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33. Paul’s Defense to the Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 21:26—22:29)

Introduction

There are times in life when we simply wish we could disappear or “fall through the cracks,” or at least make an exit, even if not a dignified one. This was one of those times in Paul’s life. If Paul were like most men or like many of us, he would have gladly accepted being carried off by the soldiers as his exit. Instead, Paul spoke to the commander, asking if he could speak to this crowd. Amazingly, the commander gave him permission to do so, resulting in yet another riot.

This text poses us with several questions, the answers to which will significantly help us to understand what is taking place, and what Luke wishes his reader to learn from these events. The first area of investigation is this: “Why would Paul wish to delay his exit, and to speak to this crowd, who had just tried to kill him, and who would still do so if given the opportunity?” The second avenue of inquiry is: “Why did Paul speak to this crowd in the Hebrew language, when only a part of this crowd could understand this language, and all others would have no idea what was said?” A third line of investigation is: “Why does Luke record three accounts of Paul’s conversion?” Is this not repetitious? What is unique about Paul’s account in chapter 22, which is not given elsewhere? A final crucial question is: “What was it about what Paul said which caused the crowd to explode, as described in verse 22?”

Our Approach

In this lesson, we will seek to answer these questions, in order to learn what took place and the message which Luke and the Holy Spirit intended the reader to learn from these events. We will begin by reviewing the events which occur here in chapter 22 in the broader context of Acts. We will then compare (really contrasting) Paul’s defense here with that of Stephen in Acts chapters 6 and 7. We will next focus on those unique or emphatic elements of Paul’s defense, to determine what is given emphasis in this account. We will then attempt to determine Luke’s argument in this passage, and explore its implications for us.

Outline of the Structure of the Text

  • The Uprising in the Temple (21:26-30)
  • The Intervention of the Army and Paul’s Arrest (21:31-36)
  • Paul’s Identification, Petition, and Permission to Speak (21:37-39)
  • Paul’s Defense (21:40—22:21)
  • Another Riot, Further Identification, and Paul’s Release (22:22-30 )

An Overview of the Events
Surrounding Paul’s Arrest and Trials

God’s plans for the apostle Paul were formulated in eternity past (see Galatians 1:15-17; Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:1-13; Titus 1:1-3), but they began to unfold in the Book of Acts at the end of chapter 7, where Saul was included among those who took part in the execution of Stephen. At the time of his conversion, God made it clear that Paul had been saved for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel, not only to his fellow-Israelites, but to Gentiles and to kings (see Acts 9:15).

After some twenty years or more of service, in the church and as a missionary, Paul began to sense the necessity of visiting Jerusalem, and then Rome (Acts 19:21). When Paul met with the Ephesian elders at Miletus, he told them that while he did not know the details of what was to happen to him in Jerusalem, he did know that “bonds and afflictions” awaited him (Acts 20:22-24). In every city, as Paul made his way to Jerusalem, prophetic indications of his fate in Jerusalem were revealed to the churches, and these well-meaning saints urged Paul to change his plans, something which he strongly refused to do (see Acts 21:1-14).

When Paul and his party arrived in Jerusalem, they were warmly greeted by the church. James and the elders met with Paul and the others, and rejoiced at Paul’s detailed report of the way that God had saved many Gentiles through his ministry (Acts 21:17-20). They also informed Paul of some reports which had come to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem, which caused them to wonder about Paul’s doctrinal position, and to look at his ministry with some concern. They were told that Paul instructed Jewish Christians to forsake the law and their Jewish rituals altogether, and to become (in effect) Gentiles. At the Jerusalem Council, the elders reminded Paul, they had determined that Gentiles did not need to become Jews in order to be saved. The opposite was also true: Jews do not need to forsake their Jewish heritage and practices altogether—becoming Gentiles, in essence—in order to be saved. They recommended to Paul that he worship publicly in the temple in such a way as to demonstrate his agreement with the position of the Jerusalem church leaders, and this Paul did (see Acts 21:20-26).

As Paul’s time of worship in the temple was coming to an end, some Asian Jews saw Paul with Trophimus (a Gentile from Ephesus, whom they knew associated with Paul) and incorrectly concluded that Paul had taken him into the temple, which, if true, would have defiled the temple (in their minds) and was worthy of death. Immediately these Asian Hellenistic Jews, there in Jerusalem only for a time, called upon their “native Hebrew” brethren (“men of Israel,” verse 28) to come to their aid. A riot ensued, and Paul was severely beaten.

Had the commander of the Roman troops in Jerusalem not arrived quickly, Paul would have been killed. He hurried to the scene, not to save Paul’s life, but hoping to capture an Egyptian revolutionary, who had led 4,000 Assassins into the wilderness (21:38). When the commander arrived on the scene, the Jews stopped beating Paul, and pretended to be law-abiding citizens. The commander was not able to get any consistent accusations against Paul, and was about to take him into the barracks for questioning. Paul had been chained, and was being carried up the steps to the barracks when he turned to the commander, speaking to him in Greek. He asked him for permission to address the crowd. The commander was taken back, first, by the fact that Paul spoke to him in Greek, second, in learning that Paul was not the Egyptian revolutionary he thought him to be, and third, in learning that he was a Cilician Jew. Amazing though it may seem, he granted Paul permission to speak to the crowd.

Paul’s speech will not convince the crowds that they were mistaken. Instead, Paul’s words will send the crowds into an even greater frenzy, throwing dust into the air and yelling for his blood. The commander now proceeds take Paul into the barracks, where he intends to “examine” him by flogging. He will then learn that Paul is not only a Jew, but that he is a natural-born Roman citizen. This forces him to release Paul, and to arrange for his trial on the following day, before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 22:30—23:10).

Paul’s trial before the Sanhedrin is another disaster, at least from a Roman and Jewish point of view. Paul knew that he was to be tried by a group of men who strongly differed in several areas, one of which was the resurrection of the dead. When Paul identified himself as a Pharisee, believing in the resurrection of the dead, the Sanhedrin was irreversibly divided. The whole trial became chaotic, and the commander had to intervene again, taking Paul into a kind of protective custody, lest he would have been torn limb from limb by the two groups.

The Lord appeared to Paul in the night, assuring him that he would speak of His cause in Rome, just as he had done in Jerusalem (23:11). Having failed to put Paul to death legally, a conspiracy was formed by 40 Jews, who informed the Sanhedrin, and asked them to help in their plot to assassinate Paul (23:12-15). Paul heard of the plot through his nephew, and had the commander informed of this scheme. The commander therefore mustered an armed escort and sent Paul to Caesarea, where he was to stand trial before Festus, once the Jewish leaders arrived there to press their charges (23:16-30).

This “trial” before Felix was also a fiasco, from a legal point of view. The high priest, Ananias, along with some of the elders from Jerusalem, went down to Caesarea, bringing charges against Paul, but without any of the “witnesses” who claimed Paul had taken a Gentile into the forbidden temple area. The outcome was inconclusive, and Felix “sat on the fence” for two years, failing to either convict Paul or to release him, but keeping him in custody with some measure of freedom (24:23, 27). As Herod was both drawn to the teaching of John the Baptist, and frightened by it (Mark 6:20), so Felix was both drawn to Paul and frightened by him (24:24-27). He also had hopes of Paul bribing him to be released (24:26). By keeping Paul in confinement, he also won some measure of favor from the Jews (24:27).

Felix was pathetically “wishy-washy” and never settled the issue of Paul’s guilt or innocence. Finally, after two years, he was succeeded by Festus. At first, the Jews tried to get Paul sent back to Jerusalem for trial, so they could kill him as they had plotted earlier. Failing in this effort, another trial was held at Caesarea, at which the Jews could not make a case. Festus, too, played to the crowd, and sought to convince Paul to go back to Jerusalem for trial. Knowing that this would only lead to his death, Paul appealed to Caesar (25:11).

Festus found himself with a problem. He could not convict Paul, and he was afraid to release him. And now that Paul had appealed to Caesar, he would have to send Paul to Rome to stand trial there. The problem was that he did not have any charges that would stick. He would look the fool to send Paul to trial with such shoddy evidence. Happily, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived before Paul was sent to Rome (25:13ff.). Festus told them his problem, and thus they agreed to help out by listening to Paul, with a view to formulating charges against him. With great pomp and ceremony, Agrippa, along with Bernice came into the courtroom, and then Paul was brought in (23:23). When it came time for Paul to speak in his defense, Paul gave his testimony of his conversion and calling once again (26:2-23). Seeing and hearing Paul’s intensity, they accused him of being mad, and of coming nigh unto converting them (26:24-29). They concluded that there were no charges serious enough to send Paul to Caesar, but since he had appealed, he would go. In their minds, Paul was a fool for having ever made such an appeal (see 26:32).

The final two chapters of Acts are a description of Paul’s journey to Rome, his arrival there, and his ministry while awaiting his trial. The actual trial is not described, or its outcome, for Luke’s purpose was not to focus on Paul’s personal fate so much as to emphasize the proclamation of the gospel to Gentiles, kings, and Jews. The gospel had spread from Jerusalem to Rome, just as the Lord had promised (Acts 1:8).

The Nature of Paul’s Defense

Paul’s speech, made from the steps leading upward to the Roman barracks, is not the first—nor is it the last—account of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. But Paul’s account of his conversion here is unique in several ways. First, this is the first time in Acts that Paul has given an account of his conversion. This account in chapter 22 is a “first person” (“I”) account. Luke’s account in chapter 9 was a “third person” (“he”) account. Several things stand out in this report of his conversion. We shall see these by comparing this account with that of the defense of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7, and by comparing Paul’s words here in chapter 22 with the other two accounts of his conversion in Acts (chapters 9 and 26).

First, then, let us compare Paul’s defense here with that of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. Look at the early verses in Luke’s account of Stephen’s arrest, of the charges against him, and of his line of defense:

6:8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, {including} both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 And {yet} they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and {against} God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Council. 13 And they put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us. “ 15 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel. 7:1 And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Depart from your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ 4 “Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, {God} removed him into this country in which you are now living” … (Acts 6:8–7:4).

The accusations made here against Stephen by some of the Hellenistic Jews are very similar to those charges made against Paul:

27 And when the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, {began} to stir up all the multitude and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place” (Acts 21:27-28).

While the stoning of Stephen took place nearly 25 years earlier, the charges against Paul and Stephen were remarkably similar. The charge that Paul defiled the temple is but one of many charges. Paul, like Stephen, was accused of speaking against the Jews, the Law, and the temple. (Paul, of course, was present at the trial and execution of Stephen.)

The “defenses” of Stephen and Paul were very different, even if the charges were the same. Stephen immediately turned to the Old Testament; Paul turned back to his experience on the road to Damascus. Stephen emphasized the great gap between himself and the Jews of his day, and between Israel and her God, as being identical to the gap between the Israelites and God, and between Israel and the prophets, all through her history. Paul’s defense sought to establish the strong similarity between his beliefs and practices as an unbeliever, and that of his opponents, the zealous Pharisees, who persecuted Christians. Paul’s defense, as recorded in Acts 22, is just that—a defense. Stephen’s “defense,” as recorded in Acts 6 and 7 is not a defense at all, but an indictment of these Jews as being rebellious and “stiff-necked,” just as their forefathers had been.

There is very little duplication in these two accounts: the accusations against Stephen, and his defense; and the accusations against Paul and his defense. The strong similarity comes in the charges and conduct of the Jews who oppose both, who would falsely accuse these saints, and try to make their executions look legal (as they had done with Jesus before this), and if they could not make their case, to illegally kill these men anyway.

Second, let us compare Paul’s account of his conversion here, with the other accounts recorded in Acts chapters 9 and 26, especially with an eye to those elements in this account which are emphatic or unique.481

The first point of emphasis in this account is the language which Paul chose to communicate his defense. When Paul spoke to the Roman commander, he surprise him by speaking in Greek (21:37). This not only served to impress the commander, but to convince him that Paul was no Egyptian (21:38). But when Paul spoke in his own defense to the howling Jewish mob, he did not speak to them in Greek, but rather in Hebrew. Doing this significantly reduced the number of those who could understand what he was saying.

In the first place, this kept the Roman commander and his troops from knowing what Paul was saying. How distressed he must have been at this! At the time the first disturbance broke out, the commander was not present, and he was completely foiled in his attempt to piece together what had happened. Perhaps he reasoned that if he allowed Paul to speak to the crowd he would understand what the problem was, and thus he could deal more effectively with this crowd and with Paul. What a shock it must have been to grant Paul permission to speak in this very delicate and explosive situation, and then to discover that he was addressing the crowd in Hebrew—a language he could not understand. I can see him turning to one of his men and asking, “Do you know what he is saying?” How he must have watched Paul, his “body language,” and the response of the crowd, in an attempt to monitor the situation. How shocked he must have been to see this crowd, initially silenced by Paul’s speaking, and then suddenly exploding into an even more violent mood.

More importantly, speaking to this crowd in Hebrew excluded the Hellenistic Jews, the very ones who had taken the initiative in the arrest and stoning of Stephen years before, and who had also taken the initiative in Paul’s arrest now. The ability to read and speak in Hebrew (or Aramaic) set the “native Hebrew” apart from the “Hellenistic Jew.” If you asked a “native Hebrew” about this (and he were honest) he would tell you this set him above the “Hellenistic Jew.”482 When Paul spoke to this crowd, then, he spoke only to the native Jerusalemite, but he excluded the Hellenistic Jews. The question we should seek to answer is, “Why?” Why address only one part of this crowd, when speaking to them in Greek would have enabled virtually all present to hear Paul’s testimony? Would it not be better for more to hear the gospel than few?

I believe that Paul wanted to specifically address the “native Hebrew” Jews of Jerusalem because he had a special understanding of them, and because his past beliefs and behavior was virtually identical with their belief and actions toward him. He could understand them because he was just like them. And his conversion should be pertinent to them because they are like he was, before Jesus saved him. If God could convert Saul, as He had done years before and as Paul would describe here, then He could also change these men. Furthermore, this was perhaps Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, perhaps his last opportunity to present these Jews (for whom he had such a heart) the gospel, the way of salvation. And if Paul could convince these Jews, who were the dominant religious leaders in this city, the opposition of the Hellenistic Jews would fizzle and fad away. The Hellenistic Jews had called upon these men, these, “men of Israel” for their aid. Without their aid, Hellenistic opposition would not have enough strength to do away with Paul.

When Paul gestured (did the chains hinder him?), indicating his intention to address the crowd, a hush fell over them. When they realized that he was speaking in Hebrew, an even greater hush resulted (22:2). Those who were Hellenistic Jews were perhaps silenced by their lack of knowing this language, which, in the eyes of some, would be a shame and reproach. Those who were native Hebrews must have realized that this message was just for them, and so they listened more intently.

To sum up the first significant emphasis here in this account, Paul’s defense was one that was directed to the “native Hebrews” and kept from the Romans and the “Hellenistic Jews.” This was a selective message for a select group.

Second, as pointed out earlier, Paul’s defense here is vastly different than Stephen’s earlier defense. Stephen spoke from the Old Testament Scriptures and the history of Israel; Paul spoke from his own conversion experience. Stephen placed himself among the prophets, and distinct from the “stiff-necked” Jews of his day; Paul identified himself with the Pharisaical Jews,483 showing that he was just like them. Stephen did not defend himself, but indict his accusers; Paul defended himself as being a faithful Jew, and as true to the Scriptures and his calling.

Third, the most unique part of Paul’s account of his conversion is to be found in verses 17-21, which is found nowhere else in the Scriptures. Luke’s account of Paul’s conversion in chapter 9 is similar to Paul’s version in many ways, but when it comes to Paul’s temple “vision,” recorded only in 22:17-21, this is truly unique. Luke tells us of Paul’s witness in Damascus, of the plot of the Hellenistic Jews to kill him, and of Paul’s escape by being lowered through an opening in the wall of the city, in a basket (9:19-25). Luke then goes on to describe the difficulty (not unlike the difficulty he described with Ananias above) which Paul had in associating with the apostles in Jerusalem, of the intervention of Barnabas, of Paul’s acceptance, and ministry in the synagogues. And then we are told of the plot of the Jerusalem Jews to kill him, and of Paul’s escape with the help of the brethren (9:26-30).

Nothing is said in Acts 9, however, of Paul’s temple vision, of which he speaks here in chapter 22, before this crowd. Some would no doubt think of it as a contradiction to what was said in chapter 9. How could Luke say that the brethren learned of a plot to kill Paul and helped him escape, while Paul speaks of a temple vision? The answer is really quite simple: It took a vision from God to make Paul responsive to the appeal of his brethren to leave Jerusalem. He was convinced that the people would listen to him, since he was “one of them” before, but the Lord told him this was not to be the case. Thus, when divinely instructed of the futility of evangelizing his peers, Paul left Jerusalem, knowing that he was being sent to the Gentiles.

Paul’s report of this vision is the last thing which he spoke before the crowd erupted, and his words here are obviously the cause of the explosive reaction. What was it that he said here, which was so offensive, so provocative? These words, in verse 22, provide us with they key:

And they listened to him up to this statement, and {then} they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!”

What, then, is the statement which proved to be so upsetting? For a long time, I have been of the opinion that it was this: “‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles’” (Acts 22:21).

This is partly true, but it is only a partial statement. In verses 17-21, Paul speaks of his vision as a dialogue, not a monologue. The first words are spoken by the Lord, interrupted, as it were by a protest from Paul. Then, after Paul’s interruption, the Lord speaks again. If we are to understand fully what it is that upset the Jews so badly, we must see the entire statement which the Lord made to Paul. So allow me to edit out Paul’s rebuttal:

“‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me … Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

It was not just the fact that God had commanded Paul to go to the Gentiles with the gospel. That was bad enough. It is what made the Jews of Nazareth so upset with Jesus—mad enough to kill Him (Luke 4:23-30). But the words of the Lord to Paul went beyond this. The command to “go to the Gentiles” was linked with a parallel command to “forsake the Jews in Jerusalem, who would not believe the gospel.” It was distressing enough for a Jew to think of God’s blessings being shared with the Gentiles (Jonah, for example, illustrates this), but this statement, quoted by Paul and made by the Lord, goes to the limit, by saying that God’s blessings will be taken from Jerusalem and sent to he Gentiles.

This, of course, is exactly what Paul describes in Romans 9-11, but it was the most horrifying thought a Jew could ever entertain. And this was the match which ignited the gasoline fumes of mob anger there in Jerusalem. Paul was telling his peers that the time of their blessings was coming to an end, due to their unbelief, and that times of blessings were coming to the Gentiles. If the nation Israel would not believe and obey and take the “light to the Gentiles” God would use their unbelief as an instrument to proclaim the “light to the Gentiles.” God’s purposes would not be frustrated by Jewish unbelief and disobedience. But the times of refreshing for which every devout Jew looked forward were to be postponed to a later time, a time after the Gentiles had heard the good news of the Gospel.

The Riot and the Roman Troops
(22:22-30)

This was no straw here, breaking the proverbial “camel’s back.” This was a ton of bricks! The crowd began to cry out, throwing dust into the air. They called for Paul’s death. The Roman commander was not having a good day. He thought the situation was under control. He hoped hearing Paul’s speech would clarify some issues. It only made matters worse, from a peace-keeping perspective. I think that the commander was exasperated by Paul by this time. One could see how Paul might have been blamed for all of this.

Now he really was going to get to the bottom of this matter. He had Paul taken to the barracks, where he was being prepared for interrogation—by scourging. Now, he must have reasons, Paul would tell him what he wanted to know, and in Greek! But the commander was still not really in control of things. He had learned that Paul was not an Egyptian revolutionary, and that he was a Jew from Cilicia, but he had not yet learned that Paul was a Roman citizen, and that as such he could not be treated this way.

As preparations were being made for his interrogation, Paul turned to the centurion who was nearby and asked if this were the way Roman citizens were to be treated, without yet having been tried or convicted. The centurion was stopped short, and he quickly went to the commander to inform him of this new development. He gently rebuked the commander and urged him to stop the scourging. The commander then approached Paul to verify the fact that he was, indeed, a Roman. He learned that Paul, unlike himself (who had to buy his citizenship at a high price), was born a Roman citizen. The centurions who were nearby almost automatically let go of Paul, fearful of what might befall them for treating a Roman harshly. If the commander was angry with Paul before, he was now fearful. Paul could make a lot of trouble for him if he wanted to do so. He was eager to make things right, and to appease Paul.

Instead of beating Paul, and holding him in custody, the commander released him, and set a hearing on the following day, so that Paul could stand trial before the Sanhedrin. It was through this legal means that he hoped the truth would become known. Such was not to be the case, as we will see in the next lesson.

Conclusion

Several truths emerge from our text. Allow me to highlight some of these as we conclude.

(1) The Sovereignty of God is evident as Paul, the Roman army, and the unbelieving and opposing Jews all are used to promote the gospel. We were told by our Lord, early in the Book of Acts (1:8) that the gospel would be proclaimed abroad, beginning at Jerusalem and extending to the remotest part of the earth. And so it is happening, but not only through faithful men and women, trusting in Jesus and committed to doing His will. It is being accomplished through the mistakes of a Roman commander, who probably should never have allowed Paul to speak, through the Hellenistic Jews who accused and opposed Paul, and through the “native Hebrew” Jewish leaders of Jerusalem. The gospel is going to Rome. The harder the Jews work to resist and overcome it, the more the proclamation of the gospel expands.

(2) One also sees the handwriting on the wall, the coming day when Jerusalem will not only be abandoned by God but devastated by Rome, while the gospel is also spread to the Gentiles with the unwitting help of Rome. Rome becomes the tool of God, not only to chasten His disobedient people, Israel, but also to protect Paul and to promote the gospel which he preached. One cannot help but sense that the days of these unbelieving Jews are numbered, and that Jerusalem will soon be sacked, just as Jesus warned (see Luke 21:20ff.).

(3) We see in Paul the heart of a man who loves his own people so much that he cannot be silenced from sharing his faith with them, even when they have nearly killed him. In passages like this, we read of Paul’s great love for his people, and his intense desire that they be saved:

1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, {separated} from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the {temple} service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen (Romans 9:1-5).

In our text in Acts 22, we see that Paul’s words in Romans 9 are no mere “lip service.” He does love these people, and desire that they come to faith in Jesus as Messiah. He loves them so much that even when they have nearly beaten him to death, even when they would still put him to death, he will not pass up an opportunity to tell them of the salvation he has found. If you and I had this kind of compassion and concern for the lost, we would not need evangelism methods classes, for we would find more than enough opportunities to share our faith, even as Paul did.

(4) Finally, we find the power of a testimony. We do not know that any were saved immediately, as a result of this testimony, but we do know that some might have been. The power of Paul’s testimony here is found (in part) in the fact that he was like them, in the similarity of Paul in his lost state to those whom he is addressing. When people know what we use to be, and see what God has done to change us, the power of the gospel is evident. The power of one’s testimony is proportionate (humanly speaking) to the similarity of one’s experience to that of those to whom we are speaking, coupled to the degree to which our lives have changed. Only a dramatically changed life justifies a personal testimony.


481 See the three accounts comparatively displayed at the end of this message.

482 This same superior attitude can sometimes be detected in students or preachers who tout their ability to read the Greek and Hebrew texts of the Bible.

483 In the providence of God, Paul was a hybrid Jew, a mixture of both “Hellenistic Judaism” and of “native Judaism.” By birth, (the Greek) language, and travel, he was a Hellenistic Jew. But by his (Hebrew) language, upbringing and training in Jerusalem, he was a “native Jew.” Thus, he could speak with authority to both groups. This is hardly a coincidence.