Chris W. Dial on Acts 21-22
As a white kid growing up in North Tulsa, and attending Springdale Church of Christ, I thought I knew all there was to know about Paul the Apostle. Nope. Since I have been restudying Acts, I'm just now learning, and seeing Paul in a different light. At The Journey we also learn that we are lifetime learners!
I thought Paul was a white Jewish guy, whose given name was Saul, until Jesus called him to be His Apostle. Nope, again. He is Jewish, but not what we have come to call “white.” He was from the area that is now known as Turkey.
"The Assassins" were a real group of people, who were mostly bandits. In the Jerusalem area, they were known as Sicarii. Who were also terrorists. That tidbit of information is for those who play computer games, and may come across a game called "The Assassins.”
Paul was also a headstrong man. In Acts 21:10-14 he was warned by a prophet by the name of Agabus not to go to Jerusalem, because the Holy Spirit told him that Paul will be bound, and turned over to the Gentiles. Despite the fact that the people who heard this begged him not to go, Paul said he was going anyway. Paul answered them this way, in Acts 21:13-14, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. The will of the Lord be done". Paul’s “headstrong” nature also served the mission to which he was called.
Though he was a follower of Jesus now, he still kept the Law of Moses. But he did the amazing thing of not imposing his views and practices on Gentiles who were coming to Christ. In Acts 21:26-27, he and four others purified themselves. It was on the seventh day, when they went to pay their offering, Paul was grabbed by Asian Jews, and accused of causing trouble. But before they could do too much damage, a Roman tribunal sent some soldiers to rescue him from the crowd.
In Acts 22 he gets put on trial. He tells them about his conversion. But the Jews want him killed. So the tribunal has him taken back to the barracks. Then he orders Paul whipped. That is when Paul lets him know that he is a natural born citizen of Rome. That scares the tribunal. Apparently, beating a Roman citizen was a no-no. The tribunal wanted to get Paul's trial over with. This is the second time he has used his Roman citizenship to his benefit. Paul had used his Roman citizenship in Philippi, when he and Silas were put in jail, and the magistrates ordered their release. He made the magistrates come to him, and then he told them he was a Roman citizen. Which put the fear in the Philippian magistrates. And we are about to see how Paul manages a situation, by playing a special status card. As he does, using his Roman citizenship.
Besides teaching about Jesus no matter what, he could also be strong headed, and maneuvering when he needed to be. He used his passion for teaching Christ, as his mandate to do what was practical for the gospel to go forward to the ends of the earth.
In the first of his missionary trips, he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go to Asia, Myasia, or Bithynia. And he obeyed, as did Barnabas. But eventually he was permitted to go to those areas. But when the Holy Spirit warns not to go to Jerusalem, he does it anyway. Granted the Holy Spirit had already warned him that anywhere he goes could be dangerous, and result in him being arrested and imprisoned. And he was, in Jerusalem, and several places before Jerusalem. But he was still going to do it, even if it meant the end of his life. Which it did.
What would it take for us to have that kind of passion? Would you be willing to die in order to spread the message of Jesus? I’m not suggesting we militantly die or use force to spread the gospel, but are we willing to die in persecution as Paul was willing? To what lengths would you go to do that? And why is it that some, if not all of us, fail at times to have this passion? If you did have passion for Jesus, and lost this passion, how do you get it back?
Prayer is always a good start. Someone told me that the way to build up a walking routine is to start a little at a time. Then slowly go a few more feet, and then a few more feet, til eventually you are walking miles instead of just feet. Maybe that is how we regain our passion for spreading the Word of Jesus Christ. Till eventually our passion has completely built up enough steam to fuel our desire and need to tell, and spread the Word about Jesus Christ and all He can do for people.
Chris W. Dial
Chris W. Dial was born in Miami, Oklahoma but grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the Church of Christ. He graduated in 1981 from Oklahoma Christian University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Bible. He attends Journey Church of Christ and works for the Tulsa County Court Clerk's Office in the Records Department.