I am a Jew from Tarsus (Acts 21:39)

“Paul replied.

‘I am a Jew,

From Tarsus

In Cilicia,

A citizen

Of an important city.

I beg you!

Let me speak

To the people.’”

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Παῦλος Ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος μέν εἰμι Ἰουδαῖος, Ταρσεὺς, τῆς Κιλικίας οὐκ ἀσήμου πόλεως πολίτης· δέομαι δέ σου, ἐπίτρεψόν μοι λαλῆσαι πρὸς τὸν λαόν.

The author of Acts indicated that Paul (δὲ ὁ Παῦλος) replied (εἶπεν) that he was a Jewish man (Ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος μέν εἰμι Ἰουδαῖος) from Tarsus (Ταρσεὺς) in Cilicia (τῆς Κιλικίας), a citizen of an important city or not an obscure city (οὐκ ἀσήμου πόλεως πολίτης).  He wanted the Roman commander (δέομαι δέ σου) to allow him (ἐπίτρεψόν μοι) to speak (λαλῆσαι) to the people (πρὸς τὸν λαόν).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word ἀσήμου, that means without mark, unmarked, undistinguished, obscure, or unknown.  Paul was able to persuade Lysias that he was not an agitator, as he provided him with his provincial citizenship as being from Tarsus, in the province of Cilicia, not an obscure city.  This suggests his citizenship could be authenticated.  Paul distinguished himself from this obscure Egyptian. In either case, Paul’s point was clear.  He was not the Egyptian anarchist.  Paul, always the antagonist, was about to defend himself a couple of more times.  Notice that Paul did not say that he was a Christian.  He always called himself a Jew from Tarsus.  Jesus had come into his life, but he never presented himself as a follower of Jesus.  Do you consider yourself Jewish or Christian?

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