Introduction

This week’s lesson is the final lesson of the summer quarter.  In this quarter we have been taking a look at people of valor and their acts of courage while facing great threats and their courage for Jesus.  Our last lesson of the quarter is going to take a look at the courage of Paul.  When I think of courageous and bold people in scripture, Paul is one of the people at the top of my list.  Our lesson for this week is being taught from Acts 22:17-29.

Before an Angry Mob 

Our lesson this week opens up with Paul speaking to an angry mob made up of his brethren – the lesson actually opens at the end of his speech.  Things were very heated and dangerous for Paul in Jerusalem at this time.  In fact, we see that Paul was actually told to make haste and get out of Jerusalem by the Lord (vss. 17-18, 21).  Actually, in the chapter prior, some of the disciples through the Spirit had actually been warning Paul about returning to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4, 12).  Paul, however, was adamant in going to Jerusalem that he would not heed the warnings (Acts 21:13-14).

Giving an account of his history  

So, Paul ended up going to Jerusalem and was met with an angry mob and was arrested (Acts 21:27).  I would actually recommend reading the entire chapter of our lesson this week so that you can get the full re-telling of Paul’s history from the man himself.  Paul speaks of his upbringing as a Jew (Acts 22:1-3), how he persecuted Christ (Acts 22:4-5), what happened to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:6-11), how he was given his sight and commissioned by God (Acts 22:12-16), and lastly, how he stood by as Stephen was stoned to death (v. 20).

Ministering the gospel

Why was Paul giving an account of his history in our lesson?  Well, Paul’s ministering of the gospel had angered the religious leaders of the Jews – yes, those same religious leaders that antagonized Jesus and the other apostles.  Paul would minister the gospel to anybody that he could, Jew or Gentile.  The religious leaders would antagonize Paul when he would preach Christ in the synagogues, no matter where he was.  Then, when Paul began preaching the gospel to Gentiles, the religious leaders antagonized him even more.  There was fiery anger towards Paul and Jerusalem was in an uproar against him and wanted him dead (Acts 21:26-35).

Paul had been run out of many synagogues by a mob of Jews that had been stirred up by the religious leaders, and on one occasion he was nearly stoned to death (Acts 14:19).  Such threats against his life would have been a moment to pause and consider one’s livelihood, but Paul was filled with nothing but drive and motivation to share the good news of Christ.  Paul would often testify of his willingness to suffer for Christ (2 Cor. 11:25, 30-31).

Angry mob’s response to Paul

So, when Paul stood before this angry mob, I want you to know that he was not shaken – he was full of confidence.  We have seen this same kind of confidence in our recent lessons and we have seen that it comes through the Holy Spirit.

The angry mob had no interest in listening to Paul’s testimony, which means they had no interest in Christ.  I say this because not only was Paul testifying of his upbringing and how work, but we must remember that Paul was working on behalf of the Lord.  So, after they listened to Paul’s testimony, they desired for him to be sent away and killed (v. 22).

Their uproar drew the attention of a Roman commander who had Paul taken to the barracks to be examined under scourging (v. 24).  What this means is that they were going to whip Paul to get information out of him – essentially they were going to torture him.  Remember, Jesus was scourged by the Romans after He was arrested and prior to being crucified as a sort of punishment and humiliation prior to Him being put to death (Matt. 27:24-26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1).

Paul’s resolve

So, this situation seemingly continues to get worse and worse for Paul.  It almost seems to be a challenge as to whether he is going to fold and break under the pressure that he’s facing.  Yet, we will see that Paul was not quite ready to give up.  He turns to the commander and asks whether it is lawful for him, an innocent Roman, to be whipped and beaten (v. 25).

Paul was a very smart man as he was wise in the Mosaic Law, but he was also wise in Roman law and customs.  Paul was a Jew, but he was also a Jew that had Roman citizenship as he tells the commander that he was born as a Roman citizen (v. 28).  He was born in Tarsus, which was a city of Cilicia, which was a province of Rome.  This was something that was very unique to Paul, especially when we consider the other apostles.  So, Paul often used his citizenship to his advantage as he moved throughout the land sharing the gospel of Christ and he was going to use it to his advantage here.

So, when the arresting centurion heard this question from Paul, he went to warn the commander about Paul’s Roman citizenship (v. 26).  This news changed everything for the commander as he went to confirm this news with Paul.  The commander had to purchase his citizenship but Paul did not have to purchase his.  So, after hearing this, we are told that those who immediately heard this withdrew from him – so Paul was let go.

So, we have seen Paul face off with an angry mob and we have now seen Paul with the Roman commander and a centurion.  Again, Paul allowed himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit and being led by the Spirit will fill you up with all kinds of confidence.