- Paul continues his journey to Jerusalem. Follow the route of the voyage on a map. Note, especially, the moving scene in verse 5, and the part that hospitality played (verses 4, 7, 8, 16). What insights does this give us about the influence of a Christian home on visitors and children?
- How are we to understand these warnings of the Spirit? To Paul’s friends they seemed to say ‘Do not go up to Jerusalem’. But Paul himself did not so interpret them. Is the explanation that the Spirit gave clear warning of peril and suffering, and Paul regarded it in another and deeper way? Cf. 20:23, 24; Matt. 16:21-23. What would your reaction have been in the same situation?
- Verses 17-26. Paul’s arrival at Jerusalem. He relates to the leaders of the church at Jerusalem all that God has done among the gentiles. (a) What problem did James consider would thus arise (verses 20-22)? (b) Practical action is recommended to Paul (verses 23-26)? (c) What principles determined Paul’s action? Cf. 20:24; 1 Cor. 9:20-23; 10:23, 33. How might these principles affect your own attitudes to others?
- Verses 27-36. Paul’s arrest at Jerusalem. Try to picture the vivid scenes. Why did it happen? Trace the parallels-at least five-between the treatment given to Paul and to Christ. Do you expect men to treat you better than they did Christ?
In the face of a murderous mob, and by permission of the captain of the guard who at first misunderstood who he was, Paul makes his defence.
- Paul uses, not a sermon, but personal testimony. Notice what he says about his background, religious activity, conversion and calling to serve the Lord Jesus. Have you realized how powerful a weapon you possess in your personal Christian testimony? Do you use it?
- Paul seeks to put no unnecessary offence before the Jews: notice the language he uses, and what he says about Ananias as a Jew. Here was a man being utterly faithful to Christ, and concerned for his enemies. Can you care, in the same way, for those who badly treat you?
- Paul argues in verses 19, 20 that he is well qualified to take the gospel to the Jews. Why? Yet God commands him to go to the Gentiles (verse 21). What practical lessons about Christian service and God’s working can we learn from this?
- With verses 22-29 compare 16:22, 23, 37-39. Paul mentions his Roman citizenship to prevent scourging; yet at Philippi he had acted otherwise. Compare the circumstances and consider the reasons for Paul’s action. Are you prepared to forgo your personal rights for the sake of God’s glory? Cf. 1 Cor. 9:12.
- What is Paul’s testimony concerning his behavior and his belief? Cf. 24:16 and 2 Tim. 1: 3. He sought always to live to the glory of God. Are you able to testify in the same way concerning your behavior and belief?
- Consider Paul’s tactics in the courtroom: (a) his righteous anger (verses 3-5), and (b) his division of the court (verses 6-10). Once again the enquiry was abandoned. Was Paul more concerned for his own welfare and a settlement of the whole matter, or for the truth?
- Consider how greatly Paul must have needed encouragement because of: (a) the physical strain he had undergone, (b) the pain of Israel’s unbelief, (c) the seeming failure of his witness, and (d) the ganger of which he would be aware next day. How would the vision and the words spoken by the Lord meet all these need? What words of the Bible have you found a help in such times? Do you memorize them?
- God sends deliverance in many different ways. How did he send deliverance in this case? Paul must have been greatly encouraged by what his nephew did. Are you able to do any cats of kindness that will bring gladness to some person in need or loneliness or anxiety?