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1-16. Paul now proceeds to vindicate himself by relating his experience, giving his Cilician nativity and his education in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, the champion theologian, his identity with the patriotic institutions, his intense zeal for the God of Abraham and Moses, his faithful and heroic adhesion to the so-called loyal wing of Judaism, stringently persecuting all the Jews who had gone off in the so called Nazarene heresy, not only doing his utmost to exterminate the very name of Jesus at Jerusalem, but had gone away to the Syrian capital that he might exterminate the rising hope of the disciples in that city, his wonderful conversion by the revelation of the glorified Savior to his soul, like a meridian sunburst eclipsing mortal vision and prostrating him on the ground, his comrades leading him blind and miserable into Damascus, where under the ministry of Ananias, the Nazarene, he is wonderfully and miraculously converted.
17. “It came to pass unto me returning into Jerusalem, and I praying in the temple, that I was in an ecstacy:
18. “And I saw him, saying, Hasten and depart quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” This second appearing of Jesus unto Paul took place in Jerusalem after he had returned out of Arabia by way of Damascus and came up to the metropolis, introduced to the apostles and vindicated by Barnabas. Here he states that the same glorified Savior who had shone on him as he journeyed to Damascus appeared to him in the temple while praying “in an ecstacy,” i. e., a rapture, in which his whole being was flooded with heavenly glory.
18-21. Here Paul rehearses his testimony to Jesus of his leadership in his martyrdom, alleging that the Jews will certainly not receive his testimony. “And he said unto me, Go, for I will send you far away unto the Gentiles.” The Jews listened patiently to him till he thus testified to his commission to the Gentiles. Then they broke out into an awful rage, tearing their garments and throwing dust into the air, exclaiming vociferously, “Kill him! kill him!”
LYSIAS PROCEEDS TO HAVE HIM COWHIDED
24-30. The uproarious clamor and the awful fury of the Jews impress Lysias that Paul is guilty of some terrible crime, about which he has hitherto been unable to secure information. Consequently, he now resorts to an awfully cruel procedure customary among the Romans, i. e., to beat a prisoner with thongs of a rawhide, which would cut his flesh all to pieces, and torture him so awfully that it was believed it would coerce the desired confession of crime. It was not uncommon for the party thus scourged to fall dead. When I was a boy I saw these cowhides on sale in stores, then used by cruel people on horses. I am glad they have long since disappeared.
25. “And when they were extending him forth to the scourgers,” i. e., the soldiers were shoving him forward to receive this awful and murderous flagellation, designed to coerce the desired confession, Paul said to the centurion standing by, “Is it lawful to cowhide a man, i. e., a Roman and uncondemned?”
26. And the centurion hearing and coming to the kiliarch, announced to him saying, “What are you about to do, for this man is a Roman?”
27. And the kiliarch, coming said to him, “Tell me, art thou a Roman?”
And he said, “Yea.”
28. And the kiliarch responded, “I obtained the same freedom for a great sum.” But Paul said: “But, indeed, I have been born.” We see here that Lysias unhesitatingly took Paul’s word for his Roman citizenship. We need not wonder at this, because it was a penalty of death for any person falsely to claim Roman citizenship, the fallacy in any case being easily detected and the party exposed to certain death. Paul’s father before him enjoyed this citizenship, how receiving it we know not. Consequently Paul was born a participant of this freedom, the grandest boon in the world during the Roman Empire, Lysias himself having only procured it with a great sum of money. So the kiliarch takes Paul’s word, demanding no proof, the case being entirely too risky for him to proceed, as he certainly would have lost his office and probably his head, as it was contrary to law to cowhide a Roman citizen. Not only did Lysias forbid them to whip him, but he became much alarmed on learning that he was a Roman citizen, and because he had him in custody, as it was a very delicate and responsible matter to prosecute a Roman citizen, even though guilty of crime. Lysias is anxious to do the right thing; consequently the following day he proceeds to present Paul before the high priest and all the Sanhedrim, and demand of them specifications and charges.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Acts 22". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
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