone is taken in the act, let him know that he has himself to blame for the penalty of death that follows."
Now, anybody who went in there as a Gentile died, and the Romans honored that law. They knew how sacred it was to the Jews. And in fact, it was a way of keeping Gentile religion and Gentile gods and idols out of the temple. It was sort of a stopping point for the intrusion of the system of the world. And they didn't let it be violated. Well, when these guys said they took Greeks into the temple that was just enough to stir up everybody, and give a justification for the murder of Paul.
Now what's interesting in this: Even if Paul had taken Trophimus in there, it would not have been Paul that died, it would've been Trophimus. So it shows that the whole thing was out of whack all the way down the line. Paul couldn't be killed for going in there; he was a Jew. If anybody got killed, it would be the Gentiles who violated it. So the whole thing was a pretense and in all the confusion, the mob had no idea what they were doing, which is like any mob.
Verse 30, "All the city was moved." And of course, if a time of feast, the whole city was outdoors, milling all over, "And they all ran together, took Paul, drew him out of the temple, and at once the doors were shut." They wanted to make sure they got him out of there so they could go on worshipping God, while they killed God's anointed. Amazing how they did this. This is what they did at the trial of Jesus. They wanted to make sure they didn't violate the Sabbath while they executed the Messiah: Made sure they didn't violate any of the things that were going on at that particular time. Didn't want to enter into the house of the Gentiles at all, because they would defile themselves. They stayed outside and screamed for the blood of the Messiah.
Strange confusion of religion. But when you have form without reality, you have absolute chaos. It just can't work. Religious form without reality doesn't make sense. That's what most people's religion is. So we see the attack of the mob. Well, fortunately in the great providence of God, the life of Paul was not yet over, and God had some days yet to extend to his ministry. And so God activated the Romans, and secondly we have the arrest by the Romans.
This is kind of a soldiers to the rescue thing. And it's in verses 31 to 36, and I'll show you what happened. Outside the temple area, now you can just imagine that the temple - well, we can just make this temple the pulpit area. It's a big, huge area. But butted right up against it on the north side was Fort Antonia. And Fort Antonia had a great tower, and from that tower there was a clear observation of the temple court. And it was garrisoned at feast time by at least 1,000 Roman soldiers; highly trained and skilled riot squads.
The one great thing that the Roman Government wanted in its colonies and its possessions was civil order. They didn't tolerate civil disorder. They didn't tolerate it from the people, and any commander who allowed it was in real trouble. And so they had an observation tower to watch because most of what went on in terms of congregating went on in the temple courtyard, and the garrison of at least 1,000 men in the temple right there on the northwest wall of the temple yard.
Well, the soldiers looking down saw what was going on. Verse 31, "As they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band." That's not a musical band, that's the band of soldiers, "that all Jerusalem was in an uproar." Man, they could see that a big deal was going on. They had to get the riot squad ready. These were highly trained men. They were ready to move out. Now, notice the chief captain. The Greek word is chiliarch or chiliarc, and it means a thousand. In fact, the old designation of the millennium was chiliasm, because it's a thousand-year kingdom. Chiliasts were those who believed in the thousand-year literal kingdom. Chiliarch means a thousand, so here was the head of the whole thousand. It's always easy to tell the Roman structure of soldiers just from that. There are centurions. How many would they be over? One hundred; chiliarch, a thousand.
So here was the chief guy, the head of a thousand. His name is given is chapter 23 as Claudius Lysias, and history tells us he was a man of some considerable character and ability. And so he was in charge of this. And so the word came that the whole city was in an uproar, and he acted immediately, and the whole thing didn't take but a matter of minutes. "He immediately took soldiers," verse 32, "and centurions, and ran down into them."
Now, from Fort Antonia to the courtyard was a series of steps so that they could come right down into the courtyard. They didn't have to go around anywhere. Right into it they had access and civil control because of it. So they came barreling down the stairs and bursting through the crowd the soldiers and centurions. And when they saw the chief captain, and apparently old Claudius was standing up there looking over this whole thing and sending the soldiers barreling into the crowd, they stopped beating Paul.
Now you can believe that they had accomplished quite a bit by pummeling him, and pounding him, and kicking him, hitting him with their fists in the face as they had been doing for whatever minutes they had been doing it until the soldiers arrived. But when they got there, the chief captain assumed; he already in his mind by this time had a good idea who this guy was. He was wrong, but he already had an idea. And so he figured "I'll make a formal arrest, and then I'll find out what the charges are."
Verse 33, "Then the chief captain came near, took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains and demanded who he was and what he had done." He assumes that he's guilty of something. He assumes the crowd wouldn't do this unless he was guilty of some crime. I think it's interesting that this is fulfilled prophecy. I can imagine Paul just saying, "Yes, what Agabus told me in Caesarea has come to pass. Go back." Chapter 21, verse 11, "Agabus the prophet said - he came to town, he said, "By a picture that you're going to get down." What did he do? He took Paul's belt, bound his hands and feet. Said, "Thou said the Holy Spirit says. 'The Jews of Jerusalem are going to bind the man that owns the belt and deliver him to the hands of the Gentiles.'"
The prophecy comes to pass. The Jews have captured him. They've got him held, and they deliver him to the Gentiles, who chain him. The prophecy came true. And they did it because they assumed that he was a rebel leader. Well, Romans were good at trying to bring about justice. And so this guy wanted to find out what the demands were that had been made on this man, what he was accused of, who he was, what was going on.
So he demanded who he was and what he had done in verse 33. Typically mob style, here comes the answer in verse 34, "And some cried one thing. Some another among the multitude, and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the barracks." He couldn't get any information out of the crowd. They were all hollering all different things. Typically mob psychology. Nobody had the faintest idea what was going on. They were just in on the thing, and that's how it was, and they were screaming and yelling, and he couldn't get an answer.
So he commanded him to be carried into the barracks. I think as much for the protection of the man as for the trial that would come about. Verse 35 says, "And when he came upon the stairs, they dragged Paul out of the crowd, and they came to those stairs that ascended back up to Fort Antonia. So it was that he was bourn of the soldiers because of the people." They had to put him over their heads, and the soldiers had to carry him up those stairs because the people were pulling and tearing and grabbing at him. The disappointed crowd had been robbed of its prey, and now it was pushing and shoving, and screaming what it had screamed 25 years before to the master, the Messiah.
Look at it, verse 36, "For the multitude of the people followed after crying," what? "Away with him." And that's what they said to Jesus. That means kill him. Kill him. So the screaming of the mob, "Kill him. Kill him." And he can't figure out, the Chiliarch, the chief captain can't, what it is he's done, or even who he is.
But you know what's amazing? In all of this, the Apostle Paul hasn't struggled or said anything. And really, the passage that we just looked at through verse 36 was the last part of last week's sermon that we never got to. And last week, my point was to try to show you the humility of Paul. Remember? Let me remind you of that. I don't know if there's any virtue God helped me to learn this. If there's any virtue as great as humility. It's humility that is usability. It's when I am nothing but an empty vessel that God can fill me. It's when I am just a tool to be used that God can use me. It's when I try to do it myself that I get messed up. Humility, Paul was humble.
Now, I showed you and I remind you that I saw his humility in three great ways in this passage. Number one, he submitted everything to God. When he first comes back in verses 19 and 20, and he's giving the report about his missionary tour, he says unto them, "He declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles." The man did never interject himself into the accomplishment of God. He didn't say, "Look what I did. Look what I did." It was always what God did, absolutely submissive to God. All he wanted to do was glorify God. That's humility. Humility is when I want to glorify God, not myself. And you can tell to what degree you're humble by how hard the struggle is for you to glorify God.
You may say, "Well, I gave God all the glory. It took me three days to finally break through and do it, but I did it." Well, that's one degree of humility. It's determined, I think, a lot by how much struggle you have before you're willing to give Him all the glory. You still want a little for yourself. You haven't learned the lessons of humility. But Paul? All he ever did was, "God did this, and God did this. And I just happened to be a part of it." It was wonderful to see what he was doing submitted to God.
The second thing about his humility: He submitted to God's authority on earth. God had given authority in the church to the elders, and when the elders said, "Paul, do this," he never said one word. He did it. God gave us a classic illustration of a humble man who submitted to God, who submitted to God's authority on earth. And thirdly, he submitted to God's plan, even though it involved suffering. Humility submits to God, to others, and to God's will, even though it involves suffering at the hands of the world. What a man.
So we see the attack of the mob and the arrest by the Romans. But now, we're going to see the apology of Paul. I'm just going to barely get a look at the start of it. The apology of Paul. You say, "What do you mean apology, John?" Well, look at verse 1 in chapter 22, "Men, brethren and fathers, hear ye my defense." The word defense in Greek is apologia, from which we get apology and apologetic. Apologetics is a speech in defense of. And apology is a speech in defense of. Nowadays, an apology has a negative meaning. It used to have a positive meaning.
To give an apology was to give a reason for your behavior or a reason for your faith, or a reason for what you believe in. A speech in defense of; apologia, to speak in behalf of in the Greek. To speak in defense of. So this is his apology, his speech in defense. And I'm telling you, it's exciting. It's biographical; incidentally, it's testimony of his experience and what God has done in his life. But let's watch this: Let's watch how Paul makes an opportunity out of a negative situation, verse 37, "Now, as Paul is being led into the barracks, he said unto the chief captain, 'May I speak unto thee?'" That statement shocked the chief captain. You say, "Why?" He says, "Can you speak Greek?"
Greek was the language of the culture. Greek was the language of the educator. Greek was the language of those who had been outside Jerusalem and educated elsewhere. He was surprised. You say, "Why?" Because in his mind, he thought Paul was nothing but a common rebel rouser. He even had an idea who he was. He had no concept at all that this man was an intelligent, cultured, educated man with Greek upbringing.
And so he says, "Can you speak Greek?" Verse 38, "Are not you that Egyptian who before these days made us an uproar and led us out into the wilderness 4,000 men that were assassins?" Now, you see, he thought in 54 A.D., Josephus says there was some kind of an Egyptian rebel rouser, who went to Jerusalem. Josephus says 30,000 people he led outside the city. The bible says 4,000, so we'll accept the bible. Josephus is a good historian, but when it comes down to God, he's out of his area.
But anyway, here came this guy, who in about 54 A.D., Josephus says was an Egyptian rebel rouser, who got 4,000 assassins, and they were going to just really create havoc in Jerusalem and the governor moved against them, and killed either 200 or 400 of them, and routed them all. And of course, his attempt, this Egyptian, was to murder Jews. He was anti-Jewish. And what's interesting about it is that when they captured, though they captured and killed a total of 600. And when they had done that, the rest escaped, including this leader. And what is fascinating is the whole thing went underground. And this Egyptian continued to lead a band of assassins, who appeared in Jerusalem at feast times, mingled among the crowds carrying daggers, and assassinating people, and then fading into the crowd. Then killing somebody else, and then fading into the crowd.
And always when the feast days occurred, there was the threat of the assassins moving among the people to slaughter the Jews one at a time. Now, when this soldier saw them grabbing Paul, his first assumption was they've caught one of those assassins that mingles in the crowd, maybe that Egyptian himself. Well, that's the conclusion, but of course when Paul said to him in Greek, "Can I speak to the people?" he was shocked because he knew that such an Egyptian rebel rouser would not be cultured enough to speak Greek.
So Paul answered. Paul says, "No, you're wrong. I'm not an Egyptian assassin. I am a man who is a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city." I mean Tarsus wasn't small time, not at all. In fact, Tarsus was ranked anciently with Athens and Alexandria as a city of culture, art and education. And Cilicia was the territory in which Tarsus was the city. And he says, "I am a Jew of Tarsus, the City in Cilicia, citizens of no means city." And he said, "I beseech thee, permit me to speak unto the people."
You know, Paul is a master at holding back. He kind of keeps an ace in the hole all the time. He never lets everything out. Next time he says that, he says, "Uh-huh, I am a man born in Tarsus, the City of Cilicia." But next time he's talking to the Jews, he also adds that, "I was raised and trained in Jerusalem." Now, later on when he needs it, he says, "I was from Tarsus, and I was in Jerusalem, and in addition to that, I am a Roman citizen," and he keeps those little details back until just the right time. And whamo, the master of the application of whatever was needed for the moment. So it just was enough to show this guy he was a cultured, educated man. He's not the Egyptian rebel rouser. And then he says, "I beseech thee, permit me to speak to the people."
Now that took boldness, didn't it? I thought about what I would say. I would say, "I am a man who is a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia. Get me out of here." I mean this is getting hot. But he said, "I would like to say something to these people." Paul only knew how to deal with a situation one way, confrontation, confrontation. You know something exciting about that kind of boldness? Just confront them nose-to-nose.
Well, when they had given him permission, and of course, I'm sure that the tribune - a chief captain is known as a tribune. When the tribune had given him permission, and I'm sure he gave him that permission because he figured, "I’ve got to get to the truth of this thing somehow, so I might as well let him say something and see what he has to say."
So when he'd given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs. Here he is at the top of the stairs, and the crowd has pushed all the way up the stairs, and the soldiers are around Paul. And he stood on the stairs, and he beckoned with the hand, a characteristic of Paul on several occasions in Acts, which means silence. "And when there was a great silence" that's the same term used in Revelation 8:1 for the silence in heaven. "And when there was a great silence, he spoke unto them in a Hebrew tongue, saying" - now let me hasten to add this: Whenever it says "in the Hebrew tongue," it means in the tongue of the Hebrews. It is not Hebrew. It's Aramaic. The language of the Hebrews or the language of the people was Aramaic. Any time in the New Testament, which the exception of Revelation 9:11, and Revelations 16:16 that you see the Hebrew language, it is not Hebrew, but it is the language the Hebrews speak, which was the vernacular of Aramaic, spoken by all Palestinians.
So he spoke to them in their own vernacular. So you see, he was the right man. He knew the Greek that could amiss the guard that he ought to be heard. He knew the language to convince the people they ought to hear what he said. He spoke in their own language, and he gives his defense.
Now, if you want to hear what he says, you're going to have to come back next time. But I'm going to tell you something, I'm not through. I want to show you something else. You say, "John, what does this say unto me?" Now, listen to me. This is the important thing that I want you to get. It's saying how to turn a negative situation into a positive testimony. How do you do that? We're going to see it as we go all the way through, but let me give you the first two things. The first thing is accept the situation as from God, okay? If you're going to turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity, the first thing you do is accept is as a situation from God. God brought this thing to pass. I am a prisoner of Jesus Christ. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Earlier in chapter 20, he said, "I don't know much, except I know when I go to Jerusalem, I'm going to be bound." But he said, "I don't count my life dear unto myself. It doesn't make a bit of difference. None of these things move me. This is God's way of having me fulfill the ministry committed to me by Christ," he says in Acts 20:24. So number one: To turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity, you’ve got to accept the situation as being from God.
You know what most people do with a negative situation? "Oh, God, why have You forsaken me? Where are You? Why do You let the devil do this to me?" No, you accept the situation is from God. Second thing you do is use is as a platform or an opportunity, instead of crawling in a hole, create an opportunity. Two simple things: Accept the situation as from God and use it as an opportunity.
Let me show you an illustration of this from several passages in 1 Peter. 1 Peter 2:19, listen, "For this is thankworthy," or worthy of thanks. "If a man for conscience toward God, endure grief suffering wrongfully." Have you ever thanked the Lord for your grief? Have you ever been abused by the world? Have you ever been knocked around for your Christian faith and said, "Thank you, Lord, what a wonderful blessing this is?"
For what glory is it when you are buffeted for your faults? You certainly can't rejoice in that. But if when you do well and suffer for it you take it patiently, that's acceptable of God. God says, "You're going to have some negative situation and that's good. For here unto where you're called, because Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example that you should follow His step." What do you mean an example? Christ suffered and that's an example to me? Yes, you're going to suffer, too. And the example came in his attitude in how He took the suffering wise. He did no sin. Did He deserve to suffer? No. You're going to suffer when you don't deserve it, too. You're going to be in negative situations that you haven't done anything to get into. But He did no sin. Neither was . But when He was reviled, He reviled not again. He didn't fight back at it.
When He suffered, He threatened not, but He just committed to himself the judges righteously. He just said, "God, you put Me in this position. I accept that it is from you." Jesus is our example. And when you start thinking you've suffered too much, just read Hebrews 12. "You haven't yet suffered unto death. Jesus did." You haven't died suffering yet. Your negative situation isn't that negative. You haven't bourn all the sins of all the world.
Now notice something else in 1 Peter 3, and we'll kind of complete the picture. 1 Peter 3:17, "For it is better if the will of God be so that you suffer for well doing than for evil doing, for Christ also hath once suffered for sins; the just for the unjust." When you think you're the only one in a negative situation and you didn't deserve it, Jesus was there. He was in the negative situation. Verse 12 of chapter 4: Beloved think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to test you as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice as much in you’re partakers of Christ's suffering.
In other words, all through this thing, over and over again in 1 Peter, he says, "Look, you expect suffering at the hands of an ungodly world. You expect negative circumstances because of the evil in the world. Remember that God allows these things. You're going to suffer. Accept it as an opportunity from God." And he says in verse 19 of chapter 4, "Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him, and well doing is under a faithful Creator." When it happens, just commit to yourself and keep on doing what you should be doing.
That's the first thing. The first thing that is to be done in a case of a negative situation is to be accepted as a gift from God. Now, the second thing is to turn it into an opportunity. Let me tell you this: What did Jesus do in the midst of that negative situation? He redeemed you and me, didn't He? He maximized and triumphed in a negative situation, in a way that He couldn't have done in any other situation. That's the example, and that's what Peter meant when he said this: "For His own self, there are sins in His own body on the tree."
In other words, in a negative situation, He accomplished something that could never be accomplished otherwise. I think about the Apostle Peter, when the Sadducees were so upset at him for preaching the resurrection, and the Pharisees were so upset for announcing Jesus Christ was the Messiah, and they just executed Jesus Christ by use of the Romans. And when all the city was in turmoil after he preached, they seized him, and they grabbed him and they said, "We’ll haul you into the Sanhedrin," And they hauled him in and threw him in front of the Sanhedrin, and he says, "Men, I have an announcement to make. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there's none other name under heaven given among men whereby you must be saved." I mean that's taking a negative situation and making an opportunity out of it. He threw Jesus Christ right in the face of those leaders of Israel. That's maximizing the opportunity.
There's only two things, really, that I want to pull out of this text in summation. How do you make a positive testimony in a negative situation? One, you accept the situation as God-given, as His will. Two, you use it to create an opportunity. Peter never got out of a negative situation in the early part of the book of Acts. Paul never gets out of one in the end in the book of Acts. Peter got out of - after Peter preached that sermon, they were so furious, they said, "We absolutely forbid you to preach." And he says, "You judge whether I'll obey you or God." And they beat him up and threw him out, and they had a ______. They said, "Lord, give us more boldness." And the Holy Spirit came upon them. They were filled with boldness, and they spoke the Word, and all kinds of people got saved. They were so ____ they grabbed him and threw him in jail again. And the angel opened the door and let him out. Then he went right back in the temple and started preaching again. Boldness: They took a negative situation, accepted it as God's will, and then created an opportunity. That's how to view it. I pray, God, that some of those opportunities will be as fruitful as these were in the Word of God.
Father, thank You for our time together this morning, for helping us see in this situation that You can work. Lord, all of us have those times of pain and suffering, and those negative situations when we think we could never stand for our faith. But Father, we would pray that You would cause us first of all to realize that whatever the situation, You've allowed it. Even as so clear in the statement as 1 Peter 5:10: "That after we have suffered a while, You will strengthen us, establish us."
Lord help us to be willing to be in a negative situation to turn it positive, to realize it's in that situation that we will have opportunity to do what we would never have opportunity to do elsewhere. Help us to realize that we can confront the world boldly, even as Paul did without fear, because Thou art our strength; to do so willingly and joyously. Give us that kind of commitment. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
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