Acts 21:37–22:21 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
22:1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
As Paul makes a defense for himself and for Christianity in general, he retells his conversion and commissioning as an apostle. Though he was staunchly against Jesus and His followers, even putting some of them to death, Paul was confronted by the Righteous One and became a Christian. After returning to Jerusalem, Jesus appeared to him and told him to leave because the Jews, though they needed grace just as much as the Gentiles, would not accept the good news about Jesus. There are at least three things we can learn from this passage: First, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, the gospel can be good news for you right now. Second, we learn that it doesn’t matter who you are or how you’re wired, in Christ you are specifically gifted for Jesus’ mission. Third, we learn that it doesn’t matter who you are or what your personality is, you can be as bold as Paul for Jesus.
1. Study through Acts 21:37–22:21 together. What stands out to you and why?
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your personality is, you can be as bold as Paul for Jesus.
2. Why was Paul so bold? What can we learn from this passage about how to be bold for Jesus ourselves?
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, the gospel can be good news for you.
3. What does Paul’s example show us about no one being too bad for Jesus? How could 1 Timothy 1:15-16 be helpful for someone feeling like a screw up, beyond help?
4. What does these Jewish people’s example show us about no one being too good for Jesus? How could Romans 3:23 and Galatians 2:16 be helpful for someone feeling as though they have no need for Jesus to wash their sins away?
5. How are we called to initially respond to Jesus according to verse 16? What does this mean?
It doesn’t matter who you are or how you’re wired, in Christ you are specifically gifted for Jesus’ mission.
6. What are some of the gifts Paul is using in this passage for Jesus’ glory? What are some of the ways you are gifted*?
*maybe ask it like this: what are you good at? what needs do see most frequently? which type of people are you most easily sympathetic toward?
7. How can you use your gifts to serve 1) your local church, 2) the global church, and 3) the world at large?
When you know God smiles at you, all other frowns become inconsequential. To the degree that your confidence is in the Righteous One, who washes sins away, you can boldly use your gifts for His glory no matter the consequences.
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