Transferral

Phil Christman

Read: Colossians 1:1-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (v. 13) I have always loved Colossians, a book of great grandeur and hope. Yet this book is a prison epistle, written—like Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon—by a man under house arrest. House arrest is still common in the United States. As I reread today’s passage, I thought immediately of my friend Tom, a Christian who struggled with addiction …

Stigma Isn’t Guilt

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 28 They said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer.” (v. 4) Paul showed up in Rome after many adventures, only to find that local religious authorities hadn’t even heard of the controversy surrounding him. Acts closes with Paul under house arrest. But first, a short episode (vv. 1-11) shows us a deep-seated pattern in human behavior, and also the Bible’s characteristic response to that pattern. The kindly Maltese were probably already inclined to believe …

Shipwreck!

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 27:27-44 And so it was that all were brought safely to land. (v. 44) Rome was like any other worldly power: sometimes useful, often evil, always self-preserving. Here the Roman guards were ready to kill the prisoners rather than let them escape: security first. (Again today, little has changed. After Hurricane Katrina, reports surfaced that hundreds of prisoners held at Angola Prison were abandoned for days without food or water to face rising floodwaters.) If Paul didn’t already …

Losing Almost Everything

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 27:1-26 But we must run aground on some island. (v. 26) We can read the story of Paul in Acts as that of a man going from one beating and imprisonment to another. We can also read it as a story of a man going from one vision to another. Through a vision Paul was converted to Christ (Acts 9:1-31), sent to preach in Macedonia (16:9-10), encouraged to continue teaching God’s Word in Corinth (Acts 18:9-10), prepared for …

A Waiting Game

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 26:19-32 This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar. (v. 32) Both prisoners and those who try to remember and love them get used to one thing: bureaucratic uncertainty. Think of that listless feeling you have when you’re between jobs, the sense that you don’t know what you ought to be doing with yourself. Being in legal limbo is similar, except that the confusion spreads to every area of your identity. Should …

A Raging Fury Remembered

Phil Christman

Read: Acts 26:1-18 I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (v. 9) Paul never stopped hoping for his release, even as he is bounced from corrupt Felix to feckless Festus and then from Festus to visiting dignitary Agrippa. Paul’s speech of self-defense before Agrippa clearly shows the causal connection between the account of his life, conversion, and subsequent ministry. As we’ll see tomorrow, even Agrippa was not immune …