Acts 22:22-29 22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.”23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Paul has been changed by God’s saving work through faith in Jesus. We see this clearly illustrated through his testimonial “Defense” to the Jews who sought to rid the world of him in the previous passage. Prior to his miraculous conversion Paul had been the same as the Jews he was sharing the Gospel with in Jerusalem. In Acts 22:22-29 Paul continues on towards the goal of his life, to glorify God by sharing the Gospel on all occasions and through all possible venues no matter the cost. For us to do this well today, for the love of Christ, we need to maintain that our beliefs are never overshadowed by tradition as they had been by these Jews who had allowed racism and elitism to cloud the promise of God to save them, his chosen people, and to continue that saving work to the nations, the gentiles. Namely, we need to take care that Christ is never withheld from anyone. In the relationship of belief and tradition, belief is primary. The idol of tradition can rear it’s ugly head as the church engages culture or within the church gatherings themselves. Anywhere the church is being the church, which would be everywhere for good or bad, our goal should be to give everyone the Gospel. Even those who hate us, who we may knowingly or unknowingly hate as well. Yes, we should even love our enemies as Christ loved us while we were still his enemies. In the latter portion of the passage Paul’s interactions with the Roman government, set over him and ordained by God’s sovereignty, show us a glimpse of Christianity’s relationship to government. No government seeking justice should fear Christians. We should be actively engaged in helping the government set over us to succeed in the course of justice. Will any government be perfect on this side of Christ’s return? No. Does that mean we give up on Christ’s redemptive work for now? No. God has set out good works for us to go and do. Just like Paul, let’s do them well. He revealed the fault of the Romans for seeking to “examine” him by flogging while he was a Roman citizen who had not seen a trial or been condemned. This was illegal and he quite possibly saved this centurion’s life by pointing out the shortcoming. The goal of the Christian life isn’t to suffer, that’s a byproduct. The goal is to share the good news of Jesus. The same goal Paul had in using the statutes of the government set over him.
1. Study through Acts 22:22–29 together. What stands out to you and why?
2. Where do you see the Church allowing the idol of tradition to sever the head of it’s beliefs?
3. Who have you withheld the love of Christ from? How can you seek to love them now that you realize you haven’t? How can our Church?
4. How can we respectfully help our government on the local, state, and federal levels?
5. How can God’s love for us help us to do these difficult things?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone holding together the relationships between Belief & Tradition and Christianity & Government. Our goal is to glorify God through the proclamation of his saving work on the world’s behalf on every occasion and through every venue. Remember Christian, you are immortal until your work is done. Go and make disciples.
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- CG DISCUSSION tradition, government, and Jesus