A Plot Thickens


Don’t you love a good story? One that has a main character with great spirit and passion? One whose plot has a few surprise twists and turns? One where an unexpected hero emerges just in the nick of time? It keeps you turning pages and reading on to find out what will happen next. The book of Acts, and especially today’s passage, has all those qualities and more.

  • What makes a good story for you?


12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”

16 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.” 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.” 22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Who devised the plot against Paul (vs. 12)? How did they show their commitment to carrying it out (vs. 14)?
  2. Who found out about the plans (vs. 16)? What do verses 16-21 tell us about him?
  3. How was Paul’s nephew received by the official he told about the plot (vs. 19)?
  4. What was the tribune’s response (vs.22)?
  5. When has God asked you to speak or act boldly on someone else’s behalf? What gave you the courage to do that?


As this plot was hatched, things looked grim for Paul. But an unlikely team of a strong-willed apostle, a young man, and a kind tribune helped unravel the plot. We know almost nothing about Paul’s nephew: his name, where he lived, if he was a believer, even how he heard of the plot. He seems to appear out of nowhere. Yet, he shows us that age, background, circumstances, and status are not factors when God is leading. A sovereign God can use anyone for his purposes and can overrule any circumstance. This is a good lesson for us when we might begin to make excuses for not doing what God asks. Too young, too inexperienced, too busy are no excuse when God calls.

  • Ask God to make you aware when you begin making excuses not to follow him.
  • Ask him for courage and willingness to do what he asks.