Paul The Roman Citizen
One of the greatest ironies of the ancient Roman empire (see Ancient Empires - Rome) that brought about the brutal persecution and martyrdom of so many true Christians (including Jesus Christ himself) is that Roman "civilization" also enabled the Gospel to be preached more rapidly, thanks to Roman roads that provided faster travel (see All Roads Lead To Rome), and often more securely, as in the example below where Roman troops saved the apostle Paul from being killed by his fellow Jews - the irony being the fact that the Romans later imprisoned and executed him themselves for the same "crime" of preaching the truth.
"Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman"
Paul (see Paul's Ministry) was legally a Roman citizen (apart from his nationality of Benjamin and Judah - see the Fact Finder question below) because he happened to be born in the Roman province (see also Province) of Cilicia (located in what is today southern Turkey). Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen when it benefited the Gospel - not having a prominent apostle killed before his allotted work was completed was most certainly a benefit to the Gospel and to the Bible record. Paul went on to write much of what became the New Testament after this incident in Acts in which he was nearly killed by some unbelievers among his own people of Judah.
"And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live."
"And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?"
"When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman."
"Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman?"
"He said, Yea."
"And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom."
"And Paul said, But I was free born."
"Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him." (Acts 22:22-29 KJV)
Paul was rescued from the murderous mob by 200 infantry, 70 cavalry and 200 spearmen of the Roman military. Unfortunately, the rescue became little more that the classic "out of the frying pan, into the fire" predicament for the apostle. The Roman commander sent Paul to stand trial before the Roman governor.
"And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor."
"And he wrote a letter after this manner:"
"Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting."
"This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell." (Acts 23:23-30 KJV)
Fact Finder: How is it that Paul was both a Benjamite and a Jew?
See Saul The Benjamite, Paul The Christian Jew