Unexpected Passage: Lynch mobs, assassins and Roman justice

Verse: Acts 26:1-26

Acts 26:22 “But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.”

The last few chapters of Acts show Paul at his most fearless. He confronts a lynch mob with such boldness that Roman soldiers have to drag him into their barracks for his own protection. The next day he takes on the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, causing such a ruckus that the Roman commander fears they will tear Paul in pieces. Then 40 religious fanatics take a vow to kill him.

In the midst of all this turmoil, Paul gets a comforting vision from the Lord, who says, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). That is all the encouragement Paul needs.

The Prisoner Speaks

After being smuggled out of town under heavy guard and the cover of darkness, Paul arrives at last in the palace of the Roman governor. His troubles are far from over. After hearing Paul’s defense, Felix sends him to prison for two years as a political favor to the religious authorities. Even that does not quiet the furor. The moment a new governor, Festus, arrives, Jewish leaders hatch yet another death plot against Paul.

Acts records 18 speeches, the last three of which were delivered to a very select audience. Roman officials, intrigued by the most talked-about prisoner in their corner of the empire, bring Paul to perform, like a trained bear. This chapter records Paul’s riveting performance before the most distinguished judge, King Herod Agrippa.

The result? Paul finally realizes his dream of visiting Rome—not via a missionary journey, but in a Roman ship as a prisoner of the empire.

Life Questions

Have you ever faced opposition because of your faith? What can you learn from Paul’s response?

This devotion is from the NIV Student Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.