Week Thirty-two Day One

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The Story: Week Thirty-two – Day One

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 30 begins with Paul’s intention to go up to Jerusalem. A side note: Because Jerusalem was located on a mountain, you always went up to Jerusalem – no matter what direction you were traveling.

Luke records their stops along the way. Paul met with the elders of the church of Ephesus (but not in Ephesus). He encouraged them to continue to be bold in their proclamation of the Gospel. He used his own work among them as an example. Paul never failed to preach even though he faced many trials and much opposition. When they arrive in Caesarea and meets with the Christians there, a prophet tells him that he will be imprisoned by the Jews in Jerusalem. They plead with Paul not to go, but he tells them that he ready to die for the Gospel rather than shrink back in fear.

This sets the stage for all that will follow.

The Story: Week Thirty-two – Day Two

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is in Jerusalem and is well received by the Christians living there. They want to hear about what God has accomplished with the Gentiles through Paul. They would be excited to hear about the many converts to the faith, the worshipping communities begun and growing both in Asia and in Europe.

But there are also those who would not receive such news with joy. When Paul goes to the temple, they stir up the crowd against him. While they are beating him, the Romans garrison comes and rescues him from the crowd. Paul prevails upon the centurion to allow him to speak to the crowd. He then gives a summary of his life – his origins, his schooling (in Jerusalem with Gamaliel), his zealous devotion to persecuting followers of the Way. Then he goes on to share his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road. When he gets to God sending him to the Gentiles, the crowd again wants to kill him.

The Roman commander once again takes him inside the barracks to flog him. Paul tells him that he (Paul) is a Roman citizen. God is at work through all of this to preserve Paul because He was going to send him to Rome. The Roman commander decides to send him to Caesarea to stand before the Roman governor.

Another threat arises against God’s plans. About 40 men take an oath to go without food until they kill Paul. They work with the leaders of the Sanhedrin to bring Paul to the Council so that they can kill him on the way. When the Roman commander finds out about this plan, he orders a guard of 200 foot soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen to take Paul to Caesarea. God is at work to complete His plan to get Paul to Rome.

Another side note here is that Pilate could have done the same thing with Jesus. He could have put together an escort to take Jesus (an innocent man) out of Jerusalem and beyond the reach of those who wanted Him dead. But that would have undone God’s plan for saving His creation from the destructive power of sin. When they (Jesus’ accusers) put Pilate’s career in jeopardy, he relents and delivers Jesus to them to be crucified.

Paul is now in Caesarea and awaiting a hearing before Felix and his accusers who have been summoned to appear in Caesarea. Tomorrow we will see the next step in God’s plan to get Paul to Rome.

It is always easier to see God working His plan in retrospect rather than as we go through the events. Perhaps our prayer should be that God would give us eyes to see His hand at work in our lives as He walks with us through whatever events we encounter in our journey of faith.

The Story: Week Thirty-two – Day Three
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul remained in Caesarea for more than two years. When the Jews brought a request to the new governor Festus to have Paul brought to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar. As a Roman citizen, he would now have to appear before Caesar in Rome.

The rest of this section details the events that led to Paul ending up in Rome. It wasn’t a pleasure cruise by any stretch of the imagination. The owners of the ship and the cargo forced the crew to sail on even though they were beyond the time of safe travel on the Mediterranean Sea.

A storm of hurricane force came upon them and resulted in them spending days trying to save both themselves and the cargo. In the midst of the storm, Paul tells the crew that they will all survive because Paul has been told by an angel that he will indeed appear in Rome. God is at work to bring His plan to completion.

In the process, the ship is lost. Paul and the crew swim or float on debris to the island of Malta. From there they travel on to Rome. Paul is placed under house arrest – which is not a bad thing. His trial is not heard immediately because Nero, who was Caesar at the time, was not in Rome – and wouldn’t return for a couple years. While Paul waits, he is not inactive.

We’ll take a look at that tomorrow.

The Story: Week Thirty-two – Day Four

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This portion of Chapter 30 includes Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It was written while he was under house arrest in Rome. In this letter Paul recounts how God worked among them to bring them to faith. He reminds them that God’s plan of salvation was put in place before the foundations of the world were formed.

He reminds them that they became part of that plan when they were called to faith by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel that Paul proclaimed. They (and we) have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is God’s gift. Paul encourages them to continue to live in that gift.

We are also reminded that we are God’s workmanship. His work in us did not stop when He called us to faith. He intends to conform us to the image of Jesus. He comes to us where we are. He accepts us just as we are – right where we are. But He loves us too much to leave us there.

We are His workmanship created in Christ to do the good works that He has prepared beforehand for us to do. We are called to be active participants in His mission to seek and save the lost. That was His plan before the foundations of the world were made. Those good works are intended to display God’s glory – to witness to His saving work – to make us living testimonies to that saving work so that those we encounter might see those good works and be drawn to God and the life He freely gives.

The Story: Week Thirty-two – Day Five
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The end of Chapter 30 begins with a note describing the travels of Paul that occurred after his house arrest in Rome concluded in AD 62. At the conclusion of his letter to the Romans, Paul mentions his desire to travel to Spain and spread the gospel there. Though there is no written record of his travels, it is believed that he indeed went on to Spain from Rome. As he was traveling back through Greece, Paul was arrested again and taken to Rome.

During this second imprisonment in Rome (not under house arrest but chained in a dungeon like a common criminal), Paul wrote a second letter to Timothy. To quote from Chapter 30: “Here, the beloved apostle pours out his heart with a mixture of loneliness, tenacious faith and concern for his fellow believers during this time of persecution under Nero.

He writes to Timothy telling him not to be ashamed of the gospel. He encourages him to live in the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ – to rely on that and His presence through His Word. He reminds Timothy that he has known from infancy the Holy Scriptures which have made him wise for salvation through faith in Jesus. He tells Timothy to rely on that Word. Even though Paul is in chains, the Word of God is not and can never be chained. It is living and active and will always accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.

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