devotion 9-1-15

Acts 25:1 – 12

Three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem 2where the chief priests and the leaders of the Jews gave him a report against Paul. They appealed to him 3and requested, as a favor to them against Paul, to have him transferred to Jerusalem. They were, in fact, planning an ambush to kill him along the way. 4Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5“So,” he said, “let those of you who have the authority come down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them accuse him.” 6After he had stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea; the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7When he arrived, the Jews who had gone down from Jerusalem surrounded him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. 8Paul said in his defense, “I have in no way committed an offense against the law of the Jews, or against the temple, or against the emperor.” 9But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, asked Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be tried there before me on these charges?” 10Paul said, “I am appealing to the emperor’s tribunal; this is where I should be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you very well know. 11Now if I am in the wrong and have committed something for which I deserve to die, I am not trying to escape death; but if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can turn me over to them. I appeal to the emperor.” 12Then Festus, after he had conferred with his council, replied, “You have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go.”

The new governor, Festus, arrives, and he immediately goes up to Jerusalem. The chief priests and leaders of the Jews have waited two years while Paul was protected by Felix. Now they see their opportunity! They appeal to Festus to transfer Paul to Jerusalem, again planning to ambush and kill him along the way. Festus tells them to come with him to Caesarea, to accuse Paul there. They do, and the Jews who go to Caesarea with Festus bring many serious charges against Paul, and again ask that he be tried in Jerusalem. Festus asks Paul if he is willing to go to Jerusalem to face those charges. Paul, knowing they plan to kill him, appeals to the emperor’s court. It is the right of any Roman citizen to do so – and so, Festus says, “You have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go.”

God calls us and uses whatever we bring – for Paul, his education, the fact that he spoke several languages fluently (just in the last chapters, he spoke to the tribune in Greek, and turned and addressed the people in Hebrew), his ability to understand the culture of the Gentile believers, and even his Roman citizenship, all proved useful to God for God’s work. Paul had felt God calling him to go on to Rome; he had written a letter to the Roman churches stating that desire already. Now he will go to Rome, but as a prisoner. And even as a prisoner, Paul’s testimony in Rome will be useful to God’s plan to spread the Gospel.

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