Acts 22 Bible Study
Who are "they" (Acts 22:2) and who is "he" (Acts 22:2)?
The Apostle Paul has just begun to speak to a massive crowd of Jews in Jerusalem who tried to kill him until the Roman soldiers intervened. Paul is atop the stairs leading up to the Antonia Fortress where the Roman garrison is stationed and "protected" by the Roman soldiers who intervened (see Acts 21).
Why did the crowd of Jews keep "all the more silent" (Acts 22:2)?
Because "he spoke to them in the Hebrew language". (Acts 22:2)
Why would that silence them?
They weren't expecting Paul to be a Jew since the accusation that brought them together was that he was "against the people" - i.e., Jews: "... Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." (Acts 21:28)
Where was Paul born and raised?
He was born in "Tarsus" (Acts 22:3), a city on the Mediterranean coast in the Roman province of "Cilicia" (Acts 22:3) in modern southern Turkey, but "brought up in" (Acts 22:3) Jerusalem. Tarsus was the intellectual capital of Cilicia and one of the renowned educational centers in the Roman Empire, surpassed by only Athens and Alexandria.
Who is "Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3)?
Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel, one of the most important thinkers in the history of Judaism and the founder of the Hillel school. As the leader of the Hillel school, Gamaliel was the pre-eminent educator of his generation and one of the most respected members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council: "Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people..." (Acts 5:34)
What did it mean to be "brought up ... at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3)?
It meant that Paul was a chosen pupil of Gamaliel and "taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law". (Acts 22:3)
Why did Paul bring up his educational pedigree?
To have them pay attention to what he was about to say
Why does Paul say that he was "zealous toward God as you
all are today" (Acts 22:3)?
He understands that their attempt to kill him is driven by their desire to serve God. He understands well because he once did the same to Christians for the same reason, going as far as Damascus to persecute them: "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished." (Acts 22:4-5)
With whom could they verify Paul's claims?
The high priest and the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, who vouched for Paul in writing: "as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters ... " (Acts 22:5)
Is the above true?
Please see for yourself here (Acts 9).
What is Paul describing above?
How he met Jesus. It's Paul's personal testimony.
Isn't personal testimony something personal?
It is, but not confidential.
With whom should personal testimony be shared?
Everyone: "Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:5) Telling people who Jesus is and how we met Him is the privilege, duty and joy of every Christian.
How did you meet Him?
How will/do those who hear your testimony react?
Not always positively: "they will not receive your testimony concerning Me." (Acts 22:19)
How did Paul respond to the Lord's command to leave
"Jerusalem" (Acts 22:17)?
"Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him." (Acts 22:19-20)
He may have been expressing that given how he used to be one of them, he has credibility with them and they should receive his testimony, or that given the crimes he committed in Jerusalem in the past, he wanted to make some amends by his testimony, or both.
Was his response justified?
When God says, "Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly" (Acts 22:18), it's best to just make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly. God knows what He is doing and where He wants you to go.
What did the Jews have against "the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21)?
Jews considered the Gentiles to be unclean heathens and avoided contact with them unless they were 'God-fearers' (Gentiles who believed in the Jewish Old Testament) - or 'proselytes' (God fearers who had been circumcised). The idea that God would send a Jew to Gentiles who were neither God-fearers nor proselytes was repugnant to them.
How did they express their displeasure?
"They cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air" (Acts 22:23) to express their outrage and called for his death: "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" (Acts 22:22)
What is surprising about the timing of their eruption?
That they waited as long as they did. Paul's account of conversing with Jesus as "a great light from heaven shone around" (Acts 22:6) him and calling Stephen a "martyr" (Acts 22:20) couldn't have been music to the ears of the the angry crowd of Jews who knew about both Jesus and Stephen and probably included some who had participated in stoning Stephen and calling for Jesus' death. The timing of their eruption attests to their lack of repentance toward God and the depth of their racism toward Gentiles.
What is "scourging" (Acts 22:24)?
The original Greek word is mastix. The verb form of this word - mastigoo - was used in John 19:1, which stated that Jesus was "scourged" before His crucifixion, and the phragelloo, the original Greek verb translated "scourged" in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15 specified this as whipping with the Roman flagellum, whose imbedded metal and bone pieces ripped out flesh. Paul was about to have his back ripped open.
Paul's words had thrown the crowd into a pandemonium and calls for his death, but since "he spoke to them in the Hebrew language" (Acts 21:40), the Roman commander didn't "know why they shouted so against him" (Acts 22:24) and wanted to find out by interrogating him under torture.
Was that legal?
The Roman law allowed it for slaves and people from outside the Roman Empire, but not for free persons from the Empire and certainly not for Roman citizens: "And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman." (Acts 22:25-26)
How did a person become a "Roman" (Acts 22:27)?
Roman citizenship was originally reserved for the free residents of the city of Rome. As the Empire grew, it was granted to even others exceptional service to the Empire. During the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD), it could even be bought, and quite a few Roman government officials money selling it.
Why did the commander volunteer, "With a large sum I
obtained this citizenship" (Acts 22:28)?
Having been beaten up and almost killed by a mob, Paul most likely didn't look the part of a respected citizen of Rome. The commander may have guessed that Paul must have bought his citizenship somehow on the cheap and wanted to put him in his place.
Why did those who were about to examine Paul "immediately"
(Acts 22:29) withdraw from him?
Being "born a citizen" (Acts 22:28) of Rome was more prestigious than buying into it and also meant that Paul was the relative of other (potentially influential) Romans.
Why was the commander "afraid" (Acts 22:29)?
Paul had been "bound" (Acts 22:29), which was also illegal to do to a Roman citizen who hadn't been condemned.
Where was Paul taken "the next day" (Acts 22:30)?
He was taken from the Roman "barracks" (Acts 22:24) at the Antonia Fortress "down" (Acts 22:30) to the temple area just next door.
Who did the commander order to gather?
Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council: "he ... commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear". (Acts 22:30)
"Because he wanted to know for certain why he [Paul] was accused by the Jews." (Acts 22:30)