Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

God Calls Us to Advocate for Social Change by “Appealing to Caesar” – Part VI

A guest post by Ben Dudley
If you haven’t read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, or Part V yet, check those out first.

The New Testament Part II – Acts 26-28
Paul’s story is one of true repentance and faithfulness.  Having been born Saul, a persecutor of the early church, he had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus.  From this point on Saul is known as Paul.  He is also known as one of the earliest missionaries.  He traveled all over planting churches and telling people about Christ.  At this point in the text we find Paul has been arrested for sharing about Jesus.  It angered the Jews and they wanted him stopped.  Similarly to Christ, Paul had done nothing that was punishable by law.  He was captured and threatened with being killed.  He went on trial before Felix and Festus, and Paul decided that he would appeal to Caesar.  He believed that the best way for the King to know about Christ was to stand as a witness for Christ.

To proclaim that Jesus is Lord is to remind governments that their authority is not absolute and that they are accountable to God for the ways in which they treat his creatures and his creation.” (Glasser and Engen 2003: 341)

At one point Festus says, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” The decision to appeal to the King was one that brought with it consequences.  It meant that Paul would remain in captivity forfeiting his earthly freedoms for the sake of the gospel.

As Paul was being taken by ship to Rome, and angel appeared to him saying that he must appeal to Caesar.  With this vision, Paul had confidence to continue his journey.  He had faith that God would provide and that his message must be taken to Rome.  When he arrived in Rome, Paul had the opportunity to “preach the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ without hindrance.” (28:30)

For Paul, appealing to Caesar was simple an act of obedience to God and the faith story or narrative that preceded him.   Paul was born a Jew and knew the story of Moses and Pharaoh.  Paul would have been familiar with the story of Esther and Mordecai and Esther’s appeal to King Xerxes.  Paul was also very familiar with Christ’s story for whom he gives his life to follow and teach.  All of these examples that came before Paul showed Paul the way to respond to the worldly powers.  Christ himself even instructs Ananias in Acts 9 to instruct Paul to be an instrument to carry his name before the Gentiles and their kings.  If we are going to look to Paul as an example for how to follow Christ, we cannot neglect to consider that appealing to Caesar plays a significant role. Next let’s look at how we can apply this.

Ben Dudley was born and raised in Texas, though he has always felt like he belonged on the West Coast. He and his wife now reside in Portland, Oregon. Ben is a graduate of Baylor University in 1999 with a Church Recreation and Leisure Services Degree, and is currently two years into a Master of Arts in Global Leadership Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has served as a pastor in two different churches prior to moving to Portland where he and his wife, along with a core team of people are planting a church. Ben also works with CrossTraining-US where he serves as a chaplain to professional soccer players in Portland. He considers himself a very lucky man to be married to his beautiful wife Jamie, who is his best friend and partner in ministry. They both love to travel, eat good food and spend time with friends and family.


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