The DEEP

Be Not Afraid

The secret to great confidence – and great witness.

Acts 24:10-21 (ESV)

And when the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia—they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”

The internet has changed the way people argue; it’s easy to look stuff up now. Thus, it’s always a good idea to invite people to google the facts and confirm what you’re saying. It gives you credibility.

That’s what Paul’s doing here. “You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city.” His whole argument just oozes confidence.

But then, right in the middle of his defense, Paul stops. He’s about to bring up the accusation from the Jews in Asia when it hits him that they’re no-shows. “But some Jews from Asia—.”

Paul was going to argue that their accusation is phony, but noticing their “contempt of court” he says, “They ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me.”

Paul knows that his case is now a slam dunk, so he pokes fun at his accusers while slipping in the gospel. “Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: ‘It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.’”

People on trial don’t usually have this much fun.


Paul’s secret is that he isn’t afraid. He’s not masochistic or something – he hates pain as much as we do – he’s just not afraid. His faith is solid. He knows who’s in control of events and he trusts Him. This gives him a huge advantage. He outwits his enemies because he doesn’t react to threats the way they expect.

Great saints are empowered by their willingness to die for Christ, even if they aren’t martyred. This is the goal of every Christian, not to be martyred but to function at that level. Ask God for that kind of courage.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.