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The Same Only Different. Acts 22:1-12

19/07/2021

The Same, Only Different.

Text: Acts 22:1-12

God has intervened  and prevented Paul from destroying his witness, by allowing a lynch-mob of Jews to grab him and drag him out of the temple and begin the process of literally beating him to death. He was arrested by the Romans and surprised that Paul was a well spoken educated man, speaking in Greek, the Roman commander gave permission, for Paul to speak.  So now Paul begins his defence of the faith, before the Jews of Jerusalem.   

1. The Value of a Testimony.  V22 

Here’s our first consideration. What is the value of a personal testimony?  I’m sure you know that YOUR TESTIMONY IS NOT THE GOSPEL!  The Gospel is the preaching of Christ and him crucified for our sins. Testimonies, are generally about ME.  Yet Luke recounts the events of Paul’s conversion three times in the book of Acts so we can’t say that a testimony is in any way insignificant or unnecessary.  We just need to know what the real value of our personal experience is, and when to use it.   

So we’ll try to imagine the scene. It’s a riot, a howling angry mob, like you’d see in some of the footage that comes from Palestine etc.  How will Paul ever get through to them. His own style of delivery makes it even more difficult.  Paul’s no orator.  The Greeks in Athens accused him of being a babbler! READ 1 Corinthians 2:1  2 Corinthians 10:10,  2 Corinthians 11:6.   Paul is a teacher, a catechist, who spends hours and hours, days weeks, even years, in systematic teaching from the scriptures.   .

But what would be the point, in trying to reason with these people, to logically and carefully and methodically set forth Christ as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world?  Would they even listen? That’s where Paul’s testimony becomes his chosen method of address. Your testimony is NOT the gospel or a substitute for it, but it can be an effective defence of the gospel in this antagonistic world.  1 Peter 3:14-16    

2. Paul is the Same as the Jews.   V3-6

Paul begins his defence with a tone of reconciliation.  “Men, brethren and fathers…” It was a salutation that would pacify  the Jews, a tone of deference.  They quietened down and began to listen.  Paul begins.  I AM A JEW!  I am verily a man which am a Jew, v3, I am verily a man which am a Jew,  He demonstrates his Jewishness, showing them how he was just like them.  He parades his Jewish credentials.  

  • His birth and upbringing.  born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city,  So Paul is no backwoodsman, he was born in an influential city, a place of commerce where there was a large colony of diaspora Jews, and born obviously into a wealthy family.  Imagine being able to grow up in the city where the very focus of our faith lay. 
  • His education. Paul then points to his education. at the feet of Gamaliel and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, His family were rich enough to be able to afford to send him to university in Jerusalem.  It was every clever Jewish boy’s dream, to be able to excel at studies in the local synagogue, and go to Jerusalem to complete his education.    So, who was Gamaliel?  There were three great and famous rabbis of that day.  Hillel, Akita and Gamaliel, and of these three Gamaliel was noted for his moderation and tolerance.  He appears in Acts, Acts 5:34-37   One has to wonder how this supposed moderation didn’t filter down to the young Saul of Tarsus, for he then goes on to point to…
  • His zeal for the law.  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.  See the progression in Paul’s statement of enthusiasm for the Jewish law.  He was as zealous as any of the people who were wanting him dead,.  He had been a murderous, heartless bully, using the might and backing of the Jewish police to violently destroy Christians and the Christian faith.

And for all of these Jewish attributes, these proofs of Paul’s Judaism, he calls witnesses to testify. The Jewish authorities themselves know all of this as fact, for they were involved!  V5  Now, see that…

3. Paul is Different from the Jews.  V6-12 

When Paul met Christ, his perspective was certainly changed!  The Jews, especially the Pharisees, believed that God’s grace, his love mercy and forgiveness was exclusively for themselves, for the Jews.  Paul would have believed that, – as a Pharisee, but something had happened to change that, – he had met the risen Christ. That always changes a person’s perspectives!  2 Corinthians 5:17.   Look at how he describes how he met the Saviour…

  • The obvious glory of the Lord. v6  
  • He is completely humbled and defeated.  v7 And I fell unto the ground,
  • The value of Christ’s church.  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.

Again, Paul calls out witnesses to attest to these events.  

  • His fellow travellers. V
  • A well known, and devout Jew. V10  

So, we have seen Paul’s opening salvo, his defence before the Jews whom he loved, and whom he longed to see saved.  He is the same as them, but he is different. He is a Jewish sinner saved by grace!

Applications.  

Now, what lessons can we learn from this?  I leave just two applications with you…

  1. We too are the same only different!   We begin our defence of the faith by reminding people that we are no better than they, that we are sinful wretches, who have met the risen saviour and had our lives totally transformed, so that we have learned to hate our sin, to be repulsed by it, disgusted by it, and led to repent of it.   
  2. Now, let me ask YOU a personal question.  Could you defend the faith like this?   Have YOU got a testimony to Christ’s saving power?  Why not?  

© Bob McEvoy July 2021

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