Memory Text: “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains“ (Acts 26:29, NRSV).
Paul’s transfer to Caesarea began a two-year imprisonment in that city (Acts 24:27), more precisely in Herod’s praetorium (Acts 23:35), which was the official residence of the Roman governor. During those years, he had several hearings in which he would appear before two Roman governors (Felix and Festus) and a king (Agrippa II), thus further fulfilling the ministry that God gave him (Acts 9:15).
In all the hearings, Paul always claimed innocence, alleging that no evidence could be produced against him, as the absence of witnesses demonstrated. In fact, the whole narrative is intended to show that Paul had done nothing worthy of arrest and that he could be released had he not appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:32). These hearings, though, did offer him opportunities to witness about Jesus and the great hope found in the promise of the resurrection.
Yet, those were still years of deep anxiety, as well as of tedious confinement in which the apostle seems to have had no support of any kind from the church in Jerusalem, whose leaders “still cherished a feeling that Paul should be held largely responsible for the existing prejudice.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 403.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, September 22.