Not by bribe, but by birth.
Acts 22:28 “Then the commander said, ‘I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.’ ‘But I was born a citizen,’ Paul replied.”
Roman citizenship could not be purchased openly for anyone so long as they had the money. So how did the commander purchase his? Presumably by paying a bribe and an expensive one too was how he became a citizen.
The story of Paul’s family is speculative and mostly a mystery. But Paul says he was born a Roman citizen. How a Jewish family had become Roman citizens would be a good read if it was possible. Nevertheless that story meant that Paul was privileged.
Here we have two men side by side, each a Roman citizen:
- One man through manipulation, deceit and dishonest gain.
- One man through the life story of his father.
I recall a man who attended my church telling me how he rose to the high levels of his career through lying on his cv. That confession answered so many more questions I had about his character.
Better to be at a low level in your career than obtaining it by deception.
Better to not have any privileges than to have gained them through persuasion.
You cannot buy your birth. You cannot manipulate what colour, culture or even creed you will be born into. It is the work of your parentage.
Remember you are a citizen of heaven, you gained this not by bribe but by birth, it was given to you, a grace gift, all because your Father in heaven loves you.
Our lifestyle should replicate such grace. There should be no bribery, trying to get what we don’t have, this is not our identity or heritage. We are people of birth, new birth, we know who we are and who we belong to. We also know that our birth was free but it cost far more than any bribe. It cost Jesus his life.