The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Paul’s message that Jesus had called him to bring the news of salvation to Gentiles was offensive to the audience in Jerusalem. For a time, it had appeared that the crowd would be pacified. However, at Paul’s final words, the crowd reacted violently, throwing things, screaming, and demanding that Paul not only be imprisoned but killed.
The military commander took Paul away. However, he still didn’t understand why the people had reacted so violently. This was a Roman commander. He had no concept of Jewish law or of the customs which would have led to such an outburst. He couldn’t ask the crowd. That would go nowhere. So he determined to extract an answer from Paul, using torture to persuade him to talk.
Paul’s response was to question whether it was lawful for him to be tortured or even bound, as he was a Roman citizen. When the people found out that Paul was not only a Roman citizen, but was born as a free citizen, rather than being a person who had purchased his citizenship, they were fearful. It was illegal to bind a Roman, not to mention beat a confession out of him.
The authorities were left without a clear answer to their question. However, they knew they must protect Paul’s safety. It was a difficult situation, but, once again, they knew their role. In an odd twist of events, then, the Roman authorities, who officially considered Christianity to be an illegitimate offshoot of a slightly tolerated but distasteful religion, wound up protecting the ability of Paul to bring the Gospel to all nations. It’s an odd world, isn’t it.
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