Paul’s Appeal (11b)
“I appeal to Caesar.” Some think this was a mistake. Others think Paul was counting on the “connections” some of his friends had in Rome with Seneca. I think both ideas are wrong. Paul never tried to “pull strings” to accomplish the plans and will of God. He was simply knocking on the door he found before him. Jesus said “ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” It is no sin to ask, seek, or knock. My philosophy is to go through the open door. God is the God of doors.
Those who understand how to remain under authority without becoming despondent or bitter have learned the power of appeal. Instead of fighting with or struggling with the powers that be, why not simply appeal? There are times when we simply comply and then there are times when we “ask, seek, and knock.” If a Roman conscripts us to walk a mile, we may not have many options. Refusing may result in the ending of a journey. Going with anger and resentment may cause our hearts to hurt more than our feet. A third option is to walk two miles. The first we walk as a slave, the second as a free man.
Paul spoke of a “license” he had as a Roman. Living with and using the laws of man need not violate the laws of God. If they do, then (of course) we must obey God. Paul asked that his case be brought to the seat of government responsible for the death of the Christ. Little did the powers that be realize that Paul worked for a higher power. Jesus told Pilate that he “had no power except that which was given him from above.” How ironic it was that Paul was about to secure passage to the very heart of the empire and there preach the Kingdom of God and Christ the King.
If your house is on fire you are free to call the fire department. If your pocket book is stolen you may call the police. If the Gauls burn your crops, you are free to appeal to Rome’s legions and never betray your faith or calling. Government, Paul would later write, is for our good. Let us use it and every instrument for our good and God’s glory, but let no thing or government ever use us, for we belong to God.