People's New Testament
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
22:1 Paul's Address to the Jews in the Temple
SUMMARY OF ACTS 22:
Paul Speaks in Hebrew to the People. His Jewish Birth at Tarsus. His Education at the Feet of Gamaliel. His Persecution of the Church. The Appearance of Christ to Him on the Way to Damascus. His Baptism. The Vision of the Lord in the Temple. Sent to the Gentiles. The Interruption of the Mob. Appeals to His Rights as a Roman.
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
22:2 Spake in the Hebrew tongue to them. The tongue called the Hebrew, a dialect of the ancient Hebrew, and distinguished from it by the name Aramaic. It was the common language of Judea in the time of Christ. It would be understood by all Paul's Jewish hearers, while many could not understand Greek.
I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
22:3 I am... a Jew. In order to refute their charge that he taught against Moses, he calls attention to his Jewish birth, and his education under their venerated doctor of the law, Gamaliel. For the character of this teacher, see PNT Ac 5:34.
Was zealous toward God. His zeal was like theirs, honest and ardent. Observe how he associates himself with his hearers. It was the first opportunity he had ever had to explain to the people of Jerusalem the reason why he had become a Christian.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
22:4 I persecuted this way. He did this from his zeal towards God, whom he thought he thus served.
Unto the death. This seems to imply that Stephen was not the only martyr in whose death he was an accomplice.
As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
22:5 The high priest doth bear me witness. The high priest in A.D. 37, the time Saul of Tarsus was sent to Damascus, was not now high priest, having been deposed by the Romans, but was probably a member of the Sanhedrin at this time. It is also probable that the present high priest personally knew about all facts. There were many present who knew that he had been a commissioned persecutor.
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
22:6 Nigh to Damascus about noon. See notes on Ac 9:3-10, where the account of Paul's conversion is given. There the time of day is not mentioned. The light appeared when the sun was at its brightest, and was brighter than the sun (Ac 26:13).
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
22:7 Saul, Saul. The Voice spoke in the Hebrew tongue (Ac 26:14).
Why persecutest thou me? By persecuting those for whom Christ died.
And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
22:9 They heard not the voice. Some have insisted that there is a contradiction between this statement and that of Ac 9:7, but the word hear is often used in the sense of understand. Once the writer heard Abraham Lincoln address a great audience. Some, at a distance, cried out, We cannot hear. They meant understand, for they could hear the sound of his voice.
And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
22:11 I could not see for the glory of that light. In Ac 9:8 we are told that he was blinded, but not the cause.
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
22:12 One Ananias, a devout man. We are told he was a disciple in the account of Ac 9:10. Though a disciple, he kept the law strictly.
Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
22:14 The God of our fathers. Of the Jews.
See that Just One. The Lord Jesus Christ. It was necessary that Paul should see the Lord in order to become a witness. He refers more than once to the fact that he had seen the risen Christ (1Co 9:1 15:8).
For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
22:16 Arise, and be baptized. Dean Howson ( Acts, p. 501) says that the verb baptize in the Greek is in the middle voice, and that a more accurate rendering would be, Have thyself baptized.
Wash away thy sins. This language shows that Ananias thought that the penitent sinner was to be baptized for the remission of sins (Ac 2:38), and that Paul held the same view. Compare Titus 3:5. Hackett says:
This clause states the result of baptism in language derived from the nature of the ordinance. It answers to eis aphesin hamartion (Ac 2:38), i.e. submit to the rite in order to be forgiven.... There can be no question of the mode of baptism in this case, for if it be held that be baptized is uncertain in its meaning, wash away is a definition that removes the doubt.''
As the final act of conversion, baptism symbolically, is said to wash away sins.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
22:17 When I was come again to Jerusalem. This was three years after his conversion (Ga 1:17,18). He shows in what follows that it was by Divine direction that he had devoted his life to the conversion of the Gentiles, that he would have labored with his own race, but that, while in the temple praying, he had a second vision of the Lord who, a second time, assured him that his work was with the Gentiles.
In a trance. The Greek term ekstasis, ecstasy, means a state of mind when the spirit was, as it were, lifted out of the bodily conditions and enabled to discern things unseen. Compare Ac 10:10. Some have held that this trance in the temple is described in 2Co 12:2,3, but this is uncertain.
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
22:18 They will not receive thy testimony concerning me. His own countrymen are meant. They regarded him as an apostate.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
22:19 Lord, they know. He recalls the very words of his prayer to show his anxiety to labor with his own race.
And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
22:20 When the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed. See Ac 7:58 8:1.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
22:21 Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. Thus by the command of his Lord his life-work was placed beyond the pale of Israel.
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.
22:22 They gave audience unto this word. To the statement that the Lord sent him to the Gentiles. This at once filled them with fury. Amid their long-sufferings from foreign oppressors, the Jew took comfort in the thought that when his Messiah came the Gentile would be abased and the Jew would put his feet upon the neck. Hence, nothing so stirred their passions as an intimation that Christ would be a Savior to the Gentiles. In his own synagogue of Nazareth, when the Lord declared the salvation of the Gentiles, his own townsmen sought to put him to death (Lu 4:28-30). We have seen the struggle in the infant church before it would receive Gentiles without circumcision (Ac 11:1,2). At this time, the smothered fires of the great Jewish war, that broke out a few years later, were burning in Jewish hearts. Hence, the statement that Paul's Christ was a Savior of the Gentiles, and had commanded him to pass by the Jews and offer salvation to the Gentiles, at once produced an explosion of frantic rage.
And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
22:23 Cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air. Manifestations of an uncontrolled fury that hardly knew what it did.
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.
22:24 Bade that he should be examined by scourging. Probably ignorant of the Hebrew tongue, unable to understand what had caused the fury of the people, thinking that it might be due to the commission of some horrible crime by the speaker, the chief captain, drawing him into the castle, ordered that he be put to the torture to compel him to make a confession. Until recent times, it was common to torture prisoners under the belief that thus they could be compelled to speak the truth. Scourging was the usual method of torture among the Romans. The prisoner's back was bared, he was bound, and the rods borne by the lictors were usually employed.
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?
22:25 Paul said unto the centurion. Who was seeing that the chief captain's orders were carried out.
Is it lawful for you to scourge... a Roman? Once before at Philippi, he had appealed to his rights as a Roman (Ac 16:37), but this was after the scourging.
When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
22:26 For this man is a Roman. The name Roman acted like magic in each case. The centurion at once pauses, tell his commander to beware; no officer dared to lay a hand in violence on a Roman citizen without trial. The calm was at once allowed, for it was a capital offense to make a false claim of citizenship, and none dared attempt it. Suetonius says:
He who falsely pretended to Roman citizenship was beheaded on the Esquiline hill.''
A constant traveler like Paul would be likely to carry papers that would prove his claims.
Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
22:27 Art thou a Roman? The commander comes at once to inquire for himself.
And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
22:28 With a great sum I obtained this freedom. The officer states that he had bought citizenship himself. He was not of Roman birth, an alien, but by a heavy bribe had obtained Roman rights. This was not uncommon in the corrupt period of Roman government that had come.
But I was free born. His father before had been a Roman citizen. Whether he inherited it also, or had in some way secured the right, is unknown. If any wonder how a Jew could be a Roman, let them look around and see Jews, Germans, Irish, etc. who are American citizens.
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.
22:29 The chief captain also was afraid. Because he had bound Paul for the torture, and had thus violated the privileges of Roman citizenship.
On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
22:30 Commanded the cheif priests and all their council to appeared. Perplexed concerning the animosity of his countrymen to Paul, anxious to know whether he was a malefactor, he ordered a meeting of the Sanhedrin that it might investigate the charges against him.