EVEN PAGAN POWERS!
Lord, give me the wisdom to speak the correct words to a threatening situation.
Read ACTS 22:22–29
Paul the Roman Citizen
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
At the mere mention of God sending Paul to the Gentiles (21), the crowd reacts in fury. Their actions (23) signify their horror at what Paul has said to them (cf. the high priest at Jesus’ trial, Mark 14:63). The Roman commander still has no idea why the crowd is so frenzied, so he orders that Paul be interrogated under torture (24). As the soldiers stretch out Paul for the flogging, he drops his bombshell! He is a Roman citizen, which means that their actions are illegal and with serious potential consequences (cf. Acts 16:37–39).
The commander is surprised to learn that Paul is a Roman citizen. He tells Paul that he himself is a Roman citizen only because he had paid handsomely for the privilege. To the commander’s amazement, however, Paul states that he was born a citizen and he will assert that status to prevent the flogging. He was not always able to avoid such treatment (2 Cor. 11:23,24), but in this instance his citizenship is pivotal in enabling him to be tried before the Roman authorities (Acts 24–26).
God is not mentioned in today’s reading, but not only is he present here, he also was active in previous years so as to bring about Paul’s birth as a Roman citizen. This is God’s way of fulfilling the commission given to Paul by Ananias (Acts 9:15). God was using the power of a pagan empire to fulfill his purpose in Paul’s life.
Do we believe that God can use even the pagan powers today to fulfill his purpose? In the middle of all the tumultuous world events, do we have the faith to believe that God’s plan is not thwarted, any more than it was in Paul’s life? God is working out his purpose to reconcile all things to himself (Col. 1:20); all things, even pagan empires, will submit to him. That day is coming!
What tumultuous world event are you praying about? Pray that God will fulfill his purposes even through that event.
Lord, I believe that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2), and that includes my role in it.
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