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3.24 Acts -- The Persecution of Paul

 The rest of the book of Acts is a tragedy.  The record of missionary outreach to Gentiles is replaced by Paul being jailed, set upon by murderous fanatics, haled before petty magistrates and potentates in Judea, and finally packed off  to Rome.  And all this was set up, unintentionally, by the Jerusalem church.  There is no record in any of these chapters of any support given him by the church while imprisoned, of anyone coming forward to defend him.  One is tempted to conclude that, when he was ultimately shipped off to Rome, the leaders of the mother church were quite happy to get rid of him, since he was an embarrassment and a hindrance to their own agenda of winning over their own countrymen.

          The sequence of events was:

          a.    Paul undertook the purification rituals, along with the men he was sponsoring.
          b.    Near the end of the 7 days, some Jews from Asia recognized him in the Temple, seized him and beat him.
          c.    Their accusation was:

          "This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place" (Acts 21:28).

          d.    The Roman soldiers rescued him from the mob and allowed him to address the people
          e.    Paul’s first defense (Acts 22:1-21):  he recounted his experience as a persecutor of the church, and the voice on the Damascus road.  When he told them God sent him to the Gentiles, the crowd erupted again.
           f.    The Romans prepared to beat him, till he told them he was a Roman citizen.
           g.    The Roman tribune set Paul before the Jewish chief priests and council
           h.    Paul’s second defense (Acts 23:1-10):  he declared that he was a Pharisee being persecuted for his belief in the Resurrection of the dead.
            i.    The meeting broke up in chaos, Paul returned to a Roman jail.
            j.    Jesus appeared to Paul in jail and told him he would go to Rome.
            k.    A plot to assassinate Paul by 40 conspirators was told to Paul by his nephew.
            l.    Paul was sent at night by armed guard to Felix the governor of Judea in Caesarea.     
          m.    Paul’s third defense (Acts 24:10-21): "I was peacefully minding my own business in the Temple when some Jews from Asia assaulted me.  They hate me because I believe in the resurrection of the dead."
           n.    Paul was kept in prison by Felix for two years.  Felix was hoping for a bribe.
           o.    The new governor, Festus, summoned Paul.  
           p.    Paul’s fourth defense (Acts 25:8-11).  "I appeal to Caesar." 
           q.    King Agrippa (son of Herod) visited Festus, and Paul was examined again.
            r.    Paul’s fifth defense (Acts 26):  "I was raised a Pharisee, and am on trial for belief in the resurrection of the dead."  He recounted his opposition to the Way, the voice on the road to Damascus, and his commission to bring deliverance to the Gentiles:

            "I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles" (Acts 26:22-23).

              s.    Governor Festus thought Paul was mad.  King Agrippa thought he should be set free, except that he had appealed to Caesar.
              t.     Paul and his party were sent to Rome.

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