Acts 22 Paul Before an Angry Mob
In Acts 21:27-40, the Apostle Paul was taken from the temple by the Jews, beaten, rescued by Roman officials, arrested, and then allowed to speak to the multitude of people who were clamoring for his death:
- Read Paul’s opening statement to the people in Acts 22:1-4 (Gamaliel, in verse 3, was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin and had been Paul’s teacher and mentor before Paul’s conversion to Christianity. In verse 4, “this way” refers to the church of Jesus Christ).
- Read Paul’s account of his encounter with the resurrected Lord, in verses 5-16. What do you think the people in the multitude may have been thinking as they listened to Paul?
- What comparisons do you see in Paul’s account, in relation to the accounts of Alma the Younger (see Mosiah 27:8-29; Alma 36:5-21) and Joseph Smith (see Joseph Smith—History 1:7-20)?
- Read about Paul’s subsequent vision (“trance”), that he related in Acts 22:17-21.
- How did the multitude of Jews react to Paul’s conversion story, spoken in Hebrew, in verses 22-23? (Note that the reason they removed their outer clothing was to stone Paul to death.)
- Note that the “castle” referred to in Acts 21-23 was part of the Roman fortress next to and overlooking the temple mount, known as the Antonia Fortress. It was used by the Roman military, giving them quick access to the temple grounds for incidents such as this.
- Read verses 24-29 to see what happened next (the “scourging” was the extreme whipping that Jesus Christ suffered twice; also, in verse 25 Paul was likely speaking to the Roman centurion in Latin or Greek; in verse 28 the Roman chief captain was saying that he became a Roman citizen by paying a “great sum” of money).
- In verse 30 the Roman officials took Paul before the Jewish Sanhedrin. What do you think Paul will say to the Sanhedrin?
Acts 23 Paul Before the Sanhedrin
In verse 1 Paul states to the Sanhedrin that he has “lived in all good conscience before God”:
- In verse 2, what did the high priest (Ananias) do when he heard Paul? What was Paul’s reaction in verse 3? (a “whited wall” is whitewashed in order to cover up the rotten filth that is beneath; and, Paul’s claim that Ananias broke the Jewish law is perhaps a violation of Deuteronomy 25:1-3, which says that a person can be beaten only once he is convicted of a crime).
- Paul continued boldly, teaching of the resurrection, which rose up a stir between the Pharisee and Sadducee members of the Sanhedrin (verses 6-9).
- Seeing the potential for Paul to be “pulled in pieces,” what did the Roman chief captain do, in verse 10? Read the glorious manifestation that occurred in verse 11.
- What was the secret plot of the Jews, in verses 12-15? How was the plot foiled, in verses 16-30? (in verse 23, the number of men called for to take Paul away to Caesarea are 470!).
- Felix was the Roman governor (as Pontius Pilate had been). What did Felix do with Paul, in verses 31-35? What things do you think Paul will say to Felix?
- What additional ways do you see, wherein Paul is a type or shadow of Jesus Christ?
Acts 24 Paul Before Felix
In this chapter the high priest, Ananias, follows Paul and the rest of the procession to Caesarea. He took along an “orator” (lawyer?) who flatters Felix, then levels accusations against Paul (see verses 1-6). What was the crux of Paul’s statement to Felix, in verses 11-17? Read what Felix did and what Paul said, in verses 24-26. Poor Paul remains without his freedom for two more years, then Felix is replaced as the Roman governor by Festus (verse 27).
Acts 25 Paul Before Festus
Paul’s misfortunes continue, but it gives him opportunity to teach and testify before governors and kings:
- In verses 1-8, the Roman governor Festus (who had replaced Felix) saved Paul from another murder plot, and then allowed Paul to speak for himself. Paul declared his innocence.
- In verses 9-12, what did Paul say, when Festus asked him if he was willing to return to Jerusalem to be judged by the Jews? (Note that the Caesar mentioned in verses 10-12 is Caesar Augustus—see verses 21, 25; this Caesar is also known as Nero.)
The rest of this chapter tells of the visit to Caesarea of the puppet king of the Jews, Herod Agrippa II, who was the last of the Herods and the great grandson of Herod the Great. Festus and Agrippa discussed Paul’s case. Festus thought that Paul was innocent, but he felt pressure from the Jews and was hoping that Agrippa could help him know what to say in writing to Caesar, before sending Paul to Rome. Agrippa agreed to hear Paul.
Acts 26 Paul Before Agrippa
In verse 1, king Agrippa says to Paul, “Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.” What do you think Paul will say to him? Read Paul’s brilliant, inspiring defense and testimony before king Agrippa, in verses 2-23. Read also the exchanges that followed:
- First, Festus (the Roman governor) reacted strongly in verse 24.
- Then, in verses 25-26, Paul boldly counters Festus’s claim.
- Paul followed up by testifying directly to king Agrippa, in verse 27.
- In verse 28, Agrippa delivers the famous, stunning line, “Almost….” Do you know someone who was “almost persuaded” to accept the restored gospel? Is there a way you can reach out to him or her?
- In verse 29, Paul responds to Agrippa.
- In verses 30-32 Agrippa and Festus discuss what to do with Paul.
Read again verse 29. Do you feel that you are “altogether” a witness of Jesus Christ, in word and deed? Are there people or causes that you would be willing to die for, as was Paul?
Acts 27 Paul Journeys to Rome
After more than two years as a prisoner in Caesarea, Paul is sent to Rome to appear before Caesar. Apparently, Luke accompanied him (note the “we” in verse 1 and other verses). They were harbored on the island of Crete, having sailed over 1,000 miles (almost half-way to Rome), and had experienced delays and difficulties. There was danger lurking because winter was coming upon them (verse 9 tells us that “the fast was now already past”—which is the Day of Atonement that occurs in late September or October):
- What things did Paul say in verses 9-10, as he “admonished” the centurion and others regarding the voyage?
- How did they respond, in verses 11-12? Failure to listen to prophets can lead to disaster.
- What subsequently happened, in verses 18-20?
- What did Paul then prophetically declare and exhort, in verses 21-26?
- After escaping damage and loss of life, they chose to find a place to land (verses 27-40). Then what happened, in verses 41-44? (From Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 11:25, which was written before the events of Acts 27, we know that this was Paul’s fourth shipwreck.)
Acts 28 Paul Preaches in Rome
The ship managed to sail over five hundred miles more, then the shipwreck in Acts 27:41-44 happened at the island of Malta, south of Sicily (called “Melita” in Acts 28:1):
- In verses 2-7, what treatment did Paul and the other castaways receive from the people of the island?
- How did Paul bless the people of the island, in verses 8-10?
- When they finally arrived in Rome, Paul was placed under house arrest, with some freedoms (verse 16). How did Paul choose to spend his time, according to verses 17, 20-24, 30-31?
- The Lord supported Paul in his trials, and sometimes delivered him from trials. Read Alma 36:3 and Alma 38:5, noting the similarities and the differences in the language of these two verses. In what ways has the Lord “supported” you, and in what ways has He “delivered” you?
Paul spent two years in Rome and was then released, but it is not recorded whether he ever appeared before Caesar (in Acts 27:24 an angel of the Lord told Paul that he would be brought before Caesar). Paul continued to travel throughout the Mediterranean, preaching the gospel and strengthening the church (tradition holds that he also fulfilled his plan to go to Spain to introduce the gospel; see Romans 15:24, 28). After about four years in this post-Rome ministry, Paul was again taken to Rome as a prisoner, where he was executed in about AD 65.
Scan back through the book of Acts. For you is, there a favorite verse (or set of verses)?