Witness is a word we use to describe that act of sharing your faith. But what does it mean to witness to someone? When we witness, we give a firsthand account of what Christ has done in our life. The term actually comes from the legal world. A witness provides a firsthand testimony in court, bringing information about the case at hand. In today’s passage, Paul served as a witness in his own defense by describing his personal conversion experience.
Witnessing, whether for Christ or in a court, means telling your story. Paul’s story unfolds in three acts. First, he told his audience what his life was like before Jesus (vv. 2–4). Next, he explained what caused him to turn to Christ (vv. 5–16). Finally, he told them how his life changed after his conversion (vv. 17–21). Notice that the crowd was not receptive to Paul’s testimony. The fact that someone rejects your message does not necessarily mean that you failed as a witness. Jesus warned His disciples that not everyone would listen to what they said about Him. Some would even be put to death (Matt. 10:22; 24:9).
As they tied Paul with thongs in order to whip him, he told the Roman centurion that he was a Roman citizen. The Romans used a whip of leather thongs with pieces of bone or metal tied to the end. It was legal to interrogate a slave or an alien by flogging but not Roman citizens. The commander’s error was compounded by the fact that Paul was a citizen by birth. The commander brought the apostle Paul to the Sanhedrin to find out more details about his case.
>> Write out your story using Paul’s three acts as a model. Briefly describe your life before you trusted in Jesus. What caused you to turn to Jesus in faith? Now talk about the change this has made. Find somebody to tell your story, and you are a witness!
Lord Jesus, you brought the apostle Paul out of darkness into your wonderful light, and you did the same in our lives. We join our voices with those of other Christians through the ages to praise you for giving us hope and a future.