Paul Preaches to Jews in Jerusalem

from the Acts of the Apostles reading plan

Acts 21:37-40, Acts 22:1-30, Acts 23:1-11, 1 Peter 3:21-22, Hebrews 10:19-22

BY Guest Writer

Text:  Acts 21:37-40, Acts 22:1-30, Acts 23:1-11, 1 Peter 3:21-22, Hebrews 10:19-22

In the last few verses of Acts 21, we find Paul has been arrested yet again and taken by Roman soldiers to the barracks. There he makes his defense, culminating in the reality that he is a Roman citizen and, as such, cannot be treated like he is being treated (Acts 22:23-29). When the Romans realize they have made a serious political mistake, they hand him over to the Jews, where Paul pulls the same defense—that he is one of them, a Pharisee and a son of Pharisees (Acts 23:6). That’s some impressive genealogical gymnastics, and it’s a lesson for us all.

Who are we?

My pastor once said that every time the Enemy comes to remind him of his sin, he reminds the Enemy he’s right.

He is a liar.
He is guilty of the lust of the flesh.
He is like a murderer in his heart.
He is a thief, a scoundrel, and an unworthy son of God.

But no matter what we are or what we’ve done, the truest thing about us is who we are in Jesus. As my pastor so faithfully reminds me, Christ has taken our sin and borne it on our behalf. So though we are guilty of countless things, we are not identified by them.

The Enemy is a liar, but his best tactic is to take the truth and twist it just enough—leave out enough of the whole truth—that I am caught in his lair. I forget who I am, or I exaggerate who I am, or I minimize it. And, what’s more, I forget who God is.

In this passage, Paul is caught in the lair of two enemies—the Romans and the Jews—and his best defense is to say the whole truth to both.

To the Romans, he is a Roman citizen by birthright. He is endowed with all the rights and perks of his citizenship. And to the Jews, he is a Pharisee of Pharisees. He is a prince of Pharisees, student of the Torah, and righteous rabbi. Paul is not swinging from two extremes in this passage; he is telling the truth—the whole truth.

So often we get caught in the web of lies about who we are and who God is. In those moments, it’s easy to forget the cross, the blood of Christ, the resurrection, and the hope of eternity. It’s easy to forget who we are by our birth in Christ.

In those moments, remember Paul. Say to the Enemy who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), “I know who I am and who God is. I know my sin and my wrongdoing. And I know that all the righteousness of God has covered over me.”

We, like Paul, are on trial with “respect to the hope and resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6). And, friend, we will one day rise again with all the people of our eternal home country. Until then, this is the gospel antidote to the lies of our enemy: “Yes, but…”

…we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.
He Himself is the propitiation for our sins…
– 1 John 2:1-2


Lore Wilbert is the Director of Community and Formation at Park Church, Denver, and writer at Find her on twitter @lorewilbert.

Post Comments (26)

26 thoughts on "Paul Preaches to Jews in Jerusalem"

  1. Nikravesous says:

    This is such a poignant and timeless topic. I struggle to remember my true identity in Christ pretty consistently. When I do, I like to make two lists, one of who the Devil or the World says I am (whether “innocent” things like my profession, socioeconomic status, etc. or sinful lies) and another of who God says I am:
    •His daughter
    •A priest
    •An ambassador for His kingdom
    •A servant of others
    •A sister to believers
    •The Image of Himself
    •A picture of His Son
    •The temple of the Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha Kodesh)

    Praise God for the second list!! I will now have to make a third list to remind myself of who GOD is, as Lore points out, we often forget this when faced with the enemy’s provocation. Thank you, SRT, for another encouraging and thought provoking message.

  2. Nadine says:

    Another excellent message today. Every time I feel I am struggling, I have to tell myself to trust in the Lord and that with Him I will prevail

  3. Keri Underwood says:

    “So though we are guilty of countless things, we are not identified by them.” This has been a topic that has been coming up so very often in conversations with friends that past few weeks. I have been meditating on this, reciting this to myself. Reading this today was just another confirmation of Christ showing Himself to me :)

  4. Cali says:

    Thank you. I just pray we all stay Kingdom minded and keep our focus on Christ. Love you all ❤️

  5. Cali says:

    She Reads Truth is where I come for my special time and reflection with Christ and other Christ followers. I have left social media because of the recent events in our nation. As a LEO I’d appreciate it if you’d keep your opinions of these events to yourself or bring them somewhere else. I was feeling at peace until I came to the comments portion of my readings.

    1. churchmouse says:

      May I just say thank you for your service? I cannot imagine doing your job. And thank you also to your family for their many sacrifices.

    2. Susie says:

      I’m standing with you in prayer and have you covered.. I was a LEO and my husband currently is …those who don’t live this life just don’t get it.. Your sister in Christ….

  6. ashley says:

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if we treated everyone like equal humans, born with a birthright to life and opportunity? The Romans were protective of their own, with rules against killing one another. As fallen people, we separate ourselves into groups, and pit ourselves against each other. But God has called us to be ONE– one church, one body. Wouldn’t it be amazing if, before wrongfully hurting someone, we thought, “oh wait! They’re part of my group! They’re human! They were granted life by God! What am I doing?”.
    You’re spot on about the enemy twisting the truth and pulling strings ever so slightly to put us off balance. I’ve been in tears over the recent events, especially over Philando. My heart breaks to see people I love not caring, and placing the lives of some over others. I pray for police officers to receive better training, and for the good ones to take a stand against this evil. We’re all God’s people, each with an equally precious life.

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