Acts 22 Paul's Testimony in Jerusalem
The crowd is shouting, "Away with him!"
In our last study, Paul is taken into custody by Roman soldiers. He secures permission from the commander to address the people. As Paul motions to the crowd, a hush falls, and he begins speaking to them in the holy language, that is, in Hebrew. This is an awesome moment. What the apostle has been longing for is granted. He will share his testimony in the very heart of Jerusalem. Only the Lord could have brought this together.
Let's listen to Paul speak. (There are no questions with this study. Feel free to comment on anything that is offered.)
This is study Acts039 - Acts 22 Paul's Testimony in Jerusalem.
Vs1: "Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you."
... Paul addresses them as 'brethren' and 'fathers.' He has their full attention. The apostle's salutation is very much Jewish. Paul is composed, deliberate, and yet conciliatory to his listeners. You can be sure that there are members of the Sanhedrin present.
Vs2: "And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet..."
.... Many of the peoples likely thought Paul was a Gentile. But when he speaks in Hebrew, their hearts and minds are stirred to hear what he has to say.
"...and he said,"
Vs3: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today."
.... What other apostle could have made this statement? At that time a disciple (talmid) looked to his Master teacher as a father. Paul's reference to Gamaliel gave him all the attention he required. You can feel the crowd relaxing. He has just identified himself with the greatest rabbi in Judaism.
How great Gamaliel was to the Jews is later noted in the Talmudic writings. "From the times of Moses to Rabban Gamaliel, they (the scholars) did not learn the law but standing; after Rabban Gamaliel died, sickness came into the world, and they learned the law sitting; and hence it is said, that after Rabban Gamaliel died, the glory of the law ceased." (Misn. Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 4.)
.... Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel. From what we have read, Gamaliel had feelings for the Jewish believers. The Talmud also records how Rabbi Eliezer, a close friend of Gamaliel, was accused of being a minim, that is, a Jewish Christian, and was put out of the synagogue. (We will cover these areas more in detail after we complete our studies in Acts.)
Vss4,5: "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished."
.... Since we have already covered this period of Paul's life, little needs to be said. There is a good chance that some of the Sanhedrin, perhaps even Caiaphas or his father-in-law, Annas, were present when Paul spoke. Whatever the case, these leaders knew that what Paul shared was the truth. The apostle may have even set his eyes on them during this discourse.
Vss6-10: Synopsis - Paul testifies to his experience on the road to Damascus. He even says that it was Jesus who spoke to him. Keep in view that Paul is speaking in Hebrew. He would have said 'Yeshua', where we say Jesus.
Vs11: "But 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."
.... Where the NASB has 'brightness' the KJV has 'glory.' The Jewish listeners would still be listening quite intently. In Hebrew Paul said 'ha kavod,' or, 'the glory.' For the Jews this term had a special connection to the Messiah. The ancients taught that the 'glory' resting over the mercy seat was the 'light of Messiah.'
Vss12-15: Synopsis - Paul speaks of the disciple Ananias coming to him with a message from the Lord. The apostle says that Ananias was, "a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there."
.... Once again Paul identifies with the Jewish peoples in a special way, when he refers to Ananias as being devoted to the Law. Here Paul relates a little more of the message that Ananias brought.
The message was, "The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth."
Each statement here is deeply Hebraic. Listen:
"The God of our fathers."
This speaks of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Here Paul tells them that the doctrine of Christ is fully testified to by the patriarchs of Israel.
"Has appointed you to know His will."
God's will is the gospel itself, which, in turn, speaks of our salvation through the finished work of the cross. The apostle said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Rom1:16)
"To see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth."
This is an awesome statement. The term 'the Righteous One' was often used either for God Himself, or for His Messiah. There is no question that Paul is ascribing deity to the Lord Jesus. But to hear an utterance from His mouth also points to the salvation of every person born into His kingdom. Jesus speaks to our hearts.
Paul continues with what Ananias has to say:
Vs16: "'Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'"
.... According to earlier writers, the one doing the baptizing and the one being baptized were both to call upon the name of the Lord. It was taught that the Presence of the Lord was in His name, and by calling upon His name, the Spirit bore witness to the faith expressed.
This is probably what Peter had in mind when he said that baptism itself does not save us, but it is "an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1Pet3:21)
Once again keep in mind that Paul is speaking Hebrew. We do not see it readily in English, but the apostle has just made a direct connection between Jesus Christ and Yahweh. But even here the peoples are still undisturbed. It isn't until Paul reaches the next part of his testimony that the trouble renews. You may be surprised at what causes the problem.
Follow closely as Paul continues his testimony.
Vss17,18: "It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, and I saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.'"
.... The message Paul hears is very telling. The Lord knows the hearts of all people. The lines have been drawn. The great harvest of the Jews in Jerusalem was nearing a closure. Their hearts were becoming stony. It is time for Paul to move on.
Vss19, 20: Synopsis - In his trance, Paul wants to reason with the Lord, which, by the way, is very Jewish. (Ever see Fiddler on the Roof?) Abraham and Moses both reasoned with God. Here Paul explains to the Lord how the Jews knew that he had been a persecutor of believers, and would understand. But the Lord puts his reasoning to the side.
Now we come to the problem. Paul continues...
Vs21: "And He said to me, 'Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
.... There it is. At the mention that Gentiles would be brought into a covenant relationship with the God of Israel, all 'hell' breaks loose. This shows us just how far the Jewish peoples of that time had drifted from the true message of God. God was not the God of the Jews only. He was also God of the Gentiles. The prophets had much to say about God's concern for Gentiles. Here is an example from the LXX:
"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious." (Isa15:12)
Vss22-24: "They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, 'Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!' And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way."
... Not much needs to be said here other than the commander is at a loss. He probably understood very little of what Paul said. All he knew is that the peoples are once again in an uproar, and now it is worse than before. They are acting like mad men.
Vs25: "But when they stretched him out with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, 'Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman and uncondemned?'"
.... Paul knew that it was against Roman law to beat a Roman citizen, or otherwise mistreat him without a formal trial. This is where Roman citizenship was a major plus during that time.
Note: Had this been Peter or any of the other apostles, they would have been beaten without mercy. A person without Roman citizenship would never be given the right to stand before Caesar. (We will see this later with Paul.) This is also why James and the apostles saw a special call in Paul as being the apostle to the Gentiles.
Vs26: "When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and told him, saying, 'What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman.'"
.... Once again it was a grave penalty to bind and to beat a Roman. To do so would bring about some form of punishment and even the loss of position. Everything comes to a stand still.
Vss27-29: "The commander came and said to him, 'Tell me, are you a Roman?' And he said, 'Yes.' The commander answered, 'I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.' And Paul said, 'But I was actually born a citizen.' Therefore those who were about to examine him immediately let go of him; and the commander also was afraid when he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had put him in chains."
.... Citizens of Tarsus were given Roman citizenship by Mark Anthony, long before Paul was born. The apostle was registered as a citizen of Rome. Aside from being born a Roman citizen, citizenship could be purchased under certain circumstances, but it was quite costly.
Notice that the commander was afraid because Paul had been put in chains. For Roman citizens even to be bound without trial was a grave offense.
Vs30: "But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them."
.... Paul is kept in the Antonion castle overnight to provide him protection but also to allow for a hearing. What happens next continues to be awesome. Paul must testify once again before the full Sanhedrin. But we must leave it off for now.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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