Roman Commander

Roman Commander of Jerusalem

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Roman Commander
ACTS 21 COMMENTARY
Acts 21:23-25 Nazarite Vow
Acts 21:26-30 Paul's Nazarite Vow

Acts 21:31-40 Roman Commander

Acts 22 Commentary
ACTS 21:31  31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

How did the "news ... that all Jerusalem was in an uproar" (Acts 21:31) reach the Roman commander?
The Roman garrison in Jerusalem was stationed at Antonia Fortress, located at the northwest corner of and looking down on the temple area. It would have been easy for the Roman sentries on duty to see and report to their commander the commotion in the temple courtyard below.

ACTS 21:32  32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

With how many "soldiers" (Acts 21:32) did the Roman commander run "down" to Paul?
Since the commander was accompanied by "centurions" (Acts 21:32) and each centurion led 100 soldiers, the Roman commander was accompanied by at least 200 Roman soldiers.

ACTS 21:33-36  33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. 34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks. 35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!"

How big and violent was the Jewish "mob" (Acts 21:35)?
Big and violent enough to push into 200+ Roman soldiers to the extent that Paul had to be "carried" (Acts 21:35) to safety by the soldiers.

Why did the Jewish mob go after Paul if it wanted Paul to be "Away" (Acts 21:36)?
"Away with him!" (Acts 21:36) meant "Eliminate him" or more precisely, "Kill him!" When Pilate tried to free Jesus at His trial, the Jewish mob cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him! (John 19:15)

ACTS 21:37-38  37 Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”

Why does the Roman commander ask Paul, "Can you speak Greek?" (Acts 21:37)?
He isn't asking. He is expressing surprise. The Roman commander thought Paul was an Egyptian but Paul spoke to him in Greek when he asked, "May I speak to you?" (Acts 21:37)

For which "Egyptian" did the Roman commander initially mistake Paul?
σικαριων (sicarion), the original Greek word translated "assassins" (Acts 21:38), literally means "dagger carriers." In 54 AD, an Egyptian false prophet came to Jerusalem and drew a following among the militant Jews, claiming that his words will destroy the walls of Jerusalem and the Roman Empire. "Four thousand assassins" (Acts 21:38) followed him up the Mount of Olives (photo), which overlooks Jerusalem from the east (photo), followed by the Tenth Roman Legion, which killed and captured a few hundred of the rebels while the rest escaped into the wilderness. The escaped "dagger carriers" had a habit of returning to Jerusalem during feasts with their curved daggers hidden under clothes, locate and stab pro-Roman Jewish aristocrats in the crowds, and slip away before their crimes are detected.

ACTS 21:39-40  39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

Where was Paul when he "stood on the stairs" (Acts 21:40)?
Since he "was about to be led into the barracks" (Acts 21:37) after having "reached the stairs ... and carried by the soldier" (Acts 21:35) up into Antonia Fortress, he was at the top of the stairs, protected by 200+ Roman soldiers, and in front of a massive, captive audience. Even "a great silence" had been provided for him to start his sermon.

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