Unstoppable! 'Zealous to Honor God' — Acts 22:3

Monday, October 16, 2023

Then Paul said [to the mob that had tried to kill him], "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today."

— Acts 22:3 NLT

Key Thought

Like many of the people Paul addressed, he had been "zealous for God, but... not based on knowledge" (Romans 10:2 NIV) in his earlier life. He had zealously persecuted Christians and had presided over the execution of Stephen by stoning.* Paul had pursued his training as a rabbi with vigor and passion, but God had redirected him from opposing Jesus to being the apostle to the Gentiles.** In his heart, however, he deeply loved these people in Jerusalem who now opposed him. His passion for his fellow zealous Jewish brothers and sisters to know Jesus was so great that he was willing to be cut off from Christ and cursed if it meant they would come to Christ (Romans 9:1-5). His words to the mob about being zealous were not just nice-sounding ways to begin his defense; they were his heart's yearning for them to know Jesus. His example challenges me to ask this important question: Do I love those who despise me like Paul did those who opposed him? I pray that I — and that you — do!

* See the first set of our Related Scripture Readings
** See the second set of our Related Scripture Readings

Today's Prayer

O Father, I know you promised to pour love into my heart through the Holy Spirit and that Jesus called on me to love my enemies and pray for those who mistreat me because of my faith.* I do long to follow the examples of Jesus and Paul, who had such deep love for those who treated them as enemies and despised their existence. Help my words to be kind and wise as I face mistreatment and abuse. Guide me to be the kind of person whose faith and grace speak through the hatred of those who oppose me so I can touch their hearts for Jesus. I ask this in his name. Amen.

* Romans 5:1-5; Matthew 5:43-48

Related Scripture Readings

  • Romans 10:1-4; Philippians 3:1-11; Acts 7:54-8:4
  • Acts 9:1-30, 26:4-18; Galatians 2:1-8

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 22:3 NLT — Then Paul said [to the mob that had tried to kill him], "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today."

About This Devotional

Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.

Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.