December 5, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Acts 21-22
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Context: Chapter 21 recounts the final part of Paul’s return journey to Jerusalem. Several times during his return trip, he is urged by followers of Christ, his friends, to not return to Jerusalem, as they feared for his safety. Paul, knowing their was a chance he would be killed after returning to Jerusalem, chose to continue his journey, demonstrating his faith in the Lord. Upon his return, fellow believers rejoice in the work that the Lord has done through Paul. However, some Jews who disagreed with Paul’s teachings had followed him back to Jerusalem and called for arrest. When a Roman commander investigated, the people were unable to agree on a charge. Paul spoke to the crowd, delivering his testimony of salvation. His message only incited the crowd, who were now calling for his death. The Roman commander assumed Paul was a trouble maker, but quickly realized his error when Paul claimed his Roman citizenship, sparing him from punishment until his case is heard. Today’s reading ends with Paul being brought before the Sanhedrin by the Roman commander to determine the exact nature of the complaints against Paul.
World History: There were three ways to become a Roman citizen at the time - you could be born a citizen, you could monetarily pay for your citizenship, or you could spend a significant amount of time in the Roman army. As a Roman citizen, you were granted certain rights, such as the right to appeal any case to Caesar, which Paul claimed in today’s reading.