PAUL’S NEPHEW REVEALS A PLOT
Scripture: Psalm 31:24; Acts 22:30, 23:1–5
Memory verse: Psalm 31:24
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."
Relate the following story to the students. It tells about a woman of great courage.
Corrie ten Boom lived in Holland. Around 1940, during World War II, Adolph Hitler was the Nazi leader of Germany. He imprisoned the Jewish people from the countries he conquered. Adults and children were forced to live in filthy, crowded concentration camps with little to eat. They worked as slaves, and then were killed in gas chambers. Millions of Jews died in these camps.
Corrie ten Boom’s family was not Jewish. They could have quietly gone about their business during this awful time and simply felt sorry for the Jews. However, they loved God. They knew this terrible treatment of the Jews was wrong. So, they did something courageous. They decided to help Jews who were hiding from Hitler’s army by letting them live in their home. They built a secret place in which to hide the Jews in case the Nazis came and searched their home. However, if their hiding place was discovered, the ten Booms could be forced to go to a concentration camp. Hiding Jews was an extremely dangerous thing for them to do.
For a while all went well with the ten Booms’ plan. Then one day their home was raided by Nazi soldiers. Corrie, her sister, and her father had been betrayed by a neighbour. The soldiers could not find the secret room. Yet because of the witness of the neighbour that the ten Booms had tried to hide Jews, the ten Booms were sent to a concentration camp. Corrie’s father and sister died there; only Corrie survived the camp.
After the ten Booms’ capture, the Jews were still able to hide in the house from the soldiers because the hiding place had never been found.
In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie tells how God gave her the courage to live through those terrible years through the war and in the concentration camps.
Corrie and her family risked their lives to help the Jews. In our study today, a young man risks his life to help Paul. When it is needed, Christians of any age can have the courage to do the right thing.
Hearing God’s Word
Paul was in jail again. Some Jews in Jerusalem were attacking the idea that salvation through Jesus is for everyone. Paul had tried to defend himself before these Jews in Jerusalem. Yet when they heard him say God had called him to be a witness to all men, Gentiles and Jews, they were furious. They wanted Paul killed. The Roman commander took Paul away in order to end all the shouting and uproar created by the angry Jews. The next day Paul was taken to stand before the Sanhedrin.
Paul Before the Sanhedrin
Ask: “Do you know what the Sanhedrin was?” (Allow responses.)
The Sanhedrin was the highest court of the Jewish people. It was made up of 70 or 71 high–ranking Jewish leaders. They were of good reputation and instructed in the Jewish law. The Sanhedrin led by the high priest, governed religious and nonreligious, or civil, matters affecting the Jewish people. This court could punish all Jewish offences but could not use the death penalty.
Paul was often put on trial before the Jewish leaders. It probably would have been easy for Paul to become weary of defending and explaining his actions. Instead, he welcomed these trials as opportunities to tell the Jewish leaders about Jesus. As he addressed the Council that day, Paul spoke boldly. (Ask a student to read Acts 23:1.)
These first words angered Ananias, the high priest. (This is not the same Ananias who prayed for Paul after his conversion.) He ordered those who stood near Paul to slap him on the mouth. Immediately Paul criticized Ananias because the Law stated that no one could punish a man before he was proven guilty of a crime. Paul had been accused, but not yet proven guilty. Even so, when Paul was informed that Ananias was the high priest, he apologized for his outburst. He knew that those in authority are to be respected.
As Paul resumed his defence, he realized he was speaking to both Pharisees and Sadducees. (Ask a student to read Acts 23:6–10.) The Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed about some things. This became clear as Paul spoke. Pharisees were mostly businessmen—craftsmen and merchants. They believed in much ceremony in keeping the Law. They were very strict about the Law and believed traditions were important. They believed in angels and the resurrection of the dead. They also felt they could gain righteousness by strict following the traditions and religious practices.
Sadducees, on the other hand, were mainly Jewish aristocrats from powerful families. They faithfully studied the Law and gave educated answers to any questions concerning it. Sadducees did not believe in angels or the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees tried hard to stay in favour with the political leaders.
Pharisees Versus Sadducees
Paul started an argument between the Pharisees and Sadducees by mentioning that he was a Pharisee and believed in the resurrection of the dead. This caused some of the Pharisees to defend Paul, while the Sadducees disagreed with him altogether. Soon a heated argument broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees. When the commander observed the disagreement, he commanded Paul to be taken away and put back in prison for another night.
While in prison, Paul had a visitor. (Read Acts 23:11.) God came near and encouraged Paul. When we are afraid, we need to remember God is near us, encouraging us to be of good cheer. We may not see Him visibly, but we know He is always with us. (Repeat the memory verse with the students.) If we trust God and take the first step of courage, He will provide the strength we need to get through any situation.
Paul’s troubles did not end with the arguing Sanhedrin. The next morning a band of Jews formed a secret agreement and swore an oath: they would not eat or drink until they had killed Paul! More than 40 men were involved in this plot.
An Oath and a Plot
The men went to see the chief priests and elders and told them of their oath. They asked these Jewish leaders to ask the Roman commander to bring Paul before them once again. What was their plan? (Read Acts 23:14, 15 with the students.)
It seemed like a plan that would work. However, the plot was overheard by someone—Paul’s nephew. He hurried to where Paul was imprisoned in the castle and told him about the wicked men’s plan.
After hearing of the scheme, Paul called one of the centurions who were guarding him. He asked the centurion to take the young man to the Roman commander to tell him something important. The centurion did as Paul asked.
When the young man met the commander, the commander took him aside and asked, “What do you want to tell me?”
Paul’s Nephew Risks His Life
Because Paul’s nephew was himself a Jew, he was risking his life by telling the commander about the plan. If the group of Jews found out Paul’s nephew knew and told of their plan, they may have harmed him or even killed him. However, Paul’s nephew knew he could not stand by and let his uncle be killed. Even though it must have been scary, Paul’s nephew did what was right. He was courageous and told the commander of the plot against Paul. (Ask a student to read Acts 23:20–22.)
The commander knew the danger the young man would face if the group of angry men discovered that he had revealed their plot. He believed that the angry Jews would do exactly as the young man said, and he encouraged Paul’s nephew to keep silent about it all.
Because of this young man’s bravery, Paul’s life was spared. The Roman commander called two of his centurions and ordered them to provide a military escort for Paul so he would safely reach Felix, the governor in the city of Caesarea (Sehs–uh–REE-uh). The centurions provided 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen to accompany Paul. Then the commander personally wrote a letter to Governor Felix informing him of the situation.
If Paul’s nephew had not risked his own safety, Paul could have been killed. Yet the young man knew the right thing to do, and he knew God would go with him. God gave him the courage to speak to the commander.
Accepting God’s Word
The best example of someone who showed courage is Jesus. He stood for what is right during His earthly life. He did not back down when people mocked Him for saying He is the Son of God. He also had great courage to go through the pain and suffering of dying on a cross for our sins. He did this because He loves us and wants us to know the joy of having our sins forgiven. He knew it was God’s plan of salvation for any who would believe in Him.
Ask the students to name situations they face for God that require courage. Some examples are refusing to see a video with sex, violence, or bad language because they know it is not pleasing to God; being kind to a classmate that others are unkind to; or telling a teacher or parent when they know of someone’s plan to steal, or commit a crime.
My guide shared with me the story of the village church we would attend. The pastor, who was also a prosperous businessman in Dar es Salaam, decided to purchase a piece of property in the hills west of the city. Later, the Lord spoke to him and his wife about giving themselves for full-time pastoral ministry. They sold their business and attended Bible school for three years.
Following the completion of their training, the couple felt it would honour the Lord to give their plot of ground in the hills to the church. After this generous act, the church asked them to be the ones to establish a church on that piece of property. It was a challenge, for the area was 100 percent Islamic.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for the Holy Spirit to Prompt Zalamo Believers
1. Recognise when the Spirit has prepared a Zalamo to receive Jesus,
2. Identify individuals for whom God wants to work a miracle of healing,
3. Give young people a word of encouragement.
"…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Remember: PAUL’S NEPHEW REVEALS A PLOT
Memory verse: Psalm 31:24
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."
1. God helping me, I will defend the innocent.
2. The Holy Spirit will give me words to speak in defending the gospel.
3. The Lord will give me courage to do what is right.
Pray for Zalamo believers to be prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Study 13 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach