Pity the Fools (Acts 23:12-22)

“And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul . . . “And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.” (Acts 23:12, 16, AV)

Mr. T, was a former bouncer and bodyguard who became an actor, starting as the main villain in the movie, “Rocky III.” It was in this movie, that Mr. T’s trademark phrase, “I pity the fool,” was born. This phrase followed Mr. T and has been tagged to him. The phrase came to mean that anyone who crossed someone would regret it.

In Paul’s last adventure in Jerusalem, we see some very foolish men. These were Jews that determined to kill Paul because they disagreed with his preaching of Jesus as the Messiah Savior. There were more than forty Jews who bound themselves by an oath that they would neither ear or drink until they killed Paul. Their oath was quite foolish. Based upon the outcome of this event, I imagine that they must have starved to death or died of dehydration.

You see, there is no way that mortal men can thwart the intended plans of the Almighty God. God had declared that Paul would testify of God’s grace in Rome (v11). Of course, it is likely that these men did not know this and if they did, they did not believe it anyway. What is interesting here is that they did not demonstrate true faith in accordance with what they believed anyway. Remember that earlier, Gamaliel, a Pharisee on the council gave this advice when they discussed what to do about the disciples who preached Jesus.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5:38–39, AV)

Gamaliel’s advice showed great wisdom and faith that God would sort everything out. He stated that if this was of God, no one would be able to stop it, and went on to warn them that in attempting to stop this preaching, that they might even be fighting against God.

It is quite a foolish thing to fight against God for that is the epic no win position. Yet, these men who plotted against Paul put themselves exactly in this position.

God moves to accomplish His awesome plans in very unique ways. These Jews vowed to kill Paul and their own loose lips exposed the plan to Paul’s nephew. It was no accident that his nephew overheard their plot and revealed this to the Roman tribune. The tribune, sympathetic to Paul’s dilemma, then took steps to protect Paul (v22, ff.). Paul would indeed testify in Rome.

There are two things to glean from this. First, we often encounter opposition as we seek to serve the Lord. We should have the greatest confidence in our ministry because it is impossible to overthrow the plans of God. Second, we should pity the fools that think they can resist what God is doing. By this I mean that we should have such pity for them that we pray for them because we know that a day of reckoning is coming.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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