Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

One Cool Roman

Paul shows us how to keep our cool. Acts 22.

The Trials of Paul (2)

Pray Psalm 52.1, 2.
Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The goodness of God endures continually.
Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

Sing Psalm 52.1, 2.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Why do the mighty boast in sin? God’s love endures, it knows no end!
They with their tongues vain boasts repeat, and like a razor, work deceit.

Read Acts 22.1-29; meditate on verses 22-29.

Preparation

1. Why did the Romans not flog Paul?

2. How would you describe Paul’s demeanor in these verses?

Meditation

Paul’s mention of “Gentiles” sent the Jews into a rage again, and they demanded that he should not live (v. 22). Their demonstration of rage might seem silly to us, but it indicated they were deadly serious (v. 23). So the Romans took Paul into the barracks and prepared to flog him (v. 24). Here we get a look at Roman hinterland justice: Beat the truth out of them. Inquiries, deliberations, hearings – all that takes time. Just flog ‘em ‘til they ‘fess up. Paul was familiar with that protocol and played the Roman citizenship card more forcefully than before: “Is it lawful…” (v. 25)

Cool and patient, he asked a simple question (v. 25). It startled the centurion to think he was about to beat a Roman who had not been tried and condemned (v. 26). So he went to the commander and reported what he had learned.

The commander was apparently not a very good listener. Or else he had a short memory (cf. 21.38, 39). Paul had already explained that he was a citizen, meaning a Roman citizen in good standing. Paul was born into citizenship; he didn’t have to buy his way into it, like the commander (v. 28). He would make the Romans live by their own code or risk the consequences of violating it. It was a fearful thing to find oneself at odds with Roman justice. 

Paul had earlier written that government is God’s servant for good (Rom. 13.1-4). But it takes good citizens to make government do what’s right and good. It was not good that Paul should be flogged or turned over to the Jews. He would make Roman government serve God’s good purposes by invoking Roman law and public policy to the advantage of the Gospel.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“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!’” (Acts 22.22)

Is there anything about that verse that strikes a familiar chord?
Is this same thing happening now in the world?
Is there any place for this kind of intolerance from the people of God?

As Christians, mobs and violence and words of hatred have No place in our lives. None. Christians are not the cancel culture! Christians must not hate others. Ever. Yes, we are to hate evil; but that starts first in our own lives:
“You who love the LORD, hate evil!” (Ps. 97.10) In your own heart.
“Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Ps. 119.104) In my own life.
“I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law.” (Ps. 119.113) Bifurcated thinking in my own mind.
“I hate and abhor lying, but I love Your law.” (Ps. 119.163) Untruths coming from my own mouth.

A very effective way to deal with evil in the world is for Christian people to keep God’s Law. Themselves. “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.” (Prov. 28. 4) Imagine the power for good we could have against evil if we, as the Body of Christ, were just obedient to His Law.

It is those without the power of the Holy Spirit who rage against goodness. Just like those folks who were out to end Paul’s testimony and his life.

But that murderous attitude must not come from us!

We certainly are allowed to take a stand for righteousness. If we don’t, who will?  It is the means and the attitude that we employ that is key: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6.8) Justice, mercy, and humility do not tear off clothes or throw dust in the air. (Acts 22.23)

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5.44, 45) Love, blessing, good deeds, and prayer are the antithesis of imprisonments and scourgings. (Acts 22.24, 25)

Does this kind of intolerance ever take place within the church? Sadly, it does. But has no place there either.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 Jn. 4.7, 8)

Standing strong and firm for the Law of God never looks like what happened to Paul. Or to Jesus. Or to Stephen. Or to any other persecuted Christian throughout all of history. Past, present, future.

Standing strong for righteousness looks exactly like Jesus, and Paul, and Stephen. None were afraid to speak the truth. They were courageous and bold. Heroes of the faith.

And none of them ever summoned a mob or persecuted others for disagreeing with them.

“The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4.18).

For reflection

1. The Scriptures teach us to be angry, but not to sin (Ps. 4.4). How can we keep our anger from causing us to fail in loving our neighbors?

2. What does it mean to “hate evil”? What should you do if you discover any evil in your life?

3. What is your responsibility in helping government to be God’s servant for good?

Paul pleaded his privilege as a Roman citizen, by which he was exempted from all trials and punishments which might force him to confess himself guilty. The manner of his speaking plainly shows what holy security and serenity of mind he enjoyed. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 22.22-30

Pray Psalm 52.3-9.
Pray that God will restrain wickedness all over the world, and that He will strengthen His saints by His Presence with them today. Pray for His Presence to be near you throughout this day as you work your Personal Mission Field.

Sing Psalm 52.3-9.
(Warrington:
Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Men more than good in evil delight, and lies prefer to what is right.
They utter words, both harsh and strong, with their devouring, deceitful tongue.

God will forever break them down, uproot, and cast them to the ground!
He from their safety tears them away, no more to know the light of day.

The righteous see and laugh and fear, and say, “Behold, what have we here?
Such are all who at God conspire, and wealth and evil ways desire.

“But as for me may I be seen in God an olive ever green!
Ever in God, most kind and just, shall I with joy and gladness trust!”

Thanks evermore to our Savior be raised! His faithfulness be ever praised!
Here with Your people, loving God, I wait upon Your Name, so good!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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