Paul Defense of His Heritage and Ministry

In ancient China, the people desired security from the barbarians to the north. The result? The Great Wall of China. It’s 30 feet high, 18 feet thick, and more than 2400 km (1500 miles) long! The goal was to build an absolutely impenetrable defense—too high to climb o … More

Defense

After gaining the silence of the crowd Paul defended himself by showing that he was a good Jew. He addresses them as friends and leaders and asks them to listen to what he has to say (v. 1). When the crowd heard Paul speak to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter (v. 2). He used Aramaic not only to communicate in the language they could understand, but also to show that he was a devout Jew and had respect for the Jewish laws and customs. Then Paul said: I am a Jew, born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia (v. 3). I was a student of Gamaliel and was taught to follow every single law of our ancestors. Gamaliel was the most honored rabbi of the first century. He was well known and respected as an expert on religious law and as a voice for moderation (Acts 5:34) Paul was showing his credentials as a well-educated man, trained under the most respected Jewish rabbi.

Paul stated that he was just as eager to obey God as any of you are today. I made trouble for everyone who followed the Lord’s Way, and I even had some of them killed (v. 4). I had others arrested and put in jail. I didn’t care if they were men or women. The high priest and all the council members can tell you that this is true (v. 5). They even gave me recognition by sending letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, so that I could arrest people there and bring them to Jerusalem to be punished.

Application

God has never called us to defend ourselves. In fact Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad"! (Matthew 5:11-12). Paul’s defense didn’t help him in this case and usually it doesn’t help us either. I could share some illustrations from my life when I tried to defend myself and it really didn’t help me any. In fact it would have been much better if I had let the Lord fight my battle. I hope that I can learn my lesson in this matter for the future.

Acts 22:1-5 (English Standard Version)

"Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you." And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished."

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