A gracEmail reader asks, “Would you care to comment on the use of Paul’s appeal as a Roman citizen (Acts 25:9-12) as the basis for Christians organizing and sponsoring litigation against certain of our own laws which permit activities contrary to Scripture?”
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The Apostle Paul was truly a cosmopolitan man. A native of the colonial city of Tarsus, he enjoyed all the benefits of Roman citizenship, Greek culture and Jewish religion. He spoke at least two languages, traveled throughout the Empire and studied rabbinics in Jerusalem where he topped his class in seminary.
Once he encountered Jesus Christ the risen Lord, Paul changed his evaluation of all these advantages and opportunities. What previously had been highlights on a personal resume now became the means to a far larger end. From that point on, Paul defined his life in terms of preaching the Messiah Jesus, who had personally appeared to a hostile Paul (then called Saul) on the road to Damascus and had commissioned him as special emissary to the Gentile nations (Acts 9:1-30; 26:9-18; Phil. 3:4-11).
Paul did not hesitate to use his Roman citizenship or Roman law to protect himself during a mission in the advance of the gospel. When improperly detained and beaten in Philippi in disregard of his legal rights, he insisted on an official apology from the offending officials (Acts 16:19-24, 35-39). Later, in Jerusalem, Paul used the same legal status to prevent being beaten unlawfully (Acts 22:23-29). Still later, to escape the murderous schemes of his mortal enemies, he appealed to Caesar’s court in Rome (Acts 25:1-12).