June 12th Acts, 22
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.
Paul gives his defence. Its interesting that he does not mention the four men and of the sacrifices that he had paid for. He is defending himself for his life and it’s the whole of his conversion call and ministry that is at stake. When he addressed them in perfect Hebrew they were silent again. He starts his defence by stating. I am a Jew. It is for his Jewish standing and his Jewish hope and their Jewish heritage that he stands before them. Then he says born in Tarsus but brought up at the feet of Gamaliel. In other words he was trained by perhaps the most respected Jewish Rabbi of Israel. He says I was taught according to the most perfect manner of the Law of the fathers. Paul theological credentials are impeccable. On top of that it was not mere book learning but it was accompanied by a great zealousness toward God. And he says, I was exactly as you are this day. On top of that l persecuted this way (the followers of Christ) unto death and imprisoned them men and women – the high priest can verify this and all the elders. Because it was from them that l received letters to the Jews of Damascus so that l had authority to go there to arrest christians and bring them bound to Jerusalem for trial. Then he says, It was about noon – as we were coming near to Damascus suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me and l fell to the ground. Then l heard a voice saying Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? I answered who are you Lord? And the answer came, I am Jesus of Nazareth who you are persecuting? The people that were with me saw the light but nobody heard the voice. So l said what do you want me to do, Lord? And the Lord said to me rise up and go into the city and you will be told you what is appointed unto you to do. I rose up but could not see and so they led me by the hand and l came into Damascus. Eventually a devout Jew according to the Law and well reported of the Jews, called Ananias, came to see me. and he stood and said Brother Saul receive your sight and immediately l could see clearly. Then he said The God of your Fathers has chosen you that you should know his will and that you should see the Just one (Christ) and that you should hear his voice from his own mouth. Because you will be a witness unto all men of what you have seen and heard. So now Saul rise up and be baptised and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord. Then l returned to Jerusalem and when l was in the temple, while l was praying, l was in a trance and I saw him (Christ) saying to me go quickly out of Jerusalem because they will not receive your testimony concerning me here. And l replied they know that l sent to prison and had beaten in every synagogue those that were believers in you. And when the blood of your witness Stephen was shed l was standing by adding my witness to his death and l looked after the clothing of those who murdered him. And he said depart from Jerusalem because l am going to send you far away unto Gentiles.