We left Paul in the care of the tribune. I say “care” very loosely because he was about to try beating the truth out of him. But that all came to a screeching halt when Paul informed them he was a Roman citizen. Paul was safe from flogging but not released.
Our tribune is still curious as to what the nature of the uproar was in the first place. This is probably so he can prevent it from happening again. It is his duty to watch over the people of Jerusalem and keep them in line. He hasn’t released Paul yet, even though he knows it is against the law for him to hold Paul without charges. Is he holding onto Paul for Paul’s own protection? Is he trying to gather evidence for future charges? Is he impressed by Paul’s knowledge of the law? Or maybe Paul’s speech the day before has him questioning the truth.
Whatever the reason for Paul’s continued incarceration, the tribune gives Paul a voice. He arranges for Paul to directly confront his accusers. He even lets Paul appear without chains during this meeting. Paul makes good use of this opportunity.
I wonder about how Paul begins by saying that his conscience is clear regarding his life before God. I don’t know if I would have had the heart to say that because of his past before his conversion. I believe he spoke the truth though because before his conversion he was doing everything he knew to do in serving God.
Why did Ananias want to have him hit? Was it because he doubted Paul’s words or because he felt no man had the right to such a statement? Could Ananias have made such a statement about his own life and believed it? Could it possibly be that Paul had received his permission to persecute the people from the high priest himself and had gone against those orders? Ananias words show great contempt for Paul.
Paul challenges Ananias directly AND forcefully! He is not the least bit afraid or intimidated by Ananias. I’m curious what law Ananias broke when ordering Paul to be struck. Paul certainly knew the law in order to be able to make that statement.
Paul was called up short on his response by those observing this exchange. Paul toned it down immediately because of who he was addressing. Did Paul really not know this high priest? My bible helps tell me that this is possible because Paul had been absent from Jerusalem for some time. They also suggest Paul’s eyesight might have interfered with him identifying the speaker as the high priest. I don’t know though because the high priest’s robes alone should have identified him and his office. Paul was not using any harsher words than Jesus did Himself when He called the Pharisees white washed sepulchers.
Paul changed tactics after that rebuff. Now he uses divide and conquer. He enlists the Pharisees onto his side by using the largest dividing factor between the two groups. Paul calls on “his brother Pharisees” to believe his claim about his encounter on the road to Damasks and to back his belief in the resurrection. Something this sect would do if pushed.
Well played Paul. He spoke the truth of the resurrection in such a way that he was now being defended STRONGLY by his accusers. Another fight breaks out with Paul in the middle! The tribune has to get Paul out of there again before he is torn apart.
The tribune had to protect Paul as a Roman citizen. I wonder if he had any of his questions answered by this encounter. Did he learn why the whole town was trying to kill Paul? Was he satisfied with this answer? Did the seeds Paul planted that day take root in the tribune’s heart?
Paul received kudos from God on his behavior. But the kudos also came with an alert. Paul was going to have to do this again, but in Rome. What did Paul think about that prospect?
People often say that “God will never give you more than you can handle”, but sometimes I wish He didn’t have so much faith in my ability. Is that what crossed Paul’s mind at that point? Or was Paul thinking, “Bring it on!”
Father God, I want to set the record straight first of all. You often do give us more than we can handle ON OUR OWN because THAT is when we HAVE to turn to You. You never give me more that YOU AND I can handle together. And You can handle A LOT! So when things are too tough for me I know there is growth time happening. Growth in faith. Growth in patience. Growth in our relationship. Tough times are what starts that growth but it doesn’t end there. When the crisis is over, the new growth continues and blossoms. Without the catalyst of crisis though I would always stay the same; I’d stagnate. You love me enough to NOT let that happen. So thank You for the tough times. Thank You for the good ones too. I like the latter much more but know the need for the former.