Event(s): Paul appeals to his Roman citizenship
Today’s Text: Acts 22:1-30
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 23:1-22
His wounds still fresh from the beating he had just endured moments before, Paul stands on the stairs of the temple and motions with his hands to the people so that he may speak to them. He speaks to them in Aramaic, a dialect related to Hebrew, to help his hearers realize he is one of them.
Acts 22:1 “Brethren and fathers…” There is no hint of sarcasm in his address; he can still call his offenders, brothers and fathers. The tension is so thick in the air you could “cut it with a knife”, as the saying goes. And what does Paul decide to speak of? His conversion. His own experience and encounter with Jesus, the Christ. In our lives as well, there is no other more powerful testimony than that of how we came to know Jesus as Lord.
Acts 22:9 “they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.” The first record of Paul’s encounter with Jesus is in Acts 9:1-19. “This phrase may at first seem to contradict Acts 9:7, where Luke records that they did hear the voice. Actually, the verses contain different grammatical constructions, which say the same thing. The companions of Paul heard the sound of the voice, but did not discern words with understanding.” –New Spirit Filled Life Bible
Acts 22:22 “And they listened to him until this word.” They were tracking with Paul until he made mention of the Gentiles. The issue they had with this was that Paul would introduce people to Messiah without making the people converts to the customs of Judaism – first.
“The real crime of S. Paul was preaching to the Gentiles, and the real heresy his gospel of equality of privilege. Hence he defends himself by asserting (1) his loyalty to Israel, and (2) that his preaching was simply obedience to a divine command.” Richard Rackham, Bible Scholar
Acts 22:24 “the commander ordered that he be brought into the barracks..” The commander could not understand why the people would act so outraged. He therefore assumed that he wasn’t being told the whole story, and thought Paul guilty of a much greater offense. So he was about to force Paul’s confession out of him by having him scourged.
Acts 22:25 “is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” Paul was a Roman citizen and was thereby protected under the Roman law from scourging.
Acts 22:28 “with a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” Born citizens enjoyed greater respect than Romans who had bought their citizenship. No doubt, this commander was no greatly afraid, having been the one who ordered Paul bound.
Time and time again, we see Paul falsely accused throughout the book of Acts. We can learn a lot from what kind of perspective he maintained during these accusations and how he responded to them. Here are just a few things we can easily take away:
- Paul never let himself slip into a belief that his accusers had gotten the upper hand on him. He saw God as ultimately in control and with an even greater plan.
- He handled himself with wisdom, honor and humility, but yet was bold and courageous.
- He never took on a victim mentality.
- He never justified letting himself lash out at those who falsely accused him.
- He walked in forgiveness to the degree that the offenses never even took root in his heart.
- He saw each false accusation and the persecution that accompanied it as an opportunity to share the Gospel at an even greater level.
- He put his life in God’s hands. Completely.
Have you ever been falsely accused or are you perhaps even going through a situation right now where some false accusations are being fired your way? This is one of the easiest times we can slip into fear because we tend to start thinking the other party has gotten an upper hand. But God is not taken by surprise. He already knew it would take place and He has an even greater plan. A plan the Holy Spirit will guide us through that will bring God great glory. A plan where we come out on the other end not as victims – but victors.
If you’re dealing with something along this line, prayerfully read over the list above and ask God to show you if there’s something you could maybe improve on, with His help. But take great comfort and courage in knowing that He will never leave you (physically) or forsake you (emotionally). He is with you through it all.