After three days, he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had gathered, he said to them, "Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, I was taken prisoner in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.
I. THE INTRODUCTION. Paul felt that his position was one which was open to misunderstanding on the part of his fellow-countrymen, and he resolved on a free and full explanation. In this we recognize
(1) his constant faithfulness; for it was in discharge of his duty to his Divine Master that he sought to conciliate those who were his enemies; also
(2) his habitual courtesy; for the whole strain of his address to the "chief of the Jews" was suave and courteous in a high degree (vers. 17-20). In their reply (vers. 21, 22) we recognize
(1) a formal impartiality combined with
(2) a real prepossession of mind decidedly against the cause of which he was the advocate.
II. THE CONFERENCE. (Vers. 23-28.) We have:
1. Christian earnestness confronting Jewish curiosity. Paul "expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them," etc., evidently with characteristic zeal. They listened, curious and wondering what he had to say. "We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest." Christian fervor on the one side, Jewish eagerness on the other.
2. Christian truth striving with Jewish prejudice. Paul marshaled his facts and his arguments, we cannot doubt, to the full height of his fervor and his practiced ability, maintaining his plea at great length (ver. 23). But he spoke to men whose minds were occupied with prejudice. The "sect was everywhere spoken against," they said to him. They probably used much stronger language in speaking to one another.
3. Christian truth prevailing over Jewish prejudice. But seldom do we read of men being "convinced against their will;" but we are glad to read here that "some believed," etc. (ver. 24).
4. But we have the old sad story of Jewish prejudice prevailing over Christian truth. "Some believed not."
5. Finally we have Christian indignation uttering itself freely (vers. 25-27). We turn to -
III. THE LESSORS WE GAIN FROM IT.
1. That it is right for us to invite and address the curious as well as the devout. We should summon to the sanctuary not only those who are wishful to worship God, but those also who are solicitous to learn what we have to say on any subject with which we deal.
2. That we should exert ourselves to present truth in all its phases and with all our force. As Paul made his appeal to the Law and to the prophets, and developed and illustrated his argument at full length, so we should present the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, in all its fullness and in all its force; not being satisfied until we have "declared the whole counsel of God."
3. That we may reasonably hope for some measure of success. We have to contend, not indeed with Jewish prejudice, but with human obduracy. Yet armed with Divine truth and aided by the Divine Spirit, we should look for success.
4. That we need not be surprised at partial failure. Where apostles were baffled we may be beaten.
5. That the hour of rebuke sometimes comes in the ministry of Christ.
6. That one sphere failing, another will open to the earnest worker (ver. 28). The salvation of God is sent to all men, and there are those who "will hear it," if there are many who will not. - C.
After three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together.
I. HIS ADDRESS. In justifying himself he states —
1. That his captivity was not due to any crime against Israel or its religious customs.
2. That he had been compelled to appeal to Caesar through the protest of the Jews against his liberation, although the Roman authorities judged that liberation to be just.
3. That his object in appealing to Caesar was not to bring any charge against the Jews, but simply for his own protection.
4. That it was only on account of the Messianic hope of Israel that he was a prisoner and wished to have an interview with them.
II. THEIR REPLY. Note —
1. Their avowal of ignorance of the whole matter. This may seem strange, but it must be remembered that intercourse between Rome and Judaea was frequently interrupted by the disorders of the times.
2. Their desire for information respecting the unpopular sect. says: "The Jews of Jerusalem sent messengers to their brethren in every part of the world to prejudice them against the disciples of Christ." These men had heard of the sect, but every word that came to their ears was loaded with reproach. This was what Simeon had predicted.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)1. A last testimony to his innocence (vers. 17-20).
2. A last confession of Jesus as the Messiah (ver. 23).
3. A last effusion of love towards his people (vers. 17, 19, 20).
4. A last stroke of the hammer on hardened hearts (vers. 25-28).
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