|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:22-30 The Jews listened to Paul's account of his conversion, but the mention of his being sent to the Gentiles, was so contrary to all their national prejudices, that they would hear no more. Their frantic conduct astonished the Roman officer, who supposed that Paul must have committed some great crime. Paul pleaded his privilege as a Roman citizen, by which he was exempted from all trials and punishments which might force him to confess himself guilty. The manner of his speaking plainly shows what holy security and serenity of mind he enjoyed. As Paul was a Jew, in low circumstances, the Roman officer questioned how he obtained so valuable a distinction; but the apostle told him he was free born. Let us value that freedom to which all the children of God are born; which no sum of money, however large, can purchase for those who remain unregenerate. This at once put a stop to his trouble. Thus many are kept from evil practices by the fear of man, who would not be held back from them by the fear of God. The apostle asks, simply, Is it lawful? He knew that the God whom he served would support him under all sufferings for his name's sake. But if it were not lawful, the apostle's religion directed him, if possible, to avoid it. He never shrunk from a cross which his Divine Master laid upon his onward road; and he never stept aside out of that road to take one up.
Verse 28. - Citizenship for freedom, A.V; am a Roman for was free, A.V. A great sum (πολλοῦ κεφαλαίου). The word is only found here in the New Testament in the sense of a "sum of money," but is so used in classical writers. Citizenship; πολιτεία, for "freedom of the city," in Xenophon, AElian, Polybius, Dion Cassius, etc., and 3Macc. 3:21. Dion Cassius (9 17) relates that Messaliua, the wife of the Emperor Claudius, used to sell the freedom of the city, and that at first she sold it (μεγάλων ξρημάτων) for a very high price, but that afterwards it became very cheap. In all probability Lysias had so purchased it, and in consequence took the name of Claudius (Renan, ' St. Paul,' p. 524). I am a Roman born. It is not known how St. Paul's family acquired the Roman citizenship.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the chief captain answered, with a great sum obtained I this freedom,.... For, it seems, he was not a Roman born, but very likely a Grecian, or Syrian, by his name Lysias; and as all things were now venal at Rome, the freedom of the city was to be bought with money, though a large sum was insisted on for it: this the chief captain said, as wondering that so mean a person, and who he understood was a Jew by birth, should be able to procure such a privilege, which cost him so much money:
and Paul said, but I was free born; being born at Tarsus; which, as Pliny says (l), was a free city, and which had its freedom given it by Mark Antony, and which was before the birth of Paul; and therefore his parents being of this city, and free, he was born so.
(l) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 27.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
28. With a great sum obtained I this freedom—Roman citizenship was bought and sold in the reign of Claudius, we know, at a high price: at a subsequent date, for next to nothing. But to put in a false claim to this privilege was a capital crime.
I was free born—born to it, by purchase, or in reward of services, on the part of his father or some ancestor.
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