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God’s Word for You

Acts 24:10-16 Christ alone

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

10 Then the governor motioned for Paul to speak. Paul said, “I know that you have been judge over this nation for many years, and so happily I will answer for myself.

Actually, Felix had been governor (Procurator) for only about five years at this point (early summer, 58 AD). We generally assume that he had served in some important position under his predecessor Cumanus. The lawyer for the Sanhedrin had merely flattered Felix. Paul shows that he genuinely knows who Felix is and understands his history in Israel.

11 You will discover that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 They did not find me in the temple disputing with anyone or inciting the crowd, nor was this in the synagogues or in the city. 13 And they cannot prove any of the things that they are accusing me of.

Don’t get yourself bogged down in figuring out how Paul counted days here (Jewish reckoning vs. Roman reckoning). What’s important is that less than two weeks ago Paul arrived in Jerusalem for Pentecost. It would be easy to affirm this with witnesses in the city. He could prove with ease that part of that time was spent in a lawful fulfillment of the Nazirite vow of his companions, which he himself paid for. He did nothing in public during that time; he obeyed the law of Moses. None of the members of the Sanhedrin would be able to prove anything to the contrary. He even carries out the point that he did nothing to stir anything or anyone up in the temple, or in any synagogue, or anywhere else in the city. Who got the crowds shouting? It was the Sanhedrin itself.

Paul could have gathered people. He could have preached in the synagogues as he had in all the cities of Cyprus, Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece. He could have gone into the temple preaching Christ. But instead, he took the advice of the Christians who were there and quietly took part in the fulfilling of a vow without interacting with anyone, a process that took seven days (Acts 21:27).

14 But I confess this to you: I do worship the God of my fathers according to the Way, which they call a sect. I believe all of the things that are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the wicked. 16 Because of this I keep striving continually to have a clear conscience before God and men.

Notice that Paul once again points out the differences between the Sadducees and all other groups among the Jews. He points out that the “Way” is called a sect by the Jews. Why? Wouldn’t another group that had veered away from the basic teachings of God’s word be a better candidate to be called a sect? For example, one that does not follow the Law and the Prophets? Or one that does not accept the resurrection? Or one that does not concern itself with the conscience and repentance? This was the definition of the Sadducees, who were Paul’s accusers, and not the Pharisees or other Jews, or the followers of the Way.

Let’s look at those basic things Paul talks about more closely. He focuses his attention on the word of God, the Scriptures, and the preaching of the resurrection. True faith in God means giving assent to the whole word of God and not only to one part of it, the way that the Sadducees did (they accepted the books of Moses, but not the writings of the Prophets). Faith especially clings to the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gracious reconciliation of God and man through Jesus, who continually mediates on our behalf, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Faith is the channel by which the grace of Christ flows into each of us, a gift from God directly to the beloved believer.

Consider those parts of the Bible that do not point directly to forgiveness and salvation through Christ. These parts include passages like the accounts of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), Jethro’s advice to Moses (Exodus 18), or the sinfulness of the rogues gallery in 2 Kings 15. Each of these accounts is historical, accurate, and true, but does not point to Christ and our forgiveness in a direct way. Where Christ and forgiveness are not taught, they should not be sought. Those other accounts can be used to illustrate specific sins, but not to point to the Savior. So the Sadducees and some other Jews in Paul’s time sought some kind of reconciliation with God, but not through forgiveness. Their own doctrine of righteousness through works led them away from Christ and led them instead into their own lives for salvation. We cannot find salvation inside ourselves. We look to Jesus alone. As Paul had already written: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Is that true even for the Jews? “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” Paul went on, “for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29). Look to Jesus for your salvation and remember that he accomplished everything that was necessary on your behalf. Through Jesus, you have forgiveness and the promise of everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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