Not only have the Sadducees been silenced by the resurrection of Jesus and the preaching of the apostles, they seem to have lost all their desire to oppose the gospel. Gamaliel, a Pharisee, warned the Sanhedrin against violent opposition to the gospel, because they might be opposing God. Now all the Pharisees are standing with Paul and against the Sadducees. How amazing is that?
The commander must now put down yet another riot, all on account of Paul (or so it seemed). He called in the troops and restored order, putting Paul in confinement in the barracks (away from the Sadducees). Roman soldiers spare Paul’s life once again. I suspect that Claudius Lysias intended to give his next move much more thought. However, we will soon see that he won’t be granted this luxury.
“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome’” —Acts 23:11
Wait a minute. Think about how Paul must have felt. Against the counsel of his fellow-believers, Paul pressed on to Rome and what happened? He first met with the church leaders and embraced their counsel to prove he still maintained his Hebrew faith. Well that did not prove to be a success because it ended up in false charges; a riot; and an attempt to take his life. His efforts to address the crowd by sharing his testimony did not go well either—another riot; another attempt to kill him. He escaped an “interrogation” (beating) by claiming his rights as a Roman citizen, but then he was taken before the Sanhedrin. While the Pharisees supported him, they did not officially declare him innocent and release him. In addition, there was another riot and another attempt on his life. If you look at all that, the believers in Ephesus were correct. Paul should have stayed there. Or should he have?
We believers have a very narrow view of things. If Paul’s trip had proved to be a success, where hundreds came to the Lord and hundreds more were healed, it would have been “God’s will.” So obviously, Paul screwed up on this. He truly missed God on this.
We look at these kinds of things from a very distorted point of view. When I was Pastoring there was a brother he always determined God’s guidance on the circumstance around him. He he signed a contract, or settle a business deal, and the sun was shining, he knew the Lord endorsed it. I’m serious. However, the exact same deal would have been wrong if it had been overcast or raining.
When we hear everything that has happened to Paul, we want to cry out, “When was this all going to end?” We sit and wonder why his innocence wasn’t obvious to everybody else? Why wasn’t he free to go about the ministry he had up to this point? Was he to blame for his circumstances? He had made all the decisions that brought him to this place. Paul must have been discouraged as he sat in confinement, pondering his life. It is at the low point—perhaps the lowest point since he had come to faith in Jesus—that our Lord appeared to him. Now this is important. Let’s look at this visitation a little.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts