17 And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: “Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans,
18 who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death.
19 But when the Jews spoke against it , I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation.
20 For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you , because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
21 Then they said to him, “We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you.
22 But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”
23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
24 And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.
Even after his arrest, after the attempt on his life, after he was forced to appeal to Caesar, even after being sent to Rome in chains, and in spite of the fact that he was unable to go to them, Paul, for the final time, went to the Jew first.
leaders of the Jews (v.17) — there were seven synagogues in Rome
people or customs (v.17) — This passage by no means proves that Paul had until then lived under the law, proclaiming a kingdom message. He did not commit himself to a positive here. He did not say: “I have faithfully observed the customs of our fathers.” he merely said: “I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers.” The idea is plainly that he was no guilty of desecrating their sacred customs. — Stam, page 212.
wanted to let me go (v.18) — tense indicates an ongoing attitude
compelled (v.19) — forced
not that I had anything of which to accuse my nations (v.19) — Paul’s appeal to Caesar was defensive. He meant it as no accusation against the Jews.
for the hope of Israel (v.20) — Paul was “bound with this chain,” not for proclaiming that which Israel hoped for, the kingdom, but for proclaiming that which was the basis of her hopes, the resurrection. Let us then examine the record:
Before the Sanhedrin the apostle stated clearly why he had been “called in question” by the Jews: Men and brethren … of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question” (Acts 23:6).
Before Felix again, the apostle declared: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers … and have hope toward God … that there shall be a resurrection of the dead …” (Acts 24:14-15).
Again, when Festus “declared Paul’s cause” to Agrippa, he said: “… the accusers … brought none accusation of such things as I supposed; But had certain questions … of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive” (Acts 25:18-19).
At his hearing before Agrippa, the apostle said: “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers … For which hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews” (Acts 26:6-7).
The promise, of course, was the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in glory, but “the hope of the promise” was the resurrection for the apostle goes on to say: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8).
All this evidence permits but one interpretation of the last of these passages: “For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20).
Let the sincere and diligent student note carefully that four out of these five passages state that Paul was accused, or in bondage, for a specific reason; that four out of the five state this reason to be his preaching of the resurrection; and finally, that in four out of the five this truth is called a “hope.” In this connection it should be remembered that Peter, at Pentecost, had warned Israel that Christ was alive (Acts 2:36; 3:14-15; 4:10) while Paul had later proclaimed the resurrection as the proof that the sin question had been fully dealt with (Romans 4:25, etc.). It was the resurrection, then, and particularly the resurrection of the crucified Christ, that was “the hope of Israel.” — Stam, pages 215-216.
many (v.23) — the word probably means “more than before,” although it could mean “a greater portion” of those who came the first time
persuaded (v.24) — tense indicates “in the process of being persuaded”
some disbelieved (v.24) — tense indicates “maintained an attitude of disbelief”
We find Paul, in his earlier epistles, and even in the Acts record, preaching much that was not contained in the law and the prophets. Indeed, as early as Acts 13:38-39 we find him preaching in a synagogue, proclaiming justification by faith in Christ without the law.
But in dealing with Jews under the law, he must prove to them from their Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ. It is only a pity that in so many cases they refused to be persuaded, so that he could not go on to preach to them the glorious truths he had been specially commissioned to proclaim.
If it be remembered that the theme of Acts is the fall of Israel and God’s vindication of Himself for going to the Gentiles, it will not seem strange that again and again we find the apostle proving to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ, but getting no farther, since they will not accept the proof. — Stam, page 219.