Acts 22

Paul's Defense before the Jews

1 "1Brethren * and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you."
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the 2Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he said,
3 "3I am 4a Jew, born in 5Tarsus of 6Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under * * 7Gamaliel, 8strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as 9you all are today.
4 "10I persecuted this 11Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons,
5 as also 12the high priest and all 13the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also 14received letters to 15the brethren, and started off for 16Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished.
6 "17But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,
7 and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
8 "And I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am 18Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.'
9 "And those who were with me 19saw the light, to be sure, but 20did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.
10 "And I said, '21What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'
11 "But since I 22could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
12 "A certain 23Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and 24well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
13 came to me, and standing near said to me, '25Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And 26at that very time I looked up at him.
14 "And he said, '27The God of our fathers has 28appointed you to know His will and to 29see the 30Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
15 'For you will be 31a witness for Him to all men of 32what you have seen and heard.
16 'Now why do you delay? 33Get up and be baptized, and 34wash away your sins, 35calling on His name.'
17 "It happened when I 36returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I 37fell into a trance,
18 and I saw Him saying to me, '38Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.'
19 "And I said, 'Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another 39I used to imprison and 40beat those who believed in You.
20 'And 41when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.'
21 "And He said to me, 'Go! For I will send you far away 42to the Gentiles.'"
22 They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, "43Away with such a fellow from the earth, for 44he should not be allowed to live!"
23 And as they were crying out and 45throwing off their cloaks and 46tossing dust into the air,
24 the commander ordered him to be brought into 47the barracks, stating that he should be 48examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why * they were shouting against him that way.
25 But when they stretched him out with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge 49a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?"
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and told him, saying, "What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman."
27 The commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" And he said, "Yes."
28 The commander answered, "I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money." And Paul said, "But I was actually born a citizen."
29 Therefore those who were about to 50examine him immediately let go of him; and the commander also 51was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had 52put him in chains.
30 But on the next day, 53wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he 54released him and ordered the chief priests and all 55the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set 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.

Cross References 55

Footnotes 19

  • [a]. I.e. Jewish Aramaic
  • [b]. Lit "at the feet of"
  • [c]. Lit "according to the strictness of the ancestral law"
  • [d]. Lit "testifies for me"
  • [e]. Lit "having been bound"
  • [f]. Or "hear" (with comprehension)
  • [g]. Lit "glory"
  • [h]. Or "instantly;" lit "at the very hour"
  • [i]. Or "message;" lit "voice"
  • [j]. I.e. chiliarch, in command of one thousand troops
  • [k]. Or "for the whip"
  • [l]. Interrogation by torture was a procedure used with slaves
  • [m]. V 24, note 1
  • [n]. V 24, note 1
  • [o]. V 24, note 1
  • [p]. Lit "withdrew from"
  • [q]. V 24, note 1
  • [r]. Lit "bound him"
  • [s]. Or "Sanhedrin"

Acts 22 Commentaries