The Trials of Paul (12)
Pray Psalm 115.1-3.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
Sing Psalm 115.1-3.
(Plainfield: Nothing But the Blood of Jesus)
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, "Where is their God on high?"
You rule us, Lord, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Read Acts 25.1-27; meditate on verses 13-27.
1. Who came to Caesarea to welcome Festus to his post?
2. What did Festus say about Paul?
Agrippa arrived in Caesarea to greet Festus, that is, probably to welcome him to his post and make sure he understood who was boss (v. 13). Festus did, and in reporting on the state of things in his jurisdiction, the situation involving Paul came up as a matter of course (v. 14).
Festus was completely baffled by the situation and not sure how to proceed (v. 20). He did not have the same kind of familiarity with Christianity as Felix (v. 19; cf. 24.22). Agrippa, we shall see, is rather more in touch with these matters, and even interested in them. So Agrippa decided to hear Paul’s case for himself (v. 22).
On the very next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived with much pomp (v. 23). There is a difference here, however: This time Paul’s accusers are not present. Had they given up? Or starved?
Festus summarized the case against him, then turned the matter over to Agrippa, who, he hoped, would advise him what to write to Rome in sending Paul on to the emperor (vv. 23-27).
The story is slowing down, but the original story line continues. Luke is communicating the message of the ongoing work of Christ in more ways than just preaching the Gospel, starting churches, and making disciples. He is setting forth a pattern of the sovereign working of Christ which will be ongoing beyond Acts into the days in which we live. As we rest in His sovereignty – even over powerful civil governments – and keep our eyes on Jesus, we will fulfill the calling He has appointed to us.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him” (Acts 25.27).
Did that sentence make anyone else smile? It did me.
You have a prisoner, whose enemies want him dead, but you cannot for the life of you discern what he has done. And so, you have nothing to write home about. Except that the prisoner is a Roman citizen and wants justice. Plus, as an aside, he seems eager to go to Rome to stand trial before Caesar. But for what? What crime has he committed? How has this all gotten so out of hand? And Porcius Festus does not want to appear unprepared in his new posting. Roman displeasure could take a deadly turn. Not much tenure-track in the noble city. Et tu, Brute?
And then there is Paul. He is content to watch God’s will and plan unfold. We know this to be true because we have his words declaring it: “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4.12, 13). Content (Phil. 4.11).
He can respectfully wait while they try to put together a case against him because he wholeheartedly believes this: “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8.33, 34). Resting in God’s sovereignty.
While the Jewish and Roman leaders struggled to condemn him, Paul just waited. And watched. And trusted. And maybe remembered and hummed a learned psalm:
“I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
They shall fall and perish at Your presence.
For You have maintained my right and my cause;
You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.
You have rebuked the nations,
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
O enemy, destructions are finished forever!
And you have destroyed cities; even their memory has perished.
But the LORD shall endure forever…” (Ps. 9.1-7)
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14.27). And Paul wasn’t troubled, nor was he afraid.
If we are ever handed off, like Paul, we too can be content, with no need to be troubled or afraid. Because all Paul’s remembered psalms and verses are equally valid for us!
1. Why is it so important that we always remember, no matter what happens, that Jesus is in charge, Jesus does all things well, and Jesus works all things together for the good of those who love Him?
2. Can you think of a verse of Scripture that especially helps you to remember that Jesus is sovereign? How might you use that verse today?
3. Which believers will you encourage today to keep their eyes on Jesus and their trust in Him?
… the pomp of this appearance was outshone by the real glory of the poor prisoner at the bar. What was the honor of their fine appearance, compared with that of Paul’s wisdom, and grace, and holiness; his courage and constancy in suffering for Christ!Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 25.13-27
Pray Psalm 115.9-18.
Thank God that He thinks of you always. Pray that He will increase in and through you as you work your part of the earth in your Personal Mission Field. Praise Him throughout the day.
Sing Psalm 115.9-18.
(Plainfield: Nothing But the Blood of Jesus)
All who trust in Jesus yield – ever to His Name be glory! –
find in Him their help and shield – ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the Lord! He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Blessings from our gracious Lord – ever to Your Name be glory –
will attend us evermore – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, Lord, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Grant us, Savior, great increase – ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace – ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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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.