Happy Friday! When I travel outside of my home country I am asked to show proof of identity/citizenship, which is usually my passport. While my photo is not the best, the passport is evidence of my citizenship and it gives me access to several privileges. As we read today’s verses we will notice that passports were not used like they are now. If they were, the commander and his officers may have discovered Paul’s citizenship status and Paul may have been spared mistreatment on several occasions. Join me as we continue our reading in Acts chapter 22.
Bible verse – Acts 22:24-29 NLT
“24 The commander brought Paul inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious. 25 When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer[d] standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?”
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27 So the commander went over and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I certainly am,” Paul replied.
28 “I am, too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!”
Paul answered, “But I am a citizen by birth!”
29 The soldiers who were about to interrogate Paul quickly withdrew when they heard he was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.” – Acts 22:25-29
Paul was a citizen of Rome and as a Roman citizen he had privileges and rights. He did not flaunt his rights, but he used them when it was necessary. To be a Roman citizen at the time, provided an extra layer of status and protection. The difference between Paul’s citizenship and the commander’s was the mere fact that Paul was born into his citizenship and the commander purchased his.
Sisters and brothers, as we explore citizenship status in this context we know the Israelites (the Jewish people) were God’s chosen people. They had access to the word of God and the teachings when others did not. However, God’s chosen people struggled with keeping God’s commands, so Jesus came not only to save them but to save us all.
Because of Jesus Christ we have a greater citizenship that has been paid on our behalf and it is the citizenship of heaven. Philippians 3:20 reads, “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”
Additionally, Colossians 3:1-4 states, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”
Sisters and brothers, stay encouraged. You have the greatest citizenship of all. While we may experience joy and days of difficulties, we can rest assured in the promises of the Lord. Live as a citizen of heaven. Represent the kingdom well in all the things you do.
Father God, thank you for your gracious love and mercy. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Thank you for the salvation that we have in you. Thank you for the citizenship we have in heaven. Lord, we want to be a great representation of you. Pour out your spirit on us and reignite our passion to pursue a greater relationship with you. Lord, we want to understand and use every privilege we have as citizens of heaven. Use us here on earth to minister, teach, care for, pray for, love on, provide support to, and give hope to those who are need. Lord, we want to be your vessel, use us as you please. Lord, touch the sick and those going through medical treatments. Heal them from their infirmities. Encourage those who feel lost and are not sure which way to turn. In Jesus name, amen.
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