“Take Courage!” ( Acts 23: 11, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Ananias orders Paul to be struck in the mouth. Paul says, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3) Some overhear Paul’s angry remark, and say, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul responds, “Brothers, I did not realize that he is the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.'” (Acts 23:4-5)

Paul “stands on trial because of [his] hope in the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6) The Sadducees and Pharisees, who disagree as to whether or not there is a resurrection of the dead, argue in “a great uproar.” (Acts 23:9) The commander is “afraid Paul will be torn to pieces by them. He orders the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.” (Acts 23:10)

Jesus, on the following night, “stands near Paul and says, ‘Take courage!'” (Acts 23:11) Jesus tells Paul that he is to “also testify in Rome” about Him.

The very next morning, a conspiracy develops among some Jews who swear to kill Paul. Paul’s nephew hears of this plot, goes to the barracks and warns his uncle. Paul sends his nephew to the commander, who arranges for Paul to “be taken safely to Governor Felix.” (Acts 23:24)

Governor Felix keeps Paul in prison for two years, calling for him frequently, hoping Paul will bribe him. The Jews attempt again to plot their murder of Paul, but fail when the new governor, Festus declines to transfer Paul to Jerusalem. While in Caesarea, Paul appeals to Caesar. King Agrippa arrives. Festus explains that the Jews’ accusations against Paul are surprising and unexpected. He tells the king that “they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claims is alive.” (Acts 25:19)

Paul makes his case to King Agrippa. “Now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:6-8) King Agrippa knows Paul should be set free, except he has appealed to Caesar.

Paul along with other prisoners sail to Italy, but “the ship is caught by the storm” and “takes such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they begin to throw the cargo overboard.” (Acts 27:15,18) They “finally give up all hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:20)

An angel of the Lord stands beside Paul that night and says, “Do not be afraid, Paul.” The angel reminds him of Jesus’ words spoken several years earlier –“As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Paul says to his fellow prisoners, “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” (Acts 27:25) “Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” (Acts 27:34)

Finally Paul reaches Rome; he calls the leaders of the Jews together to discover that no negative reports have come to them from Judea. Paul is free to preach the gospel, to testify about Jesus for two years “boldly and without hindrance.” (Acts 28:31)

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