Summary: Paul used personal ingenuity and shrewd strategy to accomplish God’s ultimate will. We, too, can better serve God if we embrace the unlikely combination of being innocent but yet shrewd.

The Long Road Rome

(Acts 23:1-35)

1. Over the next few chapters, we are going to meet some interesting characters.

2. Today, we will be introduced to Felix (show photo 1).

3. In a few weeks, we will meet Festus (show photo 2).

4. Last of all, we will meet Agrippa (show photo 3).

5. Paul was in the hands of Roman authorities, but he was a Roman citizen, which helped tremendously. But he had to navigate, and needed therefore to be shrewd.

6. Jesus said: Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16, CSB).

Jesus here puts shrewdness on par with innocence. Did you catch that?

7. Glenn Pease writes, “Paul and Socrates had so many things in common. Both were trying to enrich their own people.

“Paul was trying to enrich the Jews, and Socrates was trying to enrich the Greeks. But both were

brought to trial before the Supreme Court of their cultures on charges of corrupting the people. Both

were hated because of jealously and competition. They were both considered trouble- makers

because of their opposition to tradition. Both were kept in prison, but they were granted freedom to

visit with their friends. Paul wrote letters to the churches, and Socrates wrote poetry and put Aesop's

Fables into verse. They both eventually died in captivity at the hands of the state, and both looked

forward to a better life in the world to come. [comment]

On one point, however, they were radically different. Socrates refused all plans of escape from

his enemies, but Paul looked for every possible escape. The result was that Socrates survived one

month, and Paul survived for years. His aggressive and clever maneuvers got him out of one jam

after another and gave him extra years to accomplish the plan of God for his life.” []

8. When we think of being shrewd, we think of being wise, sharp, keen, quick, and clever. Couple with innocence, the godly man is never shrewd to take advantage of someone – e.g., inflating prices….

9. The purpose of shrewdness in these contexts is not about business, but rather maximizing our impact for the Kingdom of God or protecting our lives and the lives or well-being of others.

Main Idea: Paul used personal ingenuity and shrewd strategy to accomplish God’s ultimate will. We, too, can better serve God if we embrace the unlikely combination of being innocent but yet shrewd.

I. Paul Conducted Himself SHREWDLY before the Sanhedrin (1-11).

A. Paul Divided the Sanhedrin to His ADVANTAGE (1-10).

1. Paul introduces himself as a devout Jew who maintained a clear conscience.

2. Paul and high priest exchange words (1-5). This was a high priest Paul never met.

3. This high priest was super corrupt and eventually assassinated by fellow Jews.

4. Paul shrewdly gets the Sanhedrin to fight among themselves. Pharisees side with Paul.

5. He diverted attention from himself to a greater issue.

6. He knew human nature and how people identify with their pack, and he identified himself with one of those packs.

7. Some aspects of shrewdness come from studying the Scriptures, esp. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

8. Some aspects come from being a student of human nature, observation, noting patterns.

9. Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple solves mysteries because she has learned about human nature through analyzing the people and relationships in her small town.

10. Shrewd people can use their understanding of human nature for good purposes.

11. The argument gets so intense that the Romans remove Paul before they tear him in half.

12. Paul saved his life, but he probably felt like his opportunities had slipped thru his fingers.

B. Jesus ENCOURAGED Paul and informed him of His plans (11).

1. Night time is the time when our worries can catch up to us the most.

2. It was a perfect time for Jesus to get involved.

3. But Jesus did not keep communicating to Paul every second; he may have felt like he was on his own, acknowledging, of course, God’s sovereign hand.

But how would he get to Rome? How would he testify before Kings and governors, as Jesus had promised? In Acts 9:15, Jesus said of Paul, “...he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

C. Paul did not embrace the “what will be will be” APPROACH to life or Kingdom work.

1. Some situations require us to trust God, and we can do nothing else.

2. Other situations involve responsibility for us to act.

3. Even choosing to do nothing may be a good approach if it is a choice, not passivity.

II. Paul and His Nephew Handled Themselves Shrewdly Before the ROMANS (12-35).

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