Human Responsibility in Adversity—Example from Paul

Perseverance and Diligence through Faith of God

Having received God’s promise of a positive end to his persecution, Paul persevered through subsequent trials and presented his case diligently while showing respect for others, authority, and due process. His interactions during the period reinforce our understanding that faith of God’s intervention motivates human effort and should encourage us to have patience and work diligently while relating to others in accordance with our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation.

CLICK PICTURE TO PLAY VIDEO

Download or Play Audio

Download PDF

 

 

 


Transferred to Caesarea under high security
Transferred to Caesarea under high security
YoMinistry.com freebibleimages.org

Our study series on Responding to Adversity continues with a discussion of Paul’s response to events in Jerusalem and Caesarea following Christ’s promise that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome. The events began with a conspiracy in Jerusalem against Paul’s life, his transfer to the governor’s custody in Caesarea, and subsequent trials before the governor. Paul persevered through the events with patience and showed respect for authority and due process through his interactions with Roman commander Claudius Lysias, Governor Felix, and Jewish representatives constituted to make a case against him in Caesarea. He responded to relentless persecution by defending himself diligently while respectful of other persons, authority, and due process (i.e., in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation).

Paul’s interactions in these events convey a special meaning because he had received a promise from God that the persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” [Acts 23:11]. His interactions following the promise show a motivation to do what he could to defend himself against his accusers, convince relevant authority that he did nothing wrong, and do these while showing respect for authority and due process. His actions provide a message that faith of God’s intervention motivates perseverance and diligence. That is, the promise of God’s intervention should make a person evaluate every situation to determine what needs to be done and apply best effort toward doing it, because God may often fulfill his promise through what we do.

Angel releases Peter from prison
Angel releases Peter from prison but leaves him to flee from Harod by himself
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

As we discuss in a previous bible study under Peter Escapes from Herod’s Prison, God provides input to solving our problems but expects us to apply human effort in order to be prepared and positioned to accept his input. Because the nature and timing of his intervention are generally not known a priori, we have to seek solutions by doing what we can with faith of God intervening at his chosen time and in his chosen way.

Paul received God’s promise that his persecution will take him to a positive end in Rome, but did not know how or when he would go to Rome. However, he knew he had a promise from God and will get to its fulfillment by applying his human effort and relating to people with humility and respect.

In jail despite postponed judgment
In jail despite postponed judgment
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Therefore, he persevered through the crisis, worked diligently through the trials, and did so while respectful of others in a way to uphold the meaning of his commitment to worship and serve God in every situation. Also, we have encountered similar response in adversity through previous bible studies such as under Living to Receive God’s Intervention and Mordecai Triumphs Over Adversity. Each of the examples illustrate a person persevering through adversity by working diligently to resolve problems, relating to others in accordance with the principles of living in the image of God, and arriving at a glorious fulfillment of God’s promise.

We discuss the relentless persecution of Paul and his interactions with the authorities and his accusers during the period following his encounter with Christ while in detention in Jerusalem.

Relentless Persecution

After Paul’s hearing before the Sanhedrin (as we discuss in a previous bible study under Comfort in Adversity), a group of people conspired to kill him. The conspiracy was hatched the next day after the hearing by a group of more than forty men that later convinced chief priests and elders to join them [Acts 23:15]: “Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.” However, Paul was informed of the conspiracy and referred the information to the Roman commander. The commander transferred him under heightened security to the custody of Governor Felix in Caesarea.

Lawyer states case against Paul
Lawyer states case against Paul
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

A delegation of Jewish leaders followed Paul to Caesarea five days later and brought charges against him in a trial convened by the governor, as we discuss subsequently in this study. But they were unsuccessful against him as the governor postponed judgment. Two years later, after Governor Festus took over from Felix, Jewish leaders raised their case against Paul again, requesting the new governor to send him back to Jerusalem as they revived the conspiracy to kill him in an ambush: “They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way” [Acts 25:3]. The new governor instead convened a trial in Caesarea, at which the Jews brought charges but were unsuccessful against Paul.

They were relentless in their effort to convince the Roman authorities to return Paul into their control so they could kill him. Paul defended himself diligently each time as we discuss next.

Trial Before Governor Felix

In the first trial in Caesarea, before Governor Felix, the Jewish leaders presented their charges against Paul in a brief four-point accusation. Their case was presented by a lawyer named Tertullus. They accused that Paul was a troublemaker, stirred up riot among Jews all over the world, ringleader of the “Nazarene sect,” and tried to desecrate the temple [Acts 24:5–6].

Paul defends himself before Gov Felix
Paul defends himself before Gov Felix
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Although their charges were brief, Paul took the accusations seriously and responded to each of them in detail [Acts 24:10–21]. He denied their accusations that he was a troublemaker that incited riot among Jews, explaining they arrested him while he was in Jerusalem to worship and he did not argue with anyone at the temple or stir up a crowd anywhere. However, he acknowledged he worshiped God and shared beliefs with his accusers [Acts 24:14-15]: “However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”

He argued his belief in resurrection of the dead could be the whole case against him, though his accusers had made up other accusations [Acts 24:17–20]: “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin.”

After Paul presented his defense, the governor postponed judgment and adjourned the hearing: “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case” [Acts 24:22].

Interactions with Governor Felix

Paul meets with Gov Felix and wife
Paul meets with Gov Felix and wife
Sweet Publishing freebibleimages.org

Governor Felix met with Paul several times thereafter, with his wife on at least one occasion. Apparently, the governor expected Paul to offer him bribe: “At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him” [Acts 24:26]. However, Paul did not offer any bribe. Instead, he used the opportunity to preach the gospel to Felix: “As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you’” [Acts 24:25].

 

Summary of What We Learned

Having received God’s promise of a positive end to his persecution, Paul persevered through subsequent trials and presented his case diligently while showing respect for others, authority, and due process. His interactions during the period reinforce our understanding that faith of God’s intervention motivates human effort and should encourage us to have patience and work diligently while relating to others in accordance with our commitment to worship and serve God in every situation.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK , listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK . You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s