up to this word they listened to him. then they raised their voices and said, “away with such a fellow from the earth! for he should not be allowed to live.” [acts 22:22]


outrage—from pride


there are several things about what paul said that could have outraged the crowd, but the last thing he said before this, that God said, ”go, for i will send you far away to the gentiles” was a direct claim by paul that God would send him to the gentiles instead of the jews; this was an affront to their pride. God couldn’t possibly prefer gentiles to his chosen people israel! this recalls what Jesus said in his earthly ministry:

they answered [Jesus], “abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “if you were abraham’s children, you would be doing the works abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that i heard from God. this is not what abraham did. you are doing the works your father did.” they said to him, “we were not born of sexual immorality. we have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “if God were your Father, you would love me, for i came from God and i am here. i came not of my own accord, but he sent me. why do you not understand what i say? it is because you cannot bear to hear my word. you are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. he was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. -john 8:39-44a


the jews also tried to stone Jesus after he said these words. the kingdom of heaven consists not of a people biologically descendent from abraham, but of those who are followers of our greater high priest under the order of melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life, (hebrews 7:16) namely Christ, our better high priest. induction into this kingdom of Christ is infinitely better, because a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (hebrews 7:19b) we can draw near with confidence because our righteousness is wrapped up in the righteousness of Christ through his blood.

In believing this, we have confidence before God, but we also have humility because we know that no good deed, no boast in the flesh, is of any value before God. this is what outraged the jews, and this is what outrages us when we get angry out of pride. simply put, the good news of the gospel is that we’re worse than we think, but God loves us more than we could ever imagine. please take a second to let that sink in: God knows every evil thought and deed, yet he loved us so much that he forsook his one good Son that we might be grafted in. not only that—he sent him on a road filled with suffering and grief, and poured out the fullness of his wrath on him, that we might be spared. Lord, may that give us humble boldness!


Lord, teach us humility in thankfulness for your unmerited favor, and let that humility lead us to boldness, not in our abilities, but in you!



~ stephen hall