Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Ac 22:1-30. Paul's Defense from the Stairs of the Fortress—The Rage of the Audience Bursting Forth, the Commandant Has Him Brought into the Fort to Be Examined by Scourging, but Learning that He Is a Roman, He Orders His Release and Commands the Samhedrim to Try Him.
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
2. when they heard … the Hebrew tongue—(See on Ac 21:40).
they kept the more silence—They could have understood him in Greek, and doubtless fully expected the renegade to address them in that language, but the sound of their holy mother tongue awed them into deeper silence.
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.
3. a Jew of Tarsus, brought up in this city, at the feet—(See on Lu 10:39).
of Gamaliel—(See on Ac 5:34); a fact of great importance in the apostle's history, standing in the same relation to his future career as Moses' education in the Egyptian court to the work for which he was destined.
the perfect manner of the law of the fathers—the strictest form of traditional Judaism.
toward God as ye all are this day—his own former murderous zeal against the disciples of the Lord Jesus being merely reflected in their present treatment of himself.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
4. I persecuted, &c.—(See on Ac 9:1,2; Ac 9:5-7).
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.
5. the high priest—still alive.
doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders—the whole Sanhedrim.
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.
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
8. Jesus of Nazareth—the Nazarene. See on Ac 9:5.
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.
9-11. they that were with me—(See on Ac 9:7, &c.)
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.
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
12. Ananias, a devout man, according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there—One would not know from this description of Ananias that he was a Christian at all, the apostles object being to hold him up as unexceptionable, even to the most rigid Jews.
Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
13-15. The God of our fathers hath chosen thee—studiously linking the new economy upon the old, as but the sequel of it; both having one glorious Author.
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.
14. that thou shouldest … see that—"the"
Just One—compare Ac 3:14; 7:52.
hear the voice of his mouth—in order to place him on a level with the other apostles, who had "seen the [risen] Lord."
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.
16. be baptized and wash away thy sins—This way of speaking arises from baptism being the visible seal of remission.
calling on the name of the Lord—rather, "having called," that is, after having done so; referring to the confession of Christ which preceded baptism, as Ac 8:37.
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;
17-21. it came to pass, &c.—This thrilling dialogue between the glorified Redeemer and his chosen vessel is nowhere else related.
when I was come again to Jerusalem—on the occasion mentioned in Ac 9:26-29.
while I prayed in the temple—He thus calls their attention to the fact that after his conversion he kept up his connection with the temple as before.
And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
18. get … quickly out of Jerusalem—compare Ac 9:29.
for they will not receive thy testimony … And I said, Lord, they know, &c.—"Can it be, Lord, that they will resist the testimony of one whom they knew so well as among the bitterest of all against Thy disciples, and whom nothing short of resistless evidence could have turned to Thee?"
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
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.
And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
21. depart for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles—that is, "Enough; thy testimony is not to be thrown away upon Jerusalem; the Gentiles, afar off, are thy peculiar sphere."
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, 23. gave him audience to this word … then … Away with such a fellow from the earth, &c.—Their national prejudices lashed into fury at the mention of a mission to the Gentiles, they would speedily have done to him as they did to Stephen, but for the presence and protection of the Roman officer.
And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
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.
24-26. examined by scourging—according to the Roman practice.
that he might know wherefore they cried so—Paul's speech being to him in an unknown tongue, he concluded from the horror which it kindled in the vast audience that he must have been guilty of some crime.
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?
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 Ac 16:37.
When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
27-29. art thou a Roman?—showing that this being of Tarsus, which he had told him before (Ac 21:39) did not necessarily imply that he was a Roman citizen.
And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.
28. With a great sum obtained I this freedom—Roman citizenship was bought and sold in the reign of Claudius, we know, at a high price: at a subsequent date, for next to nothing. But to put in a false claim to this privilege was a capital crime.
I was free born—born to it, by purchase, or in reward of services, on the part of his father or some ancestor.
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.
29. chief captain also was afraid, &c.—See on Ac 16:38.
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.
30. commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear—that is, the Sanhedrim to be formally convened. Note here the power to order a Sanhedrim to try this case, assumed by the Roman officers and acquiesced in on their part.