The apostle Paul was often put in prison because he refused to shut up about his faith in Jesus the Christ. On one such occasion, while he was in Jerusalem, the book of Acts records that nearly the whole city went into an uproar after some people saw him at the temple. This angry mob tried to beat Paul to death. Some Roman soldiers who were nearby delivered him from the mob by arresting him. Paul then barely saved himself from being flogged and interrogated before he was taken before the Sanhedrin and, finally, put in prison.
While Paul was in prison, some Jews plotted to kill him. They were so dedicated to carrying out this evil plot that they refused to eat or drink until he was dead. They probably would have been successful too if it weren’t for Paul’s nephew saving the day. Acts 23:16 says:
But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.
When Paul was told about the plot, he called a Roman soldier and told him to take his nephew to the commander. This was done, and Paul’s nephew told the commander about the plot. He said, “Some Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.” The commander believed Paul’s nephew and told him not to tell anyone that he reported the plot to him.
In this way, Paul was saved. Instead of being killed, he was transferred safely to Caesarea. Perhaps Paul’s sister deserves some credit for this just as much as her son.
1. Paul’s sister raised her son to be brave. We aren’t told how old Paul’s nephew was. He is referred to as a “young man,” so it is likely that he was a teenager or maybe in his twenties. Whatever the case, it probably wasn’t the easiest thing for him to go before the commander of the Roman army. Roman soldiers were infamous for their toughness and cruelty. And it wasn’t like they were fans or friends of Paul’s. But Paul’s nephew didn’t get cold feet or back down from relaying the plot he had overheard to the commander. He said what he had to say with no fear of being laughed at, disbelieved, or contradicted.
In showing bravery, he also showed love. His love for his uncle outweighed any fear he may have had of going before the commander. He didn’t care if the Jews found out that he was the one who foiled their plot. Where there is love, there can be no fear.
If we truly love God, we will not fear standing for Him regardless of what others say or do or think of us. If we truly love others, we will look out for them and their interests above our own. If we see that they are in danger, our love will cause us to be more concerned about their safety than our own. It is easier for us to be brave in every area of our lives when we remember that God is with us. Because God is with us, we do not have to fear anyone or anything. If we never look to God, we will never find out how brave and strong we really are.
The world needs more brave people in it. People who are not afraid to stand up for those who are unable to do so on their own. People who are not afraid to speak up for those who do not have a voice. Paul couldn’t save himself from the Jews who were plotting to kill him. Because he was in prison, he couldn’t go before the commander and say, “Yo! These guys are plotting against my life. Get me out of here.” The commander probably wouldn’t have believed him anyway. He probably would have thought that Paul was lying just to get out of prison. At this moment, Paul couldn’t stand up for himself. He couldn’t speak up for himself. He was depending on his nephew to stand up and speak for him.
Who needs us to speak up for them today? Who is depending on us to stand up for them today? The world needs brave. The world needs you.