- LESSON 38
A study of this lesson should encourage
us to follow Paul's example and be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ even
in the midst of trial and tribulation.
Paul reports on his journeys and faces
an angry mob in Jerusalem.
Paul is taken to the Sanhedrin
Paul testifies to Agrippa, but his testimony
Paul is shipwrecked on his way to Rome.
At the conclusion of Paul's third mission
(abt AD 58), he returned to Jerusalem for his fifth and last visit.
After reporting on his mission, the
Jerusalem brethren, lead by James (the Lord's brother), was presented with
a grave problem that was increased by his presence in the city.
V17: "And when
we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly."
In an attempt to placate the Jewish
Christians, and hold the church together, Paul agreed place himself under
a vow, go to the temple, and undergo the full ritual cleansing as required
by the Law of Moses.
The problem: Many of the Jewish Christians
were upset by Paul's teaching that salvation came through Christ alone,
not the law of Moses.
This is 25 years after the death of
Jesus Christ and thousands of Jewish Christians were still adhering to
the Law of Moses.
It still was not clear to these Jerusalem
Jews that the Law of Moses was done away upon the death and resurrection
of the Master.
Paul did not impose the requirements
of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision, upon the Gentiles. Neither
did he forbid the Jews from their practice of the Law - though they needed
to understand that salvation came through Christ alone.
Perhaps the greatest cause of internal
conflict in the early church was the issue as to whether Jewish Christians
should continue to abide by the Law of Moses or embrace the higher law
that Jesus taught.
This included 7 days of purification
Paul knew that these practices were
no longer necessary and yet he agreed to this Mosaic ritual. Clearly
he was filled with the spirit of Christ and wanted peace within the church.
By not complying with the request, he may have alienated many of the Jewish
Christians. Possibly, he hoped to eventually bring them to an understanding
that the duties under the Law of Moses were no longer necessary.
As we read of Paul's conciliatory spirit,
I am reminded of an incident during the early days of the British mission
led by Heber C. Kimball. The following is from Heber's journal: "The
effect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ now began to be apparent, not only
in the hearts of believers, but likewise in the hearts of those who rejected
it. Our meeting in Preston being disturbed by the Methodist ministers,
we got our hall licensed, and two gentlemen named Joseph Brown and Arthur
Burrows, who were policemen, proffered their services to preserve the peace,
and protect us from any further disturbance; which they continued to do
as long as we stayed in that land. Many began to persecute us for preaching
without a license from the authority of the nation. This idea of obtaining
a license from the secular authority was somewhat novel to us; but after
consulting our friends...we found it was according to the laws of England.
Brothers Hyde and I therefore made application to the Quarter Sessions
and obtained licenses....
"Having now obeyed the requisitions of the law, we felt ourselves tolerably
secure, knowing that our enemies could not lawfully harm us. I wrote to
Brother Richards that I had taken the oath to be true to Her Majesty and
see that the laws were executed, also the abjurgation oath provided for
foreigners who were not naturalized, and obtained a license as a preacher
of the Gospel; and recommended him to do the same at Bedford: but they
made him take the oath of allegiance before they granted him his license
to preach. After we had obtained our licenses, to our surprise we found
there were only a few licensed preachers in Preston; and when they abused
me I told them if they did not cease their abuse I would see the laws put
in force according to the oaths I had taken; and this generally silenced
them." (quoted in Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp159-160)
Though Elder Kimball and his brethren
saw no need to obtain the license, they went ahead and did so, including
an oath to be true to Queen Victoria, to stay on the good side of the law
in order to further the work of the ministry. In order to keep harmony
in the church and further the work, Paul made a gesture he did not feel
was necessary. As long as we remain true to the principles of the
gospel, there is no reason why we cannot be flexible in order to build
Paul seized by a Jewish mob.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PEOPLE SO STRONGLY
RESISTED GIVING UP THE LESSER LAW FOR THE GREATER ONE?
People naturally resist change.
There was a certain comfort and security
in the Law which they would loose.
There is greater responsibility within
the gospel framework to live a righteous life. Which is easier to
comply with: Paying 10% or loving your neighbor? Tithing is
a specific law that is fulfilled by doing a specific thing, paying 10%
of one's income to the Lord. It is easy to write on my To Do List,
pay tithing and then check it off. It is much more difficult to do
the same with loving one's neighbor. What do you do? When do
you get to check it off? Many of the Jews were spiritual children.
It was easier for them to understand the specifics of the Law then to love
one's neighbor or let their light so shine.
DO WE TEND TO HOLD ON TO THE OLD AND
RESIST CHANGES THE LORD HAS ASKED US TO MAKE? IF SO, HOW IS THIS
HOW IS THIS AFFECTING US?
HOW CAN WE OVERCOME THIS?
Near the end of the seven days of purification,
certain Jews from Asia who had come to the Feast of Pentecost recognized
Paul in the Temple.
Earlier they had seen Paul in the streets
of Jerusalem with Trophimus, an Ephesian Gentile.
Not being supporters of Paul, they imagined
(jumped to the conclusion) that they saw Paul in the Temple with Trophimus.
Bringing a Gentile into the Temple was an offense worthy of death.
These Asian Jews seized him and raised
a cry against him.
V30-31: "And all the city was moved,
and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the
temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of
the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar."
Paul was rescued by Roman soldiers under
Claudius Lysias, the Tribune in command. The sight of the troops
caused the mob to stop beating Paul.
Paul requested the privilege of speaking
to the mob (v39). Lysias gave his consent.
Paul then gave his defense by telling
his persecutors the simple but eloquent story of his early life and conversion
(see Acts 21:40-22:20).
The crowd listened to his defense until
he reached the story of his return to Jerusalem and the Lord's instruction
in v21 to "Depart: for I will send thee far hence
unto the Gentiles."
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. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes,
and threw dust into the air."
The tribune gave orders that Paul was
to be brought into the barracks and examined by being scourged, so that
the truth of what the uproar was about could be learned (see v24).
As Paul was being prepared for the scourging,
he asked the centurion (v25):
"Is it lawful for
you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?"
The tribune stayed his hand, not knowing
what to do about Paul now that he had declared Roman citizenship.
Roman citizenship carried with it certain rights.
Paul's address before the Sanhedrin.
V11: "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."
The following day, Paul was taken before
the Sanhedrin. The tribune wanted to know why Paul was being accused
by the Jews.
Paul speaking to the council said (v1):
"Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience
before God until this day."
This caused Ananias to have Paul smitten
on the mouth.
Paul responding to their hypocrisy said
(v3): "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?"
Paul was able to create an argument
between the Pharisees and Saducees, by pointing out that he was a Pharisee.
When the dissension grew so great, the
chief captain took Paul and returned him to Roman custody (v10) "fearing
lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces".
40 Sadducees banded together with an
oath neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. They conspired
to have Paul brought before the Sanhedrin once again (v12-14).
Paul's nephew discovered the plot and
informed Paul. Paul sent his nephew on to inform Lysias, chief captain
of the guard.
Lysias made ready a guard to march to
Caesarea that evening to put him in custody of Felix the governor.
It seems that Lysias was protecting Paul, not only because he was a Roman
citizen, but that he actually favored him.
As Paul lay in
prison, he must have been in a low mood. I am sure these ancient
jail were dark and unpleasant places. Also, Paul must have been frustrated
that he could not continue to do the work of God. He was a man driven
to do the work of God.
As I read this
passage, I am reminded of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his trial, tribulations,
and legal challenges. We recall that as the Prophet sat in Liberty
Jail, he cried out to the Lord in frustration, "How
long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold
from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants,
and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?"
(D&C 121:2). As with Paul, the Lord spoke words of comfort to
Joseph: "My son, peace be unto thy soul;
thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And
then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt
triumph over all thy foes" (D&C 121:7-8).
It would appear that the Prophet had actually met and been tutored by Paul
as an angel, for Joseph offered this description of Paul at the organization
of a school of instruction:
"He is about
five feet high; very dark hair, dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman
nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders;
a whining voice, except when elevated, and then it almost resembled the
roaring of a lion. He was a good orator, active and diligent, always employing
himself in doing good to his fellow man" (TPJS,
p180). How could Joseph have known this detail about Paul, particularly
the information about his voice, if he had not met him? I am sure
the Prophet often thought about Paul as he endured his own trials.
Within 5 days, Ananias, the High Priest
came down to Caesarea to formally present the case before the Roman court.
Paul presented his defense. Felix
then postponed a decision and retained Paul in custody until he had conferred
A complaint was lodged by the Jews with
Nero. Felix was recalled to stand trial and Porcius Festus succeeded
Paul ended up being retained in custody
for two years - although he was allowed some freedom within Caesarea.
The Jewish authorities made a case against
Paul to Festus and asked that Paul be brought to Jerusalem. The were
plotting to ambush and kill him on his way.
Festus asked Paul if he would be willing
to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial on the charges brought before him
by the Jews. Paul refused to go. Paul knew that if he went
down to Jerusalem he would be killed. He knew that his mission was
not complete and thus his refusal to go.
Paul then said to Festus (10-11): "Then
said Paul, I stand at Caesar' judgment seat, where I ought to be judged:
to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For
if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse
not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me,
no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar."
Once gain, we are reminded of Joseph
Smith and his last days. Joseph knew that if he went down to Carthage,
he would be killed. History records that Joseph went down to Carthage
and his words were fulfilled. Unlike Paul, Joseph's mission had been
fulfilled and thus his reluctant willingness to face his demise.
About this time Festus was visited by
King Agrippa II (king of the region about the Sea of Galilee) great grandchild
of Herod the Great.
It was Paul's right as a Roman citizen
to appeal to Caesar.
Festus, not being a Jew, wanted counsel
from Agrippa on how he should present his case to Rome regarding Paul.
Paul presented his case before King
Agrippa - telling of his life, of the persecution of the Christians and
of his conversion.
VIEW VIDEO: Paul: A Chosen Vessel.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT AGRIPPA DID
NOT ACCEPT PAUL'S TESTIMONY OF CHRIST?
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: 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."
In v27 Paul challenges the king: "King
Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest."
Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
WHAT KEEPS PEOPLE TODAY FROM ACCEPTING
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST?
He would have had to sacrifice his position,
power, and wealth. It seemed to be too much of a sacrifice.
After the hearing there was discussion
regarding Paul's case. They agreed that Paul had done nothing for
which he deserved death or imprisonment.
It is often the same as with Agrippa.
They do not wish to give up their worldly
life. They believe they are comfortable in their position and they
view such a change as a sacrifice of their freedom and liberty, not knowing
they have already done that by insisting on maintaining their present lifestyle.
said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he
had not appealed unto Caesar."
It was determined that Paul should sail
to Italy. He was placed on board a ship in Caesarea.
The centurion holding custody switched
ships in Myra, Lycia.
About two months from their start, they
arrived at a place called Fair Havens along the south side of the island
Luke and Aristarchus sailed with Paul.
A furious storm struck and took the
boat off course. The gale continued for several days, threatening
the boat and its passengers.
At this point Paul prophesied (v9-10):
"Now when much time was spent, and when sailing
was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished
them, And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with
hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our
The centurion did not heed Paul's warning
and continued the trip.
Eventually they came near land and the
ship began to break up.
Paul spoke to those on board (v21-26):
"Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not
have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. And now
I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's
life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel
of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must
be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail
with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it
shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain
They landed on the island of Melita
the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should
swim out, and escape. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept
them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should
cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: And the rest, some
on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came
to pass, that they escaped all safe to land."
V3-6: V3-6: "And
when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there
came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
"And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they
said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he
hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
"And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
"Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead
suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come
to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god."
The father of the governor of the island
was ill. Paul blessed him and he was cured. Other sick people
on the island also came to Paul and were cured.
Paul spent three months on Malta before
continuing his journey to Rome.
Upon his arrival in Rome, he was accorded
the privilege, doubtless upon the recommendation of Festus, of living in
a private place outside of the military barracks, guarded by a soldier
(see Acts 28:11-16).
During his more than two years in Rome,
Paul was given relative freedom, having visitors and often calling the
Roman Jews together to speak to them. He also wrote some of his epistles
Lessons From The
Life Of Paul
WHAT LESSONS MIGHT WE LEARN FROM THE
EXPERIENCES OF PAUL?
WHAT ARE WE WILLING TO SACRIFICE
FOR THE KINGDOM?
How do deal with adversity.
The Lord supports his servants.
He may not always make their path easy, but he supports them in their difficulties.
Consider again the life of Joseph Smith
or any of the latter-day prophets.
WHAT WILL WE SACRIFICE TO CONTINUE THE
BUILDING OF ZION?
From the time of Paul's vision of the
Lord, his life was anything but comfortable. He dedicated all that
he had to the building of the kingdom of God.
Joseph Smith sacrificed a life of comfort
and in the end, his life.
The early Saints in this dispensation
sacrificed much for the kingdom.
The apostles left their families in
dire straights for their mission to England.
Many gave their lives in Missouri, crossing
the plains, and in Utah.
They gave up most of their worldly goods
- for some it was multiple times.
These sacrifices forged the strength
of the church that has brought it to its present greatness.
Joseph Smith: "The
sacrifice required of Abraham in the offering up of Isaac, shows that if
a man would attain to the keys of the kingdom of an endless life; he must
sacrifice all things." (TPJS, p322)
This is a tough doctrine, but if we
have our vision focused on the eternal scheme of things then we realize,
as Joseph learned in Liberty Jail, that "thine
adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then,
if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph
over all thy foes" (D&C 121:7-8).
Lesson 39: Ephesians
John 17:11; Mosiah 18:21-22; D&C 27:15-18; 38:25-27; Bible Dictionary,
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Changes last made on: Sat Sep 25 1999