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.
The Doctrine of Persecution: There are so many out there that are killing in the name of God… they are ‘zealous toward God’… but are zealously wrong! The Islamic Jihadists are like this. Paul had the Christians back then bound and put in prison. He had official legal orders from the Jewish high priest and elders to do this.
Paul was showing here that he was more of a true Jew than they were, even to the level of persecuting the Christians. Paul probably was the key man leading the charge against Christianity at that time.
Should Paul have used some of this time he had to tell them all how wrong they were for beating him?
He instead used the opportunity for what God had brought it about for…to tell them of his conversion to Jesus Christ!
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.
The Doctrine of Salvation: This all parallels Acts 9. Do you think that Saul was saved here? Most do, but I believe Paul was led to salvation when he was with Ananias. Paul wanted to know what he should do; and God simply said to go to Damascus; He could have told him the good news of the gospel, but didn’t. Ananias would tell him of Jesus and of baptism/church membership. God could have led Paul to the Lord Himself, from Heaven; but God’s plan is to use Christians to tell others the truth of Jesus Christ. There is no record of someone being led to the Lord from God Himself…i.e., the Lord leading them to salvation directly from Heaven.
God knows how to get someone’s attention, no matter who they are (think of the worst Liberal, and God can get them saying “What shall I do, Lord?”.)
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.
The Doctrine of Soulwinning & Salvation: Ananias was probably a/the Pastor there with the church of Damascus. He was a devout Jew whom Saul would listen to. The term ‘Brother’ here was said in the sense of being ‘Jewish’. Saul was healed of his blindness and then healed spiritually.
Is the ‘choosing of Paul’ here talking about ‘electionism’ (Calvinistic)? Was Paul chosen to be saved? Paul was chosen by God to be an apostle, really ‘the chief’ apostle; and, an apostle had to have been called by Jesus Christ in person, and be a witness of the resurrected Christ. Also, Paul would ‘see that Just One’ (I assume in the Arabian desert).
Verse 16 is the clencher on the fact that Paul was not saved until this point. The ‘washing’ is associated with the ‘calling’, not the ‘baptizing’. Apparently, Paul was tarrying a bit because of all this new information. We may want to encourage people to not tarry in regards to salvation and then baptism. It almost appears that the order is wrong here: baptism then salvation. But, the preponderance of Scripture shows the opposite order. Saul called on the name of the Lord, which washed away his sins, and then was straightway baptized and became a member of the Baptist church of Damascus.
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,
The Doctrine of Persecution: It appears that Saul was the main leader in this wave of persecuting Christians; he even ‘beat’ Christians while they were meeting in the synagogues. We see that Paul was greatly influenced by Stephen’s death. Saul was one of the ‘few’ that voted for Stephen’s death. The laying aside of the garments before Saul probably was a statement that Saul was ‘in charge’ and that the garments were showing the owners’ official involvement in the killing. For Paul’s protection, God sends him to the Gentiles; this was also God’s perfect plan for him. Sometimes persecution occurs from a Christian trying to reach a ‘minority’ that is prejudiced against.
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.
The Doctrine of Persecution: Is it right for a Christian to try and find a way out of being persecuted as a Christian? Scourging was often done via whipping with a cat of nine tails (40, save one). This all happened very quickly.
They didn’t know very much about Paul at all; in fact, they thought he was someone else who had tried to lead an uprising in the past. The ultimate societal position of that day was to be a Roman citizen; it gave you great priviledges and respect. Paul knew the law very well, and used it for his advantage. There is a great advantage for being a US citizen when in a foreign country…it might come in handy in protecting you from certain judgments.
He had some unique factors that God would later use for His advantage. This could be similar to having dual citizenship, or being bilingual, or having a parent who is a citizen of another country. God could use this in your favor for Missionary work.
1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
The Doctrine of Persecution: I assume that striking on the mouth, probably with a slap, was culturally acceptable for such a statement, but not ok in regards to the law. Was Paul right in what he said here? Was the high priest a ‘whited wall’? Was it contrary to the law? Ex 22:28 Do you think that Paul knew already that this was the high priest? Similar with Jesus Christ’s encounter. Should a Christian be so bold as to reprove a law enforcement officer or a judge when they are being tried for a crime unjustly or unethically or, even, hypocritically? Would it be right for the government to jail a Christian if they spoke out against the President? God doesn’t speak negatively about what Paul did here so I assume that God was ok with it; I don’t see how Paul didn’t know the ‘judge’ was…though, he might have thought that he was a ‘high up’ priest, but not ‘the’ high priest.
6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. 10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. 11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
The Doctrine of the Pharisees: Paul was a Pharisee; also, he was the son of a Pharisee. The Pharisees and the Saducees were often at odds with each other. The Saducees were like today’s ‘modernists’ who deny much of the ‘supernatural’, and the Pharisees would be more like today’s ‘mainliners’ in regards to the supernatural. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection and in the spirit world…the Saducees did not. Paul alligned himself with the Pharisees (how ironic when you look at what Jesus Christ said about them).
12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. 16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would inquire somewhat of him more perfectly. 21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. 22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.
The Doctrine of Persecution: Do you think that there are people out there in America like this today?… Who just utterly hate Christians that stand strong for the Lord? There might be some who make a vow to do what they can to hurt Christians. How would you like to be in Paul’s shoes here with 40 men after you?!… Think of some countries where there is a general disdain for Christians…. India, Indonesia, Arab nations, etc.. Paul was, in effect, rescued by his nephew. How old was Paul’s nephew here? 10, 12, 8 ?… He probably was hanging around uncle Paul some, even though Paul’s life was quite dangerous and unpredictable. Those rough soldiers were easily swayed by a young lad. This young lad sure does sound like an eliquent, well educated Oxford grad.! He basically instructs the Chief Captain on what to do. God has unique and mysterious ways of having His will accomplished. You may be in a predicament, but God can have a young lad come to the rescue. When you are smack in the middle of God’s will, you will have these amazing (miraculous) events occur as God intervenes in your life time and time again.
23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. 25 And he wrote a letter after this manner: 26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. 27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. 31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 33 Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.
The Doctrine of Persecution: God protects Paul here with 470 soldiers. This was quite a big military exercise to protect this man named Paul; God wanted to let Paul know that He was right there with him. God may want to have you be taken prisoner, dear Christian, so that He can use your ‘case’ as a great testimony for Jesus Christ…even you’re martyrdom!
It might be that we independent Baptists become the focal point of the religious and government as was Paul here.