Paul"s First Defense
Since his audience was primarily Jewish, Paul addressed them as "Brethren and fathers" (Acts 2:29; Acts 7:2; Acts 13:26). The defense he wants them to hear is much like verbal arguments one might make in his own behalf in a court of law. Remember, Paul"s accusers had said he taught against the Jews, the law of Moses, the temple and brought Greeks into the temple, thereby defiling the holy place (Acts 21:28). In response to their first accusation, the apostle noted he was a Jew. He was born in Tarsus, but he was reared in the city of Jerusalem as a pupil of the highly respected Jewish teacher, Gamaliel. He had been taught the law, which was handed down from the Jewish fathers, in a most precise way. In fact, he had become a zealot for God, just as had his accusers. His zeal had reached the point where he persecuted those following Christ"s way by binding, imprisoning and ultimately assisting in their deaths. As witnesses to his zeal, Paul cited the high priest and council of the elders. The apostle had received letters from them to give him authority to go to Damascus to bring Christians from that city in chains to Jerusalem to be punished (Acts 22:1-5).
In Damascus, a devout, God-fearing man came to Paul, restored his sight and told him God had appointed him to know his will, see the righteous one and hear his voice. He further said God planned for him to be a witness to all men. Too, he told Paul to be baptized in order to have his sins washed away. The apostle then told the multitude that he returned to Jerusalem and was praying when the Lord told him to leave quickly because they would not receive his testimony. Though Paul argued with the Lord, telling him the Jews knew of his zeal, the Lord told him to depart because he would send him to the Gentiles (Acts 22:12-21).
The Reaction to Paul"s Defense
So great was the Jews" hatred of the Gentiles that the very mention of them enraged the audience and moved them to call for Paul"s death. They began to throw their garments and dust in the air, perhaps in preparation to stone the apostle. The chief captain had Paul taken into the castle and prepared to scourge him until he told the truth. However, Paul asked if the law would allow them to scourge an uncondemned Roman citizen. The centurion in charge of the scourging immediately told the chief captain, who, in turn, asked if Paul was a Roman. Paul"s positive response moved the captain to say he had bought those privileges for a great sum of money. Paul said he was born into Roman citizenship.
With that established, everyone quickly withdrew and the captain worried because he had bound a Roman. The next day, Paul was freed and the chief priests and all the council were commanded to come together, while Paul was seated before them (Acts 22:22-30).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 22". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany