Acts 22



1  “Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you.”

Brethren for men, brethren, Authorized Version (ch. 7:2, note); the for my, Authorized

Version; now make for make now, Authorized Version. The defense; ἀπολογία  -

apologia – defense.  This is the technical word in classical Greek for a defense in

answer to an accusation. Thus e.g. the oration of Gorgias entitled, Υπὲρ Παλαμήδους

ἀπολογία, begins, Ἡ μὲν κατηγορία καὶ ἡ ἀπολογία κρίσις οὐ περὶ θανάτου γίγνεται.

And Demosthenes opposes κατηγρσεῖν to accuse, to ἀπολογεῖσθαι, to make one's

defense. And an ἀπολογία δικαία καὶ ἁπλῆ is to prove that τὰ κατηγορημένα,

"the things of which the person is accused," were never done. But it is probably

from Paul's use of the word here that it became common to call the defenses

of the Christian religion by the term ἀπολογία. Thus we have the 'Apologies'

of Justin Martyr, of Tertullian, of Minutius Felix, among the ancients;

me 'Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae,' by Bishop Jewel, and many others.


A Model Self-Defense (v. 1)


We enter in this chapter on matter which is to some degree repetition of chapter

9. The repetition is valuable for several reasons. It both adds and omits

some particulars. It gives us Paul’s own version in his own words, instead

of what must still have been essentially his own version, but which was

probably rehearsed in the historian’s words. It gives us the advantage also

of comparison in those parts which exhibit slight differences, and we gain a

fuller impression of Paul’s experience. We may imagine that Paul had been

almost tremblingly anxious the past hour or two for this opportunity; and

the moment that the lashed and angry waves were hushed was a proud

moment for him had he been merely the human orator, but much rather a

prized moment as he was the Christian orator. He has heard wild and

baseless accusations passionately hurled at him, and just so long as might

were right, he might be supposed to hold himself answerable to unjust

earthly judges, as well as to the one true Judge and one merciful Master.

But beyond a doubt something else than personal defense was in his heart,

and his eye spied a grand opportunity. For this “defense” it may be claimed

that it is:




Ø      It must be held to be the outcome of, not craven fear, but the rising spirit

of a true man. Very certain it is that not one out of a hundred would have

risen to the occasion. Disheartenment, despair, perhaps disdain, would

have locked close the lips of most men. But Paul does not consent to “give

up,” or to show anything in the shape of temper answering to the intolerant

spirit of the multitude.


Ø      It was the acknowledgment (however undeserved in the individual case)

of the respect naturally due in the society of human life from one man to

his fellows. Such respect is all the more to be honored in the observance by

the man who, whether Paul or Galileo, may be confessedly making a “new

departure” of wide significance. History shows that it has been the lot of

such men, not in religion only, to be made sufferers. The noblest examples

of martyrs have been of those who have done nothing to bring it upon

themselves by any manifestation of the defiant spirit.


Ø      Every word of it was the utterance of conscious rectitude.


Ø      It was a noble, typical example of the strength “in its glory” of the

individual conscience against the senseless strength and intolerance of a





Ø      This defense was through the whole length of it a connected confession

to a change wrought by Christ. The change was a great one. The pride of

man offered every conceivable hindrance to it. The surrender was one that

meant the profoundest acknowledgment of the opponent’s victory. And

Christ was the victor’s Name. When Paul, therefore, defends his altered

self and his altered course of life, his altered faith and hopes and methods,

there is not an aspect of the defense which can be described as other than



Ø      The defense of himself was forthwith transmuted by Paul into a

testimony for Christ. This was the mark and very stamp of both Christian

design and Christian method. With manifest fire of zeal, he seizes the

favorable and welcomed opportunity. He gives us the impression that this

is the thing that has been in his eye of late. Paul may have been answerable

in some degree for the commotion of the day. If so, now his task,

embraced with all the energy that the very spirit of fidelity can throw into

it, is to proclaim Christ. And when a man will so even vindicate himself as

yet more to testify Christ, his self-vindication merits at least the title of the

defense of a true Christian man.


Ø      This defense was perfect in its temper, and free from all betrayal of

irritation; it makes its statement of facts with the utmost simplicity, but

with unwavering confidence.


Ø      Lastly, at the point of supreme danger, it does not turn aside. The fact

which Paul well knew was intolerable to the ears of his hearers, but vital to

the truth, is steadily pursued, is arrived at, and then is distinctly announced,

without an attempt at qualifying it or softening its effect. This was “not

shunning to declare the whole counsel of God.” And it marked the quality

of the Christian hero; it spoke the firmness of the Christian martyr; perhaps

best of all it established conclusively the title of Paul to the name of the

true Christian man.


2  (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they

kept the more silence: and he saith,)   Unto them in the Hebrew language

for in the Hebrew tongue to them, Authorized Version; were the more quiet

for kept the more silence, Authorized Version. When they heard, etc. This

trait is wonderfully true to nature, and exhibits also Paul's admirable tact and

self-possession. It was strikingly in harmony with his addressing them as

"brethren" that he should speak to them in their own mother tongue. There

is a living reality in such touches which seems at once accounted for by the   

fact that through this time Luke was with Paul, and heard the speeches.


The magic of the Hebrew tongue, that is, the Syriac or Aramaic Hebrew,

touched their national sympathies, and at once laid to rest any suspicions

that Paul was a foreigner desecrating the temple.


3 “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet

brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the

perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as

ye all are this day.”  A Jew for verily a man which am a Jew, Authorized Version

 and Textus Receptus; of Cilicia for a city in Cilicia, Authorized Version; but for yet,

Authorized Version; instructed for and taught, Authorized Version; strict for perfect,

Authorized Version; our for the,. Authorized Version; being for and was, Authorized

Version; for for towards, Authorized Version; even as for as, Authorized Version.

Born in Tarsus, etc. (see ch. 21:39). Paul was evidently proud of his native city,

"the famous capital of a Roman province," watered by the "swift stream of the

Cydnus," and looked down upon by the snowy summits of Mount Taurus;

"a center of busy commercial enterprise and political power;" "a free city,

libera ct immunis" (Farrar, 'Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. Acts 2.). Paul's express

assertion that he was "born at Tarsus" directly refutes the tradition handed down

by St. Jerome that he was born at Giscala, and carried thence to Tarsus by his

parents when Giscala was taken by the Romans (Farrar, ibid.). Brought up;

ἀνατεθραμμένος – anatethrammenos – having been reared, a classical word,

only found in the New Testament in the Acts (ch. 7:20-21, and here). It is found

also in Wisdom of Solomon 7:4. It implies early education. At the feet of. The

scholar sits or stands humbly beneath the raised seat of the teacher (compare

Luke 10:39). The stop is rightly placed after Γαμαλιὴλ – Gamaliael - Gamaliel.

Some, however, put the stop after ταύτῃ - tautae - this, and connect παρὰ τοὺς

πόδας Γαμαλιὴλ – para tous podas Gamaliael – beside the feet of Gamaliel

with πεπαιδευμένος – pepaideumenos – having been trained. Gamaliel

Instructed according to the strict manner of the Law of our fathers;

compare Galatians 1:14, "I profited in the Jews' religion above many my

equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions

of my fathers," where for τοῦ πατρῳου νόμου – tou patroou nomou – of the

hereditary law we read τῶν πατρικῶν μου παραδόσεων – ton patrikon mou

paradoseon – of the traditions of my fathers. Under the πατρῴος νόμος

patroos nomos – hereditary law - Paul probably included the traditions, as well

as the written Law, which the Pharisees so rigidly observed (compare ch. 26:5,

where the ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιντῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας  - akribestataen

hairesintaes haemeteras thraeskeias – strictest sect of our ritual corresponds

with the ἀκρίβειαν τοῦ πατρώου νόμου – akribeian tou patroou nomou –

exactitude of the hereditary law) The strict manner; κατὰ ἀκριβείαν

kata akribeian – according to exactitude, found only here in the New Testament;

but a word of repeated use in this sense in Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom of Solomon

and also, with the adjective ἀκρίβηςakribaes – exactness and the adverb ἀκριβῶς

akribos - exactly, much used by medical writers. Ἀκριβέστερον – Akribesteron –

more accurately and ἀκριβεστάτην– akribestataen – strictest; most exact,  are used

by Luke only (ch. 18:26;  23:15, 20;  24:22; 26:5), and ἀκριβῶς – akribos

perfectly; accurately; carefully -  six times to three in the rest of the New Testament.

Zealous for God (ζηλωτὴς τοῦ Θεοῦ - zaelotaes tou Theou – zealous for God);

see ch. 21:20, note.



The Sincerity of Paul’s Judaism (v. 3)


“I am verily a man which am a Jew.” This remarkable speech was

addressed to a particular audience, under particular circumstances, and it

was precisely adapted to that audience. It took careful account of their

knowledge and of their prejudices. It was conciliatory in tone, but firm to

the truth and manly in spirit. It is impossible for us to admire too highly the

calmness and the self-command of the apostle under such perilous

circumstances. Instances may be given from political life of the power of a

skillful orator to sway an excited mob, such as that of Lamartine in times of

the French Revolution. The introduction of this homily should deal with:


(1) the scene;

(2) the audience;

(3) the orator.


1. The scene. Dean Plumptre has the following suggestive note: — “The

position was one which raised him (Paul) above the people, and the

characteristic gesture commanded instant attention. And he spoke, not as

they expected, in the Greek, which belonged to one who fraternized with

the Gentiles, but in the Hebrew, or Aramaic, which he had studied at the

feet of Gamaliel. It was a strange scene for that Feast of Pentecost. The

face and form of the speaker may have been seen from time to time by

some during his passing visits to Jerusalem; but there must have been many

who had not heard him take part in public action since the day when,

twenty-five years before, he had kept the garments of those who were

stoning Stephen. And now he was there, accused of the selfsame crimes,

making his defense before a crowd as wild and frenzied as that of which he

had then been the leader.”


2. The audience. Notice that it was largely composed of foreign Jews, who

were present at the feast; and that those foreign Jews were often more

intensely bigoted than the Jerusalem Jews, — they would certainly have

more knowledge of Paul, and more personally antagonistic feelings

against him. Some of them had recognized him, and raised the excitement

which nearly led to his death. Show how utterly unreasonable such a mob

becomes; no appeal can be made to their intelligence; usually they can only

be dispersed by force, or their excitement must be allowed to spend itself

and wear itself out.


3. The orator; a weak, frail man, with a personal presence which men

called contemptible, but with the natural gift for swaying an audience. As

soon as he spoke men were hushed to listen, as they always are when the

born orator stands before them. Perhaps Paul’s gifts as a writer have

filled our thought, so that we have not duly recognized what a splendid

“command of men” he had in his great gift of speech. The point which he

sought to impress on his audience on this occasion was the “sincerity of his

Judaism.” That was the thing impugned. He was declared to be such an

unworthy Jew that he had defiled the temple by bringing an Ephesian

Gentile into it. The proper answer was a full declaration of his honest and

complete loyalty to Judaism. This he made:



Gentile Greek. “It might be that he did this simply because they understood

it better, but it may have been also because, as the language showed him to

be a countryman of their own, they were disposed to think him less guilty

than the Asian Jews had represented him to be” (F. Bungener). “One who

spoke in Hebrew was not likely to blaspheme the sacred Hebrew books.”



HEBREW PRINCIPLES. His birth was unquestionably Jewish. His

education was most distinctly Jewish; for he was even educated at

Jerusalem, and by their most honored teacher. His Judaism was so sincere

and so intense that he had been the most active and energetic persecutor of

the Nazarenes. And Ananias, the well-known devout Jew, had brought

God’s commands to him (v. 12).




THEIR HEBREW FATHERS. This is the point of  Paul’s advance.

Jehovah had appeared to him, had given him special directions, and, as a

loyal Jew, he could only obey those directions. Jehovah had shown him

that Jesus was Messiah. Jehovah had sent him forth on his mission among

the Gentiles. He had never dishonored Judaism, never broken with it. He

was still the same “born Jew” as ever (v. 14).


4 “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into

prisons both men and women.”  I persecuted (see I Corinthians 15:9;

I Timothy 1:13; and here, ch. 26:11). This Way (see ch.  9:2

; 18:25; 19:9, 23).

Unto the death (compare ch. 9:1). Binding, etc. (compare ch. 8:3;  9:2).


5 “As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders:

from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus,

to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

Journeyed for went, Authorized Version; them also for them, Authorized Version;

unto Jerusalem in bonds for bound unto Jerusalem, Authorized Version. The high

priest. Ananias, the present high priest, who may have been one of Paul's hearers

included among the "fathers," and who had probably been already a member of

the Sanhedrim at the time of Paul's conversion (see ch. 23:2; 24:1). Others, however,

understand "the high priest" to mean him who was high priest at the time of Paul's

journey to Damascus, viz. Theophilus, who was still alive. The brethren. The Jews

at Damascus. Paul speaks to his hearers emphatically as a Jew. To be punished

(ἵνα τιμωρηθῶσιν – hina timoraethosin – that they may be being punished );

whether by rods or by death. The word occurs in the New Testament only here

 and ch. 26:11, but is not infrequent in the Septuagint. and in classical writers;

τιμωρεῖν – timorein - is common in medical language in the sense of "to treat

medically," to "correct" by medical treatment.


6 “And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto

Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round

about me.”  Drew nigh for was come nigh, Authorized Version. The phraseology

of the following narrative is nearly identical with that of Acts 9:3-6 (where see notes).


7 “And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul,

why persecutest thou me?  8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And He

said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.  9 And they that

were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the

voice of Him that spake to me.”  Beheld for saw, Authorized Version. Beheld

indeed the light [and were afraid, Authorized Version]. This corresponds with

the statement in ch. 9:7, that the men who journeyed with Saul "stood speechless."

They were dazzled and amazed at the sudden brightness. But they heard not the

voice. This at first sight seems inconsistent with the statement in ibid., "hearing

the voice." But the apparent inconsistency disappears when we observe that here

Paul wished to impress upon his hearers that, though his companions had seen

the light, they had not heard the words which were addressed to him by the

Lord Jesus (see v. 14); whereas Luke, in the narrative in Acts 9, wished rather

to insist upon the fact that though the men had seen the light and heard the sound

of the voice, they had not seen Jesus. To see and hear the risen Christ was a

privilege given to Paul alone.


10 “And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise,

and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which

are appointed for thee to do.  11 And when I could not see for the glory

of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came

into Damascus.”  When I could not see (compare ch. 9:8, and note).

Them that were with me (τῶν συνόντων μοι – ton sunonton moi – the ones

being with me). Συνεῖναι occurs only here and Luke 9:18, but is used several

times by the Septuagint. It is very common in medical writers for the

accompanying symptoms of a disease.



The Claims of a Personal Divine Revelation (vs. 6-10)


The incidents here narrated have been previously considered in their

bearing on St. Paul’s conversion. The apostle now repeats the story, with a

definite purpose. He is on his defense, and he is striving to show that

throughout his life he had been loyal to Judaism, and in the matters which

men misrepresented he had but followed and obeyed special Divine

directions given to him. He had visions and commands direct from God,

and, as a Jew, he “dared not be disobedient unto the heavenly vision.” Such

a defense was most effective for his audience, as no true Jew would deny

that Jehovah might choose any of his people for special service, and give

them immediate visions and directions. So we find the people heard the

apostle patiently until he referred to the “Gentiles,” and then national

jealousy and religious bigotry were aroused, and uncontrolled passion put

St. Paul’s life again in peril.



AGE. Distinguish between the ordinary inspirations which may direct a

man’s preaching and writing, and the special occasions on which God may

tell His mind and purpose, or give some trust and some work to an

individual. Such personal revelations do not necessarily affirm the

superiority in character, or in Divine favor, of the person communicated

with; but they always declare the Divine recognition of a special fitness and

adaptation for the work assigned; and our attention should be fixed on the

fitness and the work rather than on the privilege that may be involved in

having such a trust. Illustrations of personal revelations may be taken from


Ø      the patriarchal age;

Ø      the times of the judges;

Ø      the prophets.


It should be shown how well the selection of individuals,

and direct communication with them, fits in with the idea of a theocracy.

God, as actual and ever-present Sovereign of the nation, has the right to

ask for any man’s service, and to address Himself directly to whomsoever

He pleases. And nothing is more reasonable than to expect He will do so.

Coming to later times, we get illustration:


Ø      from John the Baptist;

Ø      from the Lord Jesus Christ regarded as a man called to a special

mission; and

Ø      from the apostles, e.g. St. Peter in the matter of Cornelius.


What is called the conversion of Paul, but is more properly his call, is a case

in perfect harmony with all that had gone before in the history of the nation.

The God of the fathers, Jehovah, the theocratic King, had, by a gracious

manifestation of Himself and of His will, called the apostle to His service.

This was the sole and all-sufficient explanation of his life and conduct; and

this became his entire defense — “A revelation from God, the God of my

fathers, has come to me, and I must obey it.” Compare the main argument

of Stephen’s speech, which is this — God has not only spoken to our own

nation in the Mosaic system, he has spoken directly to individuals age after

age, but it has always been characteristic of the Jewish nation that they

have resisted these prophet-revealers of GOD'S WILL.   Theoretically,

they would admit that God might send messages directly to individuals;

practically, they refused to recognize such messengers. This was proved

once again in the case of Paul.



truth it may be difficult for us to receive; and, indeed, it needs to be stated

with careful limitations and qualifications. Under the ministration of the

Spirit, and with the Spirit actually witnessing in our hearts, it would seem

that we can expect no direct Divine communications. Yet they do surely

come to open hearts. It may be shown that they are granted:


Ø      In the spheres of truth. We cannot conceive of finality in the written

revelation we have, but we may be sure that all further revelations will be

in perfect harmony with that we have. We may, however, rather look for

new apprehensions of truth than new truth.


Ø      In the spheres of duty. In the perplexing circumstances of life, hearts that

are really open to God, and dependent on Him, do receive direct Divine



Ø      In the spheres of work. God still speaks directly to the souls of His

servants, calling some to the missionary field, some to the ministry, some

to service for the children, and some to philanthropic labors. And, still,

none of us may be “disobedient unto the heavenly vision.”


12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good

report of all the Jews which dwelt there,”  Well reported of by for having a

good report of, Authorized Version; that for which, Authorized Version.

Well reported of (μαρτυρούμενος – marturoumenos – being witnessed;

being attested); see ch. 6:3, note.


13 “Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy

sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.”  Standing by me for stood,

and, Authorized Version; in that very for the same, Authorized Version;

on for upon, Authorized Version.


14 “And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest

know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth.

Appointed for chosen, Authorized Version; to know for that thou shouldest know,

Authorized Version; to see the Righteous One for see that Just One, Authorized

Version; to hear a voice from for shouldest hear the voice of, Authorized Version.

Hath appointed thee; προεχειρίσατό σε – proecheirisato se – fixes upon before

hand you, a word found in the New Testament only here and in ch. 26:16, and

in ch. 3:20 (Received Text). In classical Greek it means mostly "to get anything

ready beforehand;" to cause anything to be πρόχειρος – procheiros - ready to hand.

And in the Septuagint it means "to choose," or "appoint," as Joshua 3:12;

Exodus 4:13, where it is not a translation of שְׁלַח, but a paraphrase of the sentence,

"Appoint one by whom thou wilt send." Here it may be rendered indifferently either

"choose" or "appoint." The Righteous One. The designation of Messiah in such

passages as Isaiah 53:11; Psalm 72:2, etc. (see in the New Testament Luke 23:47;

I John 2:1; Revelation 19:11, etc.). A voice from His mouth is a very awkward

though literal rendering. The Authorized Version expresses the sense much better.




                                                That Just One (v. 14)


Paul here quotes from Ananias a term used to designate Jesus Christ. Its

Scripture history as applied to Christ, and its significance as touching some

of the deepest aspects of Christ’s relations to humanity, are very worthy of

some fixed attention. Notice:



ONE,” AS APPLIED TO CHRIST. Six occasions in the historical portions

of the New Testament illustrate its use, namely, when it comes from the

lips of Pilate’s wife and afterwards of Pilate (Matthew 27:19, 24); from

the lips of the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47); of Peter (ch. 3:14);

of Stephen (ch. 7:52); and of Ananias in the special quotation of Paul

now (v. 14, here). These testimonies are noticeable for the directness of their

language, for the special identification of Christ as this just Man,” or that

just Man,” orthe Just One,” and for the character in each case of those

who uttered them.





Ø      Christ is the perfectly “righteous” One, and the only perfectly righteous

One. All others have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. No other has

kept the Law entirely — kept it in deed, in word, in thought, in affection,

in zeal.


Ø      Christ’s perfect righteousness is the qualification of the Mediator, that

real, solemn, thrilling relationship which He sustained as between God and



Ø      Christ’s perfect righteousness constituted the essential qualification of

the propitiatory sacrifice. He “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust”

(I Peter 3:18). The “Advocate with the Father, and the Propitiation for

out’ sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world, is Jesus

Christ the Righteous” (I John 2:2)


Ø      Christ’s perfect righteousness constitutes the perfection of His fitness to

be Teacher and Exemplar to men on earth.


Ø      Christ’s perfect righteousness is the stability of His throne of judgment,

to be ere very long beheld and approached by every man who is or ever has

been. He is “the Lord, the righteous Judge” (II Timothy 4:8).


15 “For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”

A witness for Him for His witness, Authorized Version. A witness. An essential attribute

of an apostle (see ch. 1:8, 22, notes). Seen and heard (compare I John 1:1-3).




The Will of God in Christ Jesus Concerning Us. (vs. 14-15)


  • DIVINE ELECTION. “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee”

(v. 14). It will always be a difficulty to know what to think of the electing

grace of God. But we are on safe ground when we say:


Ø      That God desires the well-being of every member of His human family.

We may surely argue that it must be so; we may boldly affirm that it is so.

Is it not written that God is one “who will have all men to be saved, and to

come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4; see Ezekiel 18:23;

33:11; II Peter 3:9).


Ø      That He bestows special favors and privileges on some men; to some as

not to others He gives intellectual faculty, material resources, educational

advantages, domestic influences, providential guidance, knowledge of

Christian truth in its purity and integrity, etc. These He “elects,” or

“chooses;” on them He confers distinguishing goodness.


  • A VISION OF THE RIGHTEOUS SAVIOR. “That thou shouldest...

see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth” (v. 14). To

Saul there was vouchsafed a very special and peculiar manifestation of the

risen Lord. In such wise as we do not, he saw the Just One himself and

heard His voice. But Christ does present Himself now to the sons of men,

and He manifests Himself as the Just One, as the Lord of righteousness. By

a spiritual act we recognize Jesus Christ as:


Ø      That Being who is in Himself the Holy and Righteous One, in whom is

no trace of sin.


Ø      That Divine One who summons us to a new life of holiness and sacred



Ø      That Just One who, by His atoning death, has made the way open to our

immediate justification, who has made it possible for us to attain to “the

righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). In the

presence of Him, the Just One, we are filled with shame; but by faith in His

finished work we have acceptance with God and are accounted righteous

(or, just) in His sight; and we yield ourselves to Him and His service that His

righteousness may be reproduced in us and in our human lives. Thus we

come to do:



to “know His will” (v. 14), and was to do that will by the accomplishment

of his life-work, viz. by “being His witness unto all men.” This, too, in our

way and measure is to be our lifework, even as it was our Lord’s (John

18:37). We are to bear witness of Christian truth by:


Ø      exemplary behavior;

Ø      a devout and generous spirit;

Ø      the word of testimony and exhortation,


this latter is to be experimental, such as is suggested by our own actual

experience. Every Christian life is a failure if it be not an epistle read and

known of all who are there to read it.



The Calling and the Gifts of God (vs. 14-15)


The apostle himself elsewhere speaks (Romans 11:29) of "the gifts and

the calling of God;” and of them he says that they “are without

repentance.” The glorious occasion to which he gives prominence in the

words of these verses exhibits the “calling” first, and the “gifts” next. At

the same time, this same passage describes the calling of God (separate and

sovereign act though it be in itself) as introductory to responsibilities,

privileges, and gifts that followed upon it. There is not such a thing as a

calling of God, to lie dormant. There is not such a thing as a calling of

God, to terminate in the mere use or enjoyment of the person called. A

calling of God infers a commission consequent upon it — nay, nothing less

than involved in it under any circumstances. Here, however, it is not

implied only, it is expressed as well, and that in a very significant mode.

For immediate upon the mention of the calling or choosing comes that of:




Ø      The Christian apostle, minister, teacher, must be one who “knows the

will” of God.


Ø      He must be one who knows it very directly from the fountain-head.

Hearsay will not suffice, imagination will not suffice, reason will not




QUALIFICATION. Though Paul “was as one born out of due season”

(I Corinthians 15:8), these things are vouchsafed to him, namely, to “see” and

to “hear” the “Just One.” Some think Saul had seen Christ in the flesh. This

passage may contribute something confessedly inconclusive to the

disadvantage of the supposition. It is overwhelmingly improbable, in that

Paul never speaks of it, as surely he would have done if it had been the case,

even as he speaks of having seen Stephen and assisted at his martyrdom.

This great grace, however, is now vouchsafed to Saul, that with vision

of thousand-fold force he is given to see the very Jesus ascended, and that

with a keenness to hear beyond anything that he had experienced before

he is granted to hear the own voice of the glorified Man Jesus. It is not that

Saul had earned the gift — nay, it is not that to the end of a devoted life

of fullest self-surrender he will ever be able to earn the gift. Paul is the

disclaimer of merit. Nor is all the grace for Paul. How many lesser

successors to him have taken their share of benefit, and the whole

Church its share, when these have recalled that Jesus teaches:


Ø      How near a connection is necessary between Himself and his servant-pioneers

of the truth and heralds of salvation.


Ø      To this end how near He is willing to condescend to come to those



Ø      And how He would embolden them to draw near to Him in most

believing faith and most loving trust of the heart, when the times

should be such that He would no longer come in vision to them.


  • A VAST RESPONSIBILITY. It needs an angel intellect and an

archangel heart to set an estimate at all equal to the truth upon the work

committed into human hands when the ministry of Christ is accepted by

them. They are then “witnesses for Christ to men.” And three features of

their great responsibility are here shadowed forth.


Ø      They are witnesses to a living One, a Personage, and not to a mere truth.


Ø      They are witnesses to Him of the things that they know of “the Word of

life” (I John 1:1), through having seen Him, heard Him, looked upon

Him, and handled Him, all in the deepest sense.


Ø      They are witnesses "to all men,” as far as they can possibly in any way

reach all men, and under any circumstances to all impartially. Deep was

the impression that these communications (unmentioned elsewhere) had

made on the mind of Paul. The words of Ananias, inspired most freshly as

he was from the source, had dwelt deep-stored in his memory. And now,

some twenty-five years afterwards, at a crisis most opportune, they come

to the surface, they are full-charged with their own vitality; and are

practically commended by Paul as embodying the charter of all who should

be “witnesses for Christ.”


16 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins,

calling on the name of the Lord.”  His Name for the Name of the Lord, Authorized

Version and Textus Receptus. Wash away thy sins; ἀπόλουσαιapolousai – be you

bathed off only here and in I Corinthians 6:11, where it is found in exactly the same

sense of "washing away sins" in holy baptism. Hence the λουτρὸν παλιγγενεσίας –

loutron paliggenesias, "the washing of regeneration," Titus 3:5; compare

Ephesians 5:26; and see here ch. 2:38, note). Calling on His Name

(ἐπικαλεσάμενος – epikalesamenos – calling; invoking); see ch. 2:21; 7:59,

note; 9:14, 21; Romans 10:12-14; I Corinthians 1:2; II Timothy 2:22: I Peter 1:17,

all texts distinctly justifying prayer to the Lord Jesus.


17 “And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even

while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;”  Had returned for was come

again, Authorized Version; and for even, Authorized Version; fell into for was in,

Authorized Version. Into a trance (ἐν ἐκστάσει – en ekstasei – in ecstasy); see

ch. 10:10, note.


18 “And saw Him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of

Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.”

Because for for, Authorized Version; of thee testimony for thy testimony,

Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Get thee quickly, etc. The narrative

in ch. 9:28-30 does not mention the vision, but gives the murderous opposition

of the Hellenist Jews as the reason of Saul's departure from Jerusalem to Tarsus.

Possibly, if it had not been for the Divine warning, the apostle would have braved

the danger and lost his life.


This action continued to seal the doom of Jerusalem.   “They will not

receive of thy testimony concerning me.” Stephen’s blood was crying out,

and now they would have Paul’s. Resistance to the Holy Ghost, the

 messenger sent from heaven unto the Gentiles betokened the Divine

judgments about to be poured out on Jerusalem, and the blessing taken

from them and given to those who would return faithfully the fruits of the

vineyard.  (ch. 28:28; Matthew 21:43)


19 “And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue

them that believed on thee:”  They themselves for they, Authorized Version. In

every synagogue. It appears from Matthew 10:18 that offenders were beaten in

the synagogue, and doubtless by command of the synagogue authorities. A

delation to any synagogue that any member of it was a blasphemer (i.e. a Christian)

would lead to such a punishment. But probably the meaning here rather is that he

went or sent to every synagogue to find out who there was among them that

believed in Jesus, and then had them punished at Jerusalem (ch. 9:2).


20 “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing

by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”

Stephen thy witness for thy martyr Stephen, Authorized Version; consenting for

consenting unto his death, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; keeping the

garments for kept the raiment, Authorized Version. Consenting; συνευδοκῶν

suneudokon – endorsing (above, ch. 8:1; Luke 11:48; Romans 1:32;

I Corinthians 7:12-13). It is also found in I Maccabees 1:60; II Maccabees 11:34-35.

Of them that slew him (τῶν ἀναιρούν των αὐτόν – ton anairoun ton auton – the

assassination of him). Ἀναιρέω - Anaireo -  in the sense of "to kill," is a favorite

word of Luke's (Luke 22:2; 23:32; Acts 2:23; 5:33, 36; 7:28; 9:23-24, 29;

10:39; 12:2; 13:28;  16:27; here v. 20; 23:15, 21, 27; 25:3; 26:10); but elsewhere

in the New Testament only Matthew 2:16 and II Thessalonians 2:8, Received

Text. It is frequent in the Septuagint and also in medical writers in the sense

of "taking away" or "removing."


21 “And He said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.”

 Send thee forth for send thee, Authorized Version. The natural understanding of the

preceding dialogue is that Saul, when bid depart quickly out of Jerusalem because

the Jews would not receive his testimony, was unwilling to obey, and pleaded

that surely the Jews must listen to him and be convinced, since they were well

aware how hot and zealous a partisan of the Jews he had been, and must see that

nothing but a great miracle could have converted him. It was the argument of a

young and impetuous man, with little experience of the headstrong obstinacy

of bigoted men. The Lord cut him short with a peremptory "Depart!" but with

the gracious addition, "I will send thee unto the Gentiles" - a commission which

is more fully given in ch. 26:17-18, and which was carried out in his whole life.




Paul’s Self-Defense Before the Jews (vs. 1-21)


“Brothers and fathers.” These words fell from his lips in the Hebrew

tongue, and a hush fell upon them. If we desire to be listened to with

attention, we must speak to the people “in their own tongue.”


  • THE PERIOD BEFORE CONVERSION. (vs. 3-5.) He speaks

throughout of himself; but in the background of his thought is the

providence and the grace of Him who had called him out from darkness

into His marvelous light. He was a Jew, strictly educated in the Law, and a

zealot for God. And yet a persecutor. A lesson for us all against the over

evaluation of learning and of orthodoxy. He had tried the way of zealotry

and persecution, as Luther had tried that of monkery, sincerely seeking

salvation, but without success. The memory of his earlier time is one

mingled with thankfulness and penitence, as indeed all our memories must

be. In his good education and in his unhappy errors he could trace the hand

of God. Boasting is in every case excluded.


  • HIS CONVERSION. (vs. 6-15.)


Ø      The great light from heaven on the way to Damascus. It disclosed the

dark ways of sin and error in which the heart had been wandering; and at

the same time lighted up the ways of Divine grace by which the convinced

soul was to be led, and the path of duty the new-born soul was to follow.

He is led by the hand, as into a mystery, which only the Divine wisdom

shall gradually unfold. Jesus, still lead on! Like led children ever we enter

the kingdom of heaven.


Ø      The ordination by the hands of Ananias. A pious man according to the

Law. God knows all His servants, and the work for which each is best

fitted. Here is a mirror for all preachers. They should bring to the office

knowledge and experience of the working of God’s grace upon the heart.

They must in their office be like Paul — witnesses before all men, by

word and conversation, of that which they have seen and heard. And their

comfort may in like manner be that He who has called will strengthen,

edify, and support them in their calling.


  • HIS COMMISSION. (vs. 17-21.) He is praying in the temple, his

soul overwhelmed by the weight of those Divine communications. The

voice says, “Hasten, and go quickly out of Jerusalem!” Paul meets the call

with reluctance. This struggle is among the incidents of the strife of the

Spirit of God with our spirit. We would stay when He bids to go. “Lord, I

will follow thee, but ...”  Sometimes it is fear, as in Jonah’s case;

sometimes it is modesty, as with Moses and Jeremiah; or

conscientiousness, as with Peter (ch. 10:14); or compassion, as with

Abraham at Sodom, and Paul with Israel. Over against all our buts stands

the firm command of God, “Go hence!” Only he who overcomes his

hesitation in full trust in the perfect right and wisdom of that command will

be enabled by-and-by to say, He has done all things well.”  (Mark 7:37)



    Men’s Past Sins Often the Unknown Determiners of Their Future Life,

its Opportunities, and its Disqualifications (vs. 18-21)


It is possible to take different views of the drift and the intended tenor of

this passage. The language of Saul (which Paul now quotes), as found in

vs. 19-20, will be very far from powerless, whether read as a view

humbly offered in harmony with the command just laid upon him, or as

perhaps is the more probable, in deprecation of it. The passage, however,

reminds us, amid high associations of great truths, of solemn far-reaching

principles in human life. The retribution which it enwraps is not that of the

severity of judgment to the sinner, but of the inevitableness of that cause

and effect which speak a Creator-God of infinite wisdom, and a creature-man

of reason, of moral capabilities, and of a certain freedom of action,

that lies at the root of moral responsibility and final accountability. Notice,







Ø      We could imagine reasons why Paul would have felt his highest ambition

fired by testifying, working, suffering, and dying for Jesus in Jerusalem, as;


o        The mother city of the land and of God’s favored people, renowned

with ancient and special renown,


o        The place at the very heart of Jewish life, where he would have longed

to recant most publicly his one-time errors of creed, and retrieve

whatever it were possible to retrieve of the effects of those errors. This

would have been of what was most noble among the characteristics of



o        The place which held the same relation to the religious world that

Rome did to the heathen world.


o        The place where the Master bore the grandest testimony of all His

course, and suffered and died.


Ø      It needs little imagination to see that, let alone any sense of a noble

ambition, Paul would feel that it would be one of the grandest

opportunities of usefulness, at the very center of typical and peculiar risk

and danger. From all this Paul is interdicted by a voice of sovereign

authority, and on the plain ground of his own past of error.






spoken with authority to Paul, is nothing else than linked with a summons

to other work and another sphere, that may turn into all equal usefulness

and probably usefulness far greater. Notice the method of that summons.


Ø      Though to state the ground of it might be pain and might give pain, it is

not wrapped in vague mystery and unsatisfying innuendo. It is, on the

other hand, a grand instance of “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

(Proverbs 27:6)


Ø      The summons exhibits a very distinct and emphatic value set upon the

life and the useful employment of the servant somewhere or other.

Twice, nay, thrice repeated is the direction to depart with “haste,”

“quickly,” and unquestioningly. Men may depart like Jonah.

But also they may depart for


o        Christ’s own command, announced in the individual conscience or by

the living Spirit; and


o        for greater toil and exposure, instead of for ease and hiding from work.


Ø      The summons announces, by a most gracious anticipation, an highly

important substitute career. The man who has incapacitated himself by

follies, by errors, even by sins, for some of the noblest of Christian service

shall still not be cast away as useless. He is still good to do something; yes,

to do much. The Master does not refuse the love or the service of the

fallen, when they return, nor does he consent to treat with them only

through others. First He saves them and protects them, and suggests His

care and love of them. Then He gives them their work, though “far hence.”

And lastly, He does not withhold from their ear to hear His own voice,

" I will send thee.” What trust, what love, what forgivingness, and what

streams of hope Jesus has to give — and gives to His own!




Paul’s Commission to the Gentiles (v. 21)


“I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” In the narrative given in

ch. 9:15 this command is said to have come direct to Ananias, and to

have been by him communicated to Paul. Of the direct message to

Paul himself subsequently, at Jerusalem, this appears to be our only

account (compare the narrative in ch.26:17). It is to be noticed that,

though Paul thus distinctly knew what his mission was, he waited

patiently until Divine directions or Divine providence clearly opened the

way for him. And, while he waited, he cheerfully did the work which came

to his hand. We proceed to dwell on three points:


(1) the sphere to which Paul was sent;

(2) the fitness of Paul for work in this particular sphere; and

(3) the influence which work in this sphere had upon Paul’s own

      apprehensions of the truth.


Noticing first what a strain upon his own Jewish feelings it must have involved

for him to undertake this work, and how his doing so proves the sincerity and

completeness of his conversion.



Gentiles.” Jews divided the whole world into Jews and Gentiles; so

Paul’s mission was to all outside the Jewish nation. Illustrate how the

prevalence of the Greek tongue, and the wide supremacy of the Roman

rule, at this time opened the whole world to the gospel. Illustrate what

variety of classes and of people the apostle met with in traveling, as he did,

from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum. Recall the circumstances

under which the apostle came to leave the synagogues and devote himself

exclusively to the Gentile populations. And show what preparation there

was for the gospel in Gentile spheres:


Ø      in the common religious wants of men; and

Ø      in the sense of dissatisfaction with idolatry which then so widely



Lystra, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome were representative cities of this sphere.



PARTICULAR SPHERE. Find the fitnesses in:


Ø      His birth as a Grecian Jew.

Ø      His knowledge of the Greek language, and partial Greek education.

All the other apostles were Aramaic Jews. Paul’s early associations

prepared him to take larger and more comprehensive views of

Christian truth, when once his strong Jewish prejudices were overcome.

Ø      His unquestioning sense of a Divine call.

Ø      The permanent influence exerted on him by Stephen’s death, and

probably by Stephen’s teachings.

Ø      The clear apprehension he had of Christian truth, in its distinction

from, but full harmony with, the principles of Judaism.

Ø      Further fitness may be found on a careful estimate of Paul’s

peculiarities of mind, disposition, and character.




a difficult subject to treat, and involves a very close study of Paul’s

doctrinal position at different points of his ministry. To open it out wisely,

the Epistles must be chronologically arranged and fitted into the record in

the Acts, and compared with the apostle’s speeches. An illustration may be

taken from the Epistle to the Ephesians, which clearly shows that the

mystical and superstitious people of Ephesus exercised such an influence

on Paul as led him to consider some great speculative questions, and,

we may say, tended to exercise and develop his mystical faculty. The

influence of work among the Gentiles may be illustrated in relation:


Ø      To doctrine. It led to the first attempts at a philosophy of the

Christian religion.

Ø      To practical Christian life. Paul had to find out how to adjust

Christian principles to Gentile life and manners, and so he was led to

develop a system of Christian ethics. Impress that the work to which

God calls us will also be:

o       our service to others; and

o       our own personal culture.


22 “And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices,

and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should

live.”  They for then, Authorized Version; voice for voices, Authorized Version.

Unto this word. They could not bear the idea of the Gentiles being admitted into

the kingdom of God. It was a blow to their pride of exclusiveness. The leveling-up

of the Gentiles seemed to be as intolerable as the leveling-down of themselves,

as spoken of e.g. Isaiah 1:10; Ezekiel 16:45, etc.




Argument and Prejudice (vs. 1-22)


We have here:


  • AN ADMIRABLE ARGUMENT. Paul, at the inspiration of the

moment, made a powerful defense of his position. He showed:


Ø      That no one could enter into their feelings more perfectly than himself.


o        Was he not a Jew by birth (v. 3)?

o        Had he not received a thoroughly Jewish education, at the feet of

a Jewish master (v. 3)?

o        Had he not been absolutely possessed by a devotedness to the Law,

and a corresponding hatred of the new “Way” (v. 4)?

o        Had they not the evidence in their own hands of the bitter and

unrelenting persecution of which he had been the eager and active

agent (v. 5)?


If, then, he was found advocating this hated “Way,” it was not because

he did not understand Jewish sympathies, nor because he had always

been one of its votaries; quite the contrary.


Ø      That no one could possibly have weightier reasons for changing his mind

than he had. First came a heavenly vision, arresting him in his path of

persecution, and forbidding him to continue (vs. 6-11). Then came a

powerful confirmation, in a miracle of healing of which he himself was the

subject and of which a most honorable and estimable Jew was the

instrument (vs. 12-13); and a further confirmation in the message with

which he was charged (vs. 14-16). Then came a third influence of a

powerful character in the shape of another manifestation, and a command,

against which he vainly strove, to go out and work among the Gentiles

(vs. 18-21).



Such was the violent antipathy in the minds of his audience to any

fellowship with the Gentile world that all Paul’s arguments went for

nothing. This was such an opportunity as was little likely to recur, of

having the facts of the case placed plainly and forcibly before their minds;

it was a day of grace to them. But so utterly prejudiced were they that one

word filled them with a senseless exasperation which stole from them the

golden chance they had of learning the truth, and which riveted the chains

of error and exclusiveness they wore upon their souls.  This defense of the

apostle and this exasperation of his audience may suggest to us:


Ø      The fullness of the Divine argument. God “reasons with” us.

He does so:


o        in proof of His own presence and providence in the world;

o        in proof of the heavenly origin of the gospel of His grace; and

o        in furtherance of our personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and

Savior of our soul.


The Divine arguments and inducements are very strong, and they are very

varied.  They include the miraculous and the ordinary; they appeal to the

human consciousness, to history, and to daily observation; they are based on

well-attested facts; they appeal to our hopes and to our fears, to our sense of

what is due to our Creator and of what we owe to ourselves, of obligation

and of wisdom. They are mighty, urgent, convincing, one would say —

but for sad facts which argue to the contrary — overwhelming.


Ø      The foolish and fatal anger which it sometimes excites. There are those

who, when God speaks to them in nature, providence, or privilege, instead

of lending their ear to His word and bowing their spirit to His will, are only

angered and exasperated; they go still further away from Him in increased

alienation, in still more determined rebelliousness of soul. But so doing


o        they aggravate their guilt; and

o        they cut down the bridge by which they might cross to the heavenly





The Testimony of Religious Experience (vs. 1-22)


Not now dwelling upon the details of Saul’s conversion, treated of for the

most part under the consideration of the ninth chapter, we may observe

that we have here Paul’s own account of it, that is to say, we have his own

rehearsal of his conversion, and so far forth religious experience. We may

use the opportunity for the purpose of illustrating the right occasion and

use of the individual declaring to the world “what the Lord has done for his

soul". This is in some cases an undoubted duty, and the neglect of it an

undoubted dereliction of duty. Many, no doubt, are the occasions that lie

on the border-line of expediency, and even of duty. And, as in many, many

other things, it is then that the solemn claims of individual responsibility are

either seen and honored or dishonored. We may, therefore, observe some

of the facts involved in a man’s confession of his own religious experience

before the Church and the world.


























23 “And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,”

Threw off their garments for east off their clothes, Authorized Version; cast for threw,

Authorized Version. Threw off their garments. Either "wild signs of fury, gestures

by which they gave to understand that they would gladly accomplish the cry, 'Away

with him from the earth!'" (Lunge), tokens of applause and consent at the sentiment

of the cry (see the passages quoted by Kuinoel, Τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἀνασείων ἐκρότει τὸν

Προαιρέσιον "The proconsul applauded Proairesius the rhetorician by shaking

his purple robe," Eunapius, 'Life of the Emperor Julian;' "The whole theatre

raved together, and leaped, and shouted, and threw off their garments (τὰς

ἐσθῆτας ἀπεῥῤίπτουν)," Lucian, ' De Salt,'); or (so Meyer) signifying that

they were ready to stone the culprit (see v. 20).   There is a close relationship





The Unreasoning Excitement of Crowds (vs. 22-23)


The action of this crowd is in most respects similar to that of crowds in all

ages and in all districts; but in some of its features it was characteristically

Eastern. “A great similarity appears between the conduct of the Jews when

the chief captain of the Roman garrison at Jerusalem presented himself in

the temple, and the behavior of the Persian peasants when they go to court

to complain of the governors under whom they live, upon their oppressions

becoming intolerable. Sir John Chardin tells us respecting them, that they

carry their complaints against their governors by companies, consisting of

several hundreds, and sometimes of a thousand; they repair to that gate of

the palace near to which their prince is most likely to be, where they begin

to make the most horrid cries, tearing their garments, and throwing dust

into the air, at the same time demanding justice. The king, upon hearing

these cries, sends to know the occasion of them. The people deliver their

complaint in writing, upon which he lets them know that he will commit

the cognizance of the affair to some one by whom justice is usually done

them” (Paxton). Compare the excitement of the multitudes assembled in

the Ephesian theatre (ch. 19:29-34).



readily take up prejudices and give way to mere feeling, and so are led to

do terrible things. Illustrate from the riots of country towns in the older

election-times, when the people were excited by political sentiment; or by

the violent scenes of the French Revolution. It is usually true of all mobs

that “the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.”

Sentiment is valuable as giving tone and feeling to action, but sentiment

alone can never be allowed to decide and control action, because it tends

to make a man at once passionate and weak. There is no wise decision, no

calm judgment, no definite purpose, no solid strength of will, and so

sentiment leads men to do things of which they are afterwards ashamed, to

forget the reasonable claims of others, and to commit great social wrongs.

The Christian man’s duty, wherever his lot may be cast, is:


Ø      To strive against yielding to popular sentiments on


o        social,

o        political,

o        religious subjects, as injurious to his own spiritual life, and

likely to make him unjust toward others.


Ø      To use his influence to check public excitement, and to disseminate right

principles. In religious spheres, yielding to “sentiment” has often been the

cause of public and private persecution. In common life, reason is the

proper check of sentiment. In religious spheres, the revelation given us in

God’s Word, and the direct illuminations of God’s Spirit, are the proper

checks. Illustrate how, in religious spheres, untempered sentiment has often

developed into “mania.”



their power by appeal to sentiment. Illustrate from the incidents of the text.

The leaders of the Judaic party knew perfectly well that they had no case

against the apostle, but they appealed to the prejudice of the people, and

excited their feeling into passion, which might have led to Paul’s death

within the temple courts. Opportunity is here given to speak of the valuable

work done by the revivalist and the missioner, and at the same time of the

responsibility of such workers, in the influence they gain over masses of

people. So far as their work is merely an appeal to sentiment, it can exert

but a passing, and only too possibly a mischievous, influence. So far as

they become teachers of the truth and persuaders of men to duty, their

work will be PERMANENT and BLESSED! 


Ø      The Crusades illustrate the sway of the masses by sentiment;

Ø      the Reformation the sway of the masses by truth.



CROWDS. Paul tried, but he found it vain: they were carried away by

the mere sound of the word “Gentiles.” Compare the scheme of the townclerk

at Ephesus. Excited masses can only be interested until their passion

dies down, or dispersed by physical force. Reasoning is of no use until men

have become reasonable. Show that Christ never works upon the mere

crowd. He and His servants make their appeal to men who have their power

of reason. They use emotion and affection, but in subordination to reason.

They work by the enthusiasm of numbers, but subordinate this influence to

the enforcement of the saving truth.


24 “The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade

that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore

they cried so against him.”  Bidding for and bade, Authorized Version; for what

cause for wherefore, Authorized Version; so shouted for cried so, Authorized Version.

The chief captain (see ch. 21:31, note). The castle (see ibid. v. 34, note). Examined;

ἀνετάζεσθαι - - anetazesthai – to be being interogated, only here and in v. 29. In

Judges 6:29 (Codex Alexandrinus) and in the Hist. of Susanna 14 the verb has the

simple sense of "inquiring." The classical word for "examining" and especially by

torture, is ἐξετάζειν – exetazein. By scourging (μάστιξιν - mastixin). The μάστιξ

mastix was in Latin the flagellum, the most severe implement of flogging, though

even with the lighter virga, the rod of the lictor, slaves and others were beaten to

death (usque ad necem). It was not lawful to beat a Roman citizen even with the

virga (ῤάβδος – rabdos – rod; staff); ch. 16:22, 35, 37, notes. The μάστιξ, or

scourge, was that with which our Lord was scourged at the bidding of Pilate

(Matthew 27:26, where φραγελλώσας – phragellosas – whipping is from the

Latin flagellum; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33; John 19:1). Doubtless Lysias had

not understood Paul's Hebrew speech, and so had not known what it was which

provoked so fierce an uproar among the people.


There is cruelty in power when it is exercised without righteousness. Torture was

at once a confession of weakness and a violation of the rights of man. Law needs

no cruelty to support it. It must be based upon truth and benevolence, or it is not

RIGHTEOUS LAW!   While the noisy tumult of the mob showed the corrupt state

of the Jewish nation, the scene in the castle revealed the imperfection and

worthlessness of mere human rule. Both these facts are cries of the world for



25 “And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that

stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and

uncondemned?”  When they had tied him up with the thongs for as they bound

him with thongs, Authorized Version. When they had tied him up, etc. This does

not seem to be a right rendering. Προέτειναν – Proeteinan -  they stretch out

can only mean "to stretch out before," or "expose to the action," of anything,

when taken in a literal sense; ἱμᾶσιν - himasin – thongs again, more naturally

means the "thong" or lash of a whip or scourge than a thong to bind a man

with; indeed, it is thought to be etymologically connected with μάστιξ (scourging),

Meyer, therefore, rightly understands the passage to mean when they had stretched

him on the stake ready to receive the scourging. Is it lawful, etc.? Paul now pleads

his privileges as a Roman citizen, just in time to stop the outrage, remembering,

no doubt, the terror inspired in the Philippian magistrates when they found they

had beaten with rods an uncondemned Roman citizen (see ch. 16:38). Uncondemned

(ἀκατάκριτον – akatakriton);  ibid. v.37. Only found in these two passages in the

New Testament, and nowhere else.



Times to Suffer, and Times to Get Relief from Suffering (v. 25)


This subject is suggested by the fact that, although the apostle’s plea of his

Roman birthright would have always stood him in good stead, he only used

it occasionally; from which fact we may assume that he sometimes felt it

was his duty to submit to suffering, and that, at other times, he equally felt

it his duty to resist suffering. Probably a careful estimate of the

circumstances connected with each case led to his decisions. Here we may

see that no special testimony could be made by his patient enduring of

suffering, seeing that he was among strangers, who knew nothing of him or

his mission, so he felt at liberty to secure relief from indignity and pain, and

appealed for his rights as a Roman citizen. The apostle spoke as they were

preparing to scourge him. According to the Roman custom, he was

stripped to the waist, and tied with leather thongs to the column, or

whipping-post, which was used within the fortress for this kind of torture.

“It was unlawful to scourge a Roman citizen in any case; it was an

aggravation so to torture him as slaves were tortured only as a means of

inquiry” (see ch. 16:37). Remember the familiar passage,  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.


  • CHRIST’S CALL TO SUFFER. Of Paul Christ had said, “I will

show him how great things he must suffer for my Name’s sake”

(ch. 9:1)  So to His early disciples Christ spoke of persecution and

suffering as part of His disciples’ necessary lot. Compare His teachings

in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:10-12) with John 15:18-21.


Ø      As an historical fact, the earlier apostles found, suffering attend on

fulfilling Christ’s mission; and the Apostle Paul had a life full of peril

and of pain.


Ø      As a fact of present observation, suffering is very largely the Christian’s

lot. It comes partly by reason of his conflict with evil in himself and in the

world, and partly as a Divine arrangement for his moral testing and



Ø      As a doctrine of the Divine Word, suffering is:


o        a means of sanctifying to the believer,” Tribulation worketh

patience,” etc.;  (Romans 5:3-5)


o        a means of witnessing to the world the power of God’s

sustaining grace and the beauty of the Christian virtues.

God has such witnesses in His great sufferers, in every age

and in every sphere of life.


  • CHRIST’S CALL TO AVOID SUFFERING. See His instructions as given

to the apostles and the “seventy” (Luke 10:1-12), when He sent them on their

trial mission. If persecuted in one city, they were to flee to another. Nay, in this

avoidance of suffering, our Lord set us His own example; for, on more than

one occasion He went away from a neighborhood which had become

perilous, and escaped from those who would cast Him from the hill-top. So

Paul, in connection with our text, felt justified in avoiding and resisting

suffering. The practical difficulty we find is to know when we should bear

and when we should resist; and the following suggestions may be fully



Ø      When we can recognize an immediate good in our sufferings, either a

blessing of men or the glory of God, we should be prepared cheerfully

to bear.

Ø      When the suffering plainly comes in the orderings of God’s providence,

we ought to bear it.

Ø      When we find that we can, by patient suffering, make a needed witness

for the Christian truth or the Christian spirit, we should be willing to


Ø      When we find ourselves among strangers and enemies we may use our

influence to avoid suffering.

Ø      And when our suffering plainly comes from the mere willfulness or the

pure ignorance of men, we do right to resist. It may also be urged that we

must always follow along the line of “conscience” and “duty,” whatever

consequences may follow. Therefore the “three Hebrew youths” dare not

shrink from the fiery furnace, nor Daniel from the den of lions. Impress

that we have an inward leading of God’s Spirit, even as Paul had; and that,

if we will follow the lead in all simplicity, we shall be able to decide, in the

circumstances of life that arise, whether it is our duty to suffer or to avoid

suffering. Whether we bear or whether we refuse to bear, we must seek to

glorify Christ, and do all things as part of our loving life-service rendered

to Him.


26 “When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying,

Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.”  And when for when,

Authorized Version; it for that, Authorized Version; to for and told, Authorized

Version; and told him, saying for saying, Authorized Version; What art thou

about to do? for Take heed what thou doest, Authorized Version.


27 “Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman?

He said, Yea.”  And for then, Authorized Version; and he said for he said,

Authorized Version.


28 “And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom.

And Paul said, But I was free born.” Citizenship for freedom, Authorized Version;

am a Roman for was free, Authorized Version. A great sum (πολλοῦ κεφαλαίου –

pollou kephalaiou – of vast sum). The word is only found here in the New Testament

in the sense of a "sum of money," but is so used in classical writers. Citizenship;

πολιτεία – politeia), for "freedom of the city," in Xenophon, AElian, Polybius,

Dion Cassius, etc., and III Maccabees 3:21. Dion Cassius (9 17) relates that

Messaliua, the wife of the Emperor Claudius, used to sell the freedom of the

city, and that at first she sold it (μεγάλων ξρημάτων – megalon xraematon)

for a very high price, but that afterwards it became very cheap. In all probability

Lysias had so purchased it, and in consequence took the name of Claudius

(Renan, ' St. Paul,' p. 524). I am a Roman born. It is not known how Paul's

family acquired the Roman citizenship.


Notice the Providence of God in the government of the world. The Roman state

was needed to prepare the way for the gospel. The two citizenships — of the

earthly kingdom, of the heavenly, compared in the two men, Lysias and

Paul. Little the parents of the apostle could have anticipated how that

Roman privilege would work into his history. We should give our children

all we can to prepare them for future life. GRACE and PROVIDENCE work

together. The world’s alarm opens the way for the gospel.



Naturally and Spiritually Free Born (v. 28)


Rights of citizenship were obtained in various ways and on various

grounds. Some men had it by birth, others by gift, others by purchase,

others as the public recognition of heroic deeds. These may be illustrated in

connection with the citizenship of London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and other

large cities. Roman citizenship was once sold at a very high rate, but in

later times its value was lowered, and it was bartered for a trifle. It is not

known how Paul’s parents obtained their citizen rights, but the apostle

held his as an inheritance. Paul was not a citizen by virtue of his having

been born in Tarsus. “That city, in consideration of its sufferings under

Cassius, and because of its adherence to Julius Caesar, was admitted by

Antony to many privileges; but it was not a colony, only a free city, and

that did not confer citizenship. Some of the apostle’s ancestors, it may be

assumed, had been admitted to citizenship in acknowledgment of good

service, civil or military.” A distinction is made, which men still recognize,

between acquired rights and natural rights; but a far higher value is set on

the rights of birth than on those which can be obtained in any other way.

We fix attention on the fact that Paul was twice free born. He held right

of birth into Roman citizenship, and right of the new Divine birth into the

kingdom of Christ and of heaven.




Ø      Illustrate what positions their birth puts some men in, and what

consequent trusts and responsibilities come upon them.

Ø      Show that such privileges are not to be despised by Christian people,

because they may give them noble opportunities of serving Christ.

Ø      Point out that any envy of those born to high station is unworthy of all

who feel aright the honor of having any kind or degree of trust from God.

Ø      And impress that the greater the trust of position and privilege which a

man may have, the heavier will be his judgment if he misuses his powers

and privileges. Of him that hath, much will be required.”  (Luke 12:48)


  • THE PRIVILEGES OF DIVINE BIRTH. Explain the Scripture figures

of "new birth,” “being born again,” and “regeneration.” Illustrate that no

man can acquire a place in Christ’s kingdom by any


Ø      wealth,

Ø      merit,

Ø      or effort.


The only entrance is by a Divine birth: Ye must be born again;” the only

possible right of the Christian is his birthright. This kind of right excludes

all pride and self-satisfaction. “We are saved by grace.”  (Ephesians 2:8)

It gives to God all the glory; for we are born of God.” (I John 5:4)

It changes all the aspects and relations of our lives, so that we seem to have

wakened up into a new world with new powers. It lays us under serious

obligations, appoints for us high and holy duties, and holds out before us

A GLORIOUS FUTURE!   If the Roman citizen was bound to walk worthily

of his citizenship, and honor the Roman name wherever he might go, much

more should those who are born of God walk as children of light,”

(Ephesians 5:8); walk worthy of the vocation by which they are

called.” (ibid. ch. 4:1)  See Paul’s statement, Our citizenship is in heaven.”

(Philippians 3:20)


29 “Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him:

and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and

because he had bound him.”  They then which were about to examine him

straightway departed from him for then straightway they departed from him which

should have examined him, Authorized Version; when for after, Authorized Version.

Had bound him (ῆν αὐτὸν δεδεκώς – aen auton dedekos – he had bound him),

as related in ch. 21:33.




Danger and Deliverance (v. 22-29)


At length the latent envy of the Jewish audience breaks forth. “Away with

such a man from the earth!”



The wild force of fanaticism has to be encountered again and again.

These scenes are a warning against fostering it. It dishonors God, under the

pretext of jealousy for His honor; ill treats the innocent; disgraces itself,

turning men into wild beasts.




Ø      It is brought about by the right feeling of the Roman captain, together

with the civil privileges of the apostle. And he obtains a new opportunity

for self-justification.


Ø      It tends to illustrate his character. The violence offered to him elicits a

gentle and lowly reply (v. 25; John 18:23). Outwardly ill treated, he

remains inwardly unhurt. Momentarily trodden in the dust, he rises to

eternal honors.



THE NEW BIRTH!   It is sealed by the Spirit of God. It is proved by trial,

conflict, and affliction. It appears in full glory in the heavenly state. Their

privileges are — exemption from fear in the presence of the powers of this

world; inviolate safety from the violence of evil men; independence of the

judgment of the world. “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet

appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we

shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”  (I John 3:2)


30 “On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he

was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the

chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set

him before them.”  But on for on, Authorized Version; desiring to know for

because he would have known, Authorized Version; loosed him for loosed him

from his bands, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; the council for

their council, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; to come together for

to appear, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Brought Paul down;

from the castle to the council-room below, either to the hall Gazith or to some

other place of meeting. Lysias probably still kept Paul a prisoner through the

night, on account of the excited state of the people.



The Apology (vs. 1-30)


It was a very remarkable promise which our Lord made to His apostles,

when, forewarning them that they should be delivered up to councils, and

brought before kings and rulers for His sake, He added, “But when they so

deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do

ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak

ye; for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost” (Mark 13:9-11). It is

impossible not to see a fulfillment of this promise in Paul’s apology

delivered from the castle stairs at Jerusalem to an infuriated and

bloodthirsty mob. A Jewish riot had something terrific in it, something

dreaded even by the iron-minded Romans. The features all contorted with

passion, the large eyes starting out of their sockets, the savage grinding of

the teeth, the fierce cries, the wild throwing of handfuls of dust into the air,

the tossing and waving of their garments with an unbridled violence, gave a

demoniac aspect to such rioters (Renan, p. 524). Paul had just come out of

the thick of such a mob. He had barely escaped with his life, but not

without many blows. He had heard his name given to execration, held up

to detestation as the author of blasphemies and sacrilege, and as the enemy

of his race. And now he was a prisoner in the hands of the heathen masters

of his unhappy country. His hands were loaded with chains, and he knew

not what dangers were before him. And yet, when he had scarce recovered

breath after the struggle for life, we find him with the chains on his wrists,

but with unruffled spirit, and admirable composure and self-possession,

delivering to his enemies and would-be murderers a speech as gentle, as

firm, as calm, as collected, and as logical, as if he had composed and

prepared it at leisure in the stillness of his own study, and was addressing it

to a congregation of friends and admirers. Must it not have been given to

him in that hour what to speak, and how to say it? The great force of this

defense lay in its simple statement of facts. The apostle’s conduct at each

successive stage had flowed naturally and almost inevitably from the

circumstances which surrounded him. He had nothing to conceal. Indeed,

the circumstances of his early life were well known to his hearers. If his

statement was true, how could he have acted differently? He appealed to

his fellow-countrymen, his fathers and brothers of the Jewish people, to

hear with impartiality the apology which he made. Had he stopped here,

maybe his defense would have been accepted. His Hebrew speech, his

thoroughly Jewish attitude, his high-minded earnestness, his splendid

courage, seem to have wrought to some extent upon his volatile and

mobile hearers. But he could not stop there. He had a further message to

deliver, and it must be delivered at Jerusalem, the mother Church, not only

of the circumcision, but of the whole Gentile world. That message was that

Christ was to be preached to the Gentiles, and that Jews and Gentiles were

to be henceforth one in Christ. And that message he delivered with chains

on his arms, from the midst of a Roman cohort, to the angry crowd

beneath him, having obviously one single purpose — to speak the truth,

and to do his duty both to God and man. One other remark is called for by

this apology. The nature of the case, a defense under false accusation,

made it absolutely necessary that the defendant should speak of himself.

But in the course of the twenty verses in which he details the several

passages in the history of his life which bore upon the accusation, it is

impossible to detect one particle of vainglory or of egotism. There are no

boastings, nor are there any expressions of an affected humility. There is

absolute simplicity. He speaks of himself because he must. And in the same

spirit of genuine humility, when it was not necessary, he did not speak of

himself. In the remarkable absence of details in all those parts of the Acts

of the Apostles where Luke does not write as an eyewitness, we have

strong evidence that Paul did not make his own doings the subject of

his conversation with his familiar friends. Had he done so, Luke’s

narrative might have been richer and fuller, but Paul greatness would

have been diminished, as that of all vain men is, by the desire to appear

great. As it is, the apology enables us to enumerate the great apostle’s

virtues as combining in an extraordinary degree, courage, gentleness,

calmness, vigor, humility, high-mindedness, determination, honesty, truth,

patriotism, self-forgetfulness, wisdom, eloquence, and a passionate zeal for

the glory of Christ and for the salvation of men. (For an illustration of

some of these features in the apostle’s character, see also II Corinthians

11.; 12.; Galatians 2:5, 11; Ephesians 3:7-8; I Timothy 1:1-13, 16; and

throughout the Acts of the Apostles.)




The Earthly and the Heavenly Citizenship (vs. 23-30)


The most interesting and the most distinctively Christian truth contained in

this passage is that which we gain by contrasting the citizenship of ancient

Rome with that of the kingdom of Christ. But we may also let these verses

remind us of:


  • THE INHUMANITY OF HEATHENISM. “The chief captain... bade

that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know,” etc.

(v. 24). What an inhuman and brutal procedure to extract evidence or

confession by scourging — by cruel, relentless laceration of the body! It is

painful to think how, in this as in many another respect, departure from

God meant distance from all justice and benignity. It is, indeed, all too true

that pagan law passed on many of its usages to Christian legislature, and

that down to even recent times harsh and stern things have dishonored the

statute-books of Christian lands; but these have been


Ø      diametrically opposed to the spirit of Jesus Christ,

Ø      implicitly condemned by His words, and

Ø      have been (or are being) disowned and disestablished by His followers.



defective as Roman law was, it shone in brilliant contrast with Jewish



Ø      How pitiable, not to say contemptible, the crowd crying out,

rending their clothes, flinging dust in the air, in their

uncontrollable passion (v. 23)!


Ø      Excellent, indeed, as compared with this, the safe custody of the

Roman soldiery (v. 24),


o       the immediate regard paid to his claim of citizenship (vs. 26-29),

o       the determination of the chief captain to bring Paul before the

council in a legitimate and orderly way (v. 30).


With all defects and severities, law and discipline are immeasurably superior

to the violent excitements of an insensitive and ungovernable mob.



man who is perpetually asserting his rights is a man as far, in spirit, from

the likeness of Jesus Christ as he is far, in fact, from the enjoyment of the

esteem of man. God blesses him as little as man loves him. But obviously

there are times when it is not only our right but our duty to assert our

claims. Paul did so here (v. 25), and most justifiably; there was no reason

why he should suffer and be weakened by suffering when he could escape

by making a lawful claim. We do well to be self-assertive so long as we do

not acquire the spirit of selfishness and do not give the impression of being

self-centered. We do well, when we act thus with a distinct view to:


Ø      the benefit of others,

Ø      our own spiritual well-being, or

Ø      to the extension of the kingdom of Christ.



Paul acceded to the citizenship in virtue of his birth; he was free born. The

chief captain obtained it by purchase. Others gained it by valuable military

or civil service, or by favor of some illustrious man. Entrance into the

kingdom of God cannot be gained thus.


Ø      Not by birth (John 1:13),

Ø      nor by purchase (Acts 8:20),

Ø      nor by the favor of man (John 1:13),

Ø      nor by meritorious behavior (Ephesians 2:9),


do we become citizens of the spiritual kingdom and heirs of eternal life. It

is rather by the influence of the Spirit of God upon and within us (John

3:5), and by our appropriate and corresponding action in responseby

penitence of spirit and humble faith in A DIVINE SAVIOUR!   (ch. 20:21),

that we become true subjects of the great King, and have our names

entered on that blessed roll which is the Book of Life.



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