Read This Week: Acts 23

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him. – Acts 23:11, 27-30 NIV

We live in an accusatory world. The daily headlines are seemingly dominated by stories of accusations, allegations, and indictment of someone. The stories range from criminal to scandalous to centered around personality disputes and political affiliations. Accusations are serious things and can often lead to the destruction of a person’s life and work even if the allegations are false.

In Acts 23, Paul finds himself dealing with some false accusations and charges from the Jewish community because they did not like his preaching faith in Jesus. Because of these baseless allegations, he was nearly killed, arrested by the Roman government, and would have to stand trial before the Sanhedrin. Because his countrymen did not like or agree with his message, they sought to slander, stop and even end his life. This ancient story seems to parallel modern society.

Alleged wrongdoing, threats, and charges of conspiracy were nothing new for Paul. His life had been filled with allegations, false charges, and danger from the beginning of his ministry. The Hellenistic Jews tried to kill him during his first visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:29), and he was driven out of Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:50-51) and threatened in Iconium (Acts 14:5). He was stoned in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20), and the Jews tried to get him arrested before in Corinth (Acts 18:12-17).

Through it all, Paul was not deterred or hindered in his mission. He knew the gospel, and the proclamation of saving faith in Jesus for all was bigger than the allegations, accusations, and attempts of the world to stop it. God always delivered him, preserved his name and ministry, and did so again here. Verses 28-30 tell us of Claudius Lysias, the Roman commander intervening on Paul’s behalf:

This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him… I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once.

The word allegedly means to be “accused but not proven or something that is questionably true.” In our current world, the term has taken on the new meaning of assumed guilt without proof. This is a scary proposition for followers of Jesus and those who hold to, espouse, and communicate a message that is not popular or liked by the forces of our day. Yet, God intervenes on behalf of His children, and He makes way for them to continue their mission. The gospel and the kingdom will always be more powerful than empty allegations and attempts to stop the advancement of truth.

As we read this chapter, it is hard not to be impressed with the commitment of Paul to his calling. He did not look for the easy way out and he didn’t cower in the face of lies, false assumptions, and persecution from alleged wrongdoing. He was willing to suffer it all, become a prisoner, and even die for the gospel. We also see the incredible providence of God as He cares for, protects, and shields His servants from allegations that aren’t true. May we be encouraged that He will do the same for us.

8 Comments

  1. Jeri Centers on March 24, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    I got a poem from Acts 23 verse 11:

    We all need encouragement on this journey we call life
    We all need a stretched-out hand to help us daily.

    For it can be a painful trip if we don’t help one another
    The tough times are easier when they are done together.

    We all need some motivation, on this voyage to get to heaven
    We all need an inspiration boost when our hearts are down-laden.

    What that means to me is that we all need encouragement, as we make our journey with God and each other.

    • Jason on March 31, 2021 at 2:03 pm

      I love this, Jeri. Encouragement is such a needed thing in our lives yet it is something that seems to be in short supply in our communities. I appreciate this line from your poem:

      We all need encouragement on this journey we call life
      We all need a stretched-out hand to help us daily.

      We all need encouragement and I hope we’ll encourage each other on the journey. It helps daily as you said.

  2. Kathy on March 25, 2021 at 8:58 am

    In reading Acts 23, this was what God was saying to me, “I know where you are today, even if you are hiding it from everyone else. I am with you in the darkness of the night, when sometimes you feel the most alone. I am with you at all times. You are not alone. You want me to deliver you out of your circumstances when I want to meet you right in your circumstances. I want to meet you in whatever you face at the moment.

    Things may be looking really bad right now, but I am still on the throne. I promised that “All things work together for good to those who love Me.” Do not forget this promise. Trust Me wherever you are. Your responsibility is to bring My word to others and to testify of Jesus. The results are My responsibility. As a Christian, there will always be more for you to do. I want you to “finish the course” I have appointed you.

    It reassures me to know I am never alone. God is with me even though I can’t see Him. He knows what I feel; He knows what I hide. I know I have to finish the course He has for me, and He will be with me through the journey of bringing others to Him.

    • Jason on April 1, 2021 at 11:05 am

      I appreciate this post, Kathy. This line in regard to Romans 8:28: Do not forget this promise. Trust Me wherever you are. Remembering this promise is so key to faith and obedience in hard times and just day-to-day on the journey. Remembering this promise is being able to see on the other side of the mountain. Thank you for pointing this truth out. It is a great reminder.

  3. Heidi on March 26, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Acts 23:11 says, And [that same] following night the Lord stood beside Paul and said, Take courage, Paul, for as you have borne faithful witness concerning Me at Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.

    Jesus knew what Paul needed to hear at that moment to continue to do God’s work in sharing the good news. He needed courage and the Lord was there for him. We all need encouragement today also because there will always be people who will try to stop us from sharing, or don’t want to hear the good news. But we have to continue to testify and share Jesus because we never know who is going to respond.

    I hear God saying to me through this, like Paul continue to to testify, stay faithful, and remember I am with you always. Thank you, God you are always with us.

    • Jason on April 1, 2021 at 11:13 am

      I love the theme of encouragement this week that is running throughout these posts, Heidi. God seems to be communicating this strongly through the people of Reach. I especially liked this:

      We all need encouragement today also because there will always be people who will try to stop us from sharing, or don’t want to hear the good news. But we have to continue to testify and share Jesus because we never know who is going to respond.

      The Bible speaks a lot of encouragement and it should be a regular part of the Christian’s personal and relational life. Furthermore, when the Holy Spirit can lead us to encourage without a desire for reciprocation or receiving it back is when we know God is doing work in our lives and truly leading us to encourage people at a deep, Christ-like level.

  4. Alma Dolores Schmidt on March 29, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    I have a song this week from Acts 23:

    Praising you, praising you
    We are praising you, our Father.

    Standing next to you being faithful
    You give us courage, strength, and the power to not have fear.

    We are praising you, praising you
    We are praising you, our Lord.

    we need not run away but always run towards our Lord
    Who is waiting with his arms wide open
    Giving us what we need

    Praising you, praising you
    We are praising you, our Father. Amen.

    We are truly blessed to have God and know we can come to Him in any circumstance. I am thankful for all He does.

    • Jason on March 31, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      I love the promises contained in your lyrics, Alma. This was my favorite one:

      Standing next to you being faithful
      You give us courage, strength, and the power to not have fear.

      God gives us the power to not be anxious and fearful in the face of our circumstances as well as the proactive resolve, courage, and strength to walk through them.

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