A Plot to Kill Paul
 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.  There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.  They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul.  Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.  Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.”  So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.”  The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”  And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him.  But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.”  So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.”
Paul Sent to Felix the Governor
 Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night.  Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”  And he wrote a letter to this effect:
 “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings.  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen.  And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council.  I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.  And when it was disclosed to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.”
 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.  And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him.  When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him.  On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia,  he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium. (ESV)
- Narrow escape
Whether it be Moses being rescued from the river, the spies being protected in Jericho, or Jesus escaping Herod’s massacre, narrow escapes are everywhere in the Bible. Here, Paul narrowly escapes an assassination conspiracy. While these escapes may be narrow, they are never coincidental or dumb luck. Rather, these are examples of God’s divine providence. God was not done with Paul, and nobody was going to kill Paul until he was.
- Strange supporters
One cannot read this text without seeing the great and sad irony. Paul was a Jew who believed in Christ, and yet his own Jewish brothers were conspiring to kill him, even vowing not to eat until they took his life. It is the Gentiles who come to Paul’s rescue, protecting him from the Jews’ murderous conspiracy and transporting him safely to Caesarea via military escort. God is always full of surprises!
- Luke, the historian
Acts is not a myth or wishful thinking. Acts is history and Luke, the author, is a historian. In this text, we find a great example of how thorough Luke’s investigation was. Beginning in verse 26, we have a summary of the letter from Claudius Lysias to Governor Felix. How Luke got this document or became aware of its contents is unclear. What is clear is that Luke did the necessary heavy lifting to get ahold of such information. Acts isn’t just a story; it’s true history.
- Life can be full of close calls and narrow escapes. But God is sovereign over all of it. What are some of your close calls and how did God protect you during those moments?
- Sometimes we are surprised by who opposes us and who supports us. Have you ever been caught off-guard by the opposition or support you received from an individual? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? What did you learn?
- When reading the amazing stories in Acts, it’s easy to forget that these are real stories about real people. Acts is not just some fairy tale meant to inspire us; it is the true history of the early first-century Church. How does seeing Acts, and the rest of the Bible, as history change the way you read it?
Call to Worship
Answer Me When I Call
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
 O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
 But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
 Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.
 There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
 You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Most merciful God, whose Son Jesus Christ was tempted in every way, yet without sin, we confess before You our own sinfulness; we have hungered after that which does not satisfy; we have compromised with evil; we have doubted Your power to protect us. Forgive us for our lack of faith; have mercy on our weakness. Restore us in such trust and love that we may walk in Your ways and delight in doing Your will. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Heavenly Father, you have appointed the places and days that we live. You have chosen for us to live during these times and through Kitsap County. We live in one of the most unchurched regions in our country, yet this is also where you have placed Your people to be a witness to the truth that Jesus is Lord. Lord, we live in a very dark place and in very dark times. Satan has a foothold over our neighbor. The spiritual oppression in our community is great. We trust that your mighty power to save is greater. We are not foolish though to know that there is great challenge, difficulty, and trouble awaiting us to cultivate the gospel in these times and this community. Satan wants to deceive, distract, and destroy God’s work and His people. So Lord, equip us and preserve us for this great work. As we were reminded this morning, you are mighty and able. If you have loved us enough to give us your only Son, we can be certain that you will take care of our needs and bring salvation to people in our community. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Lord, let us continue to find our hope and refuge in Jesus Christ, whose name we pray. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.