9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” (Acts 26:9–11 (ESV)
The idiom “in their shoes” or “in someone’s shoes” means to be in someone’s place or stead. It also means to be acting for another person or experiencing something as another person might experience. It is to be in another’s position or situation.
The Apostle Paul understood the animosity the Jews had for him; even to the point of them wanting to assassinate him. He had been in their shoes, or more culturally accurate, their sandals. In his pre-converted life as Saul of Tarsus, he too wanted to destroy all who were committed to, trusting in, dependent upon and worshiping Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
In sharing his personal testimony of faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the apostle articulated his hatred for the God who he now served. He spoke to Agrippa, and all others in attendance, that he opposed the Lord Jesus Christ. To oppose means to be hostile.
Paul’s hostility extended to not only his attitude towards Christians, but also in his actions. He related how he locked up many saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests to do so. Additionally, when the members of the Sanhedrin Council voted to put the incarcerated Christians to death, Paul voted for their execution.
He sought to punish, or cause to suffer, all believers in Christ he found in all the synagogues, even those in foreign cities. He attempted to make them curse and slander the One, True God. Paul described himself as a man consumed with raging fury, bringing him to the point of insanity.
Paul labored in his recounting of his life before Christ so King Agrippa II would begin to grasp the significant change that had occurred in this once violent Pharisee. What Paul had shared would be but a set up to then recount what happened to him on the Damascus Road.
By using this explicit language, the former prosecutor and persecutor of the church not only admitted to the inflicted injuries he caused, but also described his victims as holy ones, or saints. Paul has moved from hatred to love for believers? Why? It is because he has become one. How? That is what we will examine when next we meet.
The Apostle John stated that one of the evidences of true, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a love for one’s fellow believers (I John 3:11-15; 4:7-8). May it be said of us that we love one another with the love of Christ.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!