Your Testimony About Me
Comments for Study 25
Memory Verse: 18
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I. To the Gentiles (1-21)
>1. How does Paul greet the mob who had beaten him and tried to kill him?
* Acts 22:1 "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."
* "brothers" -Paul was a Jew and thus many of the Jews before him were his brothers.
* "fathers" -Paul saw the older Jews as his fathers.
* Paul was paying respects to those who had beaten him and would have killed him. He did not act as the world reacts. He was not mad or vengeful.
>What does this show about him? (Matt. 5:44)
* Matthew 5:44 "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"
* Paul was going against society by following the commands of Jesus.
>Why would Paul's choice of language cause the crowd to be silent? (2)
* Acts 22:2 "When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said:"
* "Aramaic" -A North Semitic language similar to Phoenician and Hebrew was the language of the Arameans whose presence in north-western Mesopotamia is known from about 2000 B.C.
* The Palestinian Talmud and the Targums (translations of Old Testament books into Aramaic) also were written in Palestinian Jewish Aramaic.
* Speaking in the common man's language with the dialect spoken by Jews would mean that he was one of them. If he spoke Greek or Latin they would consider him an outsider. If he spoke in Hebrew they would have to pay even closer attention because Hebrew was not the language even the Jews spoke in every day life in those days.
>2. How does Paul describe himself before Jesus came to him? (3-5)
* Acts 22:3-5 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished."
* "Jew" -One of them, within the covenants of the Lord as laid down in the Old Testaments.
* "born in Tarsus of Cilicia" -meaning at least one of his ancestor had probably been forced to life outside of the promised land by the Greeks or Romans.
* "brought up in this city" -Meaning he chose to live in the promised land, and what is more, in the Holy city God chose them to worship him in.
* "Gamaliel" -A prominent teacher and member of the ruling party. He spoke up when the apostles were arrested and thrown in jail. (5:34)
* "thoroughly trained" -Paul was in the school to become a Pharisee. He was required to memorize the first five books of the Bible as well as their oral law, the laws they had created. A Pharisee was able to not only receit them but explain them at will. They were also heavenly involved in mission work, converting Gentiles to the Jewish faith.
* "persecuted" -He admits that he was against the followers of Jesus as they are now.
* "this way" -The life the Christians lived was different than the lives the zealous Jews lived.
>Describe Saul's encounter with the risen Jesus. (6-11) What happened immediately after seeing the light from the Lord?
* Acts 22:6-11 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?' "'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. "'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. "'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. "'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.' My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me."
* "a bright light from heaven" -the bright shining glory of the Lord, a bright shinning cloud surrounding the LORD God. The glory of the Lord came on Mt. Sinai just after the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex. 16:7-10, 24:16-17), in desert Tabernacle (Ex. 40:34-38; Lev. 9:6, 23; Num. 14:10), and in the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Ki. 8:10-11; and 2 Ch. 5:14, 7:1-3, Isa. 6:1-4). Jesus coming in the glory of the Lord is prophecies by Isaiah (Is. 4:2-6; Isa. 35:1-2; 40:4-5; 59:19-20; 60). Ezekiel also saw the glory of the Lord. (Ez. 1:25-28; 3:12, 22-23; 9:3-4; 10:3-4, 18-22; 11:22-23; 43:1-5; 44:4). Luke 2:9 says the glory of the Lord shown over the shepherds when they angles said Jesus was born. Paul calls Jesus the "Lord of glory" in 1 Cor. 2:8 and the "radiance of God's glory" in Hebrews 1:3.
* "what you have been assigned" -Paul was making it clear to his hearers that God had given him the mission that he was not on.
* "blinded" -Paul could not see physically as he had not seen spiritually. He thought he was doing God's will, when in fact he could not even see God.
* See Study 11 for more.
>What was so special about this experience to Saul? (1 Cor. 15:7-8)
* 1 Corinthians 15:7-10 "Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed."
* "abnormally born" -The other apostles had been with Jesus for over three years, including forty days after his resurrection. Paul had been with the resurrected Jesus for a few seconds. Yet, the length of time didn't matter, the effect was still the same.
* Our encounter with Christ is individual, but the effect must be the same.
* 1 Timothy 1:13-14 "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus."
* "blasphemer" -A blasphemer is a person who speaks against the name of God. Saul spoke against the name of Jesus.
* "violent" -He forcefully jailed people, even killing people.
* I don't think there was a worse sinner than Saul with the exception of me. Yet God forgave his sins. Look at history of God's people. Do you think you have done something that God just can't forgive? Consider this: Noah was a drinker, Abraham an idolater, Jacob a deceiver, Moses a murderer, Aaron built an idol, Samson was an adulterer, David was too and murdered to cover it up, Samson committed broke about every commandment given, Peter denied Jesus three times, and Saul killed Jesus' followers. God is in the business (non-profit) of forgiveness. Faith and love are in christ Jesus.
>3. Who was Ananias? (12-13)
* Acts 22:12-13 "A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him."
* The first person sent to Saul was sent directly by Jesus. Jesus works with his people. He calls each alone through the Holy Spirit. Yet, we are not alone. He brings other believers into our lives.
* Paul made it clear that Ananias was definitely a strong Jew.
* Paul also made it clear that he was given sight through Ananias, thus blessed by God.
>What did Ananias tell Saul? (14-16)
* Acts 22:14-16 "Then he said: '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.'"
* "chosen you... you will be his witness to all men" -Why not one of the twelve or one of the seven? God's specific sovereignty. God was preparing Saul as he had prepared the twelve and the seven. Though in a very different way.
* All of Jesus' people carry his name, that is we tell it to other people. We are his, called by his name, to give his name, the gospel, to others.
* "of what you have seen and heard" -God gives each person his word through people. We are to give what we receive to others. Jesus' work is a mouth to ear.
* "be baptised" -A rite of proclamation and identity Jesus had commanded his disciples to baptize believers. Saul meet Jesus personally. Saul accepted Jesus' words. Saul welcomed God's servant. Saul was healed. Saul was given the Holy Spirit. Now he is going to be baptized. Baptism is important step. It is a public confession that they have been cleansed of sin by Jesus' blood, and have joined the community of believers.
* "wash your sins away" -The actual washing away of sins is done by God on our spirit. By acceptance and obedience we are forgiven by faith.
>What would being able to see again mean to Saul? (13; Matt. 11:4-5; Isa. 29:17-24, 42:18-20)
* Acts 22:13 "He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him."
* Matthew 11:4-5 "Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor."
* Isaiah 29:17-24 "In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down-- those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice. Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the house of Jacob: "No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction."
* Isaiah 42:18-20 "Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing."
* Only the Messiah could give sight to the blind. Paul and the listeners would know that God had indeed appeared to him.
* "I was able to see him" -Paul was not able to see physically and spiritually.
>Who is the Righteous One? (Prov. 21:1-13; Isa. 24:16; Acts 3:14, 7:52; and 1 John 2:1)
* Proverbs 21:1-13 "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. All a man's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin! The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright. Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. The wicked man craves evil; his neighbor gets no mercy from him. When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge. The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin. If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."
* Isaiah 24:16 "From the ends of the earth we hear singing: "Glory to the Righteous One." But I said, "I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray! With treachery the treacherous betray!"
* Acts 3:14 "You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you."
* Acts 7:52 "Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him"
* 1 John 2:1 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One."
* Jesus is the Righteous One. He alone is righteous from beginning to end. He alone makes us righteous. The Holy One and the Righteous One were titles sometimes used to describe the Messiah. What an unthinkable crime that Paul was against the Messiah, the one every true believer had waited for for generation after generation.
* “Righteousness” -in the original languages denotes far more than in English usage; indeed, biblical righteousness is generally at odds with current English usage. We understand righteousness to mean uprightness in the sense of adherence or conformity to an established norm.” In biblical usage righteousness is rooted in covenants and relationships. For biblical authors, righteousness is the fulfillment of the terms of a covenant between God and humanity or between humans in the full range of human relationships. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
>4. What did the Lord tell Paul? (17-18)
* Acts 22:17-18 "When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking. 'Quick!' he said to me. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' "
* "When I returned to Jerusalem" -some time passed before he returned to Jerusalem, over two years. (9:26; Gal. 1:17-18)
* "praying in the temple" -Even Paul had seen the Messiah he returned to the temple to pray. The temple was the place men were able to come worship the Lord. Paul was saying that he was not a blasphemer of the temple as people claimed.
* "fell into a trance" -A trance is viewing something that is not real. A vision is real. A trance is unreal vision that portrays a spiritual reality and often direction for a follower of Jesus. During a trance a persons senses are not functioning in part or in full. What is experience does not come from what is around them, but from God into the mind.
* "saw the Lord speaking" -Previously Paul could not see the Lord. Now he could. In both cases Jesus had not stood on the earth.
* "Leave" -Earlier Paul tells us that the elders told Paul to leave. Paul must have went to the temple to see if their direction was the Lord's will. Jesus told him it was his will and why it wasn't his will.
>What did Paul say?
* Acts 22:19-20 "'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'"
* "I replied" -Paul had a two way conversation with the Lord. Paul's prayer was more intent than normal prayer.
* "these men" -Paul has to be referring to the Jewish leadership who had not accepted Jesus as Lord.
* Some say Paul was objecting to God. Paul was not objecting to God's will. Paul spoke what was on his mind. He wanted to preach to the Jews in Jerusalem like the other apostles. Yet, his situation made it hard for anyone to take him seriously. I believe that it was even hard for the believers to take Paul seriously. From others point of view how could God want to use so powerfully someone who had opposed him so much for so long? Could we take that person as a serious witness of God? Think of the most evil people in our day, and then suddenly he appears saying he had a vision of God and now admits that he was wrong and has changed his ways and now God has appointed him to be his spokesman. Would we take him seriously? Now put yourself in that persons shoes. Your were evil and now called to give a message and no one takes you seriously. Rather many say that you are crazy.
>What was the Lord's plan for Paul?
* Acts 22:21 ""Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
* "to the Gentiles" -The Lord understood Paul's dilemma more then Paul realized. He was telling Paul that what he said at his conversion would happen. And even though it had been two years ago, it was not the right time yet. The Lord told Paul that for now he would go far away. He was saying the elders advice was correct, leave Jerusalem.
>How does this fit into Jesus' world mission command? (1:8, 11:13; Gal. 2:8)
* Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
* Acts 11:13 "He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter."
* Galatians 2:8 "For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles."
* Jesus wanted to gospel to go to everyone. He told his disciples to bring it to the Jews first, but not the Jews only. Jesus did use the eleven apostles, but he would use others too. Often religious leaders have a hard to accepting God's call when it doesn't follow how they were called. Yet, God's call is real no matter how it comes.
>Why would Paul want to say all this to these Jews at this time?
* Paul was showing that his decisions in the past prove that the accusations against him were not true. At the same time Paul wanted to show the grace and love of Jesus. Paul wanted to show that Jesus is the Messiah.
II. Paul the Roman Citizen (22-29)
>5. How did the Jews respond to Paul's commission to go to the Gentiles? (22-23)
* Acts 22:22-23 "The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, "Rid the earth of him! He's not fit to live!" As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,"
* "Rid the earth of him!" -They wanted him dead and not buried.
* "not fit to live" -They set themselves up as judge, determining who dies and who lives.
* They acted like madmen. I suspect that demons were also possibly controlling them.
>Why would they react like they did to his mission?
* They hated the fact that Paul was bringing Jesus and his message to other people. Satan is not happy with the spread of the gospel.
>6. Where did the Roman commander take Paul? See if you can find a map that shows where this was located in Jerusalem. Why would he take him there?
* Acts 22:24 "the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this."
* "the barracks"- Herod had built a place for the Roman soldiers called Antonia Fortress. It was right next to the temple mount on the north-west corner. The Jews hated it because from the towers the soldiers could look into all the temple courts.
>Why would they want to flog him?
* "flogged and questioned" -The Romans used flogging to get confessions from their prisoners. They believed, correctly, that anyone who was flogged would not want to lie for fear and weakness.
* "to find out why" -The Roman commander did not understand Jewish life and thinking.
>7. What did Paul tell the Roman centurion who was about to flog him?
* Acts 22:25 "As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"
* Paul had been flogged before and did not want to go through it again.
* We should not seek to undergo persecution and if possible it is OK to avoid it. Jesus doesn't want us to seek destroying the temple of this body he has given us. Don't seek it. Yet we know that it will come.
>What does this mean? (26)
* Acts 22:26 "When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. "What are you going to do?" he asked. "This man is a Roman citizen."
* "what are we going to do?" -If a Roman citizen was arrested and punished without a trial the soldiers would be put in jail, punished, and even killed.
>8. Did the commander believe Paul at first? (27)
* Acts 22:27 "The commander went to Paul and asked, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes, I am," he answered."
* The Roman commander did not believe that Paul was a Roman citizen for several reasons. There were only a few ways to become a Roman. First, at least one of your ancestors were Roman. Second, you did great things for the Roman society and someone in the government recommended your service be honored with citizenship. Third, after a long military career. Fourth, a master released a slave as a Roman citizenship or a slave was able to buy it. Fifth, bribe a Roman leader into sponsoring you. This was illegal of course, but widely practices.
* Roman citizen had special privileges that conquered nations did not have making it highly sought after.
>Why would it be hard for him to believe that Paul was a Roman citizen?
* Jew hated Romans and were very proud of their history. Everyone knew that Jews wouldn't even go into a Roman household let along became a citizen.
>What is the difference paying for Roman citizenship and being born a citizen? (28-29)
* Acts 22:28-29 "Then the commander said, "I had to pay a big price for my citizenship." "But I was born a citizen," Paul replied. Those who were about to question him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains."
* There were different levels of citizenship. The lowest was paying for it. The highest was being born a citizen. One that was born a citizen also had more political connections and power.
>What can we learn from Paul? (Matt. 10:16)
* Matthew 10:16 "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."
* We need to use what God has given us. A great example is the life of Esther. God placed her where he did to use her in a unique way.
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