“As we think of prejudice no man has a right to treat any other man tolerantly, for tolerance is the assumption of superiority.” (Wendell Willkie).
Immediately after his conversion Paul had gone to Arabia. From there he had returned to Damascus, he had run into opposition, escaped from his enemies, and made a brief visit to Jerusalem. It was probably at this time that he had the experience he is now describing to the crowd in the Temple court. A hushed silence had fallen on the crowd from the moment he begins to speak. Paul knew the people and their scorn and hatred for all things pertaining to the Gentiles. It would have been much safer for him to have rounded out his story with some patriotic remark about the Temple, but that would have not been the whole truth.
He tells how that when he had come back to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple enclosure, he fell into a trance (v. 17). The Lord said to him, “Hurry and leave Jerusalem! The people won’t listen to what you say about me” (v. 18). After Paul’s conversion he had begun to witness, as Stephen had done before him, to the Greek speaking Jews, and had brought to himself the same hatred that he had once felt for Stephen (vv. 19-20). The crowd continued to listen intently as Paul went on with his testimony. He was trying to get them to realize, by a rehearsal of his past, that he had some convincing reasons for changing his ways. By making this reference to his own past and how he was a determined persecutor of the Church, even to the point of having an active part in Stephen’s martyrdom, must have been clear to his listeners.
His crowd listened with interest until he started to talk about the Gentiles (v. 21). These Jews looked upon the Gentiles as dogs, and had a bitter hatred for them. The moment he mentioned the word Gentiles they flew into a rage. For Paul to go to the Gentiles was unpardonable. Then for him to tell them that the Jews were the ones who had crucified the Messiah was the crime of all crimes.
There are people who are prejudiced and have a hatred toward people of another race or background? This was an attitude for many years in the southern part of the United States, as whites looked down on the blacks. Perhaps with some people this is still true, and it certainly doesn’t please the Lord. I need to ask the Lord to give me a love for people all around the world regardless of their race, color or creed. I may hate what they do but I am never to hate them as a person.
""When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance and saw him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.' And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.' And he said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
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Acts 19:1-7The Holy Spirit is a Person
Acts 19:8-16Miracles Performed by Paul for Authentication
Acts 19:17-22Beware of Cult Practices
Acts 19:21-41Results of Religious Greed
Acts 20:1-6Discipleship Despite Difficulties
Acts 20:7-12When, Where, How & How Long to Worship
Acts 20:13-21Paul–An Example of Faithfulness
Acts 20:22-24Paul’s Determination To Go To Jerusalem
Acts 20:25-31Paul’s Warning to the Ephesian Elders
Acts 20:32-38Paul Shares About Giving
Acts 21:1-9Paul Warned By the Christians
Acts 21:10-16Paul’s Determination & Warning from Agabus
Acts 21:17-26Compromise Recommended but Refuted
Acts 21:27-36Disaster is the End Result of Compromise
Acts 21:37-40Boldness At the Barracks
Acts 22:1-5Paul Defense of His Heritage and Ministry
Acts 22:6-16Paul’s Salvation Testimony
Acts 22:17-21The Jewish Crowd’s Prejudice Against Gentiles
Acts 22:22-30Paul–A Roman Citizen
Acts 23:1-5Respect is Always Appropriate
Acts 23:6-11Comfort In Times of Trial
Acts 23:12-22A Plot to Kill Paul
Acts 23:23-35God’s Timing is Very Evident to Paul
Acts 24:1-9Paul’s Response vs. Reaction to Charges
Acts 24:10-21Paul’s Defense Before Felix
Acts 24:22-27Concern from Paul’s Friends & Foes
Acts 25:1-7Paul’s Roman Trial–Festus Hears False Accusations
Acts 25:8-12Paul’s Appeal to Caesar’s Roman Courtroom
Acts 25:13-22Festus Consults Agrippa for a Second Opinion
Acts 25:23-27Paul’s Opportunity to Face Agrippa & Company