Paul was human!
And the Bible is such an honest book that it
presents its greatest Apostle just like he is!
(Weaknesses as well as strengths!)
In fact it does that with every one of its
Adam was a perfect man ... until he sinned!
Noah was godly too ... but he got drunk!
Abraham is the "Father of the Faithful" ...
but he lied about his wife to protect himself!
Joshua was a mighty leader ... but he died
with his work unfinished!
Nehemiah was a Revivalist ... but he had a
Jeremiah was a great Prophet ... but he
accused God of deceit!
Job is a supreme example of faithfulness ...
but even he had to repent of some rash words!
And David the King ... well, you know about
In every case ... including Paul's ...
mankind fails the Lord!
In fact, there is only ONE perfect Person Who
So ... in our Bible Study from Acts 21 we
shall see not only some great strengths of Paul's character ...
but also a glaring weakness!
There's what I'm thinking. If God used
those great Believers (admittedly, stronger than most of
us) ... even with their scars and failures and shortcomings ...
maybe he can use you and me as well!
Stay with us for a few lessons and see what I
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Now when I speak of Paul's
"weaknesses" or "mistakes" I am not referring to anything he
wrote in Scripture!
The Apostle, being the author
of 14 (if one includes Hebrews) New Testament Epistles, spoke
under the direct INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit of God and that
material is inerrant (contains NO mistakes)!
I believe the Bible to be a
But, after all, Paul as a man
And as a human he was subject
to error in his daily life.
He himself even says such
things as: "For I know that in me
(that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is
present with me; but how to perform that which is good I
find not." Then he honestly adds:
"For the good that I would I do not: but
the evil which I would not, that I do." Plus this:
"I find then a law, that, when I
would do good, evil is present with me." And read
this: "O wretched man that I am! who
shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (These
verses are all from Romans 7.) It seems to me that Paul
readily admits the possibility of error on his part!
Again, he's human.
And let me quickly add this.
This series of Bible studies is NOT designed to criticize Paul!
On the contrary, it will show his great dedication to the cause
of Christ Jesus!
Our time in the Word here will
however show that all believers are apt to make mistakes and
errors ... yet God forgives and restores by His marvelous Grace!
1st John 1:9, a verse that's
probably often mis-applied, is written to Christians and says:
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Are you ready?
Lord willing, more tomorrow.
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The Apostle Paul was saved by
God's marvelous Grace!
The record of this great event
is found in Acts 9.
Once Paul was saved, God told
another Believer (named Ananias) this critical fact about our
new Christian: "He is a chosen
vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,
and kings, and the children of Israel." Acts 9:15
Paul would preach the Word
unto the Gentiles!
Here's the first "hint" about
Paul's future ministry.
Again in Acts 13 Paul and
Barnabas themselves (while in Antioch Of Pisidia on their first
missionary journey) said this: "For
so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to
be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for
salvation unto the ends of the earth." Acts 13:47
There's the second "hint!"
Paul is to be a preacher to the Gentiles!
Then five chapters later,
having had the Gospel rejected by the Jews in Corinth, Paul
clearly said this: "Your blood be
upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I
will go unto the Gentiles." Acts 18:6
That third "hint" is pretty
Then in his great Galatian
Epistle Paul said things like this:
"But contrariwise, when they
saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me,
as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter
to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was
mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas,
and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was
given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of
fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they
circumcision." Galatians 2:7-9
Paul was to preach
primarily to the uncircumcised, the Gentiles ... while Peter
would specialize with the Jews!
Then later when Paul was
giving his testimony in Acts 22 a couple of other critical facts
surface. Paul himself says that the Lord told him to ...
"make haste, and get thee quickly out of
Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning
me." Acts 22:18
The Lord didn't want Paul
to spend a lot of time in Jerusalem!
Again God speaks:
(from Jerusalem): for I (the Lord) will send thee (Paul) far
hence unto the Gentiles." Acts 18:22
It just seems that God's
Will for Paul was that he preach the Word to the non-Jewish
And we know what Paul
thinks about "God's Will." He describes it in Romans 12:2
as that "good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
So ... things seems to be
God's will for Paul ... to
work with the Gentiles!
Yet, as we shall see tomorrow
(Lord willing), Paul had "trouble" abiding by that Will of God!
He seemed to keep wanting to
return to the city (Jerusalem) which God told him to leave!
Now, I know Paul's motives are
But disobedience with good
motives is no less disobedience!
Wrong is wrong!
And even the greatest Apostle
of all had trouble realizing that.
We do too!
I'll guarantee you that some
of us reading these lines today are right now battling some
issue over God's Will for our lives!
Is God calling me to preach?
Shall I marry him or her?
Is that College right?
Which Church most needs our
Is this job hindering my
I've failed God so miserably!
Can He ever use me again?
Well, Paul's life definitely
shows us some great lessons about God's Will!
And the consequences of
And how God's Grace overrides
Stay with us now ... with an
open Bible in you hand!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The heart of the idea is seen
clearly in John 3:16 --- "For God so loved
the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
For God so loved the world ...
that He did something to keep them from perishing!
And that something involved His
Only Begotten Son Jesus!
Loving lost sinners!
Paul the Apostle had a case of
such "love" too!
Except his love was perhaps not
to just all sinners ... but to a specific group, the Jews!
Let me show you a "proof text" or
two. In Romans 10:1 he writes ---
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel
is, that they might be saved." He longs to see Israel
Then earlier he said this:
"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my
conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I
have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I
could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my
brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are
Israelites ...." Romans 9:1-4
Paul's "passion" was for the Jews
to find Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord!
Their lost condition caused him
continual sorrow and great heaviness!
He would have even been willing
to die and go to hell himself ... if that fact would have
brought Israel to true soul salvation!
And in Paul's travels, at least
in each city where there was a Jewish synagogue, he and his team
went there first ... to preach the Gospel! For one of many
examples read Acts 17:10 --- "And the
brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto
Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews."
He even often wrote things
concerning the Gospel like this ... "For I
am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of
God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew
first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16
Don't you just admire such love
How like His Lord who came
"to seek and to save that which was lost."
Yet ... and here's the point of
today's Lesson ... with all that love for Israel, God sent Paul
to preach primarily to the Gentiles!
Out of the Apostles' own mouth
comes these words: "For so hath the Lord
commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of
the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends
of the earth."
In fact, let me give you the
whole context of that statement. The Jews have (again) rejected
and actively opposed the Gospel ... so Paul and Barnabas reply:
"But when the Jews saw the multitudes,
they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which
were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul
and Barnabas waxed bold, and said,
'It was necessary that the word of God should first have been
spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge
yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the
Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set
thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for
salvation unto the ends of the earth.'"
Paul, lover of Israel, sent to
the low-down Gentile "dogs!" He is to preach the unsearchable
riches of Christ to the heathen!
What an unusual "twist" of irony!
Paul the pure blooded Jew,
"circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the
tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the
law, a Pharisee ... touching the righteousness which is in the
law, blameless," now a preacher to the nations of the
Isn't it amazing what God has
done to get the Gospel to us old sinners?
Not the least of which was this
"surprise" move in the life of the Preacher named Paul!
And thus, being obedient to the
heavenly vision, Paul set out to preach the Gospel "where Christ
was not named!" (Romans 15:20-21) That is, to the Gentiles!
To the uttermost parts of the earth!
Oh, how we Americans (or
Canadians or Australians or Westerners anyway) ought to praise
God for His marvelous Grace to us!
He has literally altered the
natural course of history to bring us the Good News!
Preaching to the old Gentiles
certainly was not Paul's idea!
In fact, the Lord had to "keep
him on task" time and time again!
He often naturally veered back to
the Jewish camp it seems!
Sometime today, worship and thank
Him for sending you the Gospel ... pure and powerful!
I feel like shouting along with
the Old Testment prophet: "What hath God
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Listen to Paul as
his theology is stated again and again throughout his Epistles.
I particularly mean his "soterology," his beliefs about
Romans 3:23 ---
"For all have sinned, and come short of
the glory of God." By ALL he means both the
Gentiles and the Jews! See Romans 3:1 ---
"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what
profit is there of circumcision?" Then he
concludes --- "What then? are we better
than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both
Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin."
(Romans 3:9) Then he "caps" it all by saying that the Jewish Law
does nothing to save a lost soul!
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be
justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge
of sin." Romans 3:20
Then, Paul, if all
men are sinners, Jews and Gentiles ... and if the Law does not
(and cannot) save ... what is the Way to Eternal Life?
Listen to him
again: "For the wages of sin is
death; but the gift of God is eternal life through
Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) See
here that salvation is a "gift!" Not a physical operation
(circumcision) or a certain diet (Mosaic ritual) or worshipping
on a certain day (the Sabbath) or any other legal requirement!
Rather one is
saved "by grace through faith!" (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of
works, lest any man should boast." Amen!
Jesus is The Way to Heaven!
Paul indeed became
the Apostle of the Grace of God!
He preached that
the new birth occurred to one who experienced:
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth
the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath
raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the
heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation." (Romans
10:9-10) Or to the one who "believed on the Lord Jesus
Christ, and was saved" as a result of that trusting faith.
But the Jews, many
of them anyway, hated Paul's grace message!
Opposition to the
Apostle arose from Jewish quarters nearly everywhere he went!
They stood for the
"Law" ... while he stood for the "Grace" of God.
Paul even wrote
whole Epistles combating forms of Judiaism. He insisted
that grace, and grace alone, saves lost sinners. They must
be washed in the Blood of Jesus ... plus nothing, minus nothing!
great Preacher refuted circumcision as a form of attaining
higher spirituality! He did not support the dietary laws
of Moses. He certainly began worshiping on the first day of the
week, the day of Jesus' Resurrection. He no longer
practiced animal sacrifices ... after all, the Supreme Sacrifice
had died, the precious Son of God!
He even refused to
place his co-workers under Jewish restrictions! (Titus for
example in Galatians 2:3-5. "But
neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to
be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares
brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we
have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour;
that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.")
Paul staunchly defended his Christian liberty!
conclude ... Paul was a proponent, THE New Testament proponent
of salvation as God's Gift ... not as something earned! He
therefore opposed and battled various form of Jewish legalism.
(Some wrongly believed the Law of Moses saves lost souls!
Others just believed that once saved you had to keep the Law to
stay saved! Still others believed that the Law neither
saved nor kept one saved ... but that obeying it made one much
more spiritual! All three groups are wrong! And Paul
proves them wrong in his Epistle to Galatians!)
After all this
having transpired, one would believe that Paul would be through
once-for-all with Mosaic Law and troublemaking Jews (though
perhaps relatively few in number) and trips to Jerusalem ...
rather concentrating on his God-given ministry of reaching
Gentiles ... whom
he was growing to love dearly! Listen to what he said
about them in Romans 15:15-16 where he is concluding his Epistle
(maybe the greatest ever written)!
"Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you
in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that
is given to me of God, that I should be the minister of Jesus
Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the
offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being
sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
"offering up" means to bring face to face into the
Presence of God! It is a technical term used by priests as
they do their spiritual work! Paul just said that every
old lost Gentile that gets saved under his ministry he mentally
pictures as an "offering" he carries to the Throne of God,
laying it before the Saviour in adoration, love and worship!
Yes, he is the
Apostle to the Gentiles, all right!
BUT there is a
And we will
examine it tomorrow, Lord willing!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
What a great example of Christianity
Paul the Apostle lived!
Of course he himself said that he
didn't live that godly life ... but Christ Jesus lived it in
him! Listen: "I am crucified
with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ
liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I
live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave
himself for me." Galatians 2:20
The liberals and skeptics today say
that Paul in reality "invented" Christianity. That he made a lot
of claims about Jesus that just were not true, things Jesus
Himself did not teach! (Some even go so far as to say that Paul
asserts Jesus' deity ... but that Jesus never claimed such!
They are wrong! Listen to Jesus: "I
and my Father are one." Or ...
"Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and
yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath
seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the
Father?" John 10:30 and John 14:9)
Paul was a true "giant" in the
The very moment he got saved ... he
said to Jesus: "And he trembling and
astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
Acts 9:6 (What obedience!)
Jesus literally became "everything"
to him! So much so that he said: "For to
me to live is Christ." (Philippians 1:21) Later
he added: "When Christ, who is
our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him
in glory." (Colossians 3:4)
And oh, how he suffered for Jesus'
sake: "Are they ministers of Christ? ...
I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above
measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews
five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was
I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered
shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In
journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils
of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen,
in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city,
in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea,
in perils among false brethren; in weariness and
painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in
fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that
are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the ...."
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
He lived such a pure life that he
could truly preach things like this:
"Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1st
His character reflected nine great
spiritual characteristics: "love, joy,
peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and
temperance ...," which is the
"fruit of the Spirit!" Galatians 5:22-23
He even could claim:
"And herein do I exercise myself, to have
always a conscience void of offence toward God,
and toward men." Acts 24:16
And at what is perhaps the most
"telling" time in any man's earthly life, as Paul neared the
end, he thundered: "For I am now ready to
be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give
me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that
love his appearing." 2nd Timothy 4:6-8
And yet ... all that being so ...
the great Apostle was still human!
He on occasion lost his temper,
splitting from Barnabas over a young man named John Mark:
"And the contention was so sharp between
them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so
Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus." Acts 15:38
He once got a little careless with
his tongue: "Then said Paul unto him, God
shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest
thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten
contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou
God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that
he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not
speak evil of the ruler of thy people." Acts 23:3-5
And he, even Paul, had his own
little "besetting sin" also!
(If you will today read the next
Lesson in this Bible Study Series, you will better understand
what I mean. It follows this Lesson immediately.)
Yes, again I say ... Paul was human!
He realized what a failure he was as
far as his "flesh" was concerned! Listen to him:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my
flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me;
but how to perform that which is good I find not."
He learned that godly Christian
living is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit!
That's why he said: "For the law of the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of
sin and death." (Romans 8:2) Then a little later he
continues: "And if Christ be in
you, the body is dead because of sin; but the (Holy)
Spirit is life because of righteousness." Romans
In fact it was Paul who warned us:
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed
about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our
faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the
cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of
the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2
Here's what I'm saying today: If
Paul had to fight such battles ... surely we shall too!
And if the Holy Spirit gave Paul the
victory ... He can do the same for us as well! Paul again ...
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1st Corinthians
Here's the "key" ... really the
answer to everything in the Christian life:
"Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Yes, there are two "natures"
residing in every Christian. An old sin nature (not yet
eradicated) ... and a New Nature imparted by God when we were
"born again." These do battle with each other ... and the
stronger one wins! It's critically important that we Believers
feed the New and starve the old! That's how we grow in the
Christian life! In other words: "Be
filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18
"Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not
fulfil the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also
walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:25
Herein I find
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The great Apostle
Paul did have some weaknesses in his Christian life!
The most glaring
(carefully recorded in the inerrant Word of God mind you) deals
with the Will of God for his life!
We have already
established in this series of Bible studies that God called Paul
to go to the Gentiles.
And to stay away
And that he would
only suffer hardship and persecution at the hands of the Jews.
Paul at first
seemed fine with this.
He became a great
Preacher of the Grace of God!
He taught us the
Law of Moses could save no one!
It could not even
Nor was it the
avenue to a Spirit filled life!
It was just a
"school-master" to bring us to Christ!
It showed us how
very far short we came in reaching Godís righteous standards!
And the Paul who
withstood the legalizers and false teachers of his day broke new
ground as a spiritual trailblazer, teaching salvation "by grace
He even refused
to circumcise Titus, a young preacher boy who got saved!
rebuked Peter for withdrawing from fellowship with some new
Gentile Christians when certain Jews arrived from headquarters!
BUT Ö something
One day Paul
began to change!
He determined he
was gong back to Jerusalem, even after the Lord had told him to
get out and stay away from that city!
His motives were
good in returning.
He wanted to see
Israelites saved by Godís Grace too!
But disobeying God Ö even in order to do something good Ö is
still a sin!
Hereís how this
"chain" of disobedience developed:
Paul, who refused
to circumcise Titus (in spite of the Jews), did circumcise
Timothy Ö to please the Jews! Acts 16:1-3
Then Paul decided
to take a "vow" (a Jewish legalistic vow) and shaved his head
(not a New Testament "Grace" requirement at all) in order to go
to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Pentecost! Acts 18:18-21
decision was made ... Paul nearly quit preaching to the Gentiles
and thought only about Jerusalem, Jews and Judaism!
He refused to go
see the Ephesians on his trip southward, requiring them to come
see him nearer the coast as he traveled. Here his said his
final "good-bye." Acts 20:16
In fact watch the
Apostle sail by preaching opportunity after preaching
opportunity as he rushes to the forbidden city!
"And we sailed thence, and came the
next day over against Chios; and the next
day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at
Trogyllium; and the next day we came to
Miletus." Acts 20:15 (He had a case of "next day-
itis" I believe!)
Then the real
stay away from Jerusalem!
We had best wait
until tomorrow to study further.
Paul might have
been just a bit "stubborn" here!
He was going ...
no matter what!
Have you ever
been there, friend?
Oh, how we all
need to learn the great lesson of obedience ... obedience to the
Will of the Lord!
Out of Paul's own
mouth (from his own inspired pen really) come these words:
"Neither yield ye your members as
instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves
unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your
members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield
yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye
obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto
righteousness?" Romans 6:16
"I speak after the manner of men because
of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your
members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity;
even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto
holiness." Romans 6:19
Paul's words ... "Lord, what wilt Thou
have me to do?" Acts 9:6
May we ALL live
by those words!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
His name was
"Jehovah is great!"
We meet him near
the end of Jeremiah's long ministry.
After the nation
of Judah had fallen into the hands of the wicked Babylonians,
King Nebuchadrezzar appointed Gedaliah governor over the cities
of Judah. Only a handful of the poorest of the people remained
anyway. The rest had been taken into captivity!
Jeremiah, given a choice by the
Babylonians, decided to go back to Judah and spend the rest of
his days there.
However, due to carelessness on
Gedaliah's part, it was not to be!
Here's the record of what happened
at Jeremiah's "release." It's found in Jeremiah 40:6 ---
"Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah (the new
governor) the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among
the people that were left in the land."
No sooner had the poor people
gathered around their new leader ... that a new "enemy"
A man named Ishmael ... along
with his associates.
But we soon learn that Ishmael has
come with deadly intentions!
Listen to this warning God send
Gedaliah: "Moreover Johanan the son of
Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in
the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and said unto him, Dost
thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites
hath sent Ishmael the
son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of
Ahikam believed them not." Jeremiah 40:13-14
The governor was warned ... but he
Those who loved Gedaliah even
offered to protect him from the enemy!
"Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah
secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and
I will slay Ishmael
the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it:
wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are
gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah
perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the
son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest
falsely of Ishmael." Jeremiah 40:15-16
This is Gedaliah's second
opportunity ... but he again said no!
Then it happened!
"Now it came
to pass in the seventh month, that
Ishmael the son
of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the
princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah
the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread
together in Mizpah.
Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that
were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of
Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon
had made governor over the land." Jeremiah
Gedaliah is murdered ... even after
being warned so clearly about this wicked Ishmael!
And that's not all.
Because of Gedaliah's insensitivity,
many others died too!
slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah,
at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and
the men of war." Jeremiah 41:3
Then he killed dozens more two days
In fact, a whole chain of bad events
started at this point!
At what point?
At Gedaliah's refusal to heed the
"warnings" God sent into his life!
Christian friend, has God even sent
you a warning?
Why, His Word is full of them!
And (since this is Sunday) as you
listen to good anointed preaching, the Holy Spirit will "warn"
you time and time again about weaknesses in your life!
The question is ... do we heed our
warnings and correct the problems?
Or do we, like Gedaliah, ignore
Or maybe we accuse the messengers
... like Gedaliah foolishly did ... to his own harm! He said to
his friends, "For thou speakest falsely of
Ishmael." Jeremiah 40:16
As we go to church today, let's
God may have a "warning" for us!
If so, don't neglect it!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
Paul, in Acts 21,
had some "warnings" sent his way I believe!
"Warnings" NOT to
go to Jerusalem, but to continue his Spirit anointed preaching
to the Gentiles!
Here's our "text"
today. It begins with a description of their sea journey
southward. Luke, who obviously was with Paul, says:
"And it came to pass, that after we were
gotten from them (the weeping Ephesian Christians), and had
launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the
day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara: And
finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and
set forth. Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the
left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there
the ship was to unlade her burden." Acts 21:1-3
While the ship
unloaded ... Luke adds: "And finding
disciples, we tarried there seven days!" Acts 21:4a
(Much could be said about this sentence! In a new city
with 7 "free" days on their hands? That's just not like
Paul! Notice there's no record of his preaching a single
sermon to these Gentiles! No time to start a Church!
Paul has to hurry to get to the City (Jerusalem) God told him to
stay away from! "Make haste, and get
thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy
testimony concerning me." These were the Lord's
direct words to Paul in Acts 22:18.)
BUT watch what
tarried there seven days:
who said to Paul
through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went
our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and
children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled
down on the shore, and prayed. And when we had taken our
leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home
again." Acts 21:4-6
Paul just got
See that this
"warning" came from godly Christians, in fact ... disciples!
Also realize that
they spoke "through the Spirit!" (Capital "S" means Holy
Spirit of God!) "... who said to
Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to
And the message:
Do NOT go to Jerusalem!
But Paul, not
heeding the warning, sails on!
That's so unlike
the great Apostle, who well know how to take a "no" from the
For example, the
"thorn in the flesh" episode! 2nd Corinthians 12:7f
Or when he was
seeking God's will as to where to plan his second preaching
tour! Read Acts 16:6 --- "Now
when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia,
and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in
Asia." See that? The Holy Spirit said NO and
And read the very
next verse too: "After they were
come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit
suffered them not." Again, a God- sent NO, which
Paul also respected and followed!
God said NO twice
... because He had a better plan!
"And they passing by Mysia came down to
Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There
stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into
Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision,
immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly
gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel
unto them." Acts 16:8-10 (And God's plan here
led to the great ministries at Philippi and Thessalonica and
Corinth and Ephesus!)
But the Acts 21
warning we've studied was ignored by Paul ... his "stubborn"
will had already decided to go to Jerusalem ... no matter what!
And Paul paid
dearly for rejecting this warning.
He may have never
got out of jail after his soon-coming Jerusalem arrest!
Our Lesson today:
Heed God's warnings! Obey the promptings of the dear Holy
Spirit in your life!
God's NO today ...
means He has a better YES tomorrow!
Do what He says!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
I will admit that
Paul the Apostle was an unusual man.
Many unique things
happened in his life, especially after he was saved!
But perhaps one of
the most peculiar situations of them all occurred in Acts
There we read
these words written under divine inspiration.
Doctor Luke, one of Paul's traveling
companions, records it for us.
"And as we tarried
there (in Caesarea) many days, there came down from Judaea a
certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he
took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said,
Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind
the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the
hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we,
and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine
heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at
Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
Paul had determined to go to
Jerusalem! He already knew full well that God had commanded him
to depart from that city ... yet he was determined to visit
there again! (The Lord had told Paul ...
"Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they
will not receive thy testimony concerning Me." We learn
about this early event in Paul's Christian life from his
"testimony" in Acts 22:18, a testimony given in Jerusalem while
Paul was under arrest!)
Getting back to our verses for today
... on the way to Jerusalem (traveling by ship) Paul and his
company had to stop (when the ship did) for various reasons. At
Caesarea, in the deacon Phillip's house, the confrontation
described above occurs. "And the next
day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto
Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the
evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with
him." Acts 21:8
A prophet named Agabus had a message
for Paul. One which he had traveled many miles to deliver!
(The only other mention of his name is in Acts 11:28, where he
correctly prophesied about a coming famine!)
"And as we tarried there many days, there
came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus."
Acting out his sermon, Agabus took
Paul's large (wide) ornamental "belt" (girdle) and tied his own
hands and feet (as best he could) and declared that whoever
owned that piece of clothing (Paul) would be restrained in
Jerusalem (by his enemies among the Jews) and turned over to the
Romans for prosecution! "And when he was
come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and
feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at
Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall
deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." Acts
Now Agabus' reputation was so great
that immediately Paul's whole company (including Luke) begged
him to change his plans! To NOT go to that city! Luke says:
"And when we heard these things, both we,
and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem."
Then Paul, ignoring the Lord's
earlier instructions, ignoring the previous warning in Acts 21
(Lesson 9), and now apparently ignoring the Holy Spirit's
promptings ... determines to go anyway!
"Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine
heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at
Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 21:13
And Paul's traveling brethren,
already knowing his stubbornness, responded just as Luke writes
... "And when he would not be persuaded,
we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done." Acts
The Lord probably has me writing
this today because someone reading these lines (a Christian mind
you) is battling the will of the Lord!
He has told you to do something and
you are rebelling!
Or He has instructed you NOT to do
something and you don't like that at all!
Hear me today.
Paul would have been much better off
to have obeyed the dear Lord (and many others whom God sent to
him with the same message) and STAYED OUT of Jerusalem.
There he (Paul) went back on his
He placed himself back "under the
He undermined the Grace of God which
he had preached so eloquently for years!
He got into a riot.
He would have been "torn to pieces"
by a Jewish mob ... had not the Romans arrested him!
And we are not able to positively
(by the Bible) prove that he ever got out of jail again ... the
rest of his life!
He disobeyed God!
Friend, do what God is telling you!
He know best!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The Apostle Paul,
having ignored several warnings from the Lord, has gone to
Luke records in
Acts 21:17 --- "We were come to
Now look at what
was required of Paul once he got there.
He bows down to
James' every wish! This James was much more "legally" oriented
than Paul! By "legally oriented" I mean dependent upon the Law
This is the James
of whom Paul earlier said of "them which
were of reputation" in "Jerusalem"
... "these who seemed to be somewhat,
whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth
no man's person: for they who seemed to be somewhat in
conference added nothing to me!" Galatians 2:1,2,6
Paul then allows
himself to be placed under a legalistic Jewish Mosaic vow! This
is in order to prove to the Jews that ...
"Paul walkest orderly and keepeth the Law!" Acts 21:24
(Paul no longer kept the law! He even says that at times
he ate meat sacrificed to idols! He worshipped on Sunday! He
refused to circumcise his young preacher boy Titus! He preached
salvation apart from the Law ... and solely by Grace through
Faith in the shed Blood of Jesus Christ!)
He went into the
Temple ... "Then Paul took the men, and
the next day purifying himself with them entered into the
temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of
purification, until that an offering should be offered for every
one of them." Acts 21:26 (This is the Temple of which
the Lord had rent the veil half in two ... when Jesus died! God
had left that place! Paul taught us where the real temple is
now ... "Your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye
are not your own." 1st Corinthians 6:19
Yet Paul forgets
Then the Jews lie
about Paul ... falsely accusing him ... and start a riot ...
trying the have the Apostle killed! "And
when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of
Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the
people, and laid hands on him, crying out, Men of Israel, help:
This is the man, that teacheth all men every where
against the people, and the law, and this place: and further
brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy
place." Then ... "And all the city
was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and
drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief
captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar."
Acts 21:27-28, 30-31
"beating Paul" and yelling
"away with him" and would have
"pulled him to pieces!"
Paul ends up
being put under arrest by the Romans and staying that way for
years ... if not the rest of his life!
What a price to
Oh, that Paul had
obeyed those God given "warnings!"
Now if as great a
man as Paul suffered for disobedience ... what about you and me?
Need I say any
My advice to each
us us today ... simply quoting John 2:5 ... is
"Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it."
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
The Apostle Paul was an exceedingly
He learned his lessons quickly!
After being so determined to go to
Jerusalem ... even after God told him to get out of that
"dangerous" place ... Paul got himself into a great deal of
Here's what God told Paul on his
first trip back to Jerusalem after he got saved. I'm getting my
information from the lips of Paul himself now.
"And (I, Paul) saw Him (the Lord) saying
unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for
they will not receive thy testimony concerning me." Acts
And after being told again and again
by the Lord that his "call" was to the Gentiles ... that his
ministry was to the "uncircumcision" ... Paul still determined
to return to Jerusalem, cutting short his great third missionary
In Acts 21 twice the Lord sent Paul
a message like this: DO NOT GO TO JERUSALEM!
And twice in retort Paul said: I AM
GOING ... NO MATTER WHAT!
But, when he got to the forbidden
(for Paul) city .... things went "bad" in a hurry!
Paul reverted to the Law of Moses,
allowing James to say that Paul now "walked orderly and kept the
Law!" Acts 21:24
Paul took a further vow and entered
the Jewish Temple to obey Old Testament legislation!
While there, he was falsely accused,
causing a riot!
He was nearly killed by a mob of
attacking Jews, barely being rescued by the Roman army in the
He was jailed and stayed that way
for years ... maybe even the rest of his life!
Paul's trip to Jerusalem, made in
the face of God's repeated warnings NOT to go, ended in
Did Paul (Brother "go to Jerusalem
at any cost" himself) ever learn his lesson?
Did he ever determine that he needed
to STAY OUT of that city?
Yes, I think he did!
Months and months after his arrest
... Paul was one day being interrogated by Festus, the Roman
Puppet. He was asked, Do you want to return to Jerusalem ...
and face your accusers in trial? "But
Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and
said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these
things before me?" Acts 25:9
Paul must have thought: "Go back to
Instead the Apostle decided it was
to ROME he must go!
He appealed unto Caesar!
Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be
judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well
knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing
worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of
these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto
them. I appeal unto Caesar." Acts 25:10-11 (Paul
knew that would involve a trip ... to Rome ... away from
No more Jerusalem for Paul!
It's on "to the uttermost part of
the earth," Rome!
See what I mean?
Paul learned that Jerusalem was NOT
He learned to obey God's promptings
and leadership given through the precious Holy Spirit!
Now I call that being a "wise" man!
No doubt someone today has stopped
here to study a bit ... someone who is also saying "no" the the
Lord on some matter!
Listen to me this Tuesday in May.
You had best say YES to your Saviour!
Those refusals can only lead
to one place ... trouble and discipline and hardship!
And yes, obedience also leads
to only one place ... blessing and peace and contentment with
the Will of God!
Christian, save yourself a lot of
Do what HE says!
Pray what little Samuel did many
years ago: "Speak, LORD; for thy servant
heareth." 1st Samuel 3:9
You will be glad you did!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
THE FINAL LESSON:
Yes, Paul was not
above God's Hand of discipline in his own life!
After all, we
believe it was Paul who wrote these very words:
"For whom the Lord loveth he
chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he
receiveth." Hebrews 12:6
The Book of Acts
ends abruptly ... perhaps due to Paul's "stubbornness" in going
to Jerusalem (against God's will) at any cost!
BUT ... here's
what I want to emphasize today:
In the midst of
Paul's defeat ... God creates VICTORY!
In Paul's greatest
valley ... God builds His tallest mountain!
From a jail cell
... at first in Jerusalem and then in Caesarea and finally in
Rome itself ... Paul begins what would become his greatest
He wrote the great
Epistle of Ephesians from jail!
He also wrote
Philippians from jail!
Colossians from jail!
He wrote Philemon
He wrote 2nd
Timothy from there too!
(And maybe 1st
Timothy and Titus as well.)
God, while Paul
was confined, gave him his widest outreach of all!
He did his best
work in prison!
Paul was "bound"
... but "the word of God was not bound."
2nd Timothy 2:9
Talk about God's
"Where sin (Paul's rebellion) abounded,
Grace did much more abound." Romans 5:20
Now ... that's not
a license to sin!
Far from it!
Paul suffered much
through those last years!
BUT it is a
triumphant symbol and proof of the marvelous overcoming GRACE of
Praise HIS dear
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY FOR YOUR
DILIGENT BIBLE STUDY!