37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defence that I now make before you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed towards Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly 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 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
POINTS OF INTEREST
- It is amazing to see how God uses Paul’s background to help him connect with this large crowd of Jews. Though Paul was not proud of his past and his previous persecutions of Christians, God powerfully uses his testimony. Will we let God use those things we are not proud of? Would we speak so freely of the sin that God has released us from? When we become Christians, God asks us to lay down our lives – the entirety of it for His kingdom and His glory.
- 22v8 It is interesting that Paul called Jesus ‘Lord’, even before he had been told who He was. There is power and authority even in His voice.
- 22v9 God’s love and care for us is so individual. He had a message specifically for Paul, He loved him so much – He spoke to him individually, with words no one else could understand. God speaks to you too today, through His word.
- Moments before, the crowd that Paul speaks to here were persecuting him. They were acting so violently towards him that soldiers had to carry him on their shoulders! Yet Paul fights to be able to share God’s work in his life. The gracious love of God flows out of him – he does not condemn them for persecuting him, but instead shares God’s love with them. This is the transforming power of the Spirit! God can do this too in your life! Are you willing?
submitted by Samantha Gregory
PRAYING IN FAITH
Pray that you, like Paul will have the courage to bear testimony to the work that God has done in your life.
For Your Five
Pray for your five, that God will speak to them as clearly as He spoke to Paul. That in whatever way He chooses, He might reveal Himself to them.
For Our Church
Pray for our church that we would stand and proclaim God’s message and truth. That we will use all situations that God puts us in – no matter how bleak – to share His message with the people He loves.