Acts 22 – 2019-10-07
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- CHAPTER 22 COMMENTARYv.2: “Why did the Aramaic language quiet the howling mob? Aramaic was their common language. Hearing Paul speak it caught them by surprise. The unruly crowd immediately identified him as one of their own. That a Jew not from Palestine could speak Aramaic, as well as Greek, impressed them.”
vv.1-9: “Paul began his address respectfully, calling his audience ‘brothers and fathers,’ just as Stephen had addressed a similar audience (7:2). Paul’s first point demonstrated his excellent Jewish credentials: ‘educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strictness of the ancestral law;’ that is, he had a thorough training as a Pharisee under the most revered teacher of the era. The description of his activity as a persecutor of Christians opened the way for him to describe his conversion.”
“Paul’s defense to the mob who, is out for his blood is not to argue but to relate a personal experience; and a personal experience is the most unanswerable argument on earth.”
v.10: “Verse 10 parallels 9:6 with the difference that in Paul’s account he referred to Jesus as “the Lord” when relating the command to rise and go into Damascus. Paul made his confession known before his Jewish audience. At the outset of his vision he may not have known whom he was addressing as Lord (v. 8). Now he knew that it was Jesus, the risen Lord. Up to this point in his speech, Paul had identified closely with his Jewish listeners. In every way he had shown himself to be as Jewish as they were. Now he began to draw the line that differentiated himself from them. On the Damascus road he had seen the risen Jesus. Now he confessed Jesus as Lord. He surely wished the same for them. It was not inappropriate for a faithful Jew to confess Jesus as Lord. He was himself a living witness to that.”
“Paul is stressing the fact that he had not come to destroy the ancestral faith but to fulfill it.”
vv.12-16: “Paul introduced Ananias as a pious Jew, a strict observer of the Torah, and a person held in high esteem by the Jewish community in Damascus…Ananias’ devotion to Judaism was stressed. Paul wished to make the same point about Ananias he had been making about himself—that his Christian faith in no way detracted from his loyalty to Judaism. This emphasis continues throughout Paul’s account of Ananias, where he is consistently portrayed as very Jewish…Ananias’ words to Paul have a strong Jewish flavor. ‘God of our fathers’ is strong Old Testament language. The ‘Righteous One’ is a Jewish messianic title, found earlier in the speeches of Peter and of Stephen to Jews (3:14; 7:52).”
vv.17-21: “Another new point in this account is Paul’s description of a vision he had while praying in the temple some later time, where God told him to leave Jerusalem (22:17-21). Paul had expressed to God his personal desire to stay in Jerusalem and witness to the Jews, considering his unique background. There is probably a hint that the Jews listening to Paul now should have accepted the validity of his message but would not because of the stubbornness of their hearts.”
“…Paul protested against the order to leave (v. 19-20). Such protests are a common feature of biblical commissioning narratives…Paul’s protest was that he had a convincing testimony to bear. All Jerusalem knew of his former reputation as a persecutor of Christians, even to the point of participation in Stephen’s martyrdom (cf. 7:58b; 8:1a). They would know that something dramatic must have happened to reverse his direction. Still the Lord insisted that Paul go from Jerusalem (v. 21). He had another task for him—to witness to the Gentiles. Paul’s Gentile mission was thus connected closely to the refusal of the Jews to accept his witness to Christ.”
“Aside from the theme of the mission to the gentiles being of divine initiative, this section also suggests reflection upon the question of tradition versus traditionalism. The mob sought to kill Paul because of their zealous adherence to ‘tradition.’ But Paul’s defense was that he was the real adherent to tradition, because he attempted faithfully to be obedient to God’s leading—even when the leading led him into areas of surprising divine graciousness, such as to the gentiles. To be a faithful member of Israel, Paul’s speech suggests, is to be willing to be surprised, to be led into strange areas of God’s grace. This is the tradition worth defending, worth living out in our day, as opposed to the dry and often dead traditionalism which merely appeals to blind obedience to what we have always done.”
vv.22-23: “…the reference to the Gentiles led to an immediate fulfillment of Jesus’ warning that the people would not accept his testimony. This was certainly true of the temple crowd listening to Paul. With the mention of the Gentiles, the silence ceased, the mob mentality resumed, and Paul was cut off…Paul should have known better than to refer to his Gentile witness. It was ultimately Paul’s openness to Gentiles that got him in trouble with the crowd. (21:29). In those days of rising Jewish nationalism, Paul’s law-free Gentile mission seemed to be disloyal to all that was Jewish (cf. 21:21).”
“It was not that the Jews objected to the preaching to the Gentiles; what they objected to was that the Gentiles were being offered privileges before they first accepted circumcision and the Law. If Paul had preached the yoke of Judaism to the Gentiles all would have been well; it was because he preached the grace of Christianity to them that the Jews were enraged.”
“It was tantamount to saying that Jews and Gentiles were equal, for they both needed to come to God through Christ, and that on identical terms.”
“By now Lysias must have been thoroughly perplexed about Paul…individual purchase of the rights of citizenship would have been looked on askance. There is evidence, however, that under Claudius there was increasing abuse of the privilege; and purchase of citizenship became common. That Lysias purchased his citizenship during this time is highly likely given his name, Claudius Lysias (23:26). One generally took the name of the patron through whom citizenship was obtained. It is possible that Lysias was being a bit sarcastic when he referred to paying a ‘big price’ for his citizenship, the implication being perhaps that ‘now it seems that just anyone can afford it.’ If that was so, Paul’s response would have been a shocker: no, he did not pay a big price but was born into it.”
v.30: “Paul’s appeal to his rights as a citizen should have prompted Claudius Lysias to refer his case to a higher Roman authority. Instead, he commanded the Sanhedrin to meet and had Paul appear before the chief priests and the Sadducees and Pharisees. Reading between the lines, we can speculate that Lysias was probably intrigued by his mysterious prisoner and wanted to know what charge the Jews had against him…What is evident is that Paul was not a helpless victim. He had come to Jerusalem to preach Christ and he was willing to use every means to be heard. The Lord, not a Roman commander, or even the Sanhedrin, was calling the shots…The picture we get of the Apostle through all the changing circumstances is of a man who is ready to grasp opportunities to reach the center of religious and political power with his witness to Christ.”
 Quest Study Bible, study notes (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 1539.
 Ajith Fernando, Acts, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998) 564.
 William Barclay, Acts, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975) 159.
 John B. Pohill, Acts (The New American Commentary, Vol. 26; Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992) 460.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975) 161.
 John B. Pohill, Acts (The New American Commentary, Vol. 26; Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992) 461.
 Ajith Fernando, et al., Acts, Life Application Bible Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1994) 565
 John B. Pohill, Acts (The New American Commentary, Vol. 26; Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992) 462-463.
 William H. Willimon, Acts: Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988) 168-169.
 John B. Pohill, Acts (The New American Commentary, Vol. 26; Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992) 463.
 William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975) 162.
 John R.W. Stott, The Message of Acts, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1992), 348.
 John B. Pohill, Acts (The New American Commentary, Vol. 26; Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992) 464-465.
 Lloyd Ogilvie, Acts, Communicator’s Commentary Series, (Waco: Word Books, 1983) 314.
- Acts 21:17-22:29 (ESV)17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow;24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.”26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.
27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, 36 for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!”
37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek?
38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”40 And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
22 1“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly 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 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could 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 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him.14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you.
20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.”23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
- Acts 22:1-21
- Paul recounts his testimony before a Jewish mob. How does his testimony reflect these general features?
- Life before Jesus
- Meeting Jesus
- Repentance and turnaround
- Receiving a burden and mission
- Recount my own testimony and journey with Christ along the same general features.
- Reflect on Paul’s heart for his countrymen, from whom he just barely escaped violent death (21:30-31). In what ways has the gospel enabled me to transcend personal grievances?
- Acts 22:18-21
- Paul thought his unique story—zeal for the law, reputation as a persecutor—would suit him for ministry to his fellow Jews, but Jesus had different plans for him. What lessons can I draw from this?