Chapter 22

22:1-21 Paul's defense before his Jewish friends in Jerusalem

Paul was bound with two chains (21:33), and standing on the steps of the Antonia Fortress. The crowd of Jewish people who had tried to lynch him were at the entrance of the temple just below him. His speech in Hebrew offered no theological explanation, but relied strictly on the account of what actually happened, which most of them knew already. He mentioned his education under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel, his part in the stoning of Stephen, and his fierce persecution of Christians. Then he recounted his conversion, and baptism. He did not mention his time in Arabia (Galatians 1:17). The crowd listened till he spoke about a vision of Jesus, and his commission to go to the Gentiles, and that enraged them.

22:1 Many in the crowd would have known Paul as a rabbinic student, and his zeal for Judaism in opposing Christian faith. So he calls them his brothers. And the older dignitaries among them he called fathers.

22:2 He probably spoke in Aramaic (21:40, 26:14) , which was the dialect of Hebrew spoken in and around Jerusalem (and the common language of trade all the way to India).

22:3 He reminded them he was born in Tarsus (9:11, 21:39), but he was sent as a young man to study under Rabban Gamaliel, the elder (the son or grandson of Hillel). Gamaliel had taught a more liberal interpretation of Pharisaism, and had intervened to save the lives of the apostles (5:18, 33-39). But Paul maintained he was also taught the strictest form of their Jewish ancestral law, and had been totally committed to it (26:5, as were his hearers, ).

22:4-5 As evidence for his zeal, he reminded them of his persecution of Christians (as in 8:3, 9:1-2).

22:6-9 The account of what happened on the road to Damascus now goes on to add several interesting details. Paul remembered that Jesus called himself "Jesus of Nazareth" (compare 9:5). Other words that Jesus spoke are given in another testimony (26:14, 16-18). And whereas those who accompanied Saul "heard the voice but saw no one" (9:7), Paul now explained that "those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice (catch the actual words) of the one who was speaking with me" (22:9).

22:10-11 In this account Paul remembers asking "What am I to do, Lord?" and (as in 9:6) Jesus told him he would be told what to do in Damascus. Paul also explains that the reason for his blindness was "because of the brightness of that light" (as in 26:13).

22:12-13 In Luke's previous account (9:10) we were told nothing about Ananias except that he was a disciple. Now Paul want his hearers to know he was not only "devout" in his obedience to the Jewish laws and traditions, but he was well spoken of by Jews in Damascus.

22:14-15 In Luke's previous account Ananias was told that Paul would be "an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel" (9:15). Now he adds that he was chosen "to know his will" (which he explained in the Epistles which he would write) and actually "see the Righteous One." No one has ever seen the Father (John 1:18), but the Son of God's task is to come into personal contacts with humans, and he was physically seen by Abraham (Genesis 17:1, 18:1) Moses and others (Exodus 24:9-11), and by Paul himself (22:18, 23:11). Paul would also be a witness to all the world of all he had seen and heard (see 1:8, 1 John 1:3).

22:16 Paul's baptism was after he regained his sight (9:18), and here Paul reports that as he was baptized he was assured that all that he had done was now forgiven. Some assume that it is the actual water of baptism that washes away the original sin in the heart. But it seems that what was proclaimed was the Messiah and what he had done, and baptism is an expression of faith in his forgiveness and a desire to learn from him (2:38, 8:5,12, 8:36, 10:47, 16:15, 33, see John 4:1-2, 1 Corinthians 1:14-17).

22:17 This return to Jerusalem was after his time in Arabia and return to Damascus (9:26-28, Galatians 1:17-18). Paul fell into a trance (en ekstasei, standing outside, distraction, a trance as in 10:10. This seems more like a dream state than the physical seeing mentioned in 22:14).

22:18-21 Jesus told Paul to leave immediately. He had argued that they all knew he had beaten up and imprisoned the Lord's people, and stood by as Stephen was stoned (which implied he had been a Jew loyal to their faith). But at that time the Messiah answered that he was to go at once so he could perform his mission to establish church congregations among non-Jewish people.

22:22 The mention of a mission to include Gentiles infuriated them (see 21:28).

22:23-30 Paul claims his right as a Roman citizen

We noted that Paul had said he was a citizen of the city of Tarsus (21:39) but this did not automatically make him a citizen of the Roman Empire. Now, as he is about to be flogged, he claims he was a citizen of the Empire by birth. This meant that his parents had obtained their citizenship by paying money (as in 22:27), or because they had done some special service.

22:23-24 Seeing the intense anger of the crowd, and fearing a riot (see note on 21:31-32), the Colonel had Paul brought into the barracks and flogged to make him confess what he had done to cause this trouble.

22:26 But when Paul told a centurion (army captain) that he was a Roman citizen, and they had no right to do this, the centurion quickly warned his Colonel that this would be viewed as a very serious offence by the Roman Emperor. Flogging a citizen, or even putting a citizen in chains, without a proper trial was never allowed under any circumstances.

22:28-29 When Paul told the tribune he was a Roman citizen, the tribune said it had cost him a huge sum of money to gain his citizenship. This army colonel was probably the one known from Roman history as Claudius Lysias - Lysias indicating he was a Greek by birth, and Claudius being the name he took after paying to become a citizen. When Paul stated he was a citizen by birth, the tribune feared he could be dismissed from his position, and he immediately ordered Paul to be freed from his chains (21:33). But he kept him in custody for the night.

22:30 The next day the Tribune wanted the judicial process to begin, so he ordered the whole Jewish sanhedrin to be convened and had Paul escorted down to face his accusers.

Chapter  23