And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified of me in Jerusalem…
And the night following, etc. Review the position of the apostle. In prison. Hated by the Jews. Only rescued by a heathen hand, which itself may be turned against him. Perplexed by his own thoughts (el. Elijah in the cave at Mount Horeb). Conflict of fears and desires - his hope to do greater things, his desire to see Rome; his sense of a great vocation as the leading missionary; his apparent helplessness among his enemies. The vision had a twofold purpose - to prepare the apostle for its work, to give encouragement to all who resembled him in single-heartedness and spiritual heroism.
I. THE ASSURANCE GIVEN.
1. The strengthening of faith in the personal Redeemer. His resurrection; his sympathy; his approval of the apostle's life; the progress of his kingdom.
2. The certainty conveyed that all that would occur in Jerusalem would be overruled for good.
3. The prospect held out corresponding to the apostle's own aims and desires, that Rome would be visited - a prospect which emboldened him to appeal to Caesar, although it might lead to greater sufferings eventually.
II. THE LESSON TAUGHT.
1. In the darkest night the appearance of Jesus is new strength.
2. Faithful and heroic work is never left without encouragement.
3. Though visions of the night may not be granted to the Church now, except on very rare occasions, still there are foresights of the future which can be obtained by deep insight, prayerful vigilance, elevated faith and. study of events in the light of the Savior's words, and the facts of his past intercourse with his disciples.
4. Holy ambition is accompanied with the spirit of apostolic self*devotion, and is rewarded with the accomplishment of our desires. "Expect great things; attempt great things." Why not aim at Rome? James and John were not reproved by Christ for desiring a place beside him, but were reminded that they must purge all such desires of the sordid and selfish, and be prepared for the baptism of blood. If we take up the cross, we may sit with Jesus on the throne.
5. The highest description of a Christian's life is "bearing witness." Christ is all and in all we reflect his light. Even at Rome a simple testimony is enough. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.