Acts 22:25
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?
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(25) And as they bound him with thongs.—The words have sometimes been rendered, “they stretched him forward for the straps”—i.e., put him into the attitude which was required for the use of the scourge; and grammatically the words admit this sense. The Authorised version is, however, it is believed, right. The Greek word for “thong” is always used in the New Testament in connection with the idea of tying (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27). It appears here to be expressly distinguished from the “scourges” of Acts 22:24, and in Acts 22:29 we find that St. Paul had actually been bound. He was, i.e., according to Roman custom, stripped to the waist, and tied with leathern thongs, as our Lord had been, to the column or whipping-post which was used within the fortress for this mode of torture. In both instances, it will be noted, the order for the punishment came from a Roman officer.

Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman . . .?—Stress is laid on both points. It was unlawful to scourge a Roman citizen in any case; it was an aggravation so to torture him, as slaves were tortured, only as a means of inquiry. On the whole question of the rights of Roman citizens, and St. Paul’s claim to those rights, see Note on Acts 16:37.

Acts 22:25-29. And as they — The soldiers ordered by the tribune; were binding him with thongs — In order to their scourging him; Paul said unto the centurion that stood by — To see the tribune’s orders executed; Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? — A freeman of Rome might be bound with a chain, and beaten with a staff; but he might not be bound with thongs, neither scourged nor beaten with rods. The centurion told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest — Greek, Ορα τι μελλεις ποιειν, consider what thou art about to do; for this man is a Roman — Yea, and there was a stronger reason to stop proceedings, and to consider, for this man was a servant of God. Paul said, I was free born — Not, as some have supposed, because he was born at Tarsus; for, as Dr. Lardner has unanswerably proved, that was not a Roman colony, or what the Romans called municipium, a free town, or a place where all the natives were free of Rome by birth. But, it is probable, either his father, or some of his ancestors, had been made free of Rome for some military service. We learn hence, that we are under no obligations, as Christians, to give up our civil privileges (which we ought to receive and prize as the gifts of God) to every insolent invader. In a thousand circumstances, gratitude to God and duty to men will oblige us to insist upon them, and engage us to strive to transmit them improved to posterity. Then straightway they — Who had bound him, and were about to examine him by scourging; departed from him — Not daring to proceed; and the chief captain — Whom we may justly suppose to have had considerable influence at Rome; also was afraid, because — Though he had not scourged him, yet he had bound him — In order to his being scourged; which was a breach of privilege, for which he might have been accused by Paul to his superiors.

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.Bound him with thongs - With cords, preparatory to scourging.

Is it lawful ... - It was directly contrary to the Roman law to bind and scourge a Roman citizen. See the notes on Acts 16:36-37.

25. Paul said to the centurion that stood by—to superintend the torture and receive the confession expected to be wrung from him.

Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, &c.—See on [2097]Ac 16:37.

They bound him with thongs; they who were to be scourged were bound to a post or column (amongst the Jews) of a cubit and a half high, inclining downwards upon it; and these thongs were such wherewith they bound Paul to this column or pillar; and with such also they intended to scourge him.

Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? that is, it is not lawful to scourge a Roman; much less, uncondemned: See Poole on "Acts 16:37". This latter, the laws of no nation that was civilized did ever allow.

And as they bound him with thongs,.... To a pillar, in order to be scourged, according to the Roman manner (d). Nor was the Jewish form of scourging much unlike, and perhaps might be now used, which was this; when they scourge anyone they bind both his hands to a pillar, here and there --and they do not strike him standing nor sitting, but inclining (e); for the pillar to which he was bound was fixed in the ground, and so high as for a man to lean upon (f); and some say it was two cubits, and others a cubit and a half high (g): and the word here used signifies an extension, or distension; perhaps the stretching out of the arms to the pillar, and a bending forward of the whole body, which fitly expresses the stooping inclining posture of the person scourged, and was a very proper one for such a punishment: now as they were thus fastening him with thongs to the pillar, and putting him in this position,

Paul said unto the centurion that stood by; to see the soldiers execute the orders received from the chief captain:

is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? Though the apostle puts this by way of question, yet he knew full well what the Roman laws were in such cases; he did not put this through ignorance, or for information, but to let them know who he was, and to put them in mind of these laws, and of their duty; for, according to the Porcian law, Roman citizens were not to be beaten (h). Hence, says (i) Cicero,

"it is a heinous sin to bind a Roman citizen, it is wickedness to beat him, it is next to parricide to kill him, and what shall I say to crucify him?''

And, according to the Valerian law, it was not lawful for magistrates to condemn a Roman without hearing the cause, and pleading in it; and such condemned persons might appeal to the populace (k).

(d) Lipsius de Cruce, l. 2. c. 4. (e) Misna Maccot, c. 3. sect. 12, 13. (f) Bartenora in ib. (g) Yom Tob in ib. (h) Cicero pro Rabirio Orat. 18. (i) In Verrem Orat. 10. (k) Pompon. Laetus de Legibus, p. 157.

{4} 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?

(4) There is no reason why we may not use those lawful means which God gives us in order to repel or prevent an injury.

Acts 22:25-27. ʼΩς δὲ προέτειναν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱμᾶσ.] But when they had stretched him before the thongs. Those who were to be scourged were bound and stretched on a stake. Thus they formed the object stretched out before the thongs (the scourge consisting of thongs, comp. bubuli cottabi, Plaut. Trin. iv. 3. 4). Comp. Beza: “quum autem eum distendissent loris (caedendum).” On ἱμάς of the leathern whip, comp. already Hom. Il. xxiii. 363; Anthol vi. 194; Artemidor. ii. 53. The subject of προέτ. is those charged with the execution of the punishment, the Roman soldiers. Following Henry Stephanus, most expositors (among them Grotius, Homberg, Loesner, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Olshausen) take προτείνοιν as equivalent to προβάλλειν (Zonaras: προτείνουσιν· ἀντὶ τοῦ προτιθέασι καὶ προβάλλονται): cum loris eum obtulissent s. tradidissent. But προτείνειν never means simply tradere, but always to stretch before, to hold before, sometimes in the literal, sometimes in a figurative[139] sense. But here the context, treating of a scourging, quite demands the entirely literal rendering. Others take τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν instrumentally (comp. Vulg.: “cum adstrinxissent eum loris”), of the thongs with which the delinquent was either merely bound (Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, de Dieu, Hammond, Bengel, Michaelis, also Luther), or, along with that, was placed in a suspended position (Scaliger, Ep. ii. 146, p. 362). But in both cases not only would τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν be a very unnecessary statement, but also the ΠΡΟ in ΠΡΟΈΤ. would be without reference; and scourging in a suspended position was not a usual, but an extraordinary and aggravated, mode of treatment, which would therefore necessarily have been here definitely noted.

εἰ ἄνθρ. Ῥωμ. κ. ἀκατάκρ. κ.τ.λ.] See on Acts 16:37. The problematic form of interrogation: whether, etc. (comp. on Acts 1:6), has here a dash of irony, from the sense of right so roughly wounded. The καί is: in addition thereto. Δύο τὰ ἐγκλήματα· καὶ τὸ ἄνευ λόγου καὶ τὸ Ῥωμαῖον ὄντα, Chrysostom. On the non-use of the right of citizenship at Philippi, see on Acts 16:23.

Acts 22:27. Thou art a Roman? A question of surprise, with the emphatic contemptuous σύ.

[139] For example, of the holding forth or offering of conditions, of a gain, of money, of the hand, of friendship, of a hope, of an enjoyment, and the like, also of pretexts. See Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 181 f.; Valckenaer, ad Callim. fragm. p. 224.

Acts 22:25. προέτειναν: “and when they had tied him up with the thongs,” R.V., i.e., with the ligatures which kept the body extended and fixed while under flogging; Vulgate, “cum astrinxissent eum loris”; but προέ. is rather “stretched him forward with the thongs,” i.e., bound him to a pillar or post in a tense posture for receiving the blows, see critical note. Blass takes προέτειναν as an imperfect, cf. Acts 28:2.—τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν: referring to the thongs usually employed for so binding, and this seems borne out by Acts 22:29 δεδεκώς: not “for the thongs,” as in R.V. margin, so Lewin, Blass, Weiss and others, as if = μάστιξ. Grimm admits that the word may be used either of the leathern thongs with which a person was bound or was beaten, but here he prefers the latter.—τὸν ἑστῶτα ἑκατόν.: the centurion who presided over the scourging, just as a centurion was appointed to be in charge over the execution of our Lord; on the form ἑκατόν., only here in Acts, see Simcox, Language of the N.T., p. 30, and see Moulton and Geden, sub v. -άρχης, and above on Acts 10:1.—εἰ: “interrogatio subironica est, confidentiæ plena,” Blass (so Wendt).—καὶ: “and that too,” δύο τὰ ἐγκήματα· καὶ τὸ ἄνευ λὁγου καὶ τὸ Ῥωμαῖον ὄντα, Chrys., cf. Acts 16:37. The torture was illegal in the case of a Roman citizen, although it might be employed in the case of slaves and foreigners: Digest. Leg. 48, tit. 18, c. 1. “Et non esse a tormentis incipiendum Div. Augustus constituit.” At Philippi St. Paul had probably not been heard in his protests on account of the din and tumult: “nunc quia illi negotium est cum Romanis militibus, qui modestius et gravius se gerebant, occasione utitur” Calvin.

25. And as they bound him with thongs] Rev. Ver. “And when they had tied him up with the thongs.” This gives more of the force of the verb in the Greek which implies the stretching of the prisoner forward, so that he may be in a position to receive the blows. Some have translated “for the thongs,” but the word rendered “thongs” is one which is always used for straps employed for straining or binding tight, and rarely, if ever, for the implement by which the chastisement is inflicted.

the centurion that stood by] He was superintending the work of fastening the prisoner to the whipping-post, which was done by the common soldiers.

a man that is a Roman] It was an offence punishable with the severest penalties for a man to claim to be a Roman citizen, if he were not one. The peril of such an assertion, if it were not true, convinces the centurion at once, and though we are not told so expressly we may feel sure that the operation of “tying up” was stopped.

Acts 22:25. Προέτειναν, they stretched him out) that the back of Paul might be the more entirely exposed to the strokes. This act of stretching him out is ascribed neither to the centurion, who merely stood by, nor to the chief captain (tribune), who did not even stand by; but to those of whom Acts 22:29, in the beginning, speaks.—τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν) with thongs, wherewith they bound him, when making him ready for receiving the strokes. Μάστιγες, scourges, were threatened; but the ἱμάντες, thongs, differ from them, being used for binding him who was to be examined by scourges.—ἀνθρώπον Ῥωμαῖον, a man that is a Roman) It was a daring deed, as Cicero says, to bind a Roman citizen: it was a wicked deed to scourge him. Paul did not appeal to his right of citizenship against the bonds, Acts 22:29 (which subsequently made the captain “afraid”); for these had been foretold: he did appeal to it against the scourging, in order that he might defend his body and life, being hereafter about to preach the Gospel.—καὶ, and) and that too.—ὑμῖν, you) Emphatic. For it was allowed nowhere.

Verse 25. - When they had tied him up with the thongs for as they bound him with thongs, A.V. When they had tied him up, etc. This does not seem to be a right rendering. Προτείνω can only mean "to stretch out before," or "expose to the action," of anything, when taken in a literal sense; ἱμάς, again, more naturally means the "thong" or lash of a whip or scourge than a thong to bind a man with; indeed, it is thought to be etymologically connected with μάστιξ, Meyer, therefore, rightly understands the passage to mean when they had stretched him on the stake ready to receive the scourging. Is it lawful, etc.? Paul now pleads his privileges as a Roman citizen, just in time to stop the outrage, remembering, no doubt, the terror inspired in the Philippian magistrates when they found they had beaten with rods an uncondemned Roman citizen (see Acts 16:38). Uncondemned (ἀκατακρίτους); Acts 16:37. Only found in these two passages in the New Testament, and nowhere else. Acts 22:25Bound him with thongs (προέτειναν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἱμᾶσιν)

Against the rendering of the A. V. is the word προέειναν, they stretched forward, in allusion to the position of the victim for scourging, and the article with thongs; "the thongs," with reference to some well-known instrument. If the words referred simply to binding him, with thongs would be superfluous. It is better, therefore, to take thongs as referring to the scourge, consisting of one or more lashes or cords, a sense in which it occurs in classical Greek, and to render stretched him out for (or before) the thongs. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament of a shoe-latchet (Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27).


See on Acts 16:37.

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