Acts chapter 22          Next chapter        Back to Bible Studies        

The way that Paul addresses the crowd in the first verse of this chapter (The very crowd who just a moment before were trying to kill him) reminds us very much of Stephen’s words in Acts 7:1: “Brothers and Fathers…” revealing the love of Christ in Paul’s heart. When he addresses them in Aramaic the crowd actually listens and Paul shares the testimony of his conversion. All goes well until Paul mentions the fact that the Lord said to him that He would send him far away to the Gentiles. At this, the crowd erupts again and shouts “Rid the earth of him, he is not fit to live!”

This reaction from the Jews forms the basis of what we will be looking at more closely in this chapter. First of all, it is important to note that the Jews were not, in essence, against the conversion of Gentiles. In Matthew 23:15, Jesus himself refers to the efforts of the Pharisees to make converts from among the Gentiles. The main issue was that these converts had to be converted to Judaism and to following of the Law. The way to God was through the Jews and it was this ‘rule’ that Paul was breaking by proclaiming that the Gentiles could have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. This was sacrilege in the eyes of the Jews and enough to warrant Paul’s death by stoning or whatever means. The Jews were, in their own eyes, very zealous for God and this ‘zeal’ is spoken of by Paul in Romans 10:1-4:” Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes”.   

The important verse for us in this reference is ‘…but their zeal is not based on knowledge’. We must ask ourselves what Paul means by this statement and we will do that by looking at a number of scripture references which will reveal what ‘knowledge’ it was that the Jews were lacking.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10:”…Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears”.

James 3:13-17:” Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

1 Corinthians 8:1-2:” Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God”.

1 Corinthians 1:24:”…But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”.

Philippians 3:7-9:”…But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”.

2 Corinthians 2:14:”…But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere…”.

Ephesians 3:17-19:”…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”.

Colossians 2:3:” My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.

2 Peter 3:18:”…But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen”.

Dear friends, it is abundantly clear from these references that the ‘knowledge’ that is needed is the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This must not be confused with knowledge about Him, which will only land us back where these zealous Jews were. It is Himself that we need to know intimately because ‘in Him is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ 

Lastly, we noted in this chapter that Paul’s Roman citizenship was extremely fortuitous in many situations, a provision from God long before Paul was converted. It was a position rare among the Jews but greatly used of God when Paul was in danger.

© 2011 Werner Schreiber

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