Roman Scourge

Roman Scourge & Flagellum

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Roman Scourge
ACTS 22 COMMENTARY
Acts 22:7-16 "Saul, Saul, Why are you persecuting Me?"
Acts 22:17-24 Paul in Jerusalem

Acts 22:25 Roman Scourge

Acts 22:26-30 Paul the Roman
ACTS 22:25  25 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?”

What is "scourge" (Acts 22:25) that wasn't lawful for a Roman to suffer?
μαστιζειν (mastizein), the original Greek word translated "scourge" above has the same root as εμαστιγωσεν (emastigosen), the original Greek word used in John 19:1 to state that Jesus was "scourged" by the Romans before His crucifixion, and refers to whipping, lashing or even punishing in general. But φραγελλωσας (phragellosas), the original Greek word translated "having scourged" in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15, specifies the whipping that Jesus received from the Romans as having been with the Roman flagellum.

What did being scourged with the Roman flagellum involve?
The victim to be scourged was stripped and made to stretch his arms around a pillar, boulder or another large object, typically at a forward-leaning angle. His hands were then "bound ... with thongs" (Acts 22:25) tightly on the other side of the pillar or boulder so that his arms were distended and his back stretched taut. He was then whipped with the Roman flagellum, which is a whip with two or three long leather strips attached to a short wooden handle. Knotted in along the leather strips were pieces of metal and bone that dug into and then tore out flesh during the whipping, which shredded the victim's back from the neck to the buttocks. It wasn't uncommon for the victims of the Roman scourge to die from the ensuing blood loss and/or shock.

Why did the Roman commander want to scourge Paul?
Paul's words had thrown the Jewish mob into a frenzy and to 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 Paul under torture.

Was that legal?
The Roman law allowed slaves and visitors from outside the Roman Empire to be scourged, but not free persons from the Empire and certainly not Roman citizens. This is why, moment away from being scourged, "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?” (Acts 22:25)

How did the centurion react?
See next page.

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