1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. 2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) 3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. 6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. 12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. 14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be immersed, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. 17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. 22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. 23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
Paul: "Im a Jew by birth, and like you other Jews, I persecuted Christians. But Jesus taught me the gospel, I was immersed into water for the remission of my sins, and became a Christian. You should become Christians too."
Jews: "Kill the Christian!"
Acts 22:24-30 Edit
24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? 26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. 27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. 28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. 29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. 30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
Romans: Another Jew making trouble! Scourge him and ask him why hes causing problems among his kinsmen.
Paul: Im a Roman citizen.
Romans: Oh, dude. Were sorry. We thought you were just another Jew stirring up trouble. My mistake.
In this chapter, the Jewish leaders are the bloodthirsty ones, the Romans are simply caught up in the middle doing their duty.
Acts 23:1-10 Edit
1And Paul, earnestly beholding 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 them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou Gods high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. 6 But when Paul perceived that the 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: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. 10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
The last few chapters of Acts are going to give us some powerful insight into the distinction between the apocalyptic texts and the literal end of the kosmos and the resurrection. This is the line folks like me walk between millennialism and full preterism, stepping neither to the right or the left.
Paul is in trouble (with the Jews again) and seeks to divide and conquer. He recognizes two denominations (sects) within the council and uses the concept of the resurrection to divide them. The Pharisees believe in the resurrection of the dead and the existence of spirits, the human without the body. The Sadducees do not. What exactly do the Pharisees believe, though? As we have already covered in this wiki, there are no Old Testament prophesies concerning the destruction or end of the physical universe (kosmos). There are a number of accounts of literal resurrections in the Old Testament:
- 1 Kings 17:22 - Elijah prays to Jehovah to resurrect a kid.
- 2 Kings 4:32-35 - Elisha prays to Jehovah to resurrect a kid.
- 2 Kings 13:20-21 - Elisha is dead and a man is in the process of being buried with Elishas bones when his body touches the bones and the man is resurrected.
- Then of course there is the prophecy of David in Psa. 16:10 - For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. This is a literal return from death, where the soul is returned to the body.
We see in these Old Testament examples, in the examples even in the New Testament such as Lazarus, the young man in Luke 7, Jairus daughter (Matt. 9), Tabitha, and Eutychus, and specifically in Jesus example with Thomas touching His crucifixion wounds that this is a literal, physical resurrection that returns the soul to the original body. Though there are most definitely apocalyptic references to resurrection (Ezek. 37 comes to mind), the apocalyptic always has to build on a basic reality or it has no meaning from which to draw. It is this literal reality that the Pharisees believe in, the simple truth of real resurrection.
Finally, this resurrection cannot be the apocalyptic figurative resurrection such as Ezekiel 37 because the Pharisees as a group were among those specifically prophesied against to be destroyed. Paul would no longer believe the same as they concerning the apocalyptic material from the Old Testament (e.g. Matthew 23).
11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. 12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
Jews want to kill Paul because of his Christian faith.
Acts 23:16-35 Edit
16 And when Pauls sisters son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. 21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. 22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. 25 And he wrote a letter after this manner: 26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. 27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. 31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herods judgment hall.
Romans intervene again to protect Paul.
Acts 24:1-6 Edit
1And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. 2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, 3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. 5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
The Jews show up at Pauls Roman examination and lie about him...
7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, 8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
...and what the Roman soldiers did. Without saying anything about what the Jews were doing that was against Roman law of course.
Acts 24:10-13 Edit
10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: 11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. 12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: 13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
Paul basically calls the Jews liars, correctly.
14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: 15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. 17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. 18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. 19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. 20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, 21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
This resurrection is of the dead is the same as from chapter 23, the kind that the Pharisees believe in, the kind that is literal. This passage, isolated, has been used by full preterist to steer the context toward a figurative resurrection. They do this by addressing the world mello which is translated variously as "about to", "shall be", "will be", "should", "to come", and so on. They focus on the imminence of the word, saying that the resurrection that Paul spoke of here "is about to come to pass". They associate various remote uses of the word and their context where the apocalyptic events are the subject. However, the word can also be used in terms of intent to do something, whether or not it is carried out as in Acts 25:4 where Felix declares he intends to depart. Finally, the word can be used in terms of certainty without regard to time. We see this usage most powerfully in Acts 26:22 where Paul says the he is a witness of those things which Moses and the OT prophets said should come (mello). Though they were separated from the events they foretold by centuries, Luke records Paul using the same term.
Together then with this fuller understanding of the context, of the possibilities of the usage of mello and what resurrection the Pharisees agreed with Paul about, we know that the resurrection of the dead that Paul speaks of in this passage is the literal resurrection, a resurrection of both the just and the unjust to Judgment. It is also noteworthy that in the apocalyptic texts, the figurative resurrection referred to is always that of only the just, the faithful followers of Jehovah God.
22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. 23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. 24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
The Romans treat Paul amicably, though the local provincial leaders (much like Pilate) want to court the favor of the Jews either out of fear or out of a desire to keep things quiet in their province. To this late date, we see no real persecution of Christians by Romans, especially not the Romans in authority.
More Jews hate Paul (Christians) but Romans follow their law and dont really have any interest one way or the other except that there be peace in their land. Agrippa comes to Festus province with his wife and wants to hear Paul. King Herod Agrippa is the son of the Herod Agrippa who had James killed. He is the great-grandson of Herod the Great. He is the seventh and final head of the great red dragon in Revelation 12. He was in tight with the Romans and submitted to them, and was even related by marriage to the Roman rulers of his day.
- Herod the Great – rebuilt temple, spoke with the wise men and sought to kill Jesus (Matt. 2:1-19)
- Herod Archelaus – Herod the Great’s son (Matt. 2:22)
- Herod Antipas – had John the immerser killed after sleeping with Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife (Matt. 14; Mark 6:17-28), mocked Jesus (Luke 23) up to Acts 4:27, Herod the Great’s son
- Herod II (Herod Phillip I) – married to Herodias, father of Salome (Matt. 14; Mark 6:17-28), Herod the Great’s son
- Herod Phillip II, the Tetrarch – Luke 3:1 half brother of Archelaus and Antipas
- Herod Agrippa I – Acts 12-13, grandson of Herod the Great
- Herod Agrippa II – Acts 25-26, son of Agrippa I and great grandson of Herod the Great, last Herod over the Jews.
1Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. 4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hopes sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? 9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Again Paul rehearses his story before Herod Agrippa II. He speaks once more of what Moses and the prophets said concerning resurrection (nothing concerning the end of the kosmos mind) and directly related to Christ’s resurrection.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. 30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. 32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
It seems that Agrippa was actually a somewhat decent fellow here and almost convinced to be a Christian through his knowledge of the Old Testament. However, his ties to Rome and his Jewish heritage prove too much for him here and while he wants to let Paul go, he does not convert to Christianity at this time.
Paul is transported by the Romans via ship to Rome. All through the trip, even enduring a shipwreck together, the Romans are kind to Paul and he is kind to them. No Jews are around.
The Roman soldiers escort Paul from the docks to Rome. They let him stop and visit some Christian friends, then put him under house arrest and allow him to receive visitors while in Rome. The Romans treat him very well the whole time and there is never record of them abusing him or other Christians in Rome in the book of Acts. Paul also calls the Jews at Rome and while some believed, many were like Agrippa, almost convinced, but many turned away. In this, though, they were peaceful about it and did not seek to do harm to Paul or the Christians at Rome. These Jews were more Romanized and not affected much by the Zeolot influence in their homeland.
In Truth and Love.