Unstoppable! 'Changing Paul's Mission' — Acts 22:17-21

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

[Emphasizing what Jesus called him to do after his conversion, Paul continued his defense to the Jewish attackers who thought he took a Gentile into the Temple:] "After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, 'Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won't accept your testimony about me.'

"'But Lord,' I argued, 'they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.'

"But the Lord said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'"

— Acts 22:17-21 NLT

Key Thought

Some people don't believe because they won't believe (Luke 22:67). Paul was facing a violent mob intent on his destruction. They didn't want the truth — whether that truth was about Jesus or about not taking a Gentile into the Temple. They were looking for a reason, an excuse, or even just a word, to give them grounds for killing Paul. When he said the word "Gentile," they had their excuse, as we will see in the following verses (Acts 22:21-23).

When people won't believe, we have little that we can do except pray for them and give them time to let the Spirit work on their hearts. However, some are determined not to believe. Jesus had been clear about that kind of people: Let them know that their choice is their own decision and move on to other people whose hearts might be open. God will use Paul's arrest to help him move on to people open to Jesus, even in the Roman Empire's capital. These people in Jerusalem, however, had chosen not to believe.

Today's Prayer

O Father, please help me recognize people with open hearts and invest myself in the lives of those people. Please help me, precious Holy Spirit, to know when to move from hearts that are hardened against Jesus to those who are more open to his grace. I don't want to give up on people too quickly, Jesus, but I also know that my time here is limited. Please help me know when to release and move to others and when to invest more in those who are struggling to believe. Please, O God, I need this grace. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Acts 14:26-28, 16:13-15
  • 1 Corinthians 16:5-9; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; Colossians 4:2-6

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 22:17-21 NLT — [Emphasizing what Jesus called him to do after his conversion, Paul continued his defense to the Jewish attackers who thought he took a Gentile into the Temple:] "After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, 'Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won't accept your testimony about me.'

"'But Lord,' I argued, 'they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.'

"But the Lord said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'"

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.