We’re back, and I’m glad to be back. I have missed this time over the past week though I greatly enjoyed chapters 21-26 and the narrative they tell.
Chapter 27 begins where chapter 26 left off. Now, you will probably say, “Clint, that’s obvious,” and you’d be right. 27 does follow 26. But, I think there’s more to the connection than chronology. The last verse of Acts 26 tells us that King Agrippa said to Festus, “This man (Paul) could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Agrippa recognized that Paul had done nothing wrong and was willing to set him free. Think about how the gospel could have continued to flourish in the Mediterranean world if this had been the case, if he had been freed. It is hard to imagine what a great impact a freed Paul would have had on the spread of the gospel. However, it wasn’t to be.
As I read chapter 27, I asked myself, though, would Paul have been a truly free man and allowed the privilege to continue to work in the advance of the kingdom of God? I think the answer is “no” for two principle reasons.
First, he would have either been killed by the Jews in Jerusalem or forced into hiding in order to preserve his life. Remember that the reason Paul was in Roman custody was because the Jews sought his execution and even made a plan to kill him. And, they had tried to carry out their plan while he was in transport to Jerusalem from Caesarea.
Second, it was God’s will for Paul to stand before Caesar in Rome. Look at verse 27:23-24,
“For this very night there stood before me (Paul) an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart men, for I have been told…”
Paul had a divine appointment with Caesar. It was God’s plan for him to be in Rome and to testify before the head of the Roman Empire. It was God’s desire to use Paul in such a way. He had been called for a task, and he had not been released from that call. Though Agrippa and Festus would have freed him, God would not. He was bound by the will of God, and he was a willing servant.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had such a willing heart? Paul didn’t know the Lord’s will was for him to appear before Caesar when he made his appeal to Caesar. Paul didn’t know it until the Lord revealed it to him on the boat, but he trusted the Lord in every part of his life, in the good and the bad. He took prudent and Christ-honoring action to preserve his life for the sake of the gospel, and he trusted God. That’s a great “life plan.” Try it in your life — make prudent, biblically informed decisions, take Christ-honoring action, and trust the Lord with everything.