Bible Topics In The Christian Library

Acts 22:1-5- ""Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now." {2} And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: {3} "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. {4} "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, {5} "as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished."

A. Paul's upbringing - strictly keeping the law.
1. He was a strict Jew, in spite of his upbringing out side of Judaea.
2. He was a pupil of the great Gamaliel.
a. A highly regarded Pharisee who was a member of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34). He squelched a plan by the Sanhedrin to kill the apostles by reminding the members that interference with what the apostles were doing might prove to be opposition to God. If the work of the apostles were a purely human work, Gamaliel said, it would come to nothing anyway. According to Acts 22:3, this Gamaliel had been Paul's teacher. He was the grandson of the great Rabbi Hillel. He died about A.D. 52.
3. He was as zealous for the Law of Moses as they.
B. Paul's persecution of Christians.
1. He was more than zealous - he sought to punish those whom he thought to be betraying the faith.
2. "This way" was simply Christianity.
3. Paul's journey to Damascus to pick up prisoners is well documented in chapter nine.
Acts 22:6-16- ""Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. {7} "And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' {8} "So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' {9} "And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. {10} "So I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.' {11} "And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. {12} "Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, {13} "came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him. {14} "Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. {15} 'For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. {16} 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'"
A. The Voice from Heaven.
1. As Paul neared the end of his journey to Damascus, he was confronted with a vision from the very one whom he was fighting against.
2. The only thing that really needs commenting on here is that fact that Paul states here that those with him saw the light but did not hear the voice, while in 9:7 we are told that they heard a voice but saw no one.
a. In all likelihood in 9:7 it is meant that they heard a noise but did not understand the words. See John 12:28-29. Paul seems to be meaning here that they were so frightened that they did not hear the actual words of Jesus.
B. Verse 16 clearly equates baptism with the washing away of sins.
1. See Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5.
2. Here also, the "calling on the name of the Lord" describes the action in the previous phrase, arising and being baptized and washing away sins.
Acts 22:17-24- ""Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance {18} "and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.' {19} "So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. {20} 'And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' {21} "Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'" {22} And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" {23} Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, {24} the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him."
A. Paul describes his commission by Christ.
1. Chapter 9:22 tells us that Paul was sent away by the brethren to save his life. Here Paul tells his audience that he did not leave until the Lord had commanded him to do so.
2. Paul wanted to stay because he felt guilt over the death of Stephen. He had a natural desire to stay and convert those who aided him in the murder of the great Christian preacher.
3. The Lord would hear nothing of it. He had a great work in store for Paul. He was to be responsible for taking the gospel to the Gentiles in a way which would not be possible for any other person. Paul had unique qualifications which other Christians did not possess.
a. He had been a devout Jew.
b. He fully understood and functioned in Gentile society.
c. He had a level of education that many of the other disciples did not have.
d. He was a Roman citizen.
e. He was of a disposition to not get discouraged when imprisoned but to use it for Christ's advantage.
B. The reaction of the mob.
1. They had been very quiet until they heard the word Gentile mentioned.
2. Now they reacted violently, thinking that Paul was going to make a defense of his "crime."
3. They tore their clothes, a sign of deep emotion, and tossed dust into the air.
4. It was necessary for the Roman commander to hustle Paul into the safety of the army barracks in order to question him further.
5. He decided to do the standard action in "police work" of their day, beat him until he talked.
Acts 22:25-30- "And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?" {26} When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman." {27} Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes." {28} The commander answered, "With a large sum I obtained this citizenship." And Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." {29} Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. {30} The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them."
A. Paul uses his Roman citizenship.
1. One of the rights of Roman citizenship was to be exempt from any beating without being first found guilty of a crime.
2. Citizenship was lawfully obtained in three different ways. It was conferred by the senate for meritoriousconduct; it wasin-herited from a father who was a citizen; and it wasthe birthright of one who was born in a free city; that is, a city which, for some especial service to the empire,was rewarded by granting citizenship to all born within its limits. It was unlawfully obtained by the use of money in the absence of meritorious conduct. In the reign of Claudius,this distinctionhad become such an articleof merchandise that Messalina,the wife of the emperor, is said to have openly sold it, at first for a lugs sum, and at last for a trifle. (McGarvey's New Commentary on Acts)
3. Paul exercised his rights just as they were ready to beat him to secure the answers they wanted from him.
4. After the commander confirmed that Paul was a Roman citizen he was fearful that he had even bound his hands for beating without some good cause. Such was the power of Rome.
B. Paul appears before the Sanhedrin.
1. The Roman commander thought it prudent to examine Paul's case further by convening the Jewish Sanhedrin together to hear Paul. Surely this would shed more light on the case.
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