“Addressing the Mob” – Acts 22
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The Apostle's primary purpose in speaking to the mob who wanted to kill him was love:
And second, from obedience.
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. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
As he made his defense before the mob, he used his own powerful testimony of conversion to faith in Christ.
The details of his testimony are recorded five separate times in the New Testament: Acts 9, 22, 26, Philippians 3 and 1 Timothy 1:12-17, signifying its importance.
Paul's testimony has three parts:
- Conduct prior to conversion. (vs. 3-5)
- The details of conversion. (vs. 6-16)
- Calling (commission) after conversion. (vs. 17-30)
These are common to all believers, although many are not as dramatic and powerful as Paul’s. It has been said that a Christian's testimony (witness) is history.
It is His story, Christ's story in our lives, of how we came to salvation and now live for Him because of Him.
And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." (Jn. 6:65)
Let's study the details of Paul's testimony and learn how to use our testimony to advance the kingdom of Christ, as he did.
"Brethren and fathers..."
* Brethren - Paul is one of them.
* Fathers - Paul shows respect for his elders and those in authority, as did Stephen. (Acts 7:2)
"...hear my defense..."
* "Defense" - Apologaeia (Gk.), "Apologetics" - The discipline of giving sound reasons for faith in Christ.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear...
(1 Pet. 3:15)
"...they kept all the more silent..."
* Now Paul had their complete attention.
"I am indeed a Jew..."
* Beyond doubt!
"...born in Tarsus of Cilicia..."
* An important city of education, culture and commerce with a large Jewish population of "Freedmen." (Acts 6:8-14)
"...brought up in this city..."
* "This city" - Many wealthy diaspora Jews would be schooled in Torah and Talmud at Jerusalem.
"...at the feet of Gamaliel..."
* Discipled (taught) by Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:33-39), the most honored Torah/Talmudic scholar of the era. Conservative in the law, a Pharisee.
"...and was zealous towards God as you all are today."
* "Zealous" - Ardent, dedicated, willing to do violence for God's honor and the Law. As did Phinehas (Num. 25:10-13) and the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 2:26, 54).
* “As you all are” – They were zealous, but without a true knowledge of God. (Rms. 10:1-4)
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
How could Paul's Jewish "brethren" refuse to respectfully hear a man of his credentials? Because they didn’t know the truth.
" I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women..."
* He admits to persecuting "the Way," followers of Christ (Jn. 14:6), binding and killing men and women from his zeal for the Law. (Acts 9:1-2, 1 Tim. 1:13)
* And he knows about persecution: both giving (Gal. 1:13) and receiving (Acts 14:19).
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
(2 Tim. 3:12)
"...the High Priest...and all the council...from whom I received letters...to bring in chains...those...to be punished."
* Paul was en route to Damascus with a commission to arrest and return believers ("the Way") to Jerusalem for trial and death.
"Now it happened...near Damascus...about noon..."
* The beginning of Paul's conversion.
* "Noon" - The hottest part of the day. Only the most urgency would require travel at this time.
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
* Saul - Paul's Hebrew name prior to his conversion.
"...I Am Jesus...whom you are persecuting."
* Was Paul physically persecuting Christ? No, he was persecuting Christ's brethren. In the Lord's eyes, persecuting believers is the same as persecuting Christ, with the same judgment and punishment.
"And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' ...And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matt. 25:40, 46)
"...they did not hear the voice..."
* They did not understand the voice, a better translation. (Acts 9:7)
"So, I said, 'What shall I do Lord?'"
* Every new believer should ask and mean this question.
* What should we do?
- Seek Him:
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God. (2 Chron. 22:19a)
- Serve Him:
And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve."' (Lk. 4:8)
- And we are to imitate Him:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
"...for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
"...arise and go..."
* Obedience begins with the first step. Paul did; he went "to Damascus."
Unfortunately, so many believers never take that first step, much less run the race.
Paul finished his race:
"...that I may finish my race with joy...the ministry (service) which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)
And could say:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
(2 Tim. 4:7)
* A devout Jew, righteous in the Law.
"...brother Saul, receive your sight..."
* Ananias was also obedient to Christ. (Acts 9:10-17)
"...the God of our fathers..."
* Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All Jews considered themselves sons of the patriarchs and followers of the one, true God. (Deut. 6:4)
"...had chosen you that you should know His will..."
* A most serious calling for a Jew and a believer in Christ as was Paul. (Num. 24:15-17)
* True for all believers.
"...and see the Just One...and hear the voice of His mouth..."
* "The Just One" - The Righteous One - Christ Jesus, Messiah (Acts 3:14, 7:52).
* Paul literally saw Christ on the road to Damascus when he was blinded by the light of His glory and heard His voice. (Acts 9:3-9, 1 Cor. 9:1)
"...you will be His witness to all men..."
* As Ananias prophesied:
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel." (Acts 9:15)
Paul's "witness" was his testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed to him by the Lord:
"But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."
This was Paul's special commission from Christ.
"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'"
* If the first step is to "arise and go..." having heard the call of God to His Christ (salvation), then the second is baptism.
* A better translation:
"Having arisen, be baptized and wash away your sins, having previously called upon His name."
The Expanded Translation of the New Testament
We are saved by calling on the Lord in faith (Acts 2:21, Rms. 10:13) receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and we prove our faith by being baptized in obedience (Acts 2:41, Rms. 10:9-10).
The same as Paul did. (Acts 9:17-18)
"Now it happened..."
* Paul's testimony continues with his commission.
"...when I returned to Jerusalem..."
* Paul returned to Jerusalem after:
- "Damascus" (Acts 9:19-25)
- "Arabia" (Gal. 1:15-17)
- "Damascus" (Gal. 1:17)
- Jerusalem (Gal. 1:18, Acts 9:26-30)
"...Jerusalem...praying in the Temple...and saw Him saying to me..."
* It was common to receive revelation in the Temple, and through visions, Old Testament (1 Sam. 3:3-4, 1 Kgs. 3:5, Isa. 6:1), and New Testament (Lk. 1:5-22).
* The angry Jewish mob would have been impressed with a fellow Jew who prayed in the Temple and received a vision.
"...make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me."
* Christ knew the difficulty His servants would have testifying to Him. (Matt. 10:14-18)
But Paul wants to stay in Jerusalem and witness to the Jews. He replies to the Lord in this hope:
"So, I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 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.'"
But the Lord knows best and His will be done:
"Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'"
The riot re-ignites!
"...until this word..."
* What word? "Gentiles"
"...away with such a fellow from the Earth, for he is not fit to live!"
* The Jews hated the Gentiles, considered them as sub-humans.
* Certainly not equal with the "Chosen people of God!"
They said the same of Christ and were willing to be cursed to be rid of Him.(Matt. 27:22-27)
And now, here was His representative, Paul, saying Christ had sent him to the Gentiles with a message of salvation and equality!
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
"...tore off their clothes..."
* Signaling their repudiation of Paul, their desire to stone him.
"...examined under scourging..."
* Any prisoner will confess if enough pain is applied.
"...is it lawful...to scourge a...Roman and uncondemned?"
* It was against Roman law to punish a citizen without a trial.
"Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman."
* Roman citizens had rights, and to violate them brought serious punishment to the violators.
"...with a large sum of money I obtained this citizenship..."
* The Tribune Claudius Lysias was a Greek and "bought," bribed a Roman official to grant him citizenship.
"And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen."
* Being born a citizen made Paul of a higher status than one who had "bought" citizenship.
"...the commander was afraid..."
* To unjustly punish a Roman citizen without a trial and condemnation was a serious offense.
"...he (commander) wanted to know for certain why he (Paul) was accused by the Jews..."
* "Roman fair play" - Now he wanted the facts before he sent Paul on to the Governor.
"God was using the great power of the empire to protect His servant and eventually get him to Rome."
So, maybe the question should be:
Can we witness for Christ as the Apostle Paul did?
We can if we won't:
- Be intimidated by others testimony.
- Get lost in the details of our testimony.
- Forget our salvation experience.
- Let the adversary persuade us that our testimony is unimportant.
Remember our commission!
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
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