Daily Thought for: 15th November
PAUL: THE CITIZEN
Acts 21. 39; 22. 25; Philippians 3. 20
Pauls citizenship was threefold and we will consider this in the unfolding
order of importance.
A Citizen of no mean City. He used these words to the captain of the guard when there had been opposition at the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in answer to an accusation that he was an Egyptian. Tarsus was a city of good reputation, the chief city of Cilicia, a province within modern Turkey. It competed with Athens and Alexandria as the learning centre of the world. Saul used his citizenship of such a worthy city in such a way as to bring him immediately the freedom to address the people publicly in the Hebrew tongue. Thus we see him using his earthly rights, to set forth to the Jews his testimony to the saving power of Christ through his experience on the Damascus Road.
A Man that is a Roman. When the Roman authorities were preparing to scourge him, Paul revealed his Roman citizenship. This, in the eyes of the Roman Empire, had more importance than being a citizen of Tarsus. As the chief captain made clear, it either could be gained by birthright or could be bought. It gave the right to trial before punishment. When Paul reminded them at Philippi that this had been broken, it brought immediate release and protected the Christian testimony. It also gave freedom from interrogation by scourging. Paul invoked this at Jerusalem and was further enabled to preach before the High Priest Ananias and others. It granted the right of appeal to Caesar. The apostle used this when standing before Festus the Governor. It resulted in bringing him to Rome where the Lord had previously told him he must bear witness.
Our Conversation (Citizenship) is in Heaven. Just as the city of Philippi was a colony of Rome, so the assembly at Philippi was a colony of heaven. The apostle had used the citizen rights of earthly cities to promote the spread of the gospel, yet his true manner of life was linked to a different placehis politics were in heaven, indeed all his interests were there. Because of this, he was constantly looking for the Saviour to come. This bright prospect of His imminent return will keep us ready. Perhaps today!