Unstoppable! 'I Persecuted This Group at One Time' — Acts 26:9-14

Saturday, December 3, 2022

[Paul detailed his own personal history before Festus and King Agrippa as he defended his innocence:] "I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities."

"One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.'"

— Acts 26:9-14 NLT

Key Thought

For me, this is one of the most poignant, open, and haunting confessions Paul made about his violent persecution of Christians before he met Jesus. He never completely "got over" this part of his story. Notice what he confessed about his past:

  • Sent Christians to prison.
  • Condemned them to death.
  • Punished them in the synagogues.
  • Tried to get them to curse Jesus.
  • Chased them down in foreign cities.

Paul was being honest when he told Timothy he felt as if he was the worst of all sinners.* Despite his past, God's grace in Jesus is greater than his sins. God not only forgave Paul but also gave him a new mission in leading others to Jesus.** Since God's grace could do that for Paul, and with Paul, imagine what God's grace can do in you — no matter what your past may be!

* See the first set of Related Scriptures Readings.
** See the second set of Related Scriptures Readings.

Today's Prayer

Thank you, our dear Father, for your grace that exhausts the power of words for us to describe. Thank you for sending Jesus and blessing us through Jesus with the riches of your mercy and empowering us through the Holy Spirit to live a new life of mission and purpose. Reawaken us to our mission and purpose as we journey with Paul to Rome and see him share Jesus with others, through word and deed, every step of the way. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Philippians 3:5-7; Galatians 1:13-14; 1 Corinthians 15:9
  • Acts 9:15; Acts 20:18-24; 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Comments

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Illustration

Illustration of Acts 26:9-14 NLT — [Paul detailed his own personal history before Festus and King Agrippa as he defended his innocence:] "I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities."

"One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.'"

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.