January 19th, 2007
Then there are some people — not very many — who seem to have a magical ability to captivate the audience. When they get up to speak, you suddenly start coming alive, rather than falling asleep. They make you laugh and they make you cry, and they can talk for well over an hour and you don’t notice how long it is or how uncomfortable your chair is or anything else because you are hanging on every word. Maybe Paul was one of those sorts of speakers. In the middle of a riot, the crowd became quiet to hear him speak, and they remained captivated as he told them the story of how he had had a vision on the road to Damascus.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 22
22:1 Paul said, “Brothers and fathers, hear what I have to say in my defence.” 22:2 When they heard him speaking to them in the Hebrew language, they were even more quiet. He said, 22:3 “I am a Jew. I was born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I was educated by Gamaliel according to the strict tradition of the law of our ancestors. I was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. 22:4 I persecuted follower of this Way to death, tying up both men and women and sending them to prison. 22:5 The high priest and all the council of the elders can verify this, because they gave me letters to the Jewish brothers in Damascus, and I went there to tie up any followers of the Way and bring them from there to Jerusalem to be punished. 22:6 As I was travelling, and coming close to Damascus around midday, a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. 22:7 I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 22:8 I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ He said, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.’
22:9 “The people with me saw the light, but didn’t hear the voice speaking to me. 22:10 I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘Get up, and go into Damascus. There you will be told everything which you need to do.’ 22:11 I was unable to see because I had been blinded by the brightness of the light, so the people who were with me led me into Damascus. 22:12 A man named Ananias, who was a devout follower of the law, well regarded by all the Jews who lived in Damascus, 22:13 came and stood beside me, saying, ‘Brother Saul, look at me!’ At that very hour I was able to see him. 22:14 He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to understand his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear his voice. 22:15 You will be a witness for him to all people about what you have seen and heard. 22:16 Now why are you waiting? Get up, be baptized, wash away your sins, and call on the name of the Lord.’
22:17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem, and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance, 22:18 and saw him saying, ‘Hurry, leave Jerusalem quickly, because these people will not believe what you say about me.’ 22:19 I said, ‘Lord, they know that I imprisoned and assaulted people who believed in you in every synagogue. 22:20 When your witness Stephen was killed, I also was standing by, agreeing with his execution, and looking after the cloaks of the people who killed him.’ 22:21 He said, ‘Leave, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'”
22:22 They listened to him until he said that; then they shouted out, “Wipe this man off the face of the earth. He doesn’t deserve to live!” 22:23 As they shouted, and threw off their cloaks, and threw dust into the air, 22:24 the commander ordered him to be taken into the barracks and examined by flogging, in order to find out what crime had provoked this outcry against him. 22:25 When they had tied him up with leather straps, Paul asked the centurion who stood by, “Are you allowed to flog a man who is a Roman citizen, who has not been found guilty?”
22:26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and told him, “Be careful what you are doing. This man is a Roman citizen!” 22:27 The commander came and asked him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” He said, “Yes.” 22:28 The commander said, “I paid a lot of money for my citizenship.” Paul said, “I was born a Roman citizen.”
22:29 Immediately those who were about to examine him left him alone, and the commander was concerned when he realised that he was a Roman, because he had tied him up. 22:30 But on the next day, wanting to know the truth about why he was upsetting the Jews, he freed him, and ordered the senior priests and all the council to convene. He took Paul and placed him in front of them.
Entry Filed under: Legalism