About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Chapters 21:37 to 22:29
verse 27 and following we see that as the soldier took Paul into the
barracks he asked the commander if he could speak to him. The commander
was evidently surprised by Paul speaking Greek.
All along he had assumed that Paul was some Egyptian terrorist
leader who had caused problems before.
verse 39 Paul therefore clarifies who he is.
He says, "I am a Jew, from
note here that Paul is saying that he is not this Egyptian that the
captain thought he was. In
fact he was a Jew, not an Egyptian. Beyond
that, he was a Roman Jew, born in
that Paul says that Tarsus
is an important city, and that it was.
It was the third most educated city in the
captain therefore let Paul speak to the mob.
Paul had just spoken to the captain in Greek, surprising the captain, now he speaks to the Jewish mob in Aramaic, surprising them. Paul was a well educated man, and if he had not become a Christian most likely would have been a very influential man in Judaism and also in society. For those Christians today who put down education, they should take a serious look at Paul.
Note that the NIV says that Paul spoke in Aramaic.
I'm not quite sure why it uses the word "Aramaic" because the
Greek text says "Hebrew".
chapter 22, verse 1 to 5, Paul tells the crowd that he is a Jew from
I've said that Gamaliel was a Pharisee. He was the grandson of a liberal Pharisee named Hillel. A whole theological school and liberal way of thinking was started by Hillel. For example, one liberal teaching was the Jewish men could divorce their wives for any and every reason. We should understand that Gamaliel was probably a liberal as well, although the text doesn't specifically say that. That being the case, in many respects, Paul was probably a liberal and zealous Jew prior to his conversion. This tells us that Paul had a major conversion from being a liberal of liberals to a concervative of conservatives.
Verse 4 tells us that Paul persecuted Christians to their death. Paul might well have killed people with his own hands. We know that he stood by and watched Stephen being killed. We know that he had the authority to arrest Christians to have them executed. I suggest that this verse might well suggest that Paul himself killed men and women in the name of his zealous Judaism.
tells these people that if you donít believe me, you can ask the high
priest. They most likely still
remembered giving Paul letters of authority to do these things.
verse 6 Paul continues by reporting to the crowd how he met Jesus on the
important to know that when someone persecutes a Christian Jesus takes
that very personally. It's
like persecuting Him. I am
reminded of the martyred saints in Revelation 6 who cry out to God that
their death be avenged by Him. God
didn't say that He would not avenge their death.
He only told them to wait a while longer.
God will avenge those who persecute Christians.
response to Jesus Paul says, ďWho are you, LordĒ?
See my notes in chapter nine concerning these words.
Paul was basically asking, "Who are you?
Are you the Lord God of Israel"?
voice then replied, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are
persecuting". This should
remind you of the words that Jesus said, "when you do this to the
least of these, you do it to me".
This means that whatever one does to a Christian, whether good or
bad, you are in fact doing that to Jesus Himself.
might note that Paul says the voice who spoke to him was the voice of
Jesus of Nazareth. If you read
Acts 9, Jesus didn't say He was Jesus of Nazareth.
He only said that He was Jesus.
I'm not sure what to make of this at this moment, if we should make
anything at all.
In verse 9 Paul continues by saying that his companions saw the light but did not understand the voice. The debate over this verse is easy to solve. Paul's companions saw the light. They heard the voice, but they just didn't understand the word the voice spoke.
If you read the book of Revelation you soon discover
that any utterance that is heard in heaven is very loud.
It's sometimes described as thunder.
This might well be why Paul's companions heard the sound but didn't
understand the words. Jesus
voice was probably very loud and thunderous.
Jesus allowed His words to be heard by Paul but not by those with
verse 10 Paul recalls how the Lord told him to go into
the word "assigned" in verse 10.
Jesus had specific things He wanted Paul to do and He was about to
us Ananias to pass on this assignment. I'm
sure Paul had free will. He
could have turned this assignment down, but in his thinking, mine too,
once meeting the Lord of all there is, he had no logical choice to embrace
this assignment. That's why he
said he was compelled by the Spirit to go to
verse 12 we see something about Ananias that we did not see in chapter 9.
Paul says that he "was a devout observer of the Law".
This is interesting; the one who prayed for Paul to receive his
sight and the Holy Spirit was a good Jew, albeit a good Christian Jew. I
believe that Paul mentioned this in order to tell the elders that very one
who initially prayed for and with him was a good observer of the Law.
This was meant to ease the tension a bit.
verse 13 we see how Paul was healed. Ananias
simply said the word, "Saul, receive your sight".
I've always said that the Bible does not teach one way, or, a
formula, for healing. In this
case, Ananias had the Holy Spirit power and authority to speak on behalf
of Jesus. His words healed
verse 14 through 16 Paul speaks of the word of prophecy Ananias gave him.
The prophecy stated, "The God of our fathers has chosen you to
know his will and to see the Righteous One, and to hear words from His
mouth. You will be His witness
to all men of what you have seen and heard.
And now what are you waiting for?
Get up be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.
we see Paulís commission from Jesus, or at least part of it.
We see that the God who spoke to him was the God of his
forefathers, the God of the Jews. Paul
made sure he told these Jewish orientated Jews that it was their God; it
was Yahweh Himself who called him to his ministry.
For more information on this you can read Galatians 1.
Paul goes to great length to say that his ministry was not given to
him by men but by the God of Israel.
of the voice Paul would know God's will and the Righteous One, who is
Jesus. Right from the very
beginning Paul understood that His calling was to do the will of God.
We see that over and over in his life.
We saw it back in Acts 21:13. Paul
would do God's will even if it meant him losing his life in the process.
did see the Righteous One. He
obviously saw Jesus on the road to
had received many words, and many visions directly from Jesus Himself.
This is why I have always said, that Paul is the Moses of the New
Testament. What Moses meant to
the Jews of the Old Testament, Paul means to us Christians in the New
Testament. Another thing I've
always said is that if Paul got it wrong, Christians and the church are in
one huge mess because more than anyone else, Paul has defined New
Testament thinking for us.
was to give witness both by word and action to what he has seen and heard
from Jesus, but before he could do that, he had to be water baptized and
have his sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord, and so he
was immediately baptized in water.
did get up and was water baptized. A
quick reading of the NIV seems to suggest that water baptism washes away
our sins, but is this really the case?
I don't think so. I believe the cross of Christ has washed away our
sins. I think the words
"calling on the name of the Lord" in this verse is important.
It's not merely water baptism that washes our sins away.
It is the Lord on whom we are calling that has washed our sins
verses 17 and 18 we see something that we donít see anywhere else in
Paulís writing. While in Jerusalem, soon after his conversion he saw a vision from Jesus.
Jesus told him to leave
verses 19 and 20 Paul replied to what the Lord told him by suggesting that
the Jews wouldn't be the problem that Jesus suggested they would be.
Paul was a smart man but he sounds a bit naive at this point, and,
suggesting to the Lord that He was wrong is a bit naÔve as well.
told the Lord that the Jews knew well that he went from house to house
arresting all the Christians he could find.
Furthermore, he was with the people who killed Stephen and approved
of it. Paul was basically
telling the Lord that everything should be fine because they knew him and
knew his zeal for the Law. If
he had changed in such dramatic fashion, then they'd surely follow him.
would not be the case. Paulís
reasoning was faulty so the Lord responded by saying, "Go, I will
send you far away to the Gentiles".
Here we see from the very beginning days of Paulís new life as a
Christian that his ministry would extend to the Gentile world, far away
from the Jews and
verse 22 Luke says that the crowd listened to Paul until he said that
Jesus told him to go to the Gentiles.
This infuriated the Jewish crowd.
They had little to no respect for Gentiles, especially since they
were under their political rule. They yelled out, "rid the earth of
him (Paul), He is not fit to live"!
Paul was clearly wrong when it came to the Jews response to him.
the custom was when Jewish people were being insulted, in verse 23 we see
the crowd taking off their coats and flinging dust in the air with them.
This was a long lasting tradition that dates way back through Old
verse 24 Paul is taken into the barracks to be flogged and questioned.
When they were about to beat Paul, in verse 25, Paul asked,
"is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasnít been found
the soldier who was ready to flog Paul heard these words from Paul he
immediately went to the commander to see what should be done. Paul
knew the answer to his question. It
was certainly illegal for a Roman citizen, which Paul was, to be beaten
without a legal trial.
It appears from the text that Paul didn't mention his
Roman citizenship until right before he was to be flogged.
I'm sure it took some time to prepare for his flogging, so you
might wonder why Paul waited until the last minute to say that he was a
Roman citizen. I suggest that
he waited on purpose. It would
have made the whole situation more dramatic.
There would have been no uncertainty that he was going to be
flogged at that point. I view
this as just another way in which Paul could be cunning and even crafty
verse 27 the commander of the soldiers then went to Paul and personally
asked if he was indeed a Roman citizen.
Paul said that he was. The
commander then said that he had to buy his citizenship.
Paul replied by saying that he was born a Roman. Luke records in
verse 29 that once the commander found out that Paul was a Roman by birth,
he was alarmed.
need to note here that simply arresting and detaining Paul was against
Roman law since he was a Roman citizen.
Flogging him would be a worse crime.
There were always two floggers, one on each side of the prisoner.
The strap consisted of many heavy threaded strips.
At the end of each heavy thread was a piece of metal or stone.
When the strap hit the one being flogged it would rip the flesh
resulting in much bleeding.
intent of such flogging was to break down the will of the person so he
would respond with the truth to the person questioning him.
Thus after Paul was to be flogged; he would have been questioned by
a prisoner was scourged, his feet and hands were tied to a ring on the
floor. His stomach rested on a
heavy pillar that was placed horizontally to the floor.
This would expose the bare back of the person being flogged.
This was one way that the Romans beat a person.
might think that anyone could claim to be a Roman just to get out of
trouble with the Law. If
someone claimed to be a Roman and was found that he wasnít, he would be
put to death. So, people did
take their claims of citizenship seriously.
was born a Roman. The captain
of the guards bought his Roman citizenship.
This meant that Paulís citizenship was more respected than the
captain of the guard's citizenship.
thing to note here is that Paul used his civil rights to defend himself.
Some suggest that Christians should not use any of their civil
rights to help them in any negative situation they find themselves in.
Paul was a humble man, but he was not to be a door mat.
He had rights, and he used these rights when he felt that he
should. In this situation Paul
used his citizenship rights to defend himself. In
most cases, those of us who live in the western world still have civil
rights. I see no problem
standing up for our rights, even in a court of law.
This might not always be the case in the days ahead.
More and more we are losing our civil rights as Christians because
our western society is fast losing the influence that Biblical thinking
once had on society.