Acts 22

This devotional is written by Sadie Windsor-Richards.

Acts 22

1 'Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defence.'

2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.

Then Paul said: 3 'I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 'About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, "Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?"

8 '"Who are you, Lord?" I asked.

'"I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

10 '"What shall I do, Lord?" I asked.

'"Get up," the Lord said, "and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do." 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

12 'A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, "Brother Saul, receive your sight!" And at that very moment I was able to see him.

14 'Then he said: "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptised and wash your sins away, calling on his name."

17 'When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking to me. "Quick!" he said. "Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me."

19 '"Lord," I replied, "these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him."

21 'Then the Lord said to me, "Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles."'

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 realised that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.

Paul before the Sanhedrin
30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and set him before them.


This passage speaks to me about identity.

We hear Paul share his testimony, what he used to be and how he met with the Lord in an extraordinary way. He establishes a common ground with his audience, through his use of language and education. He goes on to challenge the authorities who are about to flog him, by saying he is a Roman citizen which is illegal without a trial. It is clear that God uses his birth right and his abilities for the good of his kingdom.

God has given us gifts and talents but it is not in these that our identity should be based; it must be grounded in our relationship with Jesus.

We see in Paul's retelling of his conversion, how his identity is transformed from one state to an entirely different one. This story always gets me. The absolute power and unconditional love of God to break through the concrete wall that was Saul at the time. Paul became secure in who he was in Christ. Undeterred by any guilt from the past, he was free to live his life in his new transformed identity.

The question of where our identity lies is key to our inner security and peaceful state of mind. We are bombarded by pressure to 'be better, achieve more' and If we are not secure in our understanding that Christ loves us no matter what we do, then these pressures can be overwhelming. It is right to aim for excellence, but not to allow our sense of worth to be rooted in that. Alternatively we can feel ashamed of things we have done or words spoken over us and allow these things to shape our identity, but it is what God says about us that really counts.

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