In Acts 22:25-29 the apostle Paul is being prepared for a flogging by the Roman tribune when he suddenly discloses his Roman citizenship.
“Is it legal for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” asks the apostle.
The soldier, upon hearing Paul’s appeal to citizenship stopped. He went to the tribune and asked, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen?”
A few verses later we read, “So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.”
This isn’t the first time that Paul’s citizenship has come up. At Phillipi (Acts 16:22-23) Paul remains silent about it until after his scourging. There are likely many other times when he simply stays quiet and surrenders his “right” (2 Corinthians 11:25). I’m sure Paul had his reasons for each decision.
In light of recent current events here in the United States, I found this commentary on Acts 22:25-29 (a time in which Paul did appeal to his citizenship) particularly insightful.
“Paul pleaded his privilege as a Roman citizen, by which he was exempted from all trials and punishments which might force him to confess himself guilty. The manner of his speaking plainly shows what holy security and serenity of mind he enjoyed. As Paul was a Jew, in low circumstances, the Roman officer questioned how he obtained so valuable a distinction; but the apostle told him he was free born. Let us value that freedom to which all the children of God are born; which no sum of money, however large, can purchase for those who remain unregenerate. This at once put a stop to his trouble. Thus many are kept from evil practices by the fear of man, who would not be held back from them by the fear of God. The apostle asks, simply, Is it lawful? He knew that the God whom he served would support him under all sufferings for his name’s sake. But if it were not lawful, the apostle’s religion directed him, if possible, to avoid it. He never shrunk from a cross which his Divine Master laid upon his onward road; and he never stept aside out of that road to take one up.” – Matthew Henry
Barbara Thayer says
God’s providence and work in our lives is amazing. He orders everything so that we are prepared for each task He calls us to. Paul’s citizenship was no coincidence. God used it for His glory. What a blessing to read and consider. Thank you friend!
Good food for thought Christina. Why would we not want to take full advantage of the privileges and freedoms God gives us ….provided they don’t violate his Law? If our freedoms are ever removed from us I’m guessing many of us will be regretting the missed opportunities we could have taken to promote the Gospel. I will be one of them.