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The Scriptorium

Oh, Right, Another Plot

The sovereignty of Jesus at work. Acts 23.11-22

The Trials of Paul (4)

Pray Psalm 24.1, 2.
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

Sing Psalm 24.1, 2.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
The earth is the Lord’s, as is all it contains; the world and its peoples He daily sustains.
He founded it fast on the seas long ago, and bid gentle rivers throughout it to flow.

Read Acts 23.1-22; meditate on verses 11-22.


1. What did Jesus promise Paul?

2. What were the Jews planning to do?

Jesus appeared to Paul to encourage him (v. 11). We note that Jesus did not extricate Paul from this situation, as He had done for Peter and others of the apostles. He was content to let Paul stay put, and He told him both to “be of good cheer” and that he was going to Rome.

Jesus was arranging the details of Paul’s safe and economical transport to Rome. Paul had previously, from Corinth, told the Romans he was planning to come to see them (Rom. 15). That would have meant a good bit of expense for him and probably Luke and maybe one or two others. What better way to get to Rome free of charge than on the Romans’ lira?

Another plot against Paul. Yawn. The ridiculous oath of these Jews would leave “more than forty” of them hungry (vv. 12-14). But their action shows that hatred of Paul was widespread. People wanted him dead, and even the religious leaders of the people were willing to conspire with this murderous plot (v.15). Standing for the Gospel is serious business.

So how did Paul’s nephew find out about this (v. 16)? We don’t know. And why were the Romans so willing to receive his report and believe it (vv. 17-22)? Would we not have expected Roman bravado to say, “We can handle this, young man”? The king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand, as we know (Prov. 21.1).

The report of this plot was the commander’s opportunity to be done with this man and his troublesome presence. As we shall see, he immediately prepared to move Paul out of the city. Meanwhile, are those grumbling tummies we hear in the background?

The Lord Jesus begins moving the pieces in the game of getting Paul to Rome safely and economically. In the same way, the Lord protects, guides, keeps, and provides for us as we faithfully obey His calling and Word.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
It is a sweet and awesome thing to contemplate the fact that the Lord Jesus thinks about us in the same way that He thought about Paul. We, too, can hear these words from our beloved Savior: “Be of good cheer, _____; for as you have testified for Me in ______, so you must also bear witness at _____.” (Acts 23.11) We can fill in our own names and trials and cities. He sees. He cares. He leads and guides us, as well.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Is. 43.1).
“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me. When as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139.16).
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jer. 1.5)
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29.11).
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great are the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you You” (Ps. 139.17, 18).
“LORD, I hope for Your salvation, and I do Your commandments” (Ps.119.166).

“The Lord Jesus begins moving the pieces in the game of getting Paul to Rome safely and economically. In the same way, the Lord protects, guides, keeps, and provides for us as we faithfully obey His calling and Word.”

For reflection
1. How do you know that God guides, keeps, and provides for you day by day? Whom have you told about this lately?

2. How could Paul be “of good cheer” in the midst of all he was facing? How does this counsel you?

3. Whom can you encourage today with the litany of verses in today’s Treasure section?

God has instruments for every work. The natural abilities and moral virtues of the heathens often have been employed to protect his persecuted servants. Even the men of the world can discern between the conscientious conduct of upright believers, and the zeal of false professors, though they disregard or understand not their doctrinal principles. All hearts are in God’s hand, and those are blessed who put their trust in him, and commit their ways unto him. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 23.25-35

Pray Psalm 24.7-10.
In prayer, open all the “gates” of your soul – your thoughts, affections, and priorities – and call on the Lord to make His Presence known there. See Him in all His regal glory. Seek the filling of His Spirit. Call on Him to rule in and through you today as you work your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 24.7-10.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
O lift up your heads, all you gates of the soul, for the Savior would enter and render you whole!
The Lord strong and mighty in battle draws nigh; He rules in His glory above us on high.

O Who is this King, Who approaches our gate? His might is before us, His glory is great!
This King is the Lord of all glory above, Who comes to indwell us in mercy and love!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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