Acts 22

1 My brothers and fathers, give ear to the story of my life which I now put before you.
2 And, hearing him talking in the Hebrew language, they became the more quiet, and he said,
3 I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia by birth, but I had my education in this town at the feet of Gamaliel, being trained in the keeping of every detail of the law of our fathers; given up to the cause of God with all my heart, as you are today.
4 And I made attacks on this Way, even to death, taking men and women and putting them in prison.
5 Of which the high priest will be a witness, and all the rulers, from whom I had letters to the brothers; and I went into Damascus, to take those who were there as prisoners to Jerusalem for punishment.
6 And it came about that while I was on my journey, coming near to Damascus, about the middle of the day, suddenly I saw a great light from heaven shining round me.
7 And when I went down on the earth, a voice came to my ears saying to me, Saul, Saul, why are you attacking me so cruelly?
8 And I, answering, said, Who are you; Lord? And he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are attacking.
9 And those who were with me saw the light, but the voice of him who was talking to me came not to their ears.
10 And I said, What have I to do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Get up, and go into Damascus; and it will be made clear to you what you have to do.
11 And because I was unable to see because of the glory of that light, those who were with me took me by the hand, and so I came to Damascus.
12 And one Ananias, a God-fearing man, who kept the law, and of whom all the Jews in that place had a high opinion,
13 Came to my side and said, Brother Saul, let your eyes be open. And in that very hour I was able to see him.
14 And he said, You have been marked out by the God of our fathers to have knowledge of his purpose, and to see the Upright One and to give ear to the words of his mouth.
15 For you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and of what has come to your ears.
16 And now, why are you waiting? get up, and have baptism, for the washing away of your sins, giving worship to his name.
17 And it came about that when I had come back to Jerusalem, while I was at prayer in the Temple, my senses became more than naturally clear,
18 And I saw him saying to me, Go out of Jerusalem straight away because they will not give hearing to your witness about me.
19 And I said, Lord, they themselves have knowledge that I went through the Synagogues putting in prison and whipping all those who had faith in you:
20 And when Stephen your witness was put to death, I was there, giving approval, and looking after the clothing of those who put him to death.
21 And he said to me, Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.
22 And they gave him a hearing as far as this word; then with loud voices they said, Away with this man from the earth; it is not right for him to be living.
23 And while they were crying out, and pulling off their clothing, and sending dust into the air,
24 The chief captain gave orders for him to be taken into the army building, saying that he would put him to the test by whipping, so that he might have knowledge of the reason why they were crying out so violently against him.
25 And when they had put leather bands round him, Paul said to the captain who was present, Is it the law for you to give blows to a man who is a Roman and has not been judged?
26 And hearing this, the man went to the chief captain and gave him an account of it, saying, What are you about to do? for this man is a Roman.
27 And the chief captain came to him and said, Give me an answer, are you a Roman? And he said, Yes.
28 And the chief captain said, I got Roman rights for myself at a great price. And Paul said, But I had them by birth.
29 Then those who were about to put him to the test went away: and the chief captain was in fear, seeing that he was a Roman, and that he had put chains on him.
30 But on the day after, desiring to have certain knowledge of what the Jews had to say against him, he made him free, and gave orders for the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to come together, and he took Paul and put him before them.

Acts 22 Commentary

Chapter 22

Paul's account of his conversion. (1-11) Paul directed to preach to the Gentiles. (12-21) The rage of the Jews Paul pleads that he is a Roman citizen. (22-30)

Verses 1-11 The apostle addressed the enraged multitude, in the customary style of respect and good-will. Paul relates the history of his early life very particularly; he notices that his conversion was wholly the act of God. Condemned sinners are struck blind by the power of darkness, and it is a lasting blindness, like that of the unbelieving Jews. Convinced sinners are struck blind as Paul was, not by darkness, but by light. They are for a time brought to be at a loss within themselves, but it is in order to their being enlightened. A simple relation of the Lord's dealings with us, in bringing us, from opposing, to profess and promote his gospel, when delivered in a right spirit and manner, will sometimes make more impression that laboured speeches, even though it amounts not to the full proof of the truth, such as was shown in the change wrought in the apostle.

Verses 12-21 The apostle goes on to relate how he was confirmed in the change he had made. The Lord having chosen the sinner, that he should know his will, he is humbled, enlightened, and brought to the knowledge of Christ and his blessed gospel. Christ is here called that Just One; for he is Jesus Christ the righteous. Those whom God has chosen to know his will, must look to Jesus, for by him God has made known his good-will to us. The great gospel privilege, sealed to us by baptism, is the pardon of sins. Be baptized, and wash away thy sins; that is, receive the comfort of the pardon of thy sins in and through Jesus Christ, and lay hold on his righteousness for that purpose; and receive power against sin, for the mortifying of thy corruptions. Be baptized, and rest not in the sign, but make sure of the thing signified, the putting away of the filth of sin. The great gospel duty, to which by our baptism we are bound, is, to seek for the pardon of our sins in Christ's name, and in dependence on him and his righteousness. God appoints his labourers their day and their place, and it is fit they should follow his appointment, though it may cross their own will. Providence contrives better for us than we do for ourselves; we must refer ourselves to God's guidance. If Christ send any one, his Spirit shall go along with him, and give him to see the fruit of his labours. But nothing can reconcile man's heart to the gospel, except the special grace of God.

Verses 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.

Acts 22 Commentaries