Paul’s Lame Excuse

In Your Bible: Acts 22 and 23

In Jerusalem Paul tells the crowd greeting him what God has done through him in Asia Minor. Then he was arrested, lashed and taken before the Jewish high council. No guilt is found against Paul, yet he confronts the high priest. Paul would witness to the glory of God in Rome, whatever the cost.

Paul Arrested

Paul is encouraged by his welcome in Jerusalem. However, again trouble visited him by a boisterous crowd. After he is arrested and lashed by Roman soldiers, he reveals he’s a Roman citizen. This changes everything for the commander of Roman soldiers who demands Paul be taken to the priest and high Council.

Before the High Council

Paul stood before the high council and defended himself. He said. . . “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth (Acts 23: 1,2 NASB). This brutality was for the disrespect Paul displayed.

Paul, retorted . . . “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law, order me to be struck?” (Acts 23: 3 NASB). Paul defended his outrageous accusation and said . . . “I didn’t realize he was the high priest” (Acts 23:5 NASB).

Paul, how could you not know? He did know that he should respect the high priest. After the lashing by the Roman soldiers, he seemed to focus only on himself. Maybe we too would be in a dazed state under such stress.

You may have heard this accusation is against the priests, pharisees and sadducees often in sermons. Really the point here really is Paul cannot stand these religious leaders missing what God is doing among the Gentiles. What a shame.

Now two sets of people, the crowd and the high council were in an uproar. This initiated the need to call the Roman officers to calm the raucous crowd. They imprisoned Paul that night for his own safety.

God Ministers to Paul

When Paul was in prison that night, the Lord said to him . . . “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also” (Acts 23:11 NASB). Paul would witness to the glory of God in Rome, whatever the cost.

Prayer: Father, help me be a witness to your glory and grace daily.

Questions: When was the last time you blurted out something you knew was wrong the instant you said it? When has someone has come to your rescue in a trying situation?

A Nazirite Vow

In Your Bible Acts 21: 15-26

After more than three years in Asia Minor Paul, impelled by the Holy Spirit, returned to Jerusalem and was received with JOY. But resistance arose among the Jews. Paul took the Nazirite vow – it was more convincing than words he could say.

Joyous Welcome

The believers received Paul gladly. When he met with James and the elders of the church Jerusalem, he gave a detailed account of the things God accomplished among the Gentiles. Upon hearing this, everyone praised God. Even with this joyous testimony, some old accusations arose against Paul.

Nazirite Vow

Paul previously agreed to the guidance and a letter given by the Council (see Acts 15:24-28 NLT). New Gentile believers must adhere to only a few Jewish customs:

  • Abstain from eating food offered to idols
  • Abstain from consuming blood or meat of strangled animals
  • Abstain from sexual immorality

But again, some Jewish believers in Jerusalem complained that Paul still taught Gentile converts to ignore the laws of Moses. How could Paul show them differently?

The Council said . . .

Do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law (Acts 21:23,24 NASB).

He eagerly agreed to the purification ceremony also known as the Nazirite vow (see it in Numbers 6:13-21).

He knew these repeated accusations against him were false. Paul took the Nazirite vow – it was more convincing than words he could say.

Prayer: Father, thank for your guidance in the Bible and the Holy Spirit as I seek to do your will – not mine.

Questions: When you read about the Nazirite vow or purification ceremony, who is most memorable to you remember as a devout Nazarite? What displays of devotion or ritual do believers use today to show their commitment to God?

Emotional Send-Off

In Your Bible: Acts 20:16-38

After completing three years of ministry in Ephesus and three months in Macedonia, Paul asked the elders of the Church of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. Here he would bestow guidance, encouragement, and a warning. During this heartfelt time, God’s grace reigned as Paul blessed the elders of the church.

Protect the Flock

Paul insisted the elders heed this warning . . . “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.” (Acts 20:28 NLT). He then commended the elders into God’s care.

Departing in Love

Then Paul . . . Knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again (Acts 20:36-38a). During this heartfelt time, God’s grace reigned as Paul blessed the elders of the church.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the diligence Paul showed with these elders. Help me learn to encourage others to discover your will and your purpose in their lives.

Question: In Acts 20:28-32 Paul encourages and warns the elders of the church in Ephesus. How do both statements apply today?

God Raises the Dead – Just as Before

In Your Bible: Acts 20:1-11; 1 kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-36

As Paul traveled through towns he constantly encouraged believers with fresh hope and lifted their spirits. He spent three months in Greece preaching and again encouraging believers. God used Paul to raise the dead, just as he did with Elijah, Elisha and the Master – Jesus.

Faith in God to Meet a Need

The first day of the week was to be religiously observed by all the disciples, as a sign of their dedication to fellowship. This time – a meal followed by communion – was a solemn assembly. *

In Troas, Paul preached and taught. This session extended to midnight, whereupon a young lad fell asleep during Paul’s exhortation. He landed three stories below. He died. Paul went down and threw himself on him, and said, [to those standing around him], “Do not be troubled, because he is alive” (Acts 20:10 Amplified Bible).


In 1 Kings 17:17-24, the Prophet Elijah raised a widow’s son from death in Zarephath. Likewise in 2 Kings 4:18-36, the prophet Elisha came to the Shunammite woman, to heal her dead son. Elisha laid on the child and the flesh of the child became warm. God healed him through Elisha. We see here in Acts 20, that God used Paul to raise the dead boy. Amazing. Selah.

When Elisha reached the house [of the Shunammite woman], there the child was, dead and laid on the bed. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to Adonai. Then he got up on the bed and lay on top of the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands. As he stretched himself out on the child, its flesh began to grow warm. Then he went down, walked around in the house awhile, went back up and stretched himself out on the child again. The child sneezed seven times, then opened his eyes. Elisha called Geichazi [Gehazi]and said, “Call this Shunamit” [Shunammite]. So he called her; and when she came in to him, he said, “Pick up your son” (2 Kings 4: 32-36 Complete Jewish Bible).

Paul knew the history and work of the prophets. God used Paul to raise the dead, just as he did with Elijah and Elisha and the Master – Jesus.

Prayer: Father, thank you that even in the midst of daily trials, you are there – I need to keep calling on you for all of my needs.

Questions: In what other accounts does Paul chose God’s purpose rather than accepting the circumstances as seen by the crowd? Do you believe that God continues to raise the dead?

* Matthew Henry Bible Complete Commentary, Matthew Henry, Acts 20: online at