Story Fifteen

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE SPEECH ON THE STAIRS
WHEN Pa̤ul and his friends came to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, they met with the church in that city, and gave the money which had been gathered among the Gentiles to help those of the Jeẃ ĭsh believers in Christ who were poor.
The Apostle Jāmes̝, the Lord's brother, who was at the head of the church in Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, gave to Pa̤ul and his friends a glad welcome, and praised God for the good work wrought among the Ġĕń tīles̝.
About a week after Pa̤ul has come to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, he was worshipping in the Temple, when some Jews̝ from the lands around Ĕph́ e-sŭs saw him. They at once stirred up a crowd, and took hold of Pa̤ul, crying out:
"Men of Iś̝ ra-el, 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 Gĕń tīles̝ into the Temple, and thus has made the holy house unclean!”
They had seen with Pa̤ul, walking in the city, one of his friends from Ĕph́ e-sŭs who was not a Jew, and they started the false report that Pa̤ul had taken him into the Temple. When the Jews̝ set up this cry against Pa̤ul, all the city was stirred up, and a great crowd gathered around Pa̤ul. They dragged Pa̤ul 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 Rṓ man guard of soldiers, a thousand men under the command of an officer, whom we should call a colonel, but whom they called "the chief captain." Word came to this officer that all Jē̈-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm 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 Pa̤ul. The chief captain took Pa̤ul 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 Pa̤ul 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 Jews̝, crying out, "Away with him! Kill him!”
Just as they reached the platform at the door of the castle, Pa̤ul, 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 Pa̤ul, "Do you know Greek? Are you not that man from Ḗ ġy̆pt who some time ago rose up against the rulers, and let out into the wilderness four thousand men who were murderers?”
But Pa̤ul said, "I am a Jew, of Täŕ sus in Cī̇-lĭ́ ciȧ. 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 Pa̤ul, 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 Pa̤ul 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 Hḗ brew tongue, their own language, which they loved to hear. And when they heard him speak in Hḗ brew, their own tongue, they were all the more ready to listen to him. And this was what Pa̤ul said:
"Brethren and fathers, hear the words that I speak to you. I am a Jew, born in Täŕ sus, of Cī̇-lĭ́ ciȧ, but brought up in this city at the feet of the wise teacher Gā̇-mā́ lĭ-el, 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 believe. in Jesus. The high-priest himself knows this, and all the council of the elders; for they gave me letters to our people in Dā̇-măś cus. And I went on a journey to that place to bring in chains from Dā̇-măś cus to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm those who followed Jesus, to punish them.
"And it came to pass as I made my journey and drew nigh to Dā̇-măś cus, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, 'Sa̤ul, Sa̤ul, why art thou fighting against me and doing me harm?' And I answered, 'Who art thou, Lord?' And he said to me, 'I am Jesus of Năź a-rĕth, 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 Dā̇-măś cus, 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 Dā̇-măś cus. And a man named Ăn-a-nī́ as, a man who worshipped God and kept the law, of whom all the Jews̝ in the city spoke well, came to me, and standing by me, said, 'Brother Sa̤ul, 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 know his 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 halt seen and heard.'
"And afterward, when I came back to Jē̇-rṳ́ sā̇-lĕm, 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 Ġĕń tīles̝.'”
The Jews̝ listened to Pa̤ul quietly until he spoke that word "Ġĕń tīles̝," 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 Pa̤ul 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 Jew' language, had not understood what Pa̤ul had said.
They took Pa̤ul into the castle, and were tying him up to beat him, when Pa̤ul said to the centurion who stood by, "Have you any right to beat a Rṓ man 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 Rṓ man citizen!”
Then the chief captain came and said to Pa̤ul, "Tell me, are you a Rṓ man 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 Pa̤ul said to him, "But I am a free-born citizen.”
When those who were about to beat Pa̤ul knew that he was a Rṓ man citizen, they went away from him in haste, and the chief captain was afraid, because he had bound Pa̤ul, for no one might place a chain on a Rṓ man citizen until he had been tried before a Rṓ man judge.
They took Pa̤ul into the castle, but were careful not to do him any harm.