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THE SPEECH ON THE STAIRS
Acts xxi: 17 to xxii: 29.
HEN Paul and his friends came to Jerusalem, they met with
the church in that city, and gave the money which had
been gathered among the Gentiles to help those of the
Jewish believers in Christ who were poor. The Apostle
James, the Lord's brother, who was at the head of the
church in Jerusalem, gave to Paul and his friends a glad
welcome, and praised God for the good work wrought
among the Gentiles.
About a week after Paul had come to Jerusalem, he was
worshipping in the Temple, when some Jews from the
 Ephesus saw him. They at once
stirred up a crowd, and took hold of Paul, crying out:
"Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all
men everywhere against our people, and against our
law, and against this Temple. Besides, he has brought
Gentiles into the Temple, and thus has made the holy
They had seen with Paul, walking in the city, one of
his friends from Ephesus who was not a Jew, and they
started the false report that Paul had taken him into
the Temple. When the Jews set up this cry against
Paul, all the city was stirred up, and a great crowd
gathered around Paul. They dragged Paul out of the
Temple into the outer court, and were about to kill
him, in their rage.
But in the castle on the north of the Temple was a
Roman guard of soldiers, a thousand men under the
command of an officer, whom we should call a colonel,
but who they called "the chief captain." Word came to
this officer that all Jerusalem was in a riot, and that
a wild mob had seized the Temple. He called out
companies of soldiers and their centurions, or
captains, and rushed quickly into the Temple and into
the midst of the crowd who were beating and trampling
upon Paul. The chief captain took Paul from their
hands, and, thinking that he must have done something
very wicked to call forth such a riot, ordered him to
be fastened with two chains.
Then he asked who this man was and what he had done.
All began to answer at once, some shouting one thing
and some another, and as the chief captain could
understand nothing in the confusion, he commanded the
soldiers to take him into the castle. The crowd made a
rush to seize Paul and take him away from the soldiers,
but they carried him through the throng and up the
stone steps that led into the castle, while all around,
at the foot of the stairs, was the multitude of angry
Jews, crying out, "Away with him! Kill him!"
Just as they reached the platform at the door of the
castle, Paul in a quiet manner, spoke to the chief
captain in his own language, which was the Greek
tongue. He said, "May I say something to you?" The
officer was surprised, and he answered Paul, "Do you
know Greek? Are you not that man from Egypt who some
time ago rose up against the rulers, and let out into
the wilderness four thousand men who were murderers?"
Paul said, "I am a Jew, of Tarsus in Cilicia. I
belong to no mean city. I pray you, give me leave to
speak to the people."
The chief captain thought that if this man should speak
to the people he might learn something about him, so he
gave him leave. Then Paul, standing on the stairs,
beckoned with his hand to the crowd to show that he
wished to speak. Soon everybody became quiet, for all
wanted to hear; and then Paul began to speak to the
people. But he did not speak in Greek, as he had
spoken to the chief captain. He spoke in the Hebrew
tongue, their own language, which they loved to hear.
And when they heard him speak in Hebrew, their own
tongue, they were all the more ready to listen to him.
And this was what Paul said:
"Brethren and fathers, hear the words that I speak to
you. I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia,
but brought up in this city at the feet of the wise
teacher Gamaliel, and taught in a strict way
in the law of our fathers; and
I was earnest for God, as all of you are this day. And
I was a bitter enemy of the way of Christ, binding and
putting in prison both men and women who believed in
Jesus. The high-priest himself knows this, and all the
council of the elders; for they gave me letters to our
people in Damascus. And I went on a journey to that
place to bring in chains from Damascus to Jerusalem
those who followed Jesus, to punish them.
"And it came to pass as I made my journey and drew nigh
to Damascus, suddenly there shone from heaven a great
light round about me. And I fell to the ground, and
heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are thou
fighting against me and doing me harm?' And I
answered, 'Who art thou, Lord?' And he said to me, 'I
am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are trying to destroy!'
"Those who were with me saw the light, but they did not
hear the voice that spoke to me. And I said, 'What
shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Rise up,
and go into Damascus, and it shall be told thee what
things are given to thee to do.'
"When I stood up I could not see, from the glory of
that light, and I was led by the hands of those who
were with me into Damascus. And a man named Ananias, a
man who worshipped God and kept the law, of whom all
the Jews in the city spoke well, came to me, and
standing by me, said 'Brother Saul, receive thy sight.'
"And in that very hour I looked up and saw him. And he
said to me, 'The God of our fathers hath chosen thee to
 will, and to see the Holy One, and to
hear his voice. For thou shalt speak in his name to
all men, telling them what thou hast seen and heard.'
"And afterward, when I came
back to Jerusalem, and was
praying in the Temple, I saw the Lord again, and he
spoke to me, 'Go forth, and I will send thee far hence
to the Gentiles.' "
The Jews listened to Paul quietly until he spoke that
word "Gentiles," which roused up all their wrath. They
began to cry out, "Away with such a fellow from the
earth! It is not fit that he should live!"
And as they flung off their garments, and threw dust
into the air in their rage, the chief captain ordered
that Paul should be taken into the castle and beaten
with rods until he should tell what dreadful thing he
had done to arouse such anger. For the chief captain,
not knowing the Jews' language, had not understood what
Paul had said.
They took Paul into the castle, and were tying him up
to beat him, when Paul said to the centurion who stood
by, "Have you any right to beat a Roman citizen who
has not been tried before a judge?"
When the centurion heard this he went in haste to the
chief captain, and said to him, "Take care what you do
to that man, for he is a Roman citizen!"
Then the chief captain came and said to Paul, "Tell
me, are you a Roman citizen?"
And Paul answered, "Yes, I am."
The chief captain said, "I bought this right to be a
citizen with a great sum of money."
And Paul said to him, "But I am a free-born citizen."
When those who were about to beat Paul knew that he was
a Roman citizen, they went away from him in haste, and
the chief captain was afraid, because he had bound
Paul; for no one might place a chain on a Roman citizen
until he had been tried before a Roman judge.
They took Paul into the castle, but were careful not to
do him any harm.