Paul had been told by the Lord that he would be going to Rome and that he would proclaim the Gospel message to the gentiles and to kings. (Rom. 23:11; Acts 9:15) Because God was moving in him and through him in such a profound way, Satan unleashed all of the hounds of hell on him. Gentiles were outraged because his preaching was interfering with their profit margins and their religious and moral way of life. Jews wanted him dead, and some even vowed to not eat until they had killed him. You could say that Paul was a controversial figure in the Roman Empire. However, a more appropriate statement would be that the Gospel message which he proclaimed was the point of controversy – and the controversy stemmed from Satan’s hatred for that message.
In Chapters 24-26 of Acts we see the Apostle Paul in three “trials” in Caesarea. The first involves Felix, the Governor of Judea. The second happens some 2 years later with the new Governor of Judea, Festus. The final “trial” occurs when Paul appears before King Agrippa II and his entourage. In each one of these trials Paul briefly responds to the feeble charges brought against him by Ananias (Chief Priest) and the other Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. However, most of his time is spent on telling those assembled who Jesus is, what Jesus had done for him and all mankind, and what Jesus could do for them.
In the process of these “trials” Paul used a right granted to him as a Roman Citizen – he appealed his case to Rome. Jesus had said that Paul would go to Rome and that he would preach to kings. Now he would have the opportunity to do both at the same time by addressing Caesar himself in Rome. I put the word “trials” in quotes because a trial usually leads to a verdict or outcome. However, in these “trials,” the outcome had already been determined by our sovereign God.
Throughout it all God was guiding Paul, sending Paul, and controlling the circumstances so that Paul was right where he needed to be and Paul did exactly what he needed to do. So it is with us. God is guiding us and sending us and so orchestrating the circumstances of our lives that we might be in the exactly the right place at the right time to proclaim His truth. We must be prepared for those moments – those divine appointments – so that we can be faithful as Paul was faithful to give a defense of the hope that is within us. (1 Peter 3:15)
This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, October 30, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Handouts are also available at: fromthebackporch.org .
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