God’s Word for You
Acts 23:31-35 In God’s hands
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, January 28, 2021
31 The soldiers carried out their orders. They took Paul by night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they parted company with the cavalry which continued on with Paul while the soldiers returned to the fortress. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. When he learned that Paul was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your full case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.
The soldiers marched Paul forty-two miles during the night to the fortified palace called Antipatris. This was an old village rebuilt and beautified by Herod the Great and named for his father. It is perhaps the location of Aphek, the Old Testament Philistine stronghold where the battle raged in the days of young Samuel when Eli’s sons were killed and the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:1-11).
Luke gives a few more eyewitness details about the trip. Most of the soldiers did not continue on after the brief stop at Antipatris, but they returned to Jerusalem. The seventy mounted cavalry troops, together with Paul and his companions, rode further on. More than half of the journey was done, including the hard ride through the Judean mountains, but there were still twenty-six miles left on the way down to the coast and Caesarea.
After all of the long riding, at least two days of it, the conclusion was brief. The governor read the letter and decided to wait for the “accusers” to show up. Did Paul give a wry smile, knowing that the Hebrew word for “accuser” is satan? He was taken into the palace and not into any prison cell, for he was a Roman citizen in the capital city of the Roman governor. For the moment, he would be comfortable. He could have guests, he would be well-fed, there was fresh water to be had, and he could meditate and pray in peace.
Paul was in the custody of the Roman government in the service of the gospel and with the blessing of the Lord Jesus (Acts 23:11). Travel takes time, and Paul was in the stages of a journey that would take quite a lot of time. He could wait without worry. He didn’t have to argue with anyone before the trial began. After all, the Scripture says, “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words” (Proverbs 23:9). There was time now just to rest and to pray. Sometimes we need to leave things in God’s hands, and to say, “I’ve done what I can. Now, Lord, I need to leave everything else up to you.” Join with David and with Jesus in saying, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me O LORD, the God of truth” (Psalm 31:5). What better hands in which to leave our troubles than the hands of the Almighty God?
Pastor Timothy Smith