Read Acts 25: 1-12
· V. 4 – Did Festus pick up on their deathly intentions? Or was this simply a matter of a political leader who had both the good sense to not complicate things and the political courage to withstand the crowd’s pressure?
· V. 7 – To be accused, even vigorously, is not to be guilty.
· V. 9 – Alas, Festus isn’t as stout-hearted as we’d hoped. All the more disappointing because it seemed before he might work out of principle.
· V. 10 – Fascinating. Paul appeals to the rule of law (“Caesar’s tribunal”) and also Festus’ grasp of truth despite all the surrounding noise (“know very well”). Very important question: was Paul trusting God while appealing to these lesser claims?
Read Acts 25:13-27
· Reminder: Luke is the author of Acts. Do you wonder how he got ahold of the substance of this conversation.?
· V. 18 – Here are government officials pointing, suggesting, accusing, saying many words… but under scrutiny it turns out there’s nothing to what they’ve been saying. It happens.
· V. 23 – Luke points out the magnificence of Agrippa and Bernice’s entrance in contrast with Paul’s low-key arrival, complete with chains (26: 29). How many times in the scriptures are God’s people trained to not get fooled by the appearance of things?!
· V. 26 – Festus claims he is arranging this meeting between Paul and the visiting dignitaries so they’ll be able to help him provide details to Rome as to why he should send Paul on to their higher court. Help me find something legitimately bad this guy has done. Not exactly how justice should operate!
Read Acts 26: 1-23 – a lengthier reading but there’s no good place in the middle of the sermon to press pause
· VV. 2-3 – Paul is the exact opposite of belligerent here. Respect is good.
· V. 6-8 – What exactly is the “hope of the promise made by God to our fathers”? (See v. 8)
· VV. 9ff – A changed life comes close to being an unanswerable apologetic. Tell people how God has changed you or is changing you! And/or – tell people how Paul changed Paul. Think over the details of what you’d like to say.
· V. 12 – Here the third time that Luke records Paul’s conversion narrative, and the second time in the mouth of Paul. Lesson: the Church should make much of Paul’s conversion. Why is there so much potential there?
· V. 20 – There’s the summons at the end of Paul’s message. Repent! Do repentance stuff!
· VV. 22, 23 – And there’s the basis for the summons: Jesus Christ the fulfillment of Israel’s story.
Read Acts 26: 24-32
· V. 24 – People – his own family! – said Jesus had lost his mind (Mark 3:21). Others claimed Paul had lost his mind. Is the servant greater than his master? And so it goes… Doesn’t have to be true all the time (in fact probably shouldn’t be): but is there anything about your life today that the world finds bewildering… crazy?
· V. 26b – What did Paul mean by “this has not been done in a corner”? He’s making an important point and you should find out the answer.
· V. 28 – Almost like Agrippa is asking himself this as much as he’s asking Paul.
· V. 29 – Here’s some introspection homework: Could you say this about yourself? I wish everyone might be in my situation. Here are words of someone who’s learned the secret of contentment.
Read Acts 27: 1-12
· V. 3 – Luke presents us yet another example of a good-natured unbeliever and government official. Take note reader!
· Throughout this passage notice all the phrases that strike you as purely happenstance: V. 2 – ship…about to sail. V. 4 – Winds were against us… V. 6 – centurion found a ship… (There are others.) That you are being led by God doesn’t mean that it feels like or seems like you’re being led by God. Especially as reckoned at every moment. Sometimes walking with God feels like a clump of good luck, or bad luck, or mixture of the two.
· VV. 9,10 – One has to be careful here. Just because you’re a Christian that doesn’t mean you become a nautical expert, able to advise captains who’ve been out to sea for years. Yet Paul was an apostle and hence might have been given a supernatural insight. More generally for all Christians, years of walking with God and receiving wisdom from Him does give you a feel for things outside your feel of expertise…
Read Acts 27: 13-44
· Throughout much of this incident, the reader again has the sense that things are just happening – “driven along” – and that the God of order and purpose has left the scene. Except sound doctrine tells us that’s not true; it just seems to be true.
· V. 21 – “You should have listened” – well, Paul the Apostle could get away with this. But probably this phrase shouldn’t be our go-to when it happens that we’re shown to have been right. But sometimessome people (our children?) need the reminder that they should have listened. Otherwise, they never get the message.
· V. 20 – “All hope…abandoned.” Sometimes we’re placed in these situations. Why? 2 Corinthians 1: 8-10 – Oh yeah!
· VV. 23,24 – As memory serves, this is the third time that Paul gets the message from heaven to “keep going.” Let these visions serve as encouragement of the same for us.
· V. 25 – a great definition of faith: it will be exactly as I have been told. The exactly is important.
· Big question of this passage: what did the storm accomplish?
Read Acts 28: 1-10
· V. 2 – “unusual kindness.” Through Acts we’re shown that the every human stands in need of the Gospel, even those who exhibit “unusual kindness.”
· V. 4 – It is a mark of paganism to interpret events as demonstrating that one is in or out of God’s favor. Why is this basis of interpretation deeply problematic for a Christian?
· V. 7 – Another example of pagan virtue on display. Don’t slip into the worldview that pagans are marked by continual wicked actions, or even the expectation that Christians are necessarily more virtuous than non- Christians.
· What was accomplished on the island of Malta?