Tell Your Story
The following is an excerpt from the Bible study Explore the Bible: Acts 16–28 by Daniel L Akin.
Our life stories are important. They give others a picture of what’s important to us and why we think the way we do. One story believers should never get tired of repeating is our testimony about Jesus Christ.
In Acts 21:17 Paul arrived in Jerusalem. Leaders of the Jerusalem church told him about a rumor circulating that he was telling Jews to disregard the Mosaic law and Jewish rituals such as circumcision. After some Jews from Asia incited a crowd against Paul, he addressed the crowd by sharing his testimony in Acts 22:1-22. His speech provides a powerful model for Christian witnesses today.
Share about Your Past
Because the crowd was made up of Jews who were proud of their heritage, Paul began his testimony by emphasizing his heritage as a Jew. Paul pointed to his birth, his upbringing, and his education. Tarsus, his birthplace, was the capital city of Cilicia, a Roman province. Therefore, Paul was a Roman citizen by birth but a Jew by bloodline. Paul was emphasizing that he had a strong connection to and understanding of the importance of Jerusalem and the temple.
Paul’s zeal for God had led him to persecute Christians. Now that he was a believer, the group present that day wanted to kill Paul, just as he had once wanted to kill Christians. Most likely, some of the Jewish religious leaders in the crowd knew firsthand of Paul’s prior efforts to persecute Christians.
Share about Your Conversion
When Paul had been confronted on the Damascus road, he had asked the One addressing him to identify Himself, and Paul revealed His identity to the audience. He was Jesus of Nazareth. By identifying Jesus as being from Nazareth, Paul reminded his hearers of Jesus’ Jewish heritage. This fact removed any possible doubt as to which Jesus Paul had encountered.
Imagine the thoughts that raced through the minds of Paul’s hearers. One of their own was revealing the truth. They had to reconsider everything they believed and understood about the Messiah. They also had to consider how they would answer the same question Jesus had asked Paul in verse 7: “Why are you persecuting me?” They too were persecuting Christians and, by extension, Jesus.
Be Willing to Share Your Testimony with Everyone
In verses 17-20 Jesus again visited Paul in a vision and warned him that the people of Jerusalem would reject the gospel message. In verse 21 Paul recounted that Jesus had told him to leave Jerusalem and take the gospel to the Gentiles. This statement hit a nerve for the Jewish people hearing Paul’s testimony. The fact that Paul was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected Jesus was a swipe at their national pride. They felt they were God’s chosen people. Though Paul’s defense wasn’t the safest, it was the most honest. Paul was emphasizing that God’s salvation is for all people, including Gentiles.
Be Prepared for All Responses to the Gospel
The mention of Gentiles was too much to bear. The crowd once again turned into a mob and even questioned his right to live. They were unwilling to accept the idea that God offered salvation to anyone other than Jews.
This incident is just one of many occasions when Paul encountered violent resistance to the gospel. Yet he was faithful and persistent in sharing his story with everyone he met. That’s the kind of obedience God is looking for in believers today.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers®. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman