Imprisoned According to the Will of God - The Warrior's Journey®

Imprisoned According to the Will of God

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?’  Paul answered: ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. … I appeal to Caesar!’ After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: ‘You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!’”  (Acts 25:9-12) 

Within a few days of his arrival, the new Governor, Festus, travels to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. It’s on this trip that he first learns about Paul. From what the religious leaders tell him, Paul is the most evil man on earth. Festus is eager to make a good first impression and to adjudicate the matter as quickly as possible. But it’s got to happen according to Roman law. So he invites the leaders to come with him to Caesarea so he can properly judge Paul’s case. 

But when the case is brought before Festus, he realizes the charges against Paul have no validity according to Roman law. It’s merely a religious dispute. Festus knows that, by Roman law, he needs to set Paul free. But this will enrage the Jewish leaders. So, as a concession to them, Festus asks Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem to stand trial before me there?” Festus is unaware of the previous plot to assassinate Paul (Acts 23:12-22). To avoid assassination Paul is forced to appeal to Caesar. 

When Paul is maneuvered into appealing to Caesar’s court, he triggers an unstoppable process that is destined bring him face to face with the Emperor Nero. At first it seems like a regrettable decision. In the next chapter we learn that if Paul had not appealed to Caesar, he could have been set free (Acts 26:27). Paul’s already been in custody for two years (Acts 24:27). His appeal to Caesar will stretch his imprisonment out another two years (Acts 28:30). Was it a mistake to appeal to Caesar? Not at all. 

Without realizing it, Paul has just created a door through which he can preach the Gospel to the most powerful, and the most inaccessible, man on earth – Nero. In the natural, no apostle or missionary could possibly hope to preach to the Emperor. Nero is surrounded by an impregnable barrier of Praetorian Guards, advisors, court officials, Senators, and stone fortresses. But now Paul will travel to Rome and make his defense of the Gospel before the Emperor himself – at Rome’s expense. And along the way, Paul will continue to have audiences with leaders, governors, and kings. Paul’s imprisonment has made him a Christian chaplain to the most powerful men of his day. 


  • As a member of the military, don’t you have direct access to people and places that are “off limits” to civilians? Isn’t this especially true during deployments? 
  • As a believer in Jesus, hasn’t He called you to be His light in the darkest places? 
  • You may feel “imprisoned” aboard a ship or in a base camp, but God’s given you a captive audience. Therefore, let your light shine before others. 

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