The Religious and Political Confrontations faced by Paul – By Dr. Thomas Chung dated 26.10.14
This sermon is based on Act 23. Acts chapter 23 is relevant to today’s Malaysian Church. What were written than are also happening now in our country. What happened to Jesus also happened to Paul. In John 20:30 it was written that Jesus performed many miracles but only some were recorded. Similarly for Paul he did many things and also performed miracles but only some of these were recorded. Why? This was because God used special stories to tell His people and also for the purpose of teaching His people.
At that time, the Church was in transition. Paul was dealing with the Jews who believed in the Old Testament, and he had to deal with gentiles who were pagans. Paul faced many challenges with the Jews who only believed in Old Testament carried many baggage whereas pagans were non- believers.
There are four sections to this sermon:
1. V1-11 – Religious confrontation
2. V12-22 – Religious Extremism
3. V23-30 – Protection under the law
4. V31-35 – Political corruptions ( also Ch.24:22-27)
Religious Confrontation – The Sanhedrin, the religious authority were controlled by Sadducees conflicted with Paul. They were politically motivated and they did not believe in spirituality. The Pharisees also conflicted with the Sadducees. Paul was just testifying and not attacking anyone but the High Priest ordered him be stuck on the face. Paul knew the different beliefs of the Sadducees and Pharisees, so he “played politics” with them. Because of this difference, the Pharisees sided with Paul and said they found him not guilty. There was an uproar and to protect Paul, the Commander put him in jail.
Religious extremism-forty Jews plotted to kill Paul. Paul nephew knew of the plot and told Paul who in turn asked him to inform the Commander. The Commander instructed his nephew to tell no one about this plot. Paul was a Roman citizen.
Protection under the law-after knowing about the plot to kill Pau, the Commander ordered 470 soldiers to protect Paul as they proceeded to Caesarea. Paul being a Roam citizen knew the law well, and under Roam law their citizens needed to be protected until proven guilty. The Commander was well aware of Paul’s status and the importance to protect him for the trial. Paul was brought before Governor Felix. Actually Felix came from a slave family, but his brother manipulated and got him to be a ruler. The Governor asked Paul he was from, and when Paul said Cilicia. The Governor ordered him to be put in jail.
Political corruption- Paul was brought to Antipatris and on to Caesarea. He appeared before Governor Felix. After the Governor learnt that Paul was from Cilicia he ordered him put into jail and will only hear him the following day. Actually he was delaying hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe. But none was offered. In a way the Commander also passed his problem to Felix.
Important issues in Act 23
-Respect for law and authority. Paul did not condemn the authority because he knew that the authority was appointed by God. Roam 13:1 spoke about this authority. The perfect will of God applies here.
-Protection under the law- Paul was a Roam citizen and he knew his rights as a citizen. He demanded that he be protected under such law.
-Perfect and permissive will of God. In Luke 16:8 the parable of the unrighteous steward, God commended the unrighteous steward, and this can happen because of the permissive will of God. In another example, Kin David eating the show bread which was reserved for the priests.
1 Corinthians 11:31-33 – do all to the glory of God. Paul did not give offense to the Jews. His concern was their salvation.