In Jerusalem around A.D. 58, Paul was taken out of the temple and beaten by a mob of Jews from Asian who claimed he was a false teacher. Then, Paul was arrested and bound in chains by the commander of the garrison along with Roman soldiers and centurions.
“37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” (Acts 21:37-38)
As he was being carried up the stairs leading to the command post barracks, Paul addressed the commander in his own defense. Before Paul could present his case, the chief captain of the garrison shared his assumption of Paul, that he believed him to be Josephus, a false prophet and notorious leader of a Egyptian tribe of assassins.
“39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying, 22 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.” 2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: 3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, 5 as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.” (Acts 21:39-22:5)
Paul denied he was Josephus, or an Egyptian, instead revealed his identity as a Jew from Tarsus, a peaceful city. And, he requested to address the mob to clarify the situation, and attempt to clear himself of the accusations. In his address to the Jewish accusers, Paul described his origin and upbringing as a Jew, under the teachings of Gamaliel, the “doctor of the law.”
He continues his speech by comparing his zeal for God and the law to that of his audience, and revealing his endeavors to persecute Christians as an apparent divinely appointed mission, until he was approached by the Lord on the road to Damascus.
“6 Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. 10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. 12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:6 -16)
Now, Paul shifts his address from a defense to an opportunity to preach to his audience, as he shared details of his encounter with the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ and Savior of mankind, from which, by faith, Paul was converted from a Jew to a Christian.
“17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ 19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ 21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’” (Acts 22:17-21)
Lastly, Paul indicates that upon his return to Jerusalem, approximately three years later, he was told by the Lord to leave the holy city and focus his ministry on the Gentiles, since the Jews would not be receptive to his testimony. In persecuting Christians, Paul had made his bed with his own race and as such, he understood and embraced his role as a missionary to the Gentiles. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre