Monday, September 2, 2013

Paul's first defense

Good afternoon friends,
As we celebrate this holiday, I'd invite you to be in prayer for workers, especially those who are under unfair pressure at work and those who are either out of work or worried about their jobs. I'd also encourage you to pray for a better culture of management and labor in this country based on mutual respect and kindness.

In today's reading we see Paul ask the Roman official for permission to speak to the crowd. We'll skip much of Paul's address, since we already know the story he is going to tell, which is about his conversion. Notice how Paul wants to be heard and speaks honestly about what God is doing through him.

God bless,

Acts 21:37- 22:3, 22:17-29
37 Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, ‘May I say something to you?’ The tribune replied, ‘Do you know Greek? 38Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?’ 39Paul replied, ‘I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people.’ 40When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

‘Brothers and fathers, listen to the defence that I now make before you.’
2 When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then he said:
3 ‘I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today....

17 ‘After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18and saw Jesus saying to me, “Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.” 19And I said, “Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.” 21Then he said to me, “Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” ’ 22 Up to this point they listened to him, but then they shouted, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.’

23And while they were shouting, throwing off their cloaks, and tossing dust into the air, 24the tribune directed that he was to be brought into the barracks, and ordered him to be examined by flogging, to find out the reason for this outcry against him. 25But when they had tied him up with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, ‘Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?’ 26When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him, ‘What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen.’ 27The tribune came and asked Paul, ‘Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ 28The tribune answered, ‘It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship.’ Paul said, ‘But I was born a citizen.’ 29Immediately those who were about to examine him drew back from him; and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

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