Acts 23

Take Courage

Something I’ve always found startling about Paul’s story is his courage to say things. In Acts 23, Paul makes a controversial statement knowing there were people present who disagreed with him. He says, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial (Acts 23:6, ESV).” In that moment not everyone believes as he does about the “hope (Acts 23:6)” of the future. In verse 9, the Pharisees wonder if an encounter with the Divine has prompted this statement; “…We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him? (Acts 23:9, ESV)” 

From our perspective as the readers of this text today who have knowledge of the full story, we know this was exactly the case. Even the chapter prior refers to this, as Paul shares how his life was changed in response to a voice (Acts 22:7, ESV). Would this possibility have been suggested had Paul not made this statement? Who knows. It’s possible to speculate, but we don’t know for sure.

What we do know for sure is that Paul’s words had impact. Look back in the previous chapters in Acts and look ahead in the coming chapters to see the impact of Paul speaking. Look around, as the good news of Jesus who brings hope, was and is shared with the world in dedication and courage, the same courage displayed by Paul. 
In chapter 23, verse 11, God speaks to Paul saying, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome (Acts 23:11, ESV).”  What do you think of when you read this verse? What comes to my mind is the act of speaking up, whether it’s the legal sense of testifying or a testimony in church. The core concept present is verbalizing what has happened or what is believed as truth.

God affirms to Paul what he has done and prompts Paul for what’s ahead. The same is true for us today; there is more ahead for us in sharing the message and love of God. We can speak and testify to how God has been present and worked in our lives personally and corporately through our words and actions. And we can prepare for what’s to come and what God is calling us to do.

May our prayer be that in our words and actions we reveal and exemplify the grace, love, and power of the One who loves each and every one of us.

By Katie Wagner

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