Acts 22

Acts 22 has Paul before his accusers after asking for the opportunity to address them.  “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you”.  Paul wasn’t going to let them get rid of him without telling his story.  “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day”.  Paul level sets things and points out he was just like them.  Taught by a great teacher, all in behind the role of being a strong leader.

He explains that he was at the front of trying to shut down those following Jesus.  “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness”.  He had very publicly been a leader in the effort to disrupt and destroy Christ Followers.  But then things changed, and Paul gives his testimony.  “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me”?  The power of a personal testimony is that no one can dispute what we have experienced on our life journey.  Paul gives details on how he met Jesus and the things that happened.

It led him to ask Jesus this: “What shall I do, Lord”?  He goes on to share the direction he was given.  “The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard”.  He’s explaining the direction he received and how he was baptized and cleansed from his sin and then he shared the commission that he was given: “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles”.  It all goes downhill from here.  Paul had told them how the Jews weren’t understanding the Good News and God was going to have him take it to people that most didn’t believe deserved to hear it or anything of importance.

So the tide turns.  “Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live”.  If the message means everyone is equal in their spiritual status and this Jesus will save all, we have to get rid of the messenger.  They stir up the crowd and again the tribune has to remove Paul to protect him, and as he does he plans to flog him and try to understand why everyone is so upset.  But Paul plays his Roman citizen card, and things change very quickly because that gave him significant rights and protection under the law.

So those who were about  to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him”.  Big mistake – how the tribune had treated Paul.  “But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them”.

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