Acts 24:1-21 Helping the Poor
Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor. 2 When Paul was called in, Tertullus presented his case before Felix: “We have enjoyed a long period of peace under you, and your foresight has brought about reforms in this nation. 3 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. 4 But in order not to weary you further, I would request that you be kind enough to hear us briefly.
5 “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.  8 By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.”
9 The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting that these things were true.
10 When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: “I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense. 11 You can easily verify that no more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. 13 And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me. 14 However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, 15 and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
17 “After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings. 18 I was ceremonially clean when they found me in the temple courts doing this. There was no crowd with me, nor was I involved in any disturbance. 19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia, who ought to be here before you and bring charges if they have anything against me. 20 Or these who are here should state what crime they found in me when I stood before the Sanhedrin—21 unless it was this one thing I shouted as I stood in their presence: ‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’ ”
Living God’s Word: Verse 17 is the only reference in Acts of Paul’s collection for the poor Jerusalem saints (24:17), though it is mentioned often in his letters. It forces us to remember that at the most basic level, the gospel is not about building big churches or launching worldwide evangelistic campaigns but about loving others. This is the essence of the law. When Christ rules in our hearts, we will have compassion for others—concern for both their spiritual and physical well-being. What is the church doing to assist those Christians who are struggling financially? What are you doing?
Words to Live By: Paul defends himself before the Roman governor, Felix. He claims to follow what is written in the Scriptures, focusing especially on the resurrection of the dead. Paul uses the opportunity to bear witness concerning Jesus, who has given him new life. Through Jesus’ sacrificial death and His resurrection from the dead, God forgives us and builds us up. He empowers us to proclaim His mercy.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for wrongful speech, and give us a clear conscience toward You and our fellow man. Help us always to believe Your unchanging Word and to hope in the resurrection. Amen.
Living and Sharing the Word of God… because it matters!
Pastor Rod Lindemann
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The Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Words to Live by and Prayer: Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (2002). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Purchase a copy of The Lutheran Study Bible at www.cph.org or contact Rod Lindemann.
Living God’s Word: Adapted from Life Application, Barton, B. B. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.