Sunday, November 12, 2023
Five days [after the Roman troops took Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea,] Ananias, the high priest, arrived with some of the Jewish elders and the lawyer Tertullus, to present their case against Paul to the governor. When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented the charges against Paul in the following address to the governor:
"You have provided a long period of peace for us Jews and with foresight have enacted reforms for us. For all of this, Your Excellency, we are very grateful to you. But I don't want to bore you, so please give me your attention for only a moment. We have found this man to be a troublemaker who is constantly stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes. Furthermore, he was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him. You can find out the truth of our accusations by examining him yourself." Then the other Jews chimed in, declaring that everything Tertullus said was true.
Smooth words can be used to distort the truth and hide an evil heart.* Tertullus, the lawyer, was skilled at using smooth words! His charges were fabricated, distorted, and exaggerated, which Felix should have known from the letter sent by the Roman commander in Jerusalem (Acts 23:25-30). For the Jews, the key charge was that Paul "was trying to desecrate the Temple when we arrested him," which was untrue.** First, Paul had not taken a Gentile into the Temple's inner court; this charge was a misunderstanding of what had happened. Second, the Jewish leaders had not arrested Paul; the Roman commander had rescued Paul from a violent mob in the Temple. For the Romans, the key charge was that Paul was "constantly stirring up riots," which was also untrue. Nevertheless, Tertullus tried to butter up Felix with nice-sounding compliments and tried to use smooth words to accuse Paul. Felix was a skilled politician who recognized smooth words and flattery for what they were. More importantly, Paul's fate was not in the hands of a skilled politician, but in the hands of the LORD, who would get Paul to Rome (Acts 23:11).
* See the first set of Related Scripture Readings.
** See the second set of Related Scripture Readings.
O Father, I know that your will is unstoppable. You will get your servants where they need to be to do your work through them in the world. I am asking that you help me better understand your purpose for my life and better recognize how you are positioning me to serve you most fully. I want you to use me to bless others and make a difference in the world, so please open my eyes to both your purpose for me and your positioning of me to fulfill that purpose to your glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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