Evening Bible Study
On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit
filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began
By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution.
Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the
persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus
to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light
and he met Jesus. Saul is more well known by his Roman
By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a
Roman Centurion named Cornelius.
In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the
ministry of Paul.
Play Missionary Journeys map clip
Paul’s first missionary journey took him from Antioch of Syria, through the
area of Galatia.
Paul’s second missionary journey took him past Galatia, into Greece, then
back through Jerusalem and on to Antioch.
We are now on Paul’s third missionary journey, very similar to the second,
except he’s now in Jerusalem.
While Paul was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a riot breaks out in
the Temple, and the Jews try to seize Paul and put him to death.
The issue that is causing the riot has to do with the Gentiles.
Some of the Jewish Christians had heard rumors that Paul had been teaching
the Jews who lived around the world that they no longer needed to keep the Law
of Moses, that they could live like Gentiles.
He had not.
Some of the unbelieving Jews thought that Paul had even brought a Gentile
into the Temple because they had seen him walking around town with a Gentile.
He had not.
The truth was that Paul was in the Temple completing a very Jewish
ceremony, the Nazirite vow. Apparently Paul had taken the vow himself, and he was also
paying the fees involved for four other Jewish believers.
The Romans step in and take Paul away from the crowd to find out what he
has done to get the Jews upset.
Just before entering the Antonio Fortress, Paul asks permission to address
22:1-22 Paul speaks to the mob
:1 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before
:1 Brothers and fathers –
interesting phrase. This is the same phrase that Paul would have heard Stephen
use when he gave his defense before the Sanhedrin before he was stoned to death
There is a hint of respect here from Paul to the mob.
Reacting with respect
We don’t always respond too nicely when we’re in a hostile situation.
A small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in
a trial-a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, “Mrs.
Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve
known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big
disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you
manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a
rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to
anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.” The lawyer was
stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs.
Williams, do you know the defense attorney?” She again replied, “Why, yes I do.
I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he, too, has been a real
disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t
build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the
shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge
rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a
very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you asks her if she knows
me, you’ll be jailed for contempt!
Paul speaks respectfully using words of courtesy and dignity. Peter writes,
(1 Pe 3:9 NKJV) not
returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing,
knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Paul has been mishandled and slandered. Yet he has the presence of mind to
use terms of respect. He doesn’t call them “you bunch of bums!”
When you are in a hostile situation, you have a choice as to what kinds of
words you are going to use.
(Pr 15:1 NKJV) A soft
answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up
It’s like you having two pockets in your pants to reach
into for the situation. Are you going to reach into the pocket with the gun or
the pocket with the healing salve?
:2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in
the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said:
:2 in the Hebrew language
More specifically, he is speaking in Aramaic, a language related to Hebrew.
Paul had been speaking to the Romans in Greek (Acts 21:37)
That’s the language that the Roman officers would understand.
Now Paul speaks to the Jewish crowd in Aramaic.
The Romans won’t understand what Paul is saying, but the people will pay
attention because he’s speaking in their language.
Speak in their language
The longer we are believers, the less we talk in a language that
non-Christians can understand.
Sometimes it’s not the language as much as the way you say it.
(Eph 4:29 NLT) Don’t use foul or abusive
language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will
be an encouragement to those who hear them.
:3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this
city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the
strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are
:3 I am indeed a Jew
Most of the people in the crowd do not know who Paul is. Most of them don’t
know why they are rioting.
Paul tells them that he is one of them.
:3 born in Tarsus of Cilicia
Tarsus is to the north, in the area where Paul planted some of those
churches of Galatia.
:3 in this city … Gamaliel
Even though Paul was born in Tarsus, he was raised in Jerusalem.
He was trained by the great rabbi Gamaliel.
Gamaliel was one of the greatest Jewish religious
scholars of all time.
Gamaliel was the one who was concerned that the
Sanhedrin might be guilty of fighting against God if they persecuted the church
too much (Acts 5:39)
The point is that Paul has some pretty impressive credentials, having been
a student of Gamaliel’s.
:3 the strictness of our fathers’ law
Paul had been a Pharisee.
He was a man raised on keeping the Law of Moses.
:4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and
delivering into prisons both men and women,
:5 as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the
elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus
to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.
:4 this Way
This was one of the early labels used to describe Christians.
Jesus used some of the language Himself:
(Jn 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said
to him, “I am the way, the
truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
:4 persecuted this Way to the death
Paul says this showed what kind of “zeal” he had (vs. 3).
At one point in his life he had made it his mission to wipe out the
followers of Jesus (“this Way”)
Paul would write the Philippian about his “Jewish” credentials:
(Php 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 circumcised
the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a
Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning
zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law,
Paul is trying to show that he was so immersed in this militant orthodox Judaism that it would not have been an easy thing
for him to have become a Christian.
:6 “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near
Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven 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 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are
:8 I am Jesus of Nazareth
Paul is describing how he met Jesus. We’ve already seen this back in Acts
:9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the
light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.
:9 saw the light … did not hear
(Ac 22:9 NLT) The people
with me saw the light but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me.
Paul’s traveling companions also saw the light and heard a noise (Acts 9:7),
but they didn’t understand what was being said to Paul.
:10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and
there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’
:10 Arise and go into Damascus
One step at a time
Paul has an audience with the King of Kings. Jesus is going to give Paul
some directions for his life, but all Jesus says is to go to Damascus where he
will get the next set of instructions.
Paul will end up with one of the most amazing ministries the world has
seen. But it all started with obeying the simple instructions of going to
When Phillip was in the middle of a huge revival in Samaria, the Spirit
told him to go down to the road to Gaza.
Phillip would end up meeting an Ethiopian eunuch and leading him to the
Lord. But he didn’t know that when he first got his instructions.
Abraham was living in the land of Ur when God told him to go.
(Heb 11:8 NKJV) By faith
Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive
as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
It all started with him obeying the simple command to “go”.
God didn’t even tell Abraham where he was going to go (at
first), but to just “go”.
The same goes for our lives as well.
We might want to know what kind of job we’re supposed to have, or who we’re
supposed to marry.
What’s important is that you obey what you DO know.
The rest will follow.
What if I’ve heard God wrong? What if I make a mistake?
Then you learn from your mistakes.
Paul started off for Damascus thinking he was going to
please God by imprisoning Christians. God did a fine job correcting Paul.
It is better that God knows that we are available and willing than that we
are closed minded and reluctant.
– tasso – to put in order; to appoint, ordain,
:11 And since I could not see for the glory of
that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into
:12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man
according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there,
:13 came to me; and he stood and said to me,
‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same
hour I looked up at him.
:12 a devout man according to the law
The issue of the day for Paul is whether or not he is an observant Jew. Does
Paul keep the Law of Moses?
The first person Paul comes into contact with after meeting Jesus is Ananias,
who himself is not only a believer in Jesus, but one who keeps the Law of
:13 I looked up at him
Or, Paul’s eyesight was healed.
:14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has
chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the
voice of His mouth.
:14 the Just One
The last time this phrase was used to describe Jesus, it was by Stephen the
(Ac 7:52 NKJV) Which of
the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold
the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and
I wonder if Paul might have been thinking about what Stephen had said when
he stood there watching Stephen be stoned.
:15 For you will be His witness to all men of what
you have seen and heard.
:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be
baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
:16 calling on the name of the Lord
Paul would write to the Romans:
(Ro 10:8–13 NKJV)
—8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and
in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if
you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God
has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto
righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the
Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not
be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same
Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the
name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Paul (in Rom. 10:13) was simply quoting from the Jewish prophet Joel (Joel
This is how salvation happens. You ask God to save you.
And Shall be saved.As the Lord
has said, the remnant whom the Lord
:17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem
and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance
:17 praying in the temple
Paul is going to get another significant piece to the puzzle of his calling
from praying in the temple.
Paul was an observant Jew.
He was also a man of prayer.
:18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get
out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning
Back in those early days, God wanted Paul to get out of Jerusalem.
This time is different.
:19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every
synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You.
:20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was
shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes
of those who were killing him.’
:19 they know that in every synagogue
It sounds as if Paul was arguing with the Lord.
To Paul, it would seem like he would be a great witness about Jesus, since
he used to be someone who persecuted Christians. He’s wrong.
:20 the blood of Your martyr Stephen
Paul had been there when Stephen was martyred.
Paul had been in agreement with the stoning of Stephen.
Paul had even had the job of guarding the coats of those who were throwing
I get the idea from this that Paul was impacted by Stephen’s death.
:21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send
you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”
:21 to the Gentiles
A woman wife walked into the den & asked “What’s on the TV?” Her
husband replied “Dust”.
And that’s how the fight started.....
And that’s how the fight started.....
A man and his wife and were sitting at a
table at his high school reunion, and he kept staring at a drunken lady
swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. His wife asked, ‘Do you
know her?’ ‘Yes,’ he sighed, ‘She’s my old girlfriend.
I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago,
and I hear she hasn’t been sober since.’ ‘Wow!’ says the wife. ‘Who would think
a person could go on celebrating that long?’
And that’s when the fight started.....
It is quite amazing that Paul has been
speaking now for several minutes before actually using the “trigger” word.
The center of the controversy around Paul had to do with the Gentiles.
He was being accused of bringing pagan pig dog heathen Gentiles into the
Temple (which he had not done).
And now he says that bad word… and that’s when the fight started…
:22 And they listened to him until this word, and then
they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the
earth, for he is not fit to live!”
:22 he is not fit to live
The Jewish crowd could not think of anything more disgusting than a good
Jewish man trying to work with Gentiles, let alone the idea that God had sent
him to do such a thing.
And yet we’ve seen that God had planned all along for Gentiles to know Him:
(Is 42:6 NKJV) “I, the Lord, have called You
in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light
to the Gentiles,
Facing our prejudice
Paul too was part of the ultra-orthodox Pharisee sect. He too had the same
prejudice against Gentiles at one time.
Yet for Paul to reach the Gentiles, he didn’t just stand twenty yards away
and shout at them. Paul writes to the Corinthians:
(1 Co 9:19–22
NKJV) —19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a
servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew,
that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law,
that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who
are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but
under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the
weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to
all men, that I might by all means save some.
There was a sense in which Paul had learned to identify
with the people that he was trying to reach.
He never compromised his walk with the Lord (like
worshipping Zeus), but he knew how to relate to Gentiles.
Humans tend to be quite filled with prejudice.
What if someone said to you, “I have been sent by God to
work with the gay community”.
What if they said, “I have been sent by God to work with
the illegal immigrant population”.
What if they said, “I have been sent to work with the
Could you say, “To the Democrats I became as a Democrat
that I might win the Democrat…” (take
up stones quick!!!)
It’s hard for us to think of some of the types of people we aren’t too fond
of, and think of them in the way that God thinks of them.
God loves them and wants them to know Him.
Ti 1:15 NKJV) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners, of whom I am chief.
How do we treat people who are not on our favorite’s list?
(2 Ti 2:24–26
NKJV) —24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all,
able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps
will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that
they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil,
having been taken captive by him to do his will.
22:23-30 Paul and the Romans
:23 Then, as they cried out and tore off their
clothes and threw dust into the air,
:24 the commander ordered him to be brought into
the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he
might know why they shouted so against him.
:24 examined under scourging
The Romans don’t know what Paul was saying to the crowd since he was
speaking in Hebrew.
The Romans used a whip called a “cat-o-nine-tails”, or flagellum, strips of
leather with pieces of bone or metal imbedded in the ends, the point was to
tear away flesh during the whipping. This is what Jesus was scourged with.
Sometimes prisoners died from scourging.
Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three
times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
:25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said
to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a
Roman, and uncondemned?”
:25 Is it lawful …
Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship. He had done this back in
Philippi when he and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into jail (Acts
:26 When the centurion heard that, he went
and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a
:27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell
me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”
:28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I
obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”
Not everyone in the Roman Empire was a “citizen”.
Keep in mind that the world at this time was under the control of the Roman
Roman citizenship gave you certain rights
Cicero had said, “To bind a Roman
citizen is a crime, to scourge him a scandal, to slay him – death for your
Being born in Tarsus wouldn’t have made Paul a citizen. It would have had
to have been one of Paul’s ancestors (father or grandfather) who had either
bought or been granted citizenship in Rome, and then when Paul was born, he was
born into a family of Roman citizens.
:29 Then immediately those who were about to
examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found
out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
:30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused
by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief
priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him
:30 he wanted to know … why
The commander still isn’t sure why Paul has made the crowd so hostile.
Because the Romans have a tense, strained relationship with the Jews, he
doesn’t want to release Paul without knowing what has caused the trouble.
:1 hear my defense
How God guides us
Paul gives his “defense”, his apologia
as to who he is.
In doing this, we get a glimpse into how God worked in Paul’s life.
God has plans for our life.
(Eph 2:10 NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The question we are constantly asking God is, “What is it You want me to do?”
There are some helpful things in this chapter that help us learn more about
what God has for us to do.
There are things beyond your control, things you’re simply born with.
22:3 NKJV) “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia…
Paul was born a Jew. He was born in Tarsus. He was raised
Paul was also a Roman. He often used his Roman citizenship
to his advantage.
We may not always be proud of our heritage, but it’s who we are and it’s
part of what God can use.
2. Education (or lack)
Paul was educated by Gamaliel.
You can see in Paul’s writings that he knew the
Scriptures. You can see his education in the way he does his ministry. God will
Peter in contrast was uneducated.
4:13 NKJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived
that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized
that they had been with Jesus.
Peter and John’s lack of education was useful because it
made the Jewish leaders aware that the things they were doing were not due to
their own bright minds.
But sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that God is
Paul shows us that God can use a person who has an
3. Before Christ
Paul was a persecutor of the church.
22:4 NKJV) I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into
prisons both men and women,
Some of us can be quite ashamed of what we were like before we met Jesus.
Many people are afraid to talk about what they used to be like. But you will find that at the appropriate times, God can use
your past to show people that they too can be saved, that they too can come to
know Jesus, that they too can change.
4. Meeting Jesus
This is not the first time Paul will tell people about how he met Jesus.
Nor will this be the last.
This is a big part of Paul’s “defense”, his “apologetic”.
When we are talking with a person about knowing God, it is
important to know the Scriptures. But one of the most powerful tools is to talk
about your own encounter with Jesus.
What were you like before you came to trust Jesus? How did
you come to trust Jesus? What has your life been like after trusting in Jesus?
Some people have quite dramatic testimonies, like the apostle Paul. Bright lights, hearing voices, an encounter with a supernatural
For Peter it was a bit different – he was just at work one day when this
guy walked up to him and said “follow Me”.
5. Godly people
God used one of the believers in Damascus to influence Paul’s life. God
brought healing to Paul through Ananias.
God also used Ananias to give Paul guidance. God worked through Ananias to
give Paul a peek at his life’s work.
Some people like to work alone. For one reason or another they would rather
not ask other people for advice. We might call them “Lone Ranger Christians”.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto were camping in the desert, they set up their tent, and fell asleep. Some hours
later, The Lone Ranger woke his faithful friend. “Tonto, look up at the sky and
tell me what you see.” Tonto replies, “Me see millions of stars.” “What does
that tell you?” asked the Lone Ranger. Tonto ponders for a minute.
“Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and
potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in
Leo. Timewise, it appears to be approximately a
quarter past three. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all powerful and we
are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a
beautiful day tomorrow. What it tell you Kemosabe?”
The Lone Ranger is silent for a moment, then speaks.
“Someone has stolen our tent.”
Hey, even the Lone Ranger had a partner. They helped keep each other on
It was when Paul was in prayer in the temple that God spoke more direction
Ask God for guidance.
33:3 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and
show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
Expect to get an answer.
One summer, a drought threatened the crop in a small town.
On a hot and dry Sunday, the small town pastor told his congregation, “There
isn’t anything that will save us except to pray for rain. Go home, pray,
believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for sending rain.” The
people did as they were told and returned to church the following Sunday. But
as soon as the pastor saw them, he was furious. “We can’t worship today. You do
not yet believe,” he said. “But,” they protested, “we prayed, and we do
believe.” “Believe?” he responded. “Then where are your umbrellas?”
7. Examples of others
It seems to me that Stephen’s example of dying for Christ had an impact on
We saw more than a few subtle references
I kind of wonder if Paul was kind of having one of those “déjà-vu” feelings
as he was being arrested in Jerusalem and now about to face the Sanhedrin like