Paul had a sister. Who knew? We do, because God wants us to know. All Scripture is God-breathed.
But the son of Paul’s sister, hearing about their ambush, came and entered the barracks and reported it to Paul.
(Acts 23:16 CSB)
Paul had a sister. And his sister had a son. And somehow this son was in Jerusalem. Maybe he lived there with his mom and dad or, as some have speculated, maybe he was following in his uncle’s footsteps and was in Jerusalem for religious instruction. This young man may have been tagged as a potential up-and-comer in the ranks of the Pharisee as, like his uncle, he too was known to be “zealous for God” and thus was being “educated according to the strict view of the patriarchal law” (Acts 22:3). That might explain how he had become aware of the plot to ambush and kill Paul by some within the Sanhedrin, the counsel of elite Jewish priests, scribes, and other leaders.
So, talk about your right person in the right place at the right time. Access to the Sanhedrin grapevine because of his pedigree, access to Paul because of his genealogy, and under the radar because of his immaturity (that this young man was perhaps more of a young boy is indicated in verse 19 where the Spirit records that the Roman commander “took him by the hand” to lead him to a private space to talk).
But it isn’t the “serendipitous” nature of what was obviously orchestrated by a sovereign God that causes me to pause. Rather, I’m chewing on the fact that Paul had a sister. Paul had a nephew. Paul had a family. And I’m thinking about what it may have been like for them to have Paul as part of their family.
Was he, at first, regarded as that crazy uncle who went off the rails after that trip to Damascus? The one who did the 180? The one who had thrown everything he had worked so hard for away in order to preach a resurrected Jesus as the promised Messiah? The one who started associating regularly with . . . gasp . . . the Gentiles?!? You know, the one who, for the sake of the foolishness of the gospel, had accepted rejection from his community, even to the point of beatings, lashings, and once a stoning (2Cor. 11:23-25)? Yeah, what were they thinking about what he seemed to be thinking?
Paul had a family. Those on the periphery of his life who watched his life. Relatives who, though they had relatively little to do with his day-to-day itinerary, were nevertheless impacted by it. Watching from the wings, they drew conclusions about the way he walked. Paul, while a witness to many throughout the known world at that time by what he preached from the pulpit, was also a witness to his sister, and to her son, by what he preached through his life. He had a family.
Not sure I’m going anywhere with it, but somehow seems right to be chewing on it.
Word of God speak.
By His grace. For His glory.