A Picture of the Church: Acts 23:23-24
“23) And he called to him two of the centurions and said, “Get two hundred soldiers ready by the third hour of the night to proceed to Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen.” 24) They were also to provide mounts to put Paul on and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” Acts‬ ‭23‬:‭23‬-‭24‬ ‭
Let this picture sink into your mind. Paul was surrounded by 200 foot soldiers with spears and swords and seventy horsemen. They also had weapons. Paul himself was mounted on a horse most likely in the middle of the escort. Two centurions organized and led the force. Their stealth mission was to protect Paul in the middle of the night and bring him safely to Felix the governor.
The opposition of more than 40 men who had taken a vow to kill Paul and the Sanhedrin were taken totally off guard. While they slept, Paul was ushered away to safety. This was a preemptive maneuver on behalf of the commander committed to the safety and protection of Paul.
I may be stretching what I am about to say, but from this experience Paul gained a valuable picture of the church. Church leaders are to be surrounded by the army of God equipped for battle. (See Ephesians 6:10-20) The church that understands this model of the army of God will stand strong despite the size or source of adversity. They are loyal to stand with and defend their leaders at all times and at any cost. Sometimes, there is a need for all night prayer meetings.
Unfortunately, many churches function more like mob in Acts 23:6-10. In these situations the people are out to tear the pastors apart. Some even plot together against the pastor and leaders. A church divided against itself will not stand.
Ironically, the other analogy of the church is a shepherd watching over his sheep. The shepherd is committed to the safety and well-being of every sheep in his flock. Do you see what just happened? Care, protection and wellbeing goes both directions. The army protects its leaders while the shepherd protects and nurtures the flock.
Paul gained much from this experience. It shaped his understanding of the church. In the spiritual realm, I am sure angels were also standing guard as the two legions accompanied Paul to Felix the Governor. God has ways of protecting his own.
From this text you should gleam insights on your calling in the church. Are you surrounding and protecting your leaders or are you part of the band opposing them? When a change in leadership comes, and it will, it should be done decently and in an orderly fashion. These are occasions for extraordinary prayer and precaution.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global