JESUS TO THE GENTILES
“Brother Saul, receive thy sight.”
Note how Paul lists his Jewish credentials: he was a Jew, a native of Tarsus, brought up in Jerusalem, trained by Gamaliel, a follower of the Law, a zealous persecutor of the church, and a representative of the Sanhedrin. How could his countrymen not respectfully listen to a man with that kind of record! Instead of accusing them of participating in a riot, he commended them for being “zealous toward God.” He admitted that he too had been guilty of having people arrested and bound, and even killed. He had them so spellbound by this point that they continued to listen even when he began to speak about his conversion. The Lord had told Paul to leave Jerusalem quickly, because the people would not receive his witness. But first, Paul debated with the Lord! He wanted to show the Jews that he was a new person and tell them that Jesus was the Messiah, and He was alive. If Paul won some of them to the Lord, it would perhaps help to compensate for all the damage he had done. But the Lord’s command was, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles!” Paul was about to explain, but the crowd would not listen to anything else he said after he uttered the word “Gentiles.”
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. 2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) 3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. 6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. 12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. 14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. 17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. 19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. 22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. 23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, 24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? 26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. 27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. 28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. 29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
Jesus, help me this week to trust You more. Help me to be who You want me to be every day. Lead me to others who desire to know You more, and give me Your words to speak to them. Let my life please You, and if there is anything in me that is not pleasing to You – help me to identify it and remove it.
THOUGHTS…INSIGHT…What is the Lord saying to me?
( ) Monday ( ) Tuesday ( ) Wednesday ( ) Thursday ( ) Friday ( ) Saturday ( ) Sunday
- Why did Paul begin his defense with “men and brethren” (Acts 13:26; Romans 9:1-3)?
- What was Paul appealing to? What did Paul tell the crowd about his Jewish background?
- What should have been especially impressive?
- Why must our righteousness be through Christ and not through the law (Romans 10:1-4)?
- What does Paul conclude about anyone who tries to be righteous through the law (Galatians 3:10-14)?
- Why do you think Paul told his own story instead of preaching a sermon?
- In 1 Peter 3:13-16, how does Peter tell us to respond if we are treated badly even though we have been “zealous for good?” Was Paul “always ready to give an answer to those that ask?” Are you?
- What key events or experiences have most significantly shaped your life? What was your life like before following Christ?
- What or whom did God use to begin to open your eyes to His reality?
- How did you begin to understand the gospel and what aspects of it were particularly powerful to you initially?
- How has knowing Jesus affected your life, relationships, attitude, or desires? What aspects of your story can people who don’t yet know Jesus most relate to?