Since the Romans had no understanding of Jewish customs, Paul’s first trial is before religious leaders. The Roman commander is probably hoping this trial will help him understand the accusations against Paul. Paul understands there is no way for him to get a fair trial in this court, so he uses his in-depth knowledge of Judaism to divide the court. Since Paul had at one time been a Pharisee and the court is made up of Pharisees and another group, called Sadducees, he sides with the Pharisees and gets them to argue with the Sadducees. It is clear to the commander that he is not going to get answers here. The threat on Paul’s life isn’t one he needs to worry about, because God has told him he is going to Rome. Now things are put in place for Paul’s Roman trial.
It is interesting to see the interaction of the things Paul had control over and those he did not. He could control how he responded to the religious leaders and, thus, prevented them from unfairly accusing him. He couldn’t control how the commander would respond to the threat on his life, but the commander’s response is key to God sending Paul to Rome. Our lives are the same. Our responses to the situations we are in are choices we make, but those situations are generally not of our choosing. Personal responsibility and dependence on God go together. The outcomes of our best intended actions always fit into God’s bigger plan.