Summary: Exposition of Paul’s testimony that he gave the crowds in the temple mount that had rioted trying to kill him
Text: Acts 21:27-22:30, Title: Can I Get a Witness? Date/Place: NRBC, 3/15/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: the little bird who decided not to fly south for the winter…
B. Background to passage: remember that for the sake of the church Paul has been going through a purification ritual in line with Mosaic tradition to demonstrate to the “zealous for the law” Jewish believers that he does not teach the complete jettison of the Jewish traditions. In this process he must go to the temple on the 3rd day and the 7th day, and while there is spotted by Jews from Ephesus, who were mad enough to riot there, and they seize him with the intention of killing him, only to be stopped by the Romans. Remember that this is a fulfillment of prophecy given Paul on his journey back to Jerusalem. And in a moment where most of us would have kept our mouths shut, thanking God to still be alive, Paul asks to speak to the crowds. JM quote from his commentary about Paul being driven by loves
C. Main thought: in the text we will how the Apostle Paul gave his testimony
A. His life before Christ (v. 1-5)
1. Speaking in Aramaic, Paul used this point of the story to draw commonalities with his passionately Jewish audience. He openly declared his ethnic and religious background, speaking of Tarsus (a Hellenistic city that held a large Diaspora Jewish population.) Then he spoke of his religious training at the feet of Gamaliel, which would have been a huge plus. This would have meant a strict religious instruction under probably the greatest rabbi at the time, and also indicative of his pharisaical training. So the charge that he speaks against the temple was ludicrous. And if he wasn’t clear he declares that his zeal for the law was like theirs. So he attributed this situation to a righteous cause on their behalf. We have no reason to think this is mere flattery. Then he demonstrates his zeal by relaying how he was a persecutor of The Way; even calling on the witnesses of the high priest and elders. Again all of this pointed to the fact that he used to be just as they are now. His use of The Way without explanation probably indicates that the basic facts of the gospel were understood within that phrase--that is the death and resurrection of Jesus.
4. Storying the gospel is a very effective means in our day. People, especially young people want to know your story. We should look for connection points with those that we share our testimony with. Look for ways that you can let them know that you understand where they are or have been where they’ve been. People want to be understood. You may underscore certain parts of your background that are similar to the person that you are sharing with; not for the purpose of manipulation, but for understanding. Always be careful not to intentionally offend with unnecessary opinions. But be honest, real, and authentic. Cover clearly false religious beliefs and where you were truly at before Christ. Note what was left out of the story: despondency, pain, loneliness, conviction, fear. Some lost people are perfectly content to be lost. And some are very religious in being lost. Some are not. Some are really “bad” people, and some are really “good” people.