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The Lord Uses the Government 

Never forget that the Lord is in charge

Acts 23

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • May 28, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. Acts 23.1–5 | Paul Always Lived with a Good Conscience

    1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” 4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

    1. Paul had another opportunity to speak the truth to his people.
      1. He looked intently at the Council and announced
      2. that he had lived in all good conscience up to that day.
    2. The high priest, Ananias, thought Paul lied, for
      1. the priest thought you could not live in good conscience
      2. while acknowledging Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God and
      3. that Gentiles could enjoy equal access to the God of the Jews.
    3. Therefore, the priest commanded the men standing next to Paul
      1. to hit him on the mouth.
      2. Bam! They did it.
    4. Paul rebuked the high priest and
      1. told him that God would strike him, for
      2. he was nothing more than a whitewashed wall,
        1. having the appearance of righteousness, but
        2. lacking it within, because
          1. he judged Paul according to the Law, but
          2. commanded Paul to be struck contrary to the Law!
    5. One of the men in turn rebuked Paul for reviling God’s high priest.
      1. Then Paul corrected himself, because
      2. he should not have so spoken to a ruler of the people,
        1. quoting Exodus 22.28,
        2. that we shall not speak evil of a ruler of our people.
  2. Acts 23.6–9 | Paul Divided His Persecutors

    6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

    1. Paul looked at his options.
      1. He noticed that two warring factions surrounded him.
      2. He probably recognized some on each side, and
        1. they may have dressed differently to represent their sects.
        2. He saw that some were Sadducees and the others were Pharisees.
    2. He cried out that he was a Pharisee,
      1. the son of a Pharisee, and
      2. that he was being judged for the hope and resurrection of the death.
    3. Suddenly the Pharisees stood up and defended Paul,
      1. saying that an angel or a spirit might have spoken to Paul, and
      2. so they did not want to be found fighting against God,
        1. sounding like Gamaliel had educated these men, for
        2. in Acts 5 he said something similar.
    4. This caused a problem because
      1. the Sadducees deny
        1. the resurrection,
        2. the existence of angels, and
        3. the existence of spirits.
      2. Whereas, the Pharisees and followers of Christ affirm all three.
  3. Acts 23.10 | The Romans Protected Paul 
    1. Violet controversy swirls again around Paul, and
    2. the commander had to rescue him yet again from his own brethren.
  4. Acts 23.11 | The Lord Was with Paul 
    1. All these things must have discouraged Paul, for
    2. the next night the Lord stood right by Paul and told him
      1. to be of good cheer, for
      2. even as Paul had testified of Jesus in Jerusalem, so
        1. he would also testify of Jesus in Rome.
        2. The very thing that Paul wanted to do,

          9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me (Rom 1.9–12).

          1. “By some means,”
          2. Paul was about to make it to Rome.
  5. Acts 23.12–22 | Opposition Intensified 
    1. Some of the Jews determined once-and-for-all to eliminate Paul.
      1. They placed themselves under an oath
      2. that they would not eat or drink until they had killed him.
        1. Forty men conspired in this matter.
        2. They approached the chief priests and the elders,
          1. asking them to request of the commander
          2. that he bring Paul to the chief priests, elders, and Council,
            1. as though they wanted to question him more.
            2. On the way they would ambush Paul and the Romans.
    2. Paul’s nephew heard of their plan and told him.
      1. Paul told one of the centurions to take his nephew to the commander, and
      2. the boy would reveal the conspiracy.
    3. The commander took the boy by the hand (he must have been young), and
      1. asked what the boy had to say.
      2. He boldly told the commander,

        “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.”

        1. The commander let the boy go and
        2. told him not to tell anyone what he had said to the commander.
  6. Acts 23.23–30 | The Lord Used the Romans 
    1. The commander prepared a huge, overwhelming force to guard Paul, taking
      1. 200 soldiers,
      2. 70 horsemen, and
      3. 200 spearmen
        1. to Governor Felix in Caesarea,
        2. doing this at 3 in the morning, and
        3. provided a horse for Paul.
    2. The commander, Claudius Lysias, wrote a letter to Felix,

      26 “Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28 And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. 29 I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. 30 And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him. Farewell.”

      1. He did not quite tell the truth in verse 27, because
      2. the commander did not rescue Paul because he was a Roman.
  7. VII.Acts 23.31–35 | The Government Will Hear Paul 
    1. The 470 soldiers escorted Paul.
      1. First, they made it to Antipatris,
      2. leaving the foot soldiers and spearmen,
        1. as the 70 horsemen took Paul to Caesarea.
        2. There they presented him to Felix.
    2. Felix read the letter from the commander.
      1. The governor asked to which province Paul belonged.
      2. He revealed that he was from Cilicia.
    3. The governor was fair and
      1. waited to question Paul or make any judgments about him
      2. until his accusers arrived.
        1. In the meantime, Paul would stay in Herod’s Praetorium.
        2. By the way, what happened to those 40 Jews?


  1. Live in All Good Conscience 
    1. Not having one
      1. will have a negative affect on everything about you and
      2. on everything you do.
    2. With a good conscience you can live boldly, without fear.
  2. Do Not Speak Evil of a Ruler 
  3. Know Who Is for You and Who Is Against You 
  4. Use Whatever Is at Your Disposal to Further the Truth 
  5. The Lord Is with You 
  6. Prepare Yourself for Opposition 
  7. VII.The Lord Will Use His Resources 
    1. Paul prayed that he might go to Rome.
    2. He did, but probably not in the way he imagined.
  8. VIII.Work with the Government 
    1. Sometimes it is difficult.
    2. However, never forget
      1. that God ordained government,
      2. that God has always used government to further His purposes,