Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Acts, Chapter 22: Only torture the slaves

Paul addresses the crowd in Hebrew. He gives them a brief autobiography: born Saul, in Tarsus, a former persecutor of Christians, he used to go up to Damascus to bind them up and take them to Jerusalem for punishment, until one day, he's heading up there once again when a spotlight shines down from on high and Jesus cried out Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (v. 7). Oddly, no one who was with him that day heard the voice of Christ, they just saw Saul, soon to be Paul, talking loudly to himself. Anyway, he goes blind then and his followers have to lead him to Damascus, where a man named Ananias restores his sight. He converts and is baptised.

When Paul gets back to Jerusalem, he goes to the temple to pray and falls into a trance, which is the third sign of mental illness after hearing voices and hysterical blindness, for those of you keeping track at home. Anyway, he hears yet another voice telling him to get out of Dodge, and he protests that he's well known as a persecutor, so people will doubly believe him now that he's a sincere Christian. 

The mob is not convinced, so they all throw their clothes off and throw dust in the air. Now I'm just thinking everybody's insane. It's like a biblical Florida. The captain pulls Paul back into the castle and orders him questioned with whips. Paul asks them if it's legal for them to torture a Roman who hasn't been convicted of anything. This gets their attention. They go to the captain, who asks Paul if he's really a Roman. Yup. Freeborn. So they untie him and bring the chief priests back. Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode, when we'll see the conversation.

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