“No-Name”; Paul’s Nephew

Last week we started our series of no-name characters of the Bible by introducing the first one as Abraham’s servant. We saw a loyal and obedient man to his master and obviously a man of prayer. He relied on God to provide the sign he needed to confirm that the woman God had set aside as a wife for Isaac would be the one to offer him water for himself and his camels. As we saw, God granted his desire and answered his prayer. And what a great example of how God uses people to carry out His plans whether or not He reveals their name. But God knows their name and that’s all that matters.

This evening we will move to the New Testament with another wonderful story of how God used another no-name to protect His servant Paul. The Bible clearly reveals this boy as the son of Paul’s sister which would, of course, be Paul’s nephew. As we see in the story found in the book of Acts, chapter 23, Paul’s nephew was in the right place at the right time to hear the details of a plot against Paul and thus warn him of the plot. Certainly, this was not by accident or coincidence. God had this boy in place at the appointed time to ensure His plan for Paul would not be interrupted. So let’s move on to the background information before we give the full details of our story.

Paul was in Jerusalem as directed by the Holy Spirit but at the same time against the wishes of many of his friends and converts. Paul loved the people of Jerusalem being a Jew himself and knowing that the gospel had been first given to them. Paul was certainly aware of how the Christians in Jerusalem were being persecuted by the Jewish religious leaders and was willing to go and minister to them in spite of the risk. He had even made the statement that He was willing to die there for the cause of Christ. Although He was gladly received by the brethren there and even though they praised God for what He had done in the Gentile world there was some concern over some of the stories they had been hearing that Paul had been teaching them to abandon the Law. This, of course, was not the case but Paul honored their request to go through a vow ritual to show that He was keeping the Law himself and was not teaching anything contrary to the Law. But this was not good enough for some of the Jewish religious leaders from Asia so they began to stir up discontent. They went as far as to take him by force to harm him but the Roman soldiers intervened to keep anything from happening that would appear to be an uprising. Paul was able to speak his piece before the mob and eventually revealed to the Roman soldiers that he himself was of Roman citizenship. The commander of the soldiers were very afraid that they themselves would be in trouble for false arrest. At this point is where the real story begins.

The next day the commander released Paul because he wanted to know exactly why the Jews had accused him. He ordered the chief priests and the Sanhedrin to assemble to give Paul a chance to speak his defense. As Paul spoke, the high priest Ananias ordered someone to strike Paul on the mouth and Paul responded, not knowing who Ananias was, that he was a white washed wall and that God would strike him instead. This angered the group greatly. Paul then perceived that there were both Sadducees and Pharisees present so he appealed to Pharisees being one himself. His comments created a great dissension between the two sects and a great argument arose and the soldiers move Paul back to the barracks for fear of harm coming to him. The next day the Jewish religious leaders developed a plot to kill Paul and took an oath to follow through with it. However, this is the point where Paul’s’ nephew overheard the conversation regarding the plot and went to the barracks and informed Paul. Paul had his nephew then taken to the commander so he could also expose the plot to him. The commander then devised a plan to have Paul moved to Caesarea by night and refer the case to Felix the Governor for resolution. The plan was thus carried out and Paul was safely moved as instructed. God had again used a no-name to insure that His will was being done and that His plan would be continued without interruption.

We need to point out that in verse 11 of chapter 23 God had told Paul to take courage; for he had been His witness in Jerusalem for His cause and He would do the same in Rome also. We know by reading the rest of the book of Acts that Paul was a witness to Felix the Governor and later to Festus the Governor in Caesarea and ultimately to King Agrippa. He was then sent to Rome just as God had promised. And all of the this because another no-name, Paul’s nephew, was where God wanted him to be for His purpose.