The entirety of Acts 23 leads up to verse 11. The actions that happen after Acts 23:11 are based on this verse. It is good to think of the things that happen to Paul in these chapters from the Lord’s perspective. This is one reason why I like the video entitled “Paul, a chosen vessel” when teaching these chapters of Acts. If we only focus on the results of Paul’s ministry, we will see suffering, imprisonment, and rejection.
The parallels to Joseph Smith and Abinadi are obvious. Abinadi was not a failure, even though the people he taught rejected him. In the audience was a man named Alma, and because of Abinadi’s faithfulness, we now have his story preserved through Alma’s efforts. Paul may have not convinced Agrippa, but his words echo throughout all Christendom. All of us who love the principles of Christianity are indebted to Paul for his work in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Roman empire.
In Acts 23:11 we read the 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.”
The Lord is encouraging Paul. He is saying in effect, “Cheer up Paul, don’t worry about the fact that the Jews didn’t believe you. I told you in chapter 21 and 22 that they wouldn’t believe you anyway. But you did your job, you testified about me and my atonement. Now it’s time for you to testify of me in Rome. I’m not going to tell you how it’s going to all play out, but one thing is certain: you will get to Rome and you will bear witness of me there!”
This, to me, is one of the greatest lessons of these last few chapters in the book of Acts. We sometimes spend so much time worrying about the results of our labors that we forget that God’s plans for us are bigger than what we can see right now in this moment. At issue is this: will we witness of the Savior?
A great truth to testify of is the fact that God is able to do his work. A supporting truth to this is that the Lord does not stop the conspiracy to execute Paul in this chapter, but alongside this evil, he provides a way for Paul to escape (see also 1 Corinthians 10:13). Not only does Paul make it to Rome, he gets there under the protection of the government (Acts 23:23).
A handle that I used to emphasize this teaching is: God will get you to Rome. It may not be the way you expected, but he will get you there.