Paul–A Roman Citizen

In olden times the words “I am a Roman citizen” protected any man when he uttered them, whether on the banks of the Euphrates or on those of the storied Rhine, whether on the plains of Persia or in the mountains of Spain. Why, in that ancient day to be a Roman was gre … More

Citizenship

The crowd listened until Paul made this last statement (v. 22). Then they started shouting, “Get rid of this man! He doesn’t deserve to live.” For Paul’s sake, it was probably good that the courtyard was paved. Had there been stones lying around the Jews may have stoned him to death. To the Jews he was a traitor. In their thinking God never sent a Jew to the Gentiles. They were so upset after hearing Paul’s testimony that they tore off their garments and scooped up dust and threw it into the air (v. 23). This shocked the Roman soldiers, as they had not been able to understand a word of the language in which Paul had addressed the crowd. The Roman soldiers were afraid that the crowd might go on a rampage so they believed they must get Paul to talk fast. When they saw the crowd’s reaction they gave the order, “Scourge him” (v. 24). Paul was no stranger to beatings.

There are times for a believer to claim his civil rights. We should be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ, but there is no virtue in suffering merely for suffering’s sake. At this point Paul produced his Roman citizenship (vv. 25-27). To scourge an uncondemned Roman citizen was serious business. No one had the rights of a Roman citizen except the elite, and these people, it has been said, would pay the equivalent of $50,000 in our money in order to become a Roman citizen (v. 28). When Paul said, “I was born a citizen” this probably meant that his Jewish father or grandfather had bought their Roman citizenship. Since Paul was a Jew, these Roman guards were still curious as to why Paul was hated so much by his own fellow Jews (v. 29). So they released Paul, but ordered the Sanhedrin to hold a special session in order to straighten out the matter (v. 30).

Application

I need to ask myself - What do I appreciate most about being a citizen of my country? What rights do I have as a citizen of this country in which I was born and live? More important than this, what rights do I have as a citizen of heaven? Only because of what Christ has done for me.

Acts 22:22-30 (English Standard Version)

Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live." And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, "Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?" When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, "What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen." So the tribune came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" And he said, "Yes." The tribune answered, "I bought this citizenship for a large sum." Paul said, "But I am a citizen by birth." So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him. But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

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