Study No. 28 God’s ‘Plan B’ Acts chapter 23
Paul, against the advice (or command) of the Holy Spirit has come to Jerusalem for Pentecost. No doubt his motivation is the salvation of ‘his people’, the Jews. Paul knew that many Jews from other provinces would be present in Jerusalem for this holiday. Things go terribly wrong. He is falsely accused, attacked and then rescued by Roman soldiers. Paul is granted the permission to speak to the angry mob. He does so in Hebrew. All goes well until Paul mentions the word ‘gentiles’ and the mob once again explodes.
When the commander cannot discover what it is that Paul is supposed to have done he decides to interrogate him after a beating. Paul reveals to him that he is a Roman citizen and, as such, is entitled to various benefits, including an opportunity to be formally charged and allowed to defend himself before any form of punishment could be meted out.
The commander, more intent than ever on finding out what it is that has angered the Jews, commands the Jewish leaders and the Sanhedrin council of 70 elders to appear for a hearing. This is where we pick up the story in this study.
I. Paul addresses the council
- He looks intently at the council.
- declares his innocence. He insists he is innocent of any charges, but he does so in a very bold manner; by declaring that he stands before God, having acted in a pure conscience … up to the present day.
- He challenges the authority of the Jewish leaders in their having him struck him on the mouth, contrary to Jewish law and predicts a retribution or punishment by God.
- He ‘back-pedals’ when he is told that he has just cursed the high priest. Either …
o the high priest was not dressed in his priestly garb due to the short notice of this meeting, therefore Paul did not recognise him to be a priest.
o Paul, due to the sudden slap in the face, momentarily forgot that the high priest was due honour and respect
o Paul spoke ironically, as if he had said, "The high priest breaking the law! The very idea! I see a man in white robes, and I hear a voice, but surely this is no high priest!"
o It may have been a result of Paul’s sight defect; he could not see that the speaker was the high priest.
However it may be explained, Paul, with all his excellency, comes short of the example of Jesus, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again”. 1 Peter 2:23
Note: The mere fact that a man is conscientious does not prove that he is right, or innocent.
- He does not finish what he had started to say after having been interrupted … but rather changes to a completely different plan. He takes advantage of a doctrinal difference that exists within the council, thereby deflecting attention away from himself.
Paul is rescued by the Roman commander v10.
II. God’s ‘Plan B’. “Paul, you will go to Rome” 11-22
- God exposes an attempted ambush.
Pr 21:30 ¶ There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. God has said that Paul will go to Rome. God will see to it that He gets there. Someone has said, believers are immortal until their work is finished here.
- God is often ‘the behind the scenes’ orchestrator of the methods and plans of men. A letter is drawn up, an ample supply of protection is provided and the next stage in his journey to Rome is taking shape. 23-35
God’s plan ‘B’.
God has had many “plan A’s” in place, in the past … and for one reason or another, modified it. Here are a few examples.
Plan A. Create a beautiful world and place in it two perfect human beings.
Plan B – if the humans beings should sin … have a plan of salvation in place.
Plan A. Design for marriage – One man and one woman. For life. No divorce.
Eph 5:31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
Mt 19:6 "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Plan B – Regulations from God via Moses for multiple wives.
De 21:15 ¶ "If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, [both] the loved and the unloved, and [if] the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, 16 "then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn.
17 "But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.
Plan A. Israel’s King is Jehovah God.
Isa 43:15 I [am] the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.
Israel wanted a human king … just so they could be like everybody else.
1Sa 8:4 ¶ So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."
6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.
Plan B – God gave them a human king.
Ho 13:10 Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? 11 So in my anger I gave you a king.
Their first king was saul. God endorsed their choice. Their second king (David) was actually God’s choice.
People come to Christ from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Some have had the privilege of having Christian parents. They have had the benefit of Godly principles being taught and modeled before them. Many pitfalls and traps have been avoided due to the Godly wisdom of parents and their patient, loving instruction.
Even so, some of these younger Christians did not totally and continuously obey. They went their own way and then, some years later, they saw the wisdom of their parents and the loving wisdom of God and came back to Him.
Many came back to God … now married to an unbeliever. (Not God’s first choice for them, and also not their parents’ choice for them.)
Plan A – do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
(Too late! I already am! What now???)
Plan B – Do not leave them. 1Co 7:13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
The marvel of God’s grace … is that ‘Where sin abounded … grace did much more abound.’ Romans 5:20
So was with Paul. So it is with us. No one can be perfect … so ¶ What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? Ro 6:1
By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Ro 6:2
So we carefully and prayerfully walk by faith as best we can … knowing that God loves us and will not cast us aside when, for some reason or other, we go our own way.
 Ananias was slain, with Hezekiah his brother, during the agitation that occurred in Jerusalem, when the robbers, or Sicarii, under their leader Manahem, had taken possession of the city. He attempted to conceal himself in an aqueduct, but was drawn forth and killed. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, b. ii. chap. xvii. 8. Thus Paul’s prediction was fulfilled.