Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Acts 22 - Paul Stirs Up the People in Jerusalem

LINK: Acts 22

BACKGROUND


Paul probably used Aramaic, the common language of Palestinian Jews, not only to communicate to them in their heart language but also to show them he was a devout Jew and respected the Jewish laws and customs.  The fact that he spoke Aramaic was probably very impressive since he was a Jew from Tarsus (in modern day, south central Turkey).


His defense involved telling the crowd of his credentials as a devoted Jew who was a student of the most honored rabbi of the first century, Gamaliel (5:34). He acknowledged that, had he not met Jesus, he would be zealous to kill him too! With this, he established common ground with them and gained their ear. 


Paul simply shared the testimony of his encounter with Jesus, and how he came to change his views because of this (Acts 7:58-8:1 and Acts 9). The people were attentive until he mentioned the "G" word: Gentiles. Some commentators believe that the Jews were mad because they did not want to let the Gentiles into their exclusive "club". Other commentators believe that what really infuriated the mob was not that Paul preached to the Gentiles because religious authorities had always preached to Gentiles and made them proselytes (Matthew 23:15), but that Paul was alluding that Gentiles were in equal standing before God by being partakers of God's covenant promise without following the Law of Moses (Ephesians 2:11-22; 3:2-6; Galatians 3:28)! This was unheard of!


Throwing off cloaks and flinging dust were signs of intense anger in Jewish culture. If not for the help of the Roman officer, Paul would have been killed like Stephen.  


The commander wanted to interrogate Paul by flogging him which involved using a short whip embedded with sharp pieces of metal or bone and attached to a wooden handle (The same instrument was used on Jesus).  By law, the commander could not flog or put a Roman citizen in chains until proven guilty. Good thing Paul spoke up!


Since the commander could not speak Aramaic, he had no idea why Paul was causing a riot, he called together the chief priest and Sanhedrin and had Paul stand before them the next day. We will wait until tomorrow to find out how that went! 


There is no REFLECTION or APPLICATION today.


PRAYER


Lord, I pray we never think we are an "exclusive" club that "bad" people cannot belong to. I pray we are always welcoming and inviting to all who want to know about Jesus remembering how You welcomed us into Your Kingdom of Grace! Amen. 
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