Prevail: “to be or prove superior in strength, power or influence; to succeed, become dominant, win out; widespread or current.”
…When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live,” (28:3-4).
The natives had the facts about Paul right. He was, in fact, a murderer. And in the original language translated, “justice has not allowed him to live,” this word justice encased a double meaning. Most pagan nations had a strong conviction in divine retribution and justice was actually the name of one of their many gods, or in this case, a goddess.
From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: 1349. δίκη díkē; gen. díkēs, a fem. noun… Originally díkē …The basic meaning of the word involves the assertion by human society of a certain standard expected by its people which, if not kept, can bring forth ensuing judgment…
(I) A penalty, punishment (Acts 25:15 [TR]; 2 Thess. 1:9; Jude 1:7).
(II) Justice, personified as Díkē, the daughter of the mythological Greek god Zeus and goddess Themis (Acts 28:4).
(III) Distinctions: the basic noun díkē (1349) occurs only four times (Acts 25:15, 28:4; 2 Thess. 1:9; Jude 1:7), and means punishment;
From Louw Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: 12.27 δίκηb, ης f: (a figurative extension of meaning of δίκη ‘justice,’ not occurring in the NT) a goddess who personifies justice in seeking out and punishing the guilty—‘the goddess Justice.’
This goddess, Justice, was understood as one who made it her mission in this life to seek out and punish the guilty.
How contrary to the God revealed in Scripture, the God Whose Justice Prevails.
Consider His Prevailing Justice
While we know our sin can never be hidden from Holy God, …be sure your sin will find you out, (Numbers 32:23); And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do, (Hebrews 4:13); His Prevailing Justice seeks out, not to punish but to save, forgive and bring life.
- His Prevailing Justice came to seek and to save the lost.“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10).
- His Prevailing Justice was sent to forgive and save.“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him,” (John 3:17).
- His Prevailing Justice grants life in His Name. but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name, (John 20:31).
And because God is perfectly holy and perfect in His Justice, He must, and He will judge sin.
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor… (Habakkuk 1:13).
Thus I will punish the world for its evil
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud
And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless, (Isaiah 13:11).
Scripture does not mince words; we are all guilty of sin.
They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one, (Psalm 14:3).
“O Lord God of Israel, You are righteous, for we have been left an escaped remnant, as it is this day; behold, we are before You in our guilt, for no one can stand before You because of this.” (Ezra 9:15)
And sin incurs His judgment.
For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)
His Prevailing Justice wrought in His perfect love would cost Him dearly as His Son would take upon Himself the judgment we deserve.
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith… (Romans 3:24-25 NIV).
And in place of judgment, His Prevailing Justice extends eternal life to those who would believe.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him,” (John 3:16-17).
How do we respond to His Prevailing Justice?
Let us always begin in humility. It is not because we have earned or deserve His grace. It is solely because of Him, and Him alone, that we are forgiven.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins,” (Isaiah 43:25).
When we place our faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, His Prevailing Justice overrules our due punishment and imparts His Righteousness, that we might have eternal life in Him.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).
The book of Acts winds down the historical account of the Acts of the Apostles, empowered by the Acts of the Holy Spirit, with an emphatic warning against ignoring His persistent offer of grace to escape judgment. A warning we must consider: His Justice will Prevail, and all sin will be punished.
The question we must answer is: will we hear His warning and trust His Prevailing Justice accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus, or will we choose to harden our hearts, refuse to listen and to one day face His Justice apart from Christ?
…Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them,”’ (28:25).
In the very last words concluding the book of Acts, we see a beautiful portrait of His Prevailing Justice, depicted in compassion and patience.
…welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered, (28:30).
He welcomes any and all who come to Him in faith to receive His Prevailing Justice in Jesus Christ. Let us come to His Light to be judged in Him, and not, in and of ourselves.
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God,” (John 3:18-21).
Oh Lord, we thank You so much for Your Prevailing Justice, perfect in Jesus Christ and freely extended in Your grace. Please grow us, that we would so fall in love with Your Light, daily coming to You as we practice Your truth until You return again.