After settling into his new situation (v.17a) Paul calls together the local leaders of the Jews. Despite all that has happened he still identifies himself with the worldview of those persecuting him (Brothers…our people…our fathers…). He relays to them how there was no reason found against him for the death penalty by the Romans (v.18) but how the Jews objected and so he was compelled to appeal to Ceasar. He wishes to speak to the local leaders regarding his imprisonment which, he says, is because of the hope of Israel. The local leaders then respond:
“We have received no letters from Judea about you, nor have any of the brothers come from there and reported or said anything bad about you. But we would like to hear from you what you think, for regarding this sect we know that people everywhere speak against it.”
(Acts 28.21-22, NET)
They admit only to hearing about Christianity, and no more. They have received no letters from Judea about Paul, meaning they have no evidence against him from HQ, so to speak, and consequently from their perspective there is no case for him to answer. They must have been thoroughly confused as to what was going on: here is a zealous and well educated Jew on trial for, seemingly, believing the logical conclusion to their faith and religion.
It seems that the Jews in Rome knew all about Jesus (there were already believers there, cf. 28.15) but had not yet come to a point of decision. How true is that for so many?
Many know all about Jesus:
They know the stories that are told year after year.
They hear about forgiveness and salvation.
They know about heaven and hell.
Despite knowing, many have never done anything about what they know. So many know so much but act so little.
May the Lord put those in your paths who, like the Jewish leaders in Rome, would like to hear from you what you think. In the following passage, Paul will give a wonderful example of what to say when that happens.
For today, pray for the opportunity!