Summary of passage: Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin to face charges against him. Paul says he has fulfilled his duty to God with a good conscious. The high priest took offense to this statement and had Paul struck. Paul tells Ananias God will strike him down and accuses him of corruption and of violating the law. When told Ananias was the high priest, Paul says he didn’t know that.
Then Paul cleverly divides the Sadducees from the Pharisees by bringing in Jesus whom Luke explains, saying the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection whereas the Pharisees do.
The Pharisees want to release Paul; the Sadducees want him dead. Paul is taken back to the barracks for his own protection where the Lord appears to him at night, saying to take heart for he is to go to Rome.
The Jews plot to kill Paul but Paul’s nephew warns Paul and tells the commander. The commander then arranges for Paul to be transferred to Caesarea via Antipatris to the governor. The governor agrees to hear Paul’s case when his accusers arrive, having Paul kept prisoner in Herod’s palace in the meantime.
6a) The first thing Paul says is “I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience”, meaning he has lived a Godly life and tried to do right so with a good conscious he can say he’s fulfilled God’s will for his life. When any of us can say we’ve fulfilled God’s will for our life, I think we have a high quality of life with God.
b) When Paul was struck for saying something innocuous, he immediately accuses the high priest, Ananias, of being corrupt underneath (whitewashed wall) and he himself violating the law (Deuteronomy 25:1-2 says you must be found guilty before being punished or beaten).
c) Upon being told whom Paul had rebuked (the high priest), Paul backed down according to Exodus 22:28 and curtailed his words.
d) He knows he shouldn’t be beaten unfairly without a trial (Deuteronomy 25:1-2) and he knows he must obey God through obeying the leaders of the day (Exodus 22:28). Further, he knows he is on trial because of his belief in Jesus and that this is also God’s will.
e) Paul is not afraid to throw the law back into their faces. He says he’s on trial because of his belief in Jesus; yet, he also says he is a Pharisee, one of them.
7a) The Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” The Lord told Paul he has more work to do for he must next go to Rome. This must have been great comfort for Paul, knowing he would get out of Jerusalem alive when all these people meant to kill him.
b) I think I need comfort in every aspect of my life because I think I’m failing in a lot of places. I am encouraged and comforted because I know God is here, next to me. He knows where I’m at and He is watching me, guiding me, and helping me to persevere in this race that at times I don’t want to run. He stands by me as He meets me right where I’m at and offers words of comfort and encouragement when I need it most.
8a) God allowed the plot against Paul to be discovered and orchestrated Paul’s escape. God allowed no further harm to come to Paul as he was sneaked out of Jerusalem.
b) They cared enough about him to risk their own lives to enter the barracks to warn Paul and then the commander of the plot against Paul. I’m picturing these barracks as being surrounded by Jews protesting and demanding Paul’s death. Plus, I’m also assuming Paul’s nephew is Jewish and entering a Roman barracks posed a danger to him. Paul was still in contact with his family and they loved him.
Conclusions: Here we see God’s sovereignty at work. He uses Paul to testify before the Sanhedrin to the primacy of Jesus and then protects him because of Paul’s faithfulness. He orchestrates Paul’s escape out of Jerusalem as He himself tells Paul He has more work for him to do in Rome. Paul once again faithfully obeys.
Here’s the best map I could find of Antipatris and Caesarea that also shows Paul’s journey to Rome: