April 15, 2021

Follow Jesus All-In and All the Way

Acts 25–28

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Paul Appeals to Caesar

Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against...

Paul Appeals to Caesar

Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, asking as a favor against Paul1 that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”

After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice

13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14 And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, 15 and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. 17 So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. 19 Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20 Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”

23 So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”

Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa

So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

“My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul Tells of His Conversion

12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language,2 ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”3 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Paul Sails for Rome

And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for. And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus, because the winds were against us. And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast4 was already over, Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

The Storm at Sea

13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda,5 we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear,6 and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.”

27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms.7 A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms.8 29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.

33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength,9 for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 27610 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.

The Shipwreck

39 Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. 40 So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. 41 But striking a reef,11 they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. 42 The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

Paul on Malta

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people12 showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice13 has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him, healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 They also honored us greatly,14 and when we were about to sail, they put on board whatever we needed.

Paul Arrives at Rome

11 After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island, a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods15 as a figurehead. 12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. 13 And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found brothers16 and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage. 16 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who guarded him.

Paul in Rome

17 After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews, and when they had gathered, he said to them, “Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18 When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. 19 But because the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—though I had no charge to bring against my nation. 20 For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” 21 And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. 22 But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26   “‘Go to this people, and say,
  “You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27   For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
  lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
  and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”17

30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense,18 and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.


[1] 25:3 Greek him
[2] 26:14 Or the Hebrew dialect (probably Aramaic)
[3] 26:28 Or In a short time you would persuade me to act like a Christian!
[4] 27:9 That is, the Day of Atonement
[5] 27:16 Some manuscripts Clauda
[6] 27:17 That is, the sea-anchor (or possibly the mainsail)
[7] 27:28 About 120 feet; a fathom (Greek orguia) was about 6 feet or 2 meters
[8] 27:28 About 90 feet (see previous note)
[9] 27:34 Or For it is for your deliverance
[10] 27:37 Some manuscripts seventy-six, or about seventy-six
[11] 27:41 Or sandbank, or crosscurrent; Greek place between two seas
[12] 28:2 Greek barbaroi (that is, non–Greek speakers); also verse 4
[13] 28:4 Or justice
[14] 28:10 Greek honored us with many honors
[15] 28:11 That is, the Greek gods Castor and Pollux
[16] 28:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 15, 21
[17] 28:28 Some manuscripts add verse 29: And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, having much dispute among themselves
[18] 28:30 Or in his own hired dwelling

Follow Jesus All-In and All the Way

Key Verse | Acts 26:15-18

"'. . . I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I . . . appoint you as a servant and witness . . . delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"

Bio | Neil Curran

Hi! I grew up in a religious family in Massachusetts. I knew a lot about Jesus, but I wasn't saved until age 37 during a song at a Bible church. At age 50 I closed our advertising agency, and Jody and I moved to Dallas to earn a master's degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. I served as associate pastor in three churches in DFW and published a few books. A decade ago, I launched a ministry to train and resource pastors in Africa and China and around the world. We joined Watermark and serve in community, re|engage, Summit, and elsewhere.

Central Truth

Listen to Jesus and his Word every day. Seek His plans. Find out what He wants you to do and do it for the rest of your life. It's the greatest and most satisfying adventure you'll ever know.

Devotional | Acts 25–28

I grew as a disciple in New Orleans, and our pastor invited me to join him for a summer class at Dallas Theological Seminary. I repeated that for a few summers until our youngest finished college and we moved to...

I grew as a disciple in New Orleans, and our pastor invited me to join him for a summer class at Dallas Theological Seminary. I repeated that for a few summers until our youngest finished college and we moved to Dallas. I wrote an evangelistic tract about Mardi Gras. When we followed the call to Dallas, the artist friend who did the design for the tract told me she had put her faith in Jesus while reading it. That was a surprise confirmation for the path we had started. That disciple-making pastor who invited me to take a DTS class is now 94, and we are still close.

Right after graduation from DTS, we discovered that Jody had colon cancer. We called friends asking for prayer. One couple told us about a new opening for a pastor of small groups at their church where he was an elder. He asked me to apply, and I applied there and also at another church for the same type of position. A month after Jody's successful surgery, I was hired at the second church. That was miraculous timing and another confirmation of God's providence.

Paul's calling was dramatically clear. God had plans for Paul. He was protected from the Jewish leaders who sought to kill him after his conversion to follow Jesus. Paul used his unique training and boldness to share the truth with Jews and Gentiles—from Festus, the new Roman governor; Agrippa, king of the Jews; Roman officers; ship captains and sailors; to leading citizens in places like Malta and Rome. Paul spoke confidently to all. He was told he would go to Rome. As a Pharisee, who was also a Roman citizen, his appeal to Caesar was uniquely arranged and guaranteed by God.

Chapter 28 is not the end of the Acts of the Apostles. It's the end of the beginning, but it's ongoing today in faithful churches where miracles of new spiritual life still happen.

I had written thousands of ads, articles, and commercials. I believe God changed and directed my steps and words for His glory all the way to China and around the world.

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Discussion Questions

1. Having trouble discerning God's will? Do you study His Word, pray, and seek counsel from wise and mature disciples?

2. Each one of us is called to be a disciple who makes disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) Whom are you discipling?

3. Are there specific times and ways God has led you? Look for confirmation. Remember Ephesians 2:10 (NLT): "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." As Paul said, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1)

7 Comments available

Linda Green 26 days ago

One of the things I love about being older is looking back on all the ways God has loved me and redeemed the brokenness in me and around me through Jesus. Can see your’s and Jody’s story is a testimony of His love and faithfulness.

Reading through Acts this time, I’ve seen how many Roman guards Paul would have had the opportunity to share his testimony. Had he spent his time whining about his imprisonments and bad treatment, he would have missed his opportunity to proclaim Jesus.

Am so convicted by his example! Praying to fix my eyes on Jesus-no matter what else is happening (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Michael Scaman 26 days ago

This has an interesting pattern

Paul’s personal opinion was the ship journey would be dangerous and possibly people dying

Paul after praying was assured by an Angel no one would lose life. Their lives given by God

Part of being saved was they run aground and people stay with the ship else drown. They couldn’t just ‘let go and let God have his wonderful way’ doing whatever they liked.

Granted by God mainly, but God would use their actions working with God in some dependent way

Sue Bohlin 26 days ago

(1/2) Hey brother Neil! So great to see you and Jody back to back on JTJ!!

I LOVED seeing the Holy Spirit up to bat in every chapter of Acts. Luke mentioned Him by name in all but 8 chapters. Peter and Paul showed an affectionate familiarity with Him by how they wove Him into what they said. In the 8 chapters, we see Him in action even if Luke doesn’t directly attribute His supernatural enablings to Him by name:

Ch. 3: Peter heals a crippled beggar

Ch. 12: He releases Peter from prison

Ch. 14: He proved Paul and Barnabas’ message was true through signs and wonders, particularly healing a man crippled from birth

Sue Bohlin 26 days ago

(2/2) Ch. 22: He emboldens Paul to preach his testimony with confidence

Ch. 24: He fulfilled His promise that Paul would speak before kings as He empowered Paul to witness to Felix and Drusilla for two years

Ch. 25: He used Festus to block the Jews’ plan to ambush and murder Paul

Ch. 26: He gave Paul power to speak boldly to King Agrippa and Bernice

Ch. 27: He sent an angel to encourage Paul during the night before a shipwreck, and protected Paul and all other 275 people on the ship from death in the wreck.

Greg Jones 26 days ago

I know how as Christians we handle the book of Acts and how it influences us today. How might someone teaching Jews, like Paul in Rome in the last chapter, have used Acts to teach early in the 2nd&3rd centuries? Before the separation of Christianity/Judaism by creed.

In that time, the story of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zaikai would be known more than Paul’s. His story of escape from Jerusalem, his conversations with Roman officials, a conversion from Pharisee to start a new sect, those similarities to Paul’s life are probably discussed. A Jewish difference in recent religious experience from our American Christian perspective today.

After the Kitos War(115–117 CE), and Bar Kokhba revolt(132–136 CE), as Christianity becomes the official Roman religion, Acts28:25-28 would have had a greater focus. A Roman difference from our American Christian perspective today.

I see those as maybe two.

Hugh Stephenson 26 days ago

GM Neil! Back-to-back Curran!! What a joy it is to have you both!

Love your Key Verse on Paul’s call and your Central Truth to “seek His plans”. I love Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs 16:3. I add to those two verses Hebrews 12:1-3 & 1 Corinthians 9:24.

Races and plans. Of course, the God who is the creator of the universe has a plan. But not just that but a plan for me; a race to run with endurance.

I am constantly amazed at God’s plan for Paul.

First, he is evangelizing King Agrippa right in the middle of the trial. Now that’s a man on a mission. When I first read this passage years ago I was waiting for Agrippa to come to faith in Jesus and be baptized.

Nevertheless, off Paul goes to Rome. Storms, shipwrecks, snakebites. Paul’s faith is amazing as he never waivers.

Michael Scaman 26 days ago

Festus arrived at the city port of Caesaria ( clearly very Roman named after Caesar), within 3 days he goes to Jerusalem, Paul on agenda as a hot topic. Festus wanted ‘to do the Jews a favor’ and send Paul to Jerusalem to be dealt with. The stuff of politics and favors, not doing the right thing.

The plot to kill Paul backfired several ways on the plottees and politicians. Paul doesn’t get sent to Jerusalem (and some vowed not to eat till Paul capured). Then “when he [Festus] had conferred with his council” sent Paul to Rome and Caesar, Paul too hot to handle locally.

God is sovereign over bad rulers.

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