Rid the earth of him!
Scripture reading for July 3rd: Acts 21:37-22:16
Paul asked permission from the commander to speak to the violent crowd. The request was granted and Paul spoke to them in Aramaic, the native language of the Jews. They became very quiet and listened as he testified about his experiences as a Jew and how he became a persecutor of those who followed the “Way”, putting them in prison and even to death. God had opened a door for Paul to preach and he seized the opportunity to again reach these who were so opposed to the Way of Jesus.
Paul shared his testimony of the encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Jesus told Paul that he had been persecuting Him, not just the followers of the Way. He was struck blind for a time and a godly man, Ananias, came and prayed for him. He received his sight and was told that God would use him to share his testimony of Jesus with many. (Acts 22:8-16)
Paul shared how God warned him to leave Jerusalem earlier because they would not accept his testimony. “Lord,” I replied, “These men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” ” Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.” (Acts 22:19-21) It was this final statement that again brought the crowd to life for Paul’s death! “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” (Acts 22:22)
The uproar caused the commander to order Paul flogged and questioned. As they were preparing to do this, Paul asked the centurion if it was legal to flog a Roman citizen. When Paul brought this fact up, he was spared him the beating and arranged a meeting with the Sanhedrin the next day.
The idea that God would send a Jew to the Gentiles was outside the thinking of the Jews of Paul’s day. Even though God had made His people to be a testimony to the whole earth, they had become proud and selfish. When they heard the truth, they tried to get rid of it by shouting, violence, and even murder! Followers of Jesus can expect some of this same treatment!