God, give me discernment to recognize opportunities this week to turn conversations toward spiritual topics, as well as boldness to clearly share the gospel and call for response. I praise You for being the God who will never leave or forsake His people. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Acts 24-28
Acts 24 Jesus promised His disciples would “be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12–13). Now, Paul is brought before Felix the governor and King Agrippa.
Don’t miss how Paul framed his defense before Felix the governor: “For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today” (24:21).
Acts 25–26 In chapters 25 and 26, Paul defended himself before the new governor Felix and then shared his testimony before King Agrippa. When the king accused him, saying, “Paul, you are out of your mind!” (26:24), Paul was not distracted. Instead, he pressed the king to respond to the gospel (26:27). The king sensed this desire to bring him to faith (26:28–29), and the chapter ends with a Roman authority—for the third time—declaring Paul innocent of the charges against him (26:31; 25:25; 23:29).
Acts 27–28 Acts 27 and the beginning of Acts 28 relate the details of Paul’s voyage to Rome, a trip that included a shipwreck and time on Malta. During challenging days adrift in the Mediterranean Sea, an angel of God stood before Paul and delivered an encouraging message: God was with him and his traveling companions would not drown.
The book of Acts ends with Paul safely in Rome just like the Holy Spirit indicated would happen (19:21). However, Paul’s under house arrest! At this point in Acts, we shouldn’t be too surprised at God’s strategy for advancing the gospel: putting His best preacher in prison. Yet even in this difficult circumstance, Paul “welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (28:30–31). Followers of Jesus should seize every opportunity to make much of Jesus, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s what Paul does.
Throughout the whole of Acts it’s clear that in spite of much opposition and suffering, God has worked out His plan with power. After Jesus’ ascension, the church started with but a few disciples and apostles in Jerusalem, and mostly ordinary people everywhere else. Then came Saul, the former terrorist, who became Paul—and all the while, the gospel has advanced and churches have been started.
After Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the church, the gospel advanced from Jerusalem to Rome in roughly 30 years. This happened not because of great strategic planning or rich and powerful people or worldly wisdom or human striving. Instead, the gospel spreads as people filled with the Holy Spirit obey what Jesus commanded, live out the values of God’s kingdom, and multiply disciples, despite opposition and suffering. Unsurprisingly, Jesus taught this in the Gospel of Luke.
And so the story pauses with Acts 28. It pauses—but doesn’t end. With its sudden stop and unfinished business, Acts encourages us to find our place in God’s plan and to bless the nations by bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its transformative power. The Bible has been written, but the “Big Story of God’s Mission” continues today.
As joyful Christians depend on the Holy Spirit in their daily lives, the gospel will go out, and people who are currently far from Jesus will repent and believe. They will then be gathered into churches that will reflect the character of God and proclaim the gospel to others. All of this will continue—in spite of hardship, persecution, and opposition—until the Lord Jesus returns.
From the 120 people gathered in Jerusalem who prayed and waited for the Holy Spirit, the gospel has made much progress. In fact, you and your church are here today because of God’s faithfulness to empower His people to be on mission, making disciples and planting churches among all the nations.
And it’s your turn now. Why not find your place in this story?
22 I (Paul) 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.
- In Acts 24, Paul defends himself before a government authority, yet he frames the discussion in spiritual terms. How did Paul’s initial comments (24:21) provide him an opportunity to share further (24:24-25)? What topics could be woven into conversations to provide the possibility of more in-depth spiritual discussions?
- When Paul shared his testimony with a Jewish crowd in Jerusalem, he mentioned “Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there” (22:12). Several verses relate Ananias’ role in Paul’s conversion. Why would Paul not mention Ananias when he shared his testimony with King Agrippa? What impact does this insight have for your testimony?
- Recount in your own words the story of how the gospel advanced from Jerusalem to Rome. Then tell someone else this story emphasizing the main turning points and main people God used along the way. Explain that this story continues today and that followers of Jesus are to participate in advancing the gospel to all peoples.