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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Acts 22



Verses 23-29

Paul and the Roman Chief Captain - In Acts 22:23-29 we have the account of Paul defending his right to a fair trial as a Roman citizen before the Roman chief captain. This is the first statement that would eventually lead Paul to the high court in Rome as he appealed unto Caesar, the highest authority in the Roman judicial system.

Acts 22:23 — "and cast off their clothes" - Word Study on "cast off" - There is a debate as to whether this Greek word is derived from ῥιπτέω or ῥιπίζω. Strong says the Greek word "cast off" is derived from ῥιπτέω (G 4495) and means, "to toss up, to cast off." BDAG also says it is derived from ῥιπτέω and means, "to throw off (clothing)." In contrast, Mouce says this word is derived from ῥιπίζω (G 4494) and means, "to fan, blow, ventilate; to toss, agitate, e.g. the ocean by the wind."

Comments - There are two evenly divided views as to the meaning of the phrase "and cast off their clothes." One view is the idea of throwing off garments ( ῥιπτέω or ῥιπτω) (see ASV, NIV).

ASV, "threw off their garments"

KJV, "casting off their clothes"

NIV, "throwing off their cloaks"

The other is the idea of tossing about, or tearing, their garments in rage ( ῥιπίζω) (see Alford, EGT, LITV, Rotherham, RSV), and not casting them off in order to stone Paul, since he was in custody of the Roman soldiers.

Alford, "shaking their garments, as shaking off the dust, abominating such an expression and him who uttered it"

EGT, "tossing about their garments" 286]

286] W. Robertson Nicoll, ed, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol 2 (New York: George H. Doran Company, n.d.), 461.

LITV, "tearing their garments"

Rotherham, "tearing their mantles"

RSV, "waving their garments"

Acts 22:24 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.

Acts 22:24Comments- Some commentators suggest that the Roman commander did not understand Paul's Hebrew speech. 287] The commander decided to take an action that would reveal to them the reason for this hostility.

287] Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles, second edition, trans. Paton J. Gloag, and William P. Dickson, ed. William Ormiston (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884), 420.

Acts 22:25 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?

Acts 22:25 — "And as they bound him with thongs" - Word Study on "bound" - Strong says the Greek word "bound" ( προτείνω) (G 4385) means, "to stretch, to protend, to tie prostrate (for scourging)." BDAG says it means, "to stretch out, to spread out a criminal who is to be flogged." Mouce says it means, "to extend before, to stretch out."

Comments - The idea in Acts 22:25 is that the Roman soldiers were stretching Paul out with ropes to a pillar or a post in order to scourge him. Paul's bondage with thongs was prophesied in Acts 21:11, "And when he was come unto us, he took Paul"s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."

Acts 22:25 — "Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned" - Comments- It is possible that the death penalty was invoked upon anyone who falsely claimed Roman citizenship. Suetonius tells us of a decree by the Roman emperor Claudius (A.D 41-54) that made such a statement, "He forbade men of foreign birth to use the Roman names so far as those of the clans were concerned. Those who usurped the privileges of Roman citizenship he executed in the Esquiline field." (The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, bk 5 "The Deified Claudius," 25) 288]

288] J. C. Rolfe, Suetonius, vol 2, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, W. H. D. Rouse, L. A. Post, and E. H. Warmington (London: William Heinemann, 1959), 51.

Acts 22:26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

Acts 22:27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

Acts 22:27Comments- Paul was very likely dressed in traditional Jewish clothing, which would have been different than that of the Romans.

Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Acts 22:28 — "And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom" - Comments- The Roman historian Cassius (155-229 A.D.) tells us that Roman citizenship could be purchased, at first for a high price, then later for a cheap sum of money (Roman History 60174-5). 289]

289] Cassius Dio writes, "A great many other persons unworthy of citizenship were also deprived of it, whereas lie granted citizenship to others quite indiscriminately, sometimes to individuals and sometimes to whole groups. For inasmuch as Romans had the advantage over foreigners in practically all respects, many sought the franchise by personal application to the emperor, and many bought it from Messalina and the imperial freedmen. For this reason, though the privilege was at first sold only for large sums, it later became so cheapened by the facility with which it could be obtained that it came to be a common saying, that a man could become a citizen by giving the right person some bits of broken glass." (Roman History 60174-5) See Dio Cassius, Dio's Roman History, vol 7, trans. Earnest Cary, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, W. H. D. Rouse, L. A. Post, and E. H. Warmington (London: William Heinemann, 1955), 411.

Acts 22:28 — "And Paul said, But I was free born" - Comments- One commentator says that Paul was a Roman citizen probably because Tarsus was a Roman colony, and all those born in such a city were Roman citizens by birth. However, the Roman commander of the garrison did not associate Tarsus with Roman citizenship for Paul, so this must not have been given to all citizens of Tarsus. 290]

290] Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible; Containing the Old and New Testaments, According to the Authorized Version: with Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References, vol 5 (London: James Nisbet and Co, 1866), notes on Acts 22:22-30.

Acts 22:29 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.

Verse 30

Paul Before the Sanhedrin - Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:11 records Paul's testimony before the Sanhedrin.

Acts 22:30 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.

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Acts 23:1 — "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" - Comments- The voice of our hearts, or spirits, is our conscience. Thus, Paul reveals in Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16 that he learned how to follow his conscience rather than the voice of his mind, which is human reason, or the voice of his physical body, which are our senses, or our feelings. Paul tells us in Acts 24:16 that he exercised himself, or trained himself, to follow his conscience, which is the same as being led by the Spirit. For the Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us through our spirits.

Acts 24:16, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men."

2 Timothy 1:3, "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;"

Acts 23:1 — "And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren" - Comments- Each of Paul's opening speeches reveals a man unashamed and confident of his innocence. In Acts 21:40 he turns to address the Jewish mob rather than accept deliverance from the Roman soldiers, as would be typical for someone who had committed a crime and wanted to escape punishment. In Acts 23:1 he looks intently upon the Sanhedrin and speaks boldly rather than hanging his head down in shame and guilt. In Acts 24:10 he addresses Felix the governor with cheer. In Acts 25:11 Paul boldly declares to Festus that if any wrong can be found in him, he is ready to die. In Acts 26:1-2 he stretches forth his hand as an orator and speaks unto King Agrippa.

Acts 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

Acts 23:3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

Acts 23:3Comments- Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees by the phrase "whited sepulchers." Perhaps Paul had heard this Gospel story from the disciples who were with Jesus.

Matthew 23:27, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men"s bones, and of all uncleanness."

Acts 23:4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God"s high priest?

Acts 23:5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

Acts 23:5 — "it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people" - Comments- This is a quote from Exodus 22:28.

Exodus 22:28, "Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people."

Other New Testament passages make an indirect reference to this verse out of Exodus.

2 Peter 2:10-11, "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord."

Jude 1:8, "Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities."

Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Acts 23:6 — "But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council" - Comments- It appears from Paul's opening statement in Acts 23:1 that he had prepared a strong defense and was ready to deliver it unto the Sanhedrin. However, a slap in the face can be intimidating and cause one to lose his focus, concentration, and composure. However, in Acts 23:6 the Spirit of God intervenes and gives Paul a new strategy. This is a perfect example of what Jesus told the apostles in Matthew 10:18-20, "And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."

Acts 23:6 — "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question" - Comments- Paul will focus upon the theme of the resurrection before the Sanhedrin and in his defense before King Agrippa ( Acts 26:3; Acts 26:23).

Acts 26:8, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"

Acts 26:23, "That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles."

Acts 23:9Comments - The Pharisees took seriously the testimony of a fellow Jew who had received a vision or divine oracle. When reflecting back on Paul's first defense in Acts 22:1-21, we see that he relied heavily upon the visionary aspects of his conversion, which was more likely to appeal to the Pharisees

Acts 23:10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

Acts 23:11Comments- The Lord's statement to Paul reconfirmed the commission of Jesus to the apostles in Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." The vision of Jesus Christ appearing and speaking to him served to anchor his soul in difficult times. God often speaks to His children in such times.

Verses 30-35

The Second Witness of Paul's Innocence, Standing Before the Sanhedrin (A.D 58) - Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:35 gives us the testimony of Paul's second trial as he stands before the Jewish Sanhedrin. This is the second speech that Luke records of Paul's defense of the Christian faith. Paul has spoken before the Jewish mob at the Temple ( Acts 21:15 to Acts 22:29); he now stands before the Sanhedrin and addressed the Jewish leaders ( Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:35); he will stand before Felix the governor ( Acts 24:1-27); he will stand before Festus the subsequent governor ( Acts 25:1-12); and he will stand before King Agrippa ( Acts 25:13 to Acts 26:32). These preliminary trials lead up to Paul's appeal to Caesar. Many scholars suggest Luke compiles this sequence of trials in order to reveal Paul's innocence as a legal defense that could have been used during Paul's actual trial.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul Before the Sanhedrin — Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:11

2. The Jews Plot Against Paul's Life — Acts 23:12-22

3. Paul is Sent to Felix the Governor — Acts 23:23-35


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 22:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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