Preserved Through Chains, Protected by Bonds

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ—the Church—as it was written and recorded in the book of Acts by the physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the twenty-sixth chapter of this New Testament book. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself” (Acts 26:1).

 

            “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: Wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which. Knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and form the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:2-18).

 

            “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:19-23).

 

            “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: and when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar” (Acts 26:24-32).

 

            When you come to this particular chapter you will find the apostle Paul still bound and being held in Caesarea after he had been brought forth from the city of Jerusalem to stand trial before one of the rulers and leaders of that day. What makes this particular narrative so incredibly unique when you take the time to consider it is when you realize that as the apostle Paul and those companions who journeyed with him unto Jerusalem made their way unto the city they would come unto Caesarea and to the house of Philip the evangelist. It would be while there at the house of Philip the evangelist the prophet Agabus from Judaea would come with a prophetic word from the Lord. The word which Agabus would bring forth before and unto the apostle Paul and those in the house of Philip the evangelist was that the man who owned the girdle which he himself had bound his hands and feet with would be bound by the Jews in the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is not only would the man who owned the girdle be bound by the Jews in the midst of the city of Jerusalem but that man would also be delivered unto the Gentiles. It’s actually quite remarkable to consider the fact that even after hearing this prophetic word which had been spoken by Agabus the apostle Paul was not only still willing to journey unto the city of Jerusalem but also be bound by the Jews and even give his life for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus. Those who were present within the house of Philip the evangelist heard the prophetic word that was spoken unto the apostle Paul and they proceeded to entreat the apostle that he not journey unto Jerusalem. The apostle, however, would not only weep but would also ask them why they sought to break his heart with their passionate plea not to go unto the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew and understood how the Spirit had borne witness with his spirit that bonds and afflictions awaited and abided him in whatever city he went.

 

            As you read the words surrounding the journey unto and the arrival at the city of Jerusalem which the apostle Paul and those companions who were with him took you will find that what would begin in the city of Jerusalem would not remain or abide in the midst of the city. It would be in the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul would be seized by certain Jews who had come from Asia and stirred up the crowd there in the midst of the city. These Jews of Asia not only accused the apostle Paul of bringing a Gentile into the Temple of the LORD but they also accused him of teaching doctrine contrary to the Law of Moses, contrary to circumcision, contrary to the Jewish people and even concerning that very place. Because of the words and actions of these Jews of Asia the apostle Paul would be seized by a mob which had been incited and incensed against him. This mob set upon the apostle Paul to beat him and would have beaten him to death were it not for the intervention of the chief captain of the band. It would be the chief captain of the band who would intervene on behalf of the apostle Paul—not only sparing his life but also delivering him out of the hands of the Jews who would have killed him. Were it not for the intervention of the chief captain of the band I am absolutely convinced the Jews would have certainly put the apostle Paul to death there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in these chapters the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the events which unfolded within the life of the apostle Paul after coming unto the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew and understood bonds and afflictions awaited him and that he would indeed be bound by the Jews and yet he was more than willing to be bound and even to give his life for the sake of the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What so amazes me about the words found in this passage of Scripture is when you consider the fact the apostle Paul would indeed be bound in the midst of the city of Jerusalem after the Jews had laid hold of him and set upon him to beat him to death. It would be the captain of the band who would come to the apostle Paul and not only deliver the apostle Paul from the hands of the Jews who would have put him to death but also bind him until it could be determined what crime(s) and offense(s)—if any—he had committed there in the midst of the city. What’s more is it is absolutely incredible that although the apostle Paul would indeed be bound with chains and fetters there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem he would in those bonds continue preaching the word and name of the Lord Jesus. Not only this but as you read these passages of Scripture you will surely find and discover the apostle Paul being able to continue to provide testimony and witness for the sake of the Lord Jesus in the hearing of all the Jews as well as in the hearing of the chief captain of the guard, those soldiers who were under his command, as well as rulers and leaders during those days. I am absolutely captivated with and by the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for the words which we find here bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul’s bonds and chains would and could not keep him from preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus and in fact it would be his bonds and chains that would give him an even greater platform to bring forth testimony of the Lord Jesus.

 

            THE PLATFORM OF BONDS AND CHAINS! THE PULPIT OF AFFLICTION AND SUFFERING! I sit here today thinking about and considering the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul being bound in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and I can’t help but think about the fact that the apostle Paul most likely did not journey unto the city of Jerusalem to teach and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. We know the apostle Paul journeyed unto the Jerusalem that he might arrive there at the time of the day and feast of Pentecost, however, there is something truly spectacular about his being bound there in the city that would offer and afford him a platform with which to provide testimony and witness of the Lord Jesus. In all reality I would dare say that it would be the chains and bonds the apostle Paul experienced there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem were actually means whereby the living and eternal God would raise him up to give testimony concerning the Lord Jesus before all the people. WHEN CHAINS BECOME A PLATFORM! WHEN BONDS BECOME A PULPIT! Oh there is something truly awesome and powerful about the words and language we find here in this passage of Scripture for twice within these chapters you will find the apostle Paul providing testimony concerning the Lord Jesus—and not only concerning the Lord Jesus but also how the Lord Jesus had radically intervened within his life. Consider if you will each of the testimonies the apostle Paul provided concerning the Lord Jesus and His intervention within his own life:

 

            “…And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto t hem in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As alto the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all thigns which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews, which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now thy tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 21:40-22:21).

 

            “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul streteched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the thigns whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my touth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most stratest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authotiy and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:1-23).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to each of these passages—both that which is found in the twenty-second chapter and that which is found in the twenty-sixth chapter—for what is presented before us here is the apostle giving testimony and bearing witness to what the Lord Jesus had done within his life. What I find to be so compelling about the words which the apostle Paul witnessed in these passages of Scripture—both in the city of Jerusalem as well as in Caesarea—is how the apostle Paul would speak of the life which he lived prior to the Lord Jesus appearing unto him at midday as he traveled on the road to Damascus with letters from the chief priests to bring bound any of those who were followers of the way that they might be imprisoned and even put to death. The apostle Paul made it very clear how he was incredibly zealous and made concerning the followers of the way for not only did he wreak havoc and chaos in the midst of and against the church but he also compelled them to blaspheme against the word and name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul persecuted them with relentless fury and fierceness as he imprisoned men and women knowing that they would most certainly put to death. As if this weren’t enough the apostle Paul also spoke of his giving consent to the death of Stephen the martyr as well as giving voice and approval when the saints and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were put to death. The apostle Paul held absolutely no punches when it came to speaking of his past and former life as a Pharisee and how his zeal and fervor would cause him to persecute the church with reckless abandon and fervor.

 

            I have to admit I absolutely love the witness and testimony the apostle Paul gave before the Jews in the city of Jerusalem as well as before Agrippa after he had been bound and brought unto Caesarea. I am absolutely convinced that the chains and bonds with which the apostle Paul had been bound were in and of themselves a powerful platform given unto him that he might bear witness before the Jews—and not only before the Jews but also before rulers, kings, governors and the like. Up until that point in time we know the apostle Paul would teach and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the Jews and Gentiles as he preached the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would up to that point in time preach and teach how circumcision availed nothing in the kingdom of God and how true circumcision is not circumcision of the flesh but circumcision of the heart. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also emphatically declare that no man—regardless of being Jew or Gentiles—was justified according to the Law of Moses nor by works of the Law. The apostle Paul would preach the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life. The apostle Paul would preach that we are justified by faith alone and that whoever confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart the living God raised Him from the dead on the third day would be saved. Moreover the apostle—when writing unto the Corinthian saints—would not only profess and proclaim that we are the temple of the living God but also the temple of the Holy Spirit. Pause for a moment and consider how provocative and offense this would have been to zealous and religious Jews who would devote themselves and their entire lives to observing the Law—and not only observing the Law but also of worshipping at the Temple of the Lord as they would make their annual pilgrimages unto the city of Jerusalem to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

            What we find within these chapters is the apostle Paul not preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus unto Jews and Gentiles in distant cities, towns, villages and regions but rather in Jerusalem and Caesarea. After the apostle Paul was bound by the chief captain of the band and delivered out of the hands of the riotous Jewish mob those chains and bonds would serve as a powerful platform with which he would provide witness unto the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that it would be those bonds and chains which would grant the apostle Paul a powerful witness unto those whom he would perhaps otherwise not stand before. It would be through the bonds and chains the apostle Paul would not only stand before Annas the high priest, and not only Felix and Festus but also before Agrippa as well. Pause for a moment and consider how the Lord not only delivered the apostle Paul out of the hands of the Jews who sought to kill him but also used those chains and bonds as a powerful platform with which the apostle would bear witness before kings, governors and rulers alike. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind the words which we find within these chapters wonderfully demonstrate the truth of the bonds and chains the apostle Paul was bound with would serve as a mighty and powerful platform with which he would bear witness concerning the Lord Jesus.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth of the apostle Paul and how his bonds and chains would provide for him the means to bear witness and give testimony before the most powerful rulers in the land during those days. Both in the city of Jerusalem as well as in Caesarea the apostle Paul would bear witness and give testimony of the Lord Jesus before those whom he perhaps otherwise would not have given witness. We dare not miss and lose sight of this for upon reading the words found in these chapters we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul being bound with chains and shackles and held in prison that the truth of whatever crime(s) and offense(s) he might have committed would be known. There is something absolutely astonishing about the words and language that is found here in these passages for they bring us face to face with the truly remarkable and powerful picture of the chains and bonds the apostle Paul found himself being bound with being transformed into a powerful platform for him to bear witness and give testimony concerning the Lord Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it would appear that with each passing day and the more the apostle Paul remained in bonds—and not only in bonds but also kept under arrest and in prison—he would have the opportunity to stand before rulers, kings, governors and leaders of that present generation. It is absolutely incredible to read the words which are found in these chapters for within them we find the apostle Paul being granted an audience before individuals he perhaps would otherwise not have been able to stand before. In all reality I would dare say the bonds and chains with which the apostle Paul was bound with would be the means with which the Lord Jesus would raise up the apostle Paul to stand before the most powerful rulers and leaders of that generation.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in these chapters the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the narrative of the apostle Paul and that were it not for these bonds and chains he perhaps would have otherwise not been able to stand before these rulers and leaders. There is not a doubt in my mind the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally delivered the apostle Paul unto these chains and bonds that through them he might be able to provide witness and give testimony of the Lord Jesus. We would like to think the apostle Paul would have perhaps been able to stand before kings, governors, rulers and leaders alike without chains, shackles and bonds and yet the truth of the matter is that the Lord Jesus would use those bonds and chains as the means to place the apostle Paul before those to whom he would give witness. I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the witness and testimony of the apostle Paul before the rulers, governors and kings of that day was not only a means of bearing witness of the Lord Jesus but also as an indictment against the rulers of that present day. You will recall in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms the psalmist speaks of the kings and rulers of the nations setting themselves up against the Lord and against His anointed. The entire second chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms is an indictment against the nations and peoples as well as the kings and rulers of that day as they raise themselves up against the Holy One and against His anointed in a futile attempt to cast off their authority. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms beginning with the first verse:

 

            “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: The Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vest them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:1-12).

 

            As you read the words which are presented in this passage of Scripture you will find the psalmist speaking of the kings of the earth setting themselves, and the rulers taking counsel together against the LORD and against his anointed. The sole purpose for this united and joint effort to set themselves and take counsel together against the LORD and his anointed is to break their bands asunder and to cast away their cords from them. What makes this truly remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to consider the words and language here is that you almost get the sense that while the kings and rulers seek to break the bands and cast away the cords of the LORD and of his anointed in their midst the LORD will allow His saints and servants to be bound themselves as a witness unto and against them. I can’t help but wonder and get the strong impression when reading these words that the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally allowed the apostle Paul to be placed in bonds—and not only be placed in bonds but also embrace and accept those bonds—as a witness and testimony unto and against the rulers of that present age. We know that through His suffering, death and burial Jesus made a spectacle of and went to war against the rulers and principalities in the spiritual realm and I can’t help but feel that what we are witnessing here in these chapters is the Lord Jesus using the apostle Paul through his bonds to provide a witness unto the rulers of that present generation. I can’t help but get the strong sense when reading these chapters that the Lord Jesus allowed the apostle Paul to be bound with chains and bonds that through his being bound he might bear witness against and unto the rulers of that day. It’s important to realize that in his bonds the apostle Paul not only stood before the high priest and not only stood before governors but also stood before king Agrippa as well.

 

 

            THE INDICTMENT OF BONDS! THE WITNESS OF CHAINS! THE INDICTMENTS OF BONDS AND THE WITNESS OF CHAINS! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for within them we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul and the tremendous witness of the chains and bonds with which he had been bound. In addition to the apostle Paul being granted a platform through his bonds and chains I would also dare say that his bonds and chains were a witness and indictment even against the rulers and leaders of that present generation. Oh there is something incredibly powerful about the chains and bonds of the apostle Paul for those chains and bonds would themselves provide a powerful witness of the Lord Jesus before kings and governors but would also stand as a powerful indictment before, against and upon them. It would be the Jews who themselves would first set upon the apostle Paul and beat him until the chief captain of the band intervened and delivered the apostle out of their hands. This is important for us to recognize and realize for it brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the Lord Jesus would indeed use the bonds and chains of the apostle Paul to place him before kings and rulers and governors almost as if to be a witness unto and against them. I do firmly believe the Lord Jesus deliberately and intentionally placed the apostle Paul before kings, governors and rulers alike that he might bear witness unto and concerning Himself but based on the words which are recorded in the second chapter of the poetic book of the Psalms I would dare say that the chains and bonds of the apostle Paul were used as a means to place one who was willing to accept his bonds before those who had perhaps thought to live their lives outside of and out from under the bonds and cords of the Holy One.

 

            I continue to read the words which are found within these chapters and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the apostle Paul and his being bound with chains and bonds. The apostle Paul would indeed be bound with chains and bonds as it would be determined and ascertained whether or not he was guilty of any crime(s) or offense(s) worthy of death. The Jews cried out for the death of the apostle Paul and declared that he had committed crimes and offenses worthy of death and yet what is so astonishing about these chapters is that just as Pontius Pilate found no fault or wrongdoing in the Lord Jesus so also did none of the rulers before whom the apostle Paul stood find any wrongdoing or offense in him. Despite the ignoble and unrelenting attempt of the Jews to accuse the apostle Paul of crimes and offenses worthy of death those before whom he stood would find absolutely no wrongdoing or offense having been committed by him. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in these chapters and not only find the apostle Paul standing before the rulers of that present day and giving witness concerning the Lord Jesus but also being found innocent of any crime(s) and offense(s) of which he had been accused. Much like his Lord was found innocent in the sight of Pontius Pilate on more than one occasion the apostle Paul would himself be found innocent and not having been guilty of any wrongdoing or offenses with which the Jews sought to accuse him. It’s actually quite remarkable to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and encounter the apostle Paul standing before the religious rulers and leaders of that present generation accused of the Jews and yet the more the apostle Paul bore witness of the Lord Jesus the more it became evident that he was in fact guilty of no wrongdoing or crime.

            The further I delve into these final chapters of the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth the apostle Paul was not brought before rulers and kings and governors alike so much so to defend himself of any crimes or wrongdoings he would be accused of but to bear witness of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would indeed stand before some of the most powerful rulers of that present day and on two different occasions he would actually rehearse his former manner of life and conversation prior to the Lord Jesus appearing to him on the road to Damascus. There were at least two instances where the apostle Paul used his bonds and chains as means to present a powerful witness before those who would hear the words he would speak concerning those crimes for which he had been accused. Perhaps the question we must needs ask ourselves when reading the words found in these chapters is whether or not the apostle Paul was more concerned with defending himself than he was bearing witness of the Lord Jesus. If I am being honest with myself and you who might be reading these words I would dare say the apostle Paul recognized his bonds and chains as a powerful means to bear witness of the Lord Jesus as he would stand before governors, rulers and kings a like giving testimony and bearing witness for himself and of the Lord Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for with it we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul and the bonds and afflictions he faced within the city of Jerusalem as well as within Caesarea. In fact, I feel it necessary to call and draw your attention to the actions of those in authority during those days and how they were used as instruments in the hand of the Lord Jesus to grant unto the apostle Paul to grant him a powerful platform and witness before those who held positions and titles of authority during those days:

 

            “And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? Art not thou that Egyptians, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murders? But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.  And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue” (Acts 21:30-40).

 

            “And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priest and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them” (Acts 22:22-30).

 

            “And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes thaty were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulleld in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle” (Acts 23:1-10).

 

            “So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; and provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysiias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause therefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell” (Acts 23:22-30).

            “Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall”  (Acts 23:31-34).

 

            “And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. And when he was called forth began to accuse him” (Acts 24:12).

 

            “Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but wtelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: neither can they prove the thigns whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. Who ought to have been here before thee, and object,  if they had ought against me. Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day” (Acts 24:10-21).

 

            “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound” (Acts 24:22-27).

 

            “Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to. Kill him. But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, to down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to obe brought. And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous comoplaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. But Festus willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? Unto Caesar shalt thou go” (Acts 25:1-12).

 

            “And after certain days Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. And when they had been there many days, Festus declare Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: but had certain que stions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. But when Paul had appealed  to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow said he, thou shalt hear him” (Acts 25:13-22).

           

            “And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festsus’ commandment was Paul brought forth. And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us,  ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him” (Acts 25:23-27).

 

            It is absolutely necessary to consider each of these passages of Scripture for within them we are brought face to face with the apostle Paul beginning in the city of Jerusalem where he would stand before the chief captain of the band and the Jews themselves. It’s quite remarkable to read the words in these chapters and consider how the apostle Paul would be brought forth from the city of Jerusalem because of a conspiracy and plot that was hatched to put him to death stealthily and privily without others knowing about it. I find it absolutely incredible to consider how the hand of the Lord was upon the apostle Paul and how not only did he deliver him out of the hands of the Jews who set themselves upon him to beat him but the Lord also delivered the apostle Paul from the conspiracy and plot to put him to death. It would be this plot to put the apostle Paul to death that would ultimately bring the apostle Paul forth from the midst of the city of Jerusalem and unto Caesarea. .There at Caesarea the apostle Paul would not only stand before Felix but would also stand before Annas the high priest, Festus and Agrippa. Within a two year span of time the apostle Paul would find himself giving witness before the high priest, the chief captains, the Roman governor as well as king Agrippa. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the bonds and chains which the apostle Paul had experienced and found himself bound with in the city of Jerusalem would ultimately result in his being given an audience before political and religious rulers and leaders during those days. It would be the bonds and chains with which the apostle Paul would be bound that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed set him before rulers and leaders alike that he might bear witness and provide testimony concerning the Lord Jesus.

 

            As I bring this writing a close I find it absolutely necessary to once more call and draw your attention to the tremendous platform Paul’s bonds and chains had afforded and provided him. There is not a doubt in my mind that were it not for the revolt of the Jews against the apostle Paul in the city of Jerusalem and even the conspiracy and plot against him he might not have had an audience with Felix, Festus, Agrippa and Annas in Caesarea. It would be there in Caesarea where the apostle Paul would bear witness of the Lord Jesus after having borne witness concerning Him in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be there in Caesarea the apostle Paul would bear witness and testimony of the Lord Jesus before Agrippa and Festus—Festus who presumed the apostle Paul to be mad while Agrippa professed unto the apostle Paul that he almost persuaded him to become a Christian. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in these chapters it’s how the Lord Jesus not only delivered the apostle Paul out of the hands of the Jews who would have beaten him to death but how the Lord Jesus also delivered the apostle Paul out of two distinct plots and conspiracies against him to put him to death. In the midst of all this the Lord Jesus would indeed appear unto the apostle Paul and encourage him to not be fearful for as he bore witness of Him in Jerusalem so also must he bear witness of Him in Rome. It is absolutely incredible to read the words found within these passages and see a man who was willing to be bound and who even embraced those bonds and how the bonds themselves afforded him the ability to stand before rulers and leaders during those days.

 

It is truly something to read the words contained within these chapters and come face to face with the tremendous truth that the living God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. Not only this but these chapters bring us face to face with the truth that afflictions, chains, bonds, suffering and the like can indeed be radically transformed into a powerful instrument in the hand of the living God whereby we might bear witness concerning the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would indeed be bound with chains and would be held by the rulers and leaders of that day and it’s almost as the Lord was protecting and preserving him through those bonds and chains. PRESERVED THROUGH BONDS! PROTECTED BY CHAINS! While it would be incredibly easy to read these words and think of the bonds and chains which the apostle Paul faced as somehow being something negative within his life I am compelled to call your attention to the tremendous truth surrounding those chains and bonds and how they were actually used in the hand of the Lord Jesus—not only to grant the apostle Paul a platform to speak unto rulers, kings and leaders of that day but also to protect and preserve him. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this tremendous truth for more often than not we tend to think that those things we face within our lives are for our destruction. The truth of the matter, however, is that those things we face within our lives are actually tools and instruments which are being used in the hand of the living God to protect and preserve us. Even the captivity and exile of the people of God in the land of the Chaldeans was used to preserve them in the earth during a seventy year period of time until they could be brought forth from the midst of their captivity and exile. Oh that we would be a people who would not only embrace whatever bonds, chains, afflictions, troubles and tribulations we face but also that we might recognize how they can be and are being used in the hand of the living God and the Lord Jesus to bring forth a powerful witness and testimony of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the earth.

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