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Acts 24-28

12.08.2010

We finish up Acts today as Paul outmaneuvers himself and ends up in Rome awaiting trial.  I don’t mean to be glib about his sufferings, but 26:32 came out of nowhere to me. 

In 25:11, Paul appeals to Caesar because he is not confident that he would be found innocent by Festus and would therefore have been handed over to the Jews to die.  He didn’t trust Festus because Festus wanted to be in good standing with the Jews.  Festus says, ‘Fine, I just need to take you to King Agrippa for a formal charge, and then I’ll send you to Rome to be tried by Caesar.’ 

This all makes sense until 26:32, when Agrippa, having conferred with his wife and with Festus and found nothing with which to charge Paul, says, ‘This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’  Agrippa essentially is ‘the Jews’ that Festus is trying to appease.  He’s the native authority with whom Festus wants good relations.  He didn’t want Paul’s blood.  Paul didn’t so much jump out of the frying pan and into the fire as much as he jumped from the counter into the fire for fear of the pan.

What’s going on here?  Did Paul, who has so often followed the Spirit against worldly wisdom, err here by relying on his political maneuvers when faithful inaction would have set him free?  Was Paul more concerned with finding a way/reason to get to Rome than with his own freedom?  Were God and Paul working at cross purposes, with Paul trying to be free and God wanting him to die awaiting trial? 

That last option scares me because it goes back to that notion of a God who’s will is so sovereign that He allows evil to befall His people for the sake of His global/historical/eternal plan.  Where is God’s love (for Paul, specifically) at work here?

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