Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Saved To Serve The Gospel

Acts 23:23-30
Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, 'Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.' He wrote a letter as follows: Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.' (NIVUK)

Paul was held in protective custody in the Fortress of Antonia near to the temple in Jerusalem. Twice, religions extremists tried to kill him and now a third plot had been uncovered (Acts 23:12-15). The chief priests would ask Claudius Lysias, the military commander, to bring Paul to the Sanhedrin for more questioning. Then a mob would ambush Paul, overpower the few soldiers and kill the apostle. Paul's nephew heard about the plot and told the commander (Acts 23:16-17).

Claudius was a high ranking officer, a tribune with a thousand solders at his command. He recognised that the young man's report was authentic and that he needed to get Paul out of Jerusalem quickly and safely. As Paul was a Roman citizen he had the right to expect the imperial militia to protect him. And if the tribune had allowed a Roman citizen to be killed by a mob while in his care, Claudius would lose his job.

So he ordered two centurions to muster almost five hundred men to escort Paul at night, the sixty miles to Caesarea, three hours after sunset. He would be kept in the citadel there for two years while Governor Felix had many conversations with him, partly interested in his beliefs and also hoping for a significant bribe to let Paul go free (Acts 24:24-27). But during that time Paul was fulfilling the Lord's prophetic message (Acts 9:15-16); he was kept safe and allowed some freedom and friends (Acts 24:23).

The Lord was in command of the commander, and governing the governor: although they did not realise it. It was God's provision to keep Paul safe while he often spoke about Jesus to the Governor. It was also good preparation for his future ministry in Rome. In Caesarea he learned how God was saving his life so that he could still serve the gospel. When your circumstances change, God's call upon your life remains the same. You may be in a different place, among different people, but the gospel of Jesus is the same. You may find yourself limited in some way through family, occupation, health or location, but your heart is not bound. The Lord has the right to command you to be kept safe and the right to command you to serve. So do not complain that things have changed; praise God that you can still serve Him and proclaim Jesus as Lord.

Sovereign Lord. Thank You for using whatever means You choose to protect Your people so that they can serve You. Forgive me for complaining when my circumstances change. Help me to see that whatever the pattern of my life, You do not change, the gospel of Jesus is the same and I have a responsibility to use whatever situation I am in to serve You, trusting You to keep me safe. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams