Devotional # 62. 11/25/13. Paul brought before the Sanhedrin. (by Jenna Fogle)
This week’s Reading: Acts 22:1-30.
Introduction This week is special because my wife, Jenna wrote it! As you’ll see she did a great job. Today we will be reading some more about Paul and where God wanted His word to go out to. If you remember from last week Paul was arrested by the commander and accused of being an anti-Roman revolutionary, but once the commander realized Paul was an educated man he let him go and address the people.
vv. 1-5. Paul gives a short biography, telling the people his background in training of Old Testament law and rabbinic traditions, proving that the charges brought against him in Act 21:28 are silly. This biography also acts as a testimony, showing how Paul felt towards Christ and His followers before his conversion.
vv. 6-14. Paul shares the story of his conversion here. Some important things to note are what Jesus says in v 7. He says “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?” Even though Paul (Saul) was not persecuting Jesus Himself, the inseparable union of Christ to His followers made Paul’s (Saul’s) attack on the Christians a direct attack on Christ. (Source 1). In v 8 Paul asks who it is speaking to him and has Jesus answer “I am Jesus of Nazareth…” this leaves no doubt in Paul’s mind about who is speaking with him. In v 10 Paul asks “What shall I do Lord?” showing the heart change that he has had, from being bound by O.T. law to now being an obedient follower of Christ. V 13 Ananias give Paul his sight back.
vv. 14-16. Ananias gives Paul his mission, to be “witness to all men of what you have seen and heard”. Which God tells Ananias about in Act 9:15
vv. 17- 21. This is the climax to Paul’s testimony. Here he is saying that he received word from God to go and preach to the Gentiles.
vv. 22-24. Here the crowd that Paul is addressing freaks out and starts calling for blood. This is because of Paul saying that God told him to go and preach to the gentiles (v 21). To the Jew’s this was blasphemy. The commander then takes Paul away from the mob to be interrogated by a brutal Roman practice called scourging i.e. being whipped with metal tipped leather strips attached to a wooden handle (Source 1).
vv. 25-28. This back and forth between Paul and his captors is very important for setting up the next chapter. In Biblical times it was unlawful to interrogate a Roman citizen by binding and scourging; it was also punishable by death to claim Roman citizenship when you were not a citizen (Source 1). What is interesting is how he goes about telling his captors of his heritage, he does not cry out “But I am a Roman, and I am innocent!” He asks in v 25 “Is it lawful to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” He is showing his captors the illegality of their actions (Source 2). The captain is being sarcastic with Paul in v 28, but Paul’s response puts him in his place and actually makes him worry about his job and his life. Because Paul was born a Roman it makes him an equal or higher than the Captain who has bought his citizenship.
vv. 29- 30. The commander and the guard, now knowing who Paul was, pull away and set up a meeting of the Sanhedrin to examine Paul and find out why the Jews were so mad.
Conclusion: In this chapter we see Paul give his testimony to the Jew’s who then freak out because of His revelation from God to share the gospel with the Gentiles and try to kill him, forcing the guard to take custody of him. While in their custody, Paul uses his rights as a Roman citizen to literally save his hide and get himself a meeting with the Sanhedrin. We get to hear Paul’s conversion story again, illustrating his servants heart eager to listen to God, the way we should all be in our walks. Even though God might not blind us on the highway, there are times when we hear that still small voice calling and we ignore it because it makes us uncomfortable. Don’t you think that Paul knew the reaction the Jew’s would have once he shared who God wanted him to preach to? Remember not that long before Paul was Saul, persecutor of the Christians. He knew the trouble he would get into, but went anyway, because it was God’s plan.
Source 1: John MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1650, note on Act 9:4
Source 2: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, p. 527