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14. Adventure In God’s Protective Hand

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(Acts 25:1-28:31)

A.D. 59-62

The definition of adventure is, “an unusual or exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.” Our English word comes from the Latin for “about to happen.” Wow! What a way to look at life following Jesus—something’s about to happen! The interesting thing for the believer is that the journey is just as important as the destination. That’s the adventure.

The Holy Spirit told Paul he would be going to Rome. Paul just didn’t know the adventure would take so many bends and turns which all seemed to be part of God’s plan for him. Even more remarkable is Paul’s response to the delays and obstacles—waiting patiently, maintaining respectful relationships with authorities, and considering God to be helping him all the time (Acts 26:22). Paul faces the worst and still sees himself enclosed in God’s protective hand during his adventure.

Most of us would prefer to choose our own “adventure,” complete with detailed itinerary and plans for our comfort. Rather than viewing delays, discomfort, and opposition as God’s leading through opportunity, we see those as a hindrance to being “successful” in life as a believer. But that’s not adventure, at least not what is promised by our God. Jesus says to us, “Follow me!” wherever, whenever, and however He leads. That’s the adventure. And, He promises His Spirit is with us through it all. We are never out of our God’s protective hand. Will you trust Him for the adventure in your life?

Read Acts 25:1-28:31 in one sitting to get the whole picture. As you do, read it personally—applying it to your life today. Pray that God would open your heart to the truths He has for you from this text.

Follow Paul’s journey to Rome with this map.

Day One Study

Read Acts 25:1-22.

1. What right did Paul claim as a Roman citizen, and why did he choose to do so? (See also Acts 23:3; Romans 1:10-13.)

Historical Insight: It was the right of every Roman citizen to have his case heard before Caesar (at this time Nero) or his representative in Rome. Winning such a case at this highest court of appeal could have led to Paul’s acquittal as well as official recognition of Christianity as distinct from Judaism. (NIV Study Bible, p. 1694)

2. What did Festus think of Paul? See also vv. 25-26. What did he particularly remember about the charges against Paul (v.19)?

Read Acts 25:23-26:32.

3. Discovering the Facts: Who was in the audience that day?

Historical Insight: Festus served in Judea only 2 years, but his record shows wisdom and honesty superior to those before and after him. (NIV Study Bible, p. 1693)

Agrippa was ~30 years old, the son of the king struck down by God in Acts 12:23. He was a friend of the Roman imperial family, appointed the Jewish high priest, and was well acquainted with the Jews’ religion. He was not Jewish. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 423)

4. Paul gets another opportunity (4th since Acts 21:1) to tell his story before kings and authorities. What does he say in this “sermon” that would invite Agrippa and the others to listen?

5. This opportunity to hear Paul’s story is evidence of God’s grace toward Festus, Agrippa, and the other influential people. They hear the gospel message wrapped in the testimony of someone who has lived out its truth for all to see. What appeal does Paul make to the audience? How do Festus and Agrippa respond to Paul’s appeal? What did they miss for themselves?

6. Share Your Life: Paul presents himself honorably, truthfully and respectfully. How does the Holy Spirit help us do that? Have you ever experienced a stressful situation where an outside observer was amazed at how you handled yourself?

Day Two Study

Read Acts 27:1-12.

7. Discovering the Facts: Who is traveling with Paul besides Luke? Read Acts 19:29; 20:4, and Colossians 4:10 to see what other “adventure” Aristarchus experienced alongside Paul.

8. Share Your Life: Have you ever voluntarily walked beside a friend through danger, hardship, or other challenging “adventure,” knowing it would be very hard on you as well? What was that like? What kept you going? How did that affect your friendship? Has someone done that for you?

9. Early in the journey, what kindness did the centurion Julius show to Paul? See also 27:42-43 for a later kindness.

10. What did Paul perceive and warn would happen if they continued their voyage on the Alexandrian ship? (Be specific.) Were his warnings heeded?

Historical Insight: The Alexandrian ship was from Egypt, bound for Rome with a cargo of grain. Rather than stay on the first ship up the coast to Macedonia and follow the inland highway from there, Julius chose to change ships for a direct voyage to Rome though Romans usually considered sailing that late in the season to be risky. (NIV Study Bible, pp. 1697-98)

Read Acts 27:13-44.

11. Discovering the Facts: In the course of the voyage, what part of Paul’s warning came true? What part of Paul’s warning did not happen? Why not?

12. Compare Julius’s regard for Paul’s advice in 27:10-12 with 27:31-32. Why the change?

Scriptural Insight: If the sailors in v. 31 had been allowed to desert the ship in seeking to save themselves, the passengers would have been unable to beach the ship the following day. (NIV Study Bible, p. 1698)

13. Paul had been shipwrecked before. Read 2 Corinthians 11:25; 12:7-10, and Philippians 4:6-7 to find out what Paul learned about a life of “adventure” with Christ. How is this demonstrated in Acts 27:23-26, 33-38?

14. Share Your Life: Are there circumstances in your life you feel are so distressing that it’s impossible for God’s peace to calm you? Does this seem biblical in light of what you’ve just read? How does Paul’s situation encourage you? How can your group pray for you?

Day Three Study

Read Acts 28:1-10.

15. Discovering the Facts: These verses reveal once again God’s grace and kindness to men. Who did God use to give Paul and his companions “refuge” and how? Be specific.

Think About It: Malta was known as Melita by the Greeks and Romans. The name Melita was first given to the island by Phoenician seafarers; it is the Canaanite word for “refuge.” (F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, p. 497)

16. Since the angel told Paul the ship must run aground on some island, and Malta turns out to be the island, landing there seems to be part of God’s plan, not something that surprised God. Why do you think God wanted Paul on Malta? What good did God do for the islanders through Paul during his three-month stay there? [Note: here’s another governmental authority that is introduced to the God that Paul served.]

The islanders’ response in v. 4 is historical pagan thinking, “If good things happen, the gods are happy with me. If bad things happen, the gods are angry with me and are punishing me.” That is not biblical thinking. As was discussed in the last lesson, God is good all the time—even in the hard times and in different ways to different people.

17. Looking back over Acts 27:1-28:10, what are some examples of God being good in different ways to different people so that what looks “bad” for one is actually “good” for that person or for someone else?

18. Share Your Life: Thinking about your own life, describe some instances where what looked “bad” for you actually turned out to be a blessing for you or for someone else. Have you thanked God for that specifically? If not, consider doing so and tell someone about it this week.

Day Four Study

Read Acts 28:11-31.

19. Upon accepting Christ, you become a sister in Christ to all other believers; you are united into a glorious family! In vv. 11-16, describe how “the brethren” (or “brothers”) showed their support for Paul. What kind of effect did this support have on Paul (remembering what he has just been through)?

Historical Insight: The Forum of Appius was 43 miles from Rome. (NIV Study Bible, p. 1700)

20. At last, Paul is finally in Rome, where he had wanted to go for quite some time! Though a prisoner because of his appeal to Caesar and restricted in his mobility (but not his speech), what does he do shortly after his arrival? Why? Does this surprise you? Explain.

Think About It: Men may bind the preachers, but the gospel cannot be chained! (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 431)

21. In v. 20, what do you think Paul means when he says he is, “wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel?”

22. What did Paul continue to do for two years after this confrontation with the Jews? What does Luke’s statement in v. 31, “Boldly and without hindrance” reveal about Paul’s view of his circumstances? Read Acts 26:22. What confidence does he have in His God? In what ways was he fired up and ready for any adventure Jesus planned for him?

Historical Insight: During this two-year period, Paul wrote what are commonly called his “Prison Epistles”—Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. What happened after this two-year captivity? Perhaps no charges were filed in Rome and Paul was released. Probably Paul returned to the provinces of Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia and then turned west to Spain according to his original plans. Then he administered once more in the Aegean area where he was taken prisoner, removed to Rome, and executed. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 431)

23. Share Your Life: How do you view delays, discomfort, and opposition—as God’s leading through opportunity or as a hindrance to being “successful” in life as a believer? Looking back on your struggles, how was Jesus protecting you and helping you through them?

Fired Up And Ready For Adventure:

Jill Briscoe once said that women are naturally fear-driven, performance-oriented creatures. We want the environment and circumstances in our lives to be perfect. Then we think we can function well, without hindrance. That’s not biblical. Paul decided that he would continue to serve God wholeheartedly, doing what Jesus called him to do, going on every adventure Jesus planned for him, in spite of his circumstances and in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances. Just like Paul, the Holy Spirit will get you fired up. Are you ready for that adventure with Jesus? What decisions do you need to make about your life that make you ready for it? Will you tell Jesus, “YES!” today?

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