Acts 21:37–22:21 (ESV)
Paul Speaks to the People
37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are
you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure
city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the
Hebrew language, saying:
22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous
for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me
witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those
who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of
by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he
said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And
now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
17 “When I had returned
to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being
shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
Paul addresses an angry mob of Jews, vividly describing his life-changing encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus as well as another time when Christ appeared to him. Pursuing
your own agenda often leads to a dead end. But because Christ washes away your sin, like Paul you can pray, “What shall I do, Lord?” And you can be sure that your Lord will hear and guide you.
I pray: I praise You, Father, for Your infinite wisdom in sending Jesus as my Savior, and for bringing me into Your family through Your means of grace. Amen.
A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing
House, 2009), 1884.