The Opening Words laid out for Propositional Analysis
Brothers and esteemed fathers.
Listen to me as I offer my defense.
I am a Jew,
born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia,
I was brought up
educated here in Jerusalem
As his student,
I was carefully trained in ourJewish laws and customs.
I became very zealous to honour God in everything I did
just like all of you today.
And I persecuted the followers of the Way,
hounding some to death,
arresting both men and women
and throwing them in prison.
The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so.
For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus,
authorizing me to bring the followers of the Way
from there to Jerusalem,
to be punished. (Acts 22:1-5)
I am delighted with the number of readers who responded and told me how helpful it was to have the text laid out in its propositions showing how each clause or phrase, each element of the text relates to those around it. Yes it does make it easy to see the logical connections between the pieces and highlights some things so you can’t miss them. There are a half a dozen readers who have seen the connection that is the crux of all that Paul has said in his speech and makes it very clear what is going on here. I am glad you see the power of analysing the propositions.
Did you notice what Paul has skilfully done in the opening words to draw in the fellow Jews and the High Priest and members of the Sanhedrin? I have highlighted for you in red in the text this morning. I have highlighted Paul’s background and training in purple. I have picked out the persecution elements in cold blue.
Just take a moment to digest that. Read it back over and look carefully at what Paul has said. Brothers and esteemed Fathers , I am just like you. I am one of you. I may have been born in Tarsus but I have been brought up and educated here in Jerusalem. I have been trained as a Pharisee, just like you esteemed Fathers. I have been trained under Gamaliel, the best Rabbinical teacher in Jerusalem. He has taught me well our Jewish laws and customs. The inference here is that Paul is making the connection for them to refute the accusation that he is alleged to have committed.
Namely: This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere
tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws.
speaks against the Temple
and even defiles this holy place
by bringing in Gentiles.
Paul has oh so subtlely challenged those accusations in every way. How could a trainee Pharisee do such a thing? Much less one trained under Gamaliel, the best Rabbinical trainer they had. As Luke told us in Acts 21:30, the whole city was rocked by those accusations and the riot started.
Paul is effectively saying you allege I am in cahoots with the non-Jews everywhere. But hang on a minute, I am Tarsus born and Jerusalem bred and educated. Inference: I am not preaching against our people everywhere I go. I am not telling people to disobey the Jewish laws (read Torah). I am not speaking against the Temple, nor defiling this Holy Place. (Remember they were just outside the Temple where they have dragged him from the Purification Ceremony.)
The way this speech has been phrased is very similar to what Stephen said in his provocative speech causing the members of the Sanhedrin to rethink their Jewish history (Acts 7). This speech of Paul’s contains shades of Stephen’s skilful use of ourfathers and yourfathers as he retold Jewish history from a different point of view. Remember Paul was there at the time guarding the cloaks (robes) of the Sanhedrin (High Council) Acts 7:58. It is clear to me that Stephen’s speech was ringing in Paul’s ears. I wonder if it reminded some members of the Sanhedrin that they were there that day too. I am sorry, I can’t give you the link to the Gems I wrote when we looked at Stephen’s speech because the current temporary website doesn’t allow me to add past Gems easily. Many of you complained when I l posted all the Gems on Ephesians because it broke the flow of the Acts Gems and made it hard for you to find them. So far I have only posted on this interim site the Gems from Acts 14 onwards. When the new site is fully functional all Gems I have ever written will be indexed and available to you at the click of a button. But until then if you want to read the Gems I wrote on Stephen’s speech (Gems 1474 to 1484) then send an email to [email protected] and ask and I will send them to you. (Or you can send to my normal email if you know it.)
The portions where Paul highlights how he persecuted the followers of the Way serves to indicate how zealously he carried out the Sanhedrin’s instructions to the letter. He almost begs these Jewish brothers (the crowd) and the esteemed Fathers (the Sanhedrin) to investigate these accusations thoroughly.
But of course we will see what happens as we continue our dissection of what Paul said and the resultant reaction. That is enough for today. We will move on to begin our look at Paul’s testimony in the next Gems. Stay mindful of the shades of what Stephen said in this speech of Paul.
A sceptic won’t believe a truth claim until there is sufficient evidence. A cynic won’t believe even if there is. Ian
Nobody is upset when Jesus says “Love your neighbour as yourself.” We get upset when Jesus reminds us that our neighbours are often the people we are most likely to hate or ignore. This is Jesus meddling with our comfort! Rick Godwin
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. Ralph Waldo Emerson
God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we’ll be in trouble if He doesn’t come through! Ian
Hard work reveals the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. Ian