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Paul's Eight Uses of Power in Acts 21-28
Robert Linthicum

“The kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power” (I Cor 4:20)." 

          "The apostle Paul is considered among the greatest leaders of the Christian church.  It was he who brought the gospel to the Gentile world.  It was he who turned Christianity from a Jewish sect into a worldwide religion.  It was his New Testament letters that have been most formative in the setting of the theology of the church throughout its more than 2000 years.   

"The first power action by Paul -  He informed the Roman arresting officer and through him, the Roman magistrate, that he was a Roman citizen.  Why would Paul do this?  He would do so because this would change the condition of his imprisonment and trial. (Acts 22:224-26)

"The second power action taken by Paul -  In order both to manage the situation and to take away from the Sanhedrin control of the trial, Paul used the tactic of “divide-and-conquer”. (23:6-10)

"The third power action by Paul -  The apostle uncovered a plot to assassinate him and reported the same through his nephew to the Roman tribune. (23:12-19)

"The fourth power action by Paul -  It consisted of the elements of presenting a strong case in his defense, and in building a relationship with Felix. (24:23-27)

"The fifth power action of Paul -  With his knowledge of Roman law, Paul recognized the dilemma the new governor was in. ... He appealed his case to Caesar.  This was an intentional, deliberate power action of the apostle. (25:1-2, 6-12)

"The sixth power action of this section of Acts - Paul had used his defense as an opportunity to share the gospel with the two highest government officials in Palestine – the king of Galilee/Perea and the Roman governor. (25:13-22, 26:1-29)

"Paul’s seventh power action is unlike the six previous actions, in that it does not occur in a single place and does not deal directly with his trial or imprisonment. ... First ignored by the Roman officer and the ship’s captain, he became the one actually giving the orders as the ship foundered. (27:1-28:10)

"The eighth power action now concludes the book of Acts. ...  Paul did not enter Rome like a prisoner, in chains and to the jeers of the crowd.  Paul strode into the city, just as would the emperor or a conquering general of Rome. (28:11-31)

"What can be learned from the story of Paul from the 21st chapter of Acts to its close in chapter 28?  We learn that the church is called to be engaged with or over against the political, economic and religious powers of a nation, religion or empire.  The church is not called by Christ to ignore the systems of the world or to acquiesce to them.  It is the responsibility of the church to engage those powers.  And when it is engaging the powers of the world, the church is to understand power and to use it wisely and in a sophisticated manner for the furtherance of Christ and his kingdom.  Paul is a prime example of the intentional, deliberate and knowledgeable use of power.  For, as he so plainly reminds us, “the kingdom of God depends not on talk, but on power!”   

For an extensive paper commenting on each of Paul's power actions and 1 Corinthians 4, consider purchasing "Paul, the Man Who Understood Power" by Robert Linthicum from  Sue Wier , PUT Mailbox #44, 25101 Bear Valley Road , Tehachapi, CA  93561-8311 , Phone: (661) 821-0656    Fax: (661) 821-0676 Email: putoffice@surfbest.net

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