Monday, May 15, 2017

Acts 22: The Power Of Words

Words can incite violence or save your neck.  In Paul's case in Acts 22, they do both.

The mob listens quietly as Paul methodically shares his testimony and what has brought him to this moment before them.  When he gets to the message he received from God ("Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles"), the Jewish crowd erupts in hysterics.

What was it about these words that pushed the Jews over the edge?  It was the implication that God was interested in reaching the Gentiles.  This meant that the special status the Jews had always enjoyed as the chosen people was being placed in jeopardy.  Paul was saying that the old division between Jew and Gentile was coming down in Christ, but the people were not ready to give up their prejudices.  Paul's words launched them into a murderous rage.

But lest you think that Paul was careless in his speech, he is also able to find the words to get himself out of a beating by the Roman soldiers.  With a simple sentence ("I was born a citizen") he gets his interrogators to immediately back down.

What was it about these words that delivered Paul from a flogging?  Because of his birthplace in Tarsus, Paul enjoyed Roman citizenship.  This was very valuable in that world.  You could purchase citizenship, as the tribune had, but Paul had it naturally.  A Roman citizen had rights that the soldiers were afraid to trample on.  We will see, going forward, that Paul was very skilled in the exercise of his citizenship.  

God knew what He was doing when He called Paul onto the mission field!

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