What does it say?
Following the uproar in Ephesus, Paul begins a circuitous journey to Jerusalem that will ultimately end in Rome (Acts 20). From Miletus Paul sends for the leaders of the Ephesian church and pours out his heart to them in the only recorded message of Paul exclusively to believers.
Determined to keep a vow during the feast in Jerusalem, Paul set his trajectory in Acts 21. In Philip the evangelist’s home in Caesarea, a prophet named Agabus and others urge Paul to abandon his plan to go to Jerusalem, fearful that evil awaits him there, but Paul continues forward. Rumors, lies and conspiracies boil over in Jerusalem and Roman troops rescue him from a lynch mob. In Acts 22 Paul’s defense is the story of how he met the resurrected Jesus. As the crowd moves to beat Paul, he appeals to his Roman citizenship and is again saved by the Romans. The next day (Acts 23) Paul appears before the Jewish council and only further infuriates them. The Romans hold Paul in protective custody, but when a plot to kill him is discovered, they move him to the relative safety of Caesarea.
What does it mean?
The depth of relationship between Paul and the Ephesian elders is evident and underscores the significance of human relationships and community in the process of making disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 20). Paul’s commitment to the mission is paramount and believing that God’s Spirit is leading him to Jerusalem, he respectfully goes against the advice of trusted advisors and colleagues (Acts 21).
In face of attackers that would do him harm or worse, Paul’s most powerful defense is his story. With great skill and sensitivity to his audience, Paul recounts how he met the resurrected Christ and the transformation of his life that resulted (Acts 22-23). Two key issues incite his Jewish opponents. The first is Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. They simply cannot see how God’s love could extend beyond their own people. The second bone of contention is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This not only sets Paul apart from his Jewish enemies, but it divides the Pharisees and Sadducees among themselves.
How will I respond?
Can I concisely and effectively tell the story of how I came to faith in Jesus Christ? If not, I will write out my story, edit it and practice it until telling it becomes second nature.