Acts 22


Paul, in his address to the people, gives an account of his

birth and education, 1-3.

His prejudices against Christianity, 4, 5.

And of his miraculous conversion, and call to the apostleship,


The Jews, hearing him say that God had sent him to preach the

Gospel to the Gentiles, become exceedingly outrageous, and

clamour for his life, 22, 23.

The chief captain orders him to be examined by scourging; but

he, pleading his privilege as a Roman citizen, escapes the

torture, 24-29.

The next day the chief captain brings Paul before the chief

priests and their council, 30.


Verse 1. Men, brethren, and fathers] A Hebrew form of expression

for brethren and fathers: for two classes only are addressed.

See Clarke on Ac 7:2.

Hear ye my defense] μουτηςαπολογιας, This apology of mine;

in this sense the word apology was anciently understood: hence the

Apologies of the primitive fathers, i.e. their defenses of the

Christian religion. And this is as proper literal meaning; but it

is now used only as implying an excuse for improper conduct. That

this is an abuse of the term requires no proof.

Verse 2. When they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue] He

had probably been traduced by the Jews of Asia as a mere Gentile,

distinguished only by his virulence against the Jewish religion;

which virulence proceeded from his malice and ignorance.

Verse 3. I am verily a man which am a Jew] A periphrasis for, I

am really a Jew: and his mentioning this adds weight to the

conjecture in the preceding note. He shows that he could not be

ignorant of the Jewish religion, as he had had the best instructer

in it which Jerusalem could produce.

Yet brought up, &c.] Bp. Pearce proposes that this verse should

be thus read and translated: but brought up in this city;

instructed at the feet of Gamaliel, according to the most exact

manner, being exceedingly zealous for the law of our fathers, as

ye all are this day.

Born in Tarsus] See Clarke on Ac 9:11; and

See Clarke on Ac 21:39.

Feet of Gamaliel] See a full account of this man in

Clarke's note on "Ac 5:34".

It has been generally supposed that the phrase, brought up at

the feet, is a reference to the Jewish custom, viz. that the

disciples of the rabbins sat on low seats, or on the ground,

whilst the rabbin himself occupied a lofty chair. But we rather

learn, from Jewish authority, that the disciples of the rabbins

stood before their teachers, as Vitringa has proved in his

treatise De Synag. Vet. lib. i. p. 1, cap. 7. Kypke, therefore,

contends that παρατουςποδας, at the feet, means the same as

πλησιον, near, or before, which is not an unfrequent mode of

speech among both sacred and profane writers. Thus, in

Ac 4:35, 37; 5:2, ετιθουνπαρατουςποδαςτων

αποστολων, they laid it at the apostles' feet, means only, they

brought it to the apostles. So in 2 Macc. iv. 7, παραποδαςηδη

τονφοηνορωντεςκειμενον, they saw death already lying at their

feet; that is, as the Syriac translator has properly rendered it,

they saw death immediately before them. So Themistius, Or. 27,

p. 341, who adds the term by which the phrase is explained, εστι

καιπλησιοναειτωδυναμενωλαμβανειν, ante pedes id temper et

prope est, illi qui accipere potest. Also Lucian, De Conser. Hist.

p. 669, ωνπαραποδαςοιελεγχοι. The refutation of which is at

hand. The same kind of form occurs in the Hebrew, Ex 11:8: All

the people that are at thy feet, beragleica, i.e. who are

with thee, under thy command, 2Sa 15:16.

And the king went out, and all his household, beraglaiv,

at his feet; that is, with him, in his company. See Kypke.

The phrase is used in the same sense among the Hindoos: I learned

this at my father's feet-instead of, I learned it of my father. I

was taught at the feet of such a teacher-my teacher's feet say so;

meaning, simply, such and such persons taught me.

According to the perfect manner] That is, according to that

strict interpretation of the law, and especially the traditions

of the elders, for which the Pharisees were remarkable. That it is

Pharisaism that the apostle has in view, when he says he was

taught according to, ακριβειαν, the most extinct manner, is

evident; and hence, in Ac 26:5, he calls Pharisaism

ακριβεστατην, the most exact system; and, under it, he was

zealous towards God; scrupulously exact in every part of his duty,

accompanying this with reverence to the supreme Being, and deep

concern for his honour and glory.

Verse 4. I persecuted this way] ταυτηντηνοδον; This doctrine,

the way of worshipping God, and arriving at a state of

blessedness. See Clarke on Ac 9:2.

Binding and delivering into prisons] See Clarke on Ac 8:3; and

See Clarke on Ac 9:2.

Verse 5. The high priest doth bear me witness, &c.] He probably

referred to the letters of authority which he had received from

the high priest, and the whole estate of the elders, παντο

πρεσβυτεριον, the whole of the presbytery, that is, the sanhedrin;

and it is likely, that he had those letters to produce. This zeal

of his against Christianity was an ample proof of his sincerity as

a Pharisaical Jew.

Verse 6. - 13. As I made my journey, &c.] See the whole of this

account, and all the particular circumstances, considered at large

in Clarke's notes on "Ac 9:1", &c., and the observations at the

conclusion of that chapter. See Clarke on Ac 9:43

Verse 14. And see that Just One] The Lord Jesus, called the Just

One, in opposition to the Jews, who crucified him as a malefactor:

See Clarke on Ac 7:52. This is an additional proof that Jesus

Christ did actually appear unto Saul of Tarsus.

Verse 15. Thou shalt be his witness unto all] Thou shalt

proclaim Christ crucified, both to Jews and Gentiles.

Verse 16. Arise, and be baptized] Take now the profession of

Christ's faith most solemnly upon thee, by being baptized in the

name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Wash away thy sins, &c.] Let this washing of thy body represent

to thee the washing away of thy sins: and know that this washing

away of sin can be received only by invoking the name of the Lord.

Verse 17. When I was come again to Jerusalem] It is likely that

he refers to the first journey to Jerusalem, about three years

after his conversion, Ac 9:25, 26, and Ga 1:18.

I was in a trance] This circumstance is not mentioned any where

else, unless it be that to which himself refers in 2Co 12:2-4,

when he conceived himself transported to the third heaven; and, if

the case be the same, the appearance of Jesus Christ to him, and

the command given, are circumstances related only in this place.

Verse 19. I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue] This shows

what an active instrument Saul of Tarsus was, in the hands of this

persecuting priesthood, and how very generally the followers of

Christ were persecuted, and how difficult it was at this time to

profess Christianity.

Verse 20. When the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed]

See Clarke on Ac 7:58; and

See Clarke on Ac 8:1. All these things Paul alleged as

reasons why he could not expect to be received by the

Christians; for how could they suppose that such a persecutor

could be converted?

Verse 21. I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.] This

was the particular appointment of St. Paul: he was the apostle of

the Gentiles; for, though he preached frequently to the Jews, yet

to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and to write for the

conversion and establishment of the Gentile world, were his

peculiar destination. Hence we find him and his companions

travelling every where; through Judea, Phoenicia, Arabia, Syria,

Cilicia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, Pamphylia, Galatia, Phrygia,

Macedonia, Greece, Asia, the Isles of the Mediterranean Sea, the

Isles of the AEgean Sea, Italy, and some add Spain and even

Britain. This was the diocess of this primitive bishop: none of

the apostles travelled, none preached, none laboured as this man;

and, we may add, none was so greatly owned of God. The epistles of

Peter, John, James, and Jude, are great and excellent; but, when

compared with those of Paul, however glorious they may be, they

have no glory comparatively, by reason of that glory which

excelleth. Next to Jesus Christ, St. Paul is the glory of the

Christian Church. Jesus is the foundation; Paul, the


Verse 22. They gave him audience unto this word] Namely, that

God had sent him to the Gentiles: not that they refused to preach

the law to the Gentiles, and make them proselytes; for this they

were fond of doing, so that our Lord says, they compassed sea and

land to make a proselyte; but they understood the apostle as

stating that God had rejected them, and called the Gentiles to be

his peculiar people in their place; and this they could not bear.

Away with such a fellow] According to the law of Moses, he who

attempted to seduce the people to any strange worship was to be

stoned, De 13:15. The Jews wished to insinuate that the apostle

was guilty of this crime, and that therefore he should be stoned,

or put to death.

Verse 23. Cast off their clothes] Bishop Pearce supposes that

shaking their upper garments is all that is meant here; and that

it was an ancient custom for men to do so when highly pleased or

greatly irritated; but it is likely that some of them were now

actually throwing off their clothes, in order to prepare to stone


Threw dust into the air] In sign of contempt, and by way of

execration. Shimei acted so, in order to express his contempt of

David, 2Sa 16:13, where it is said,

he cursed him as he went, and threw stones at him; or, as the

margin, he dusted him with dust. Their throwing dust in the air

was also expressive of extraordinary rage and vindictive malice.

The apostle, being guarded by the Roman soldiers, was out of the

power of the mob; and their throwing dust in the air not only

showed their rage, but also their vexation that they could not get

the apostle into their power. It is still used as a token of

hostility and defiance. M. Denon, (Travels in Egypt, vol. iii. p.

98,) on coming down the Nile to Cairo, stopped at the ancient city

of Antinoe, to examine its ruins. "Being desirous of obtaining a

view of the whole of these ruins, we ascended a little hill, and

soon perceived the inhabitants of the modern village assembling

behind an opposite eminence: scarcely had we come over against

them than, supposing our intentions to be hostile, they called out

for assistance, and threw dust into the air, in token of defiance.

The alarm spread, and they began firing upon us."

Verse 24. Examined by scourging] As the chief captain did not

understand the Hebrew language, he was ignorant of the charge

brought against Paul, and ignorant also of the defence which the

apostle had made; and, as he saw that they grew more and more

outrageous, he supposed that Paul must have given them the highest

provocation; and therefore he determined to put him to the

torture, in order to find out the nature of his crime. The

practice of putting people to the rack, in order to make them

confess, has, to the disgrace of human nature, existed in all


Verse 25. And as they bound him, &c.] They were going to tie him

to a post, that they might scourge him.

Is it lawful, &c.] The Roman law absolutely forbade the binding

of a Roman citizen. See Clarke on Ac 16:37.

Verse 28. With a great sum obtained I this freedom] So it

appears that the freedom, even of Rome, might be purchased, and

that it was sold at a very high price.

But I was free born.] It has been generally believed that the

inhabitants of Tarsus, born in that city, had the same rights and

privileges as Roman citizens, in consequence of a charter or grant

from Julius Caesar. Calmet disputes this, because Tarsus was a

free not a colonial city; and he supposes that Paul's father

might have been rewarded with the freedom of Rome for some

military services, and that it was in consequence of this that

Paul was born free. But that the city of Tarsus had such

privileges appears extremely probable. In Ac 21:39, Paul says he

was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and in Ac 22:28, he says he was

free born; and, at Ac 22:26, he calls himself a

Roman; as he does also Ac 16:37. From whence it has been

concluded, with every show of reason, that Tarsus, though no Roman

colony, yet had this privilege granted to it, that its natives

should be citizens of Rome. PLINY, in Hist. Nat. lib. v. 27, tells

us that Tarsus was a free city. And APPIAN, De Bello Civil. lib.

v. p. 1077, edit. Tollii, says that Antony, ταρσεαςελευθερους

ηφιεικαιατελειςφορων, made the people of Tarsus free, and

discharged them from paying tribute. DIO CASSIUS, lib. xlvii. p.

508, edit. Reimar, farther tells us, Adeo Caesari priori, et ejus

gratia etiam posteriori, favebant Tarsenses, ut urbem suam pro

Tarso JULIOPOLIN vocaverint: "that, for the affection which the

people of Tarsus bore to Julius Caesar, and afterwards to

Augustus, the former caused their city to be called Juliopolis."

The Greek text is as follows:- ουτωπροσφιλωςτωκαισαριπροτερω


σφαςαπαυτουμετονομασαι. To which I add, that PHILO, de Virt.

vol. ii. p. 587, edit. Mang., makes Agrippa say to Caligula, φιλων

ενιωνπατριδαςολαςτηςρωμαικηςηξιωσαςπολιτειας You have made

whole countries, to which your friends belong, to be citizens of

Rome. See Clarke on Ac 21:39. These testimonies are of

weight sufficient to show that Paul, by being born at Tarsus, might have

been free born, and a Roman. See Bishop Pearce on Ac 16:37.

Verse 29. After he knew that he was a Roman] He who was going to

scourge him durst not proceed to the torture when Paul declared

himself to be a Roman. A passage from Cicero, Orat. pro Verr. Act.

ii. lib. v. 64, throws the fullest light on this place: Ille,

quisquis erat, quem tu in crucem rapiebas, qui tibi esset ignotus,

cum civem se Romanum esse diceret, apud te Praetorem, si non

effugium, ne moram quidem mortis mentione atque usurpatione

civitatis assequi potuit? "Whosoever he might be whom thou wert

hurrying to the rack, were he even unknown to thee, if he said

that he was a Roman citizen, he would necessarily obtain from

thee, the Praetor, by the simple mention of Rome, if not an

escape, yet at least a delay of his punishment." The whole of the

sixty-fourth and sixty-fifth sections of this oration, which speak

so pointedly on this subject, are worthy of consideration. Of this

privilege he farther says, Ib. in cap. lvii., Illa vox et

exclamatio, Civis Romanus sum, quae saepe multis in ultimis terris

opem inter barbaros et salutem tulit, &c. That exclamation, I am a

Roman citizen, which often times has brought assistance and

safety, even among barbarians, in the remotest parts of the earth,


PLUTARCH likewise, in his Life of Pompey, (vol. iii. p. 445,

edit. Bryan,) says, concerning the behaviour of the pirates, when

they had taken any Roman prisoner, εκεινοδεηνυβριστικωτατονκ

τλ what was the most contumelious was this; when any of those

whom they had made captives cried out, ρωμαιοςειναι, THAT HE WAS

A ROMAN, and told them his name, they pretended to be surprised,

and be in a fright, and smote upon their thighs, and fell down (on

their knees) to him, beseeching him to pardon them! It is no

wonder then that the torturer desisted, when Paul cried out that

he was a Roman; and that the chief captain was alarmed, because he

had bound him.

Verse 30. He-commanded-all their council to appear] Instead of

ελθειν, to come, which we translate, to appear, συνελθειν,

to assemble, or meet together, is the reading of ACE, nearly

twenty others, the AEthiopic, Arabic, Vulgate, Chrysostom, and

Theophylact: this reading Griesbach has received into the text;

and it is most probably the true one: as the chief captain wished

to know the certainty of the matter, he desired the Jewish

council, or Sanhedrin, to assemble, and examine the business

thoroughly, that he might know of what the apostle was accused; as

the law would not permit him to proceed against a Roman in any

judicial way, but on the clearest evidence; and, as he understood

that the cause of their enmity was something that concerned their

religion, he considered the Sanhedrin to be the most proper judge,

and therefore commanded them to assemble; and there is no doubt

that he himself, and a sufficient number of soldiers, took care to

attend, as the person of Paul could not be safe in the hands of

persons so prejudiced, unprincipled, and enraged.

This chapter should end with the twenty-ninth verse, and the

following should begin with the thirtieth; this is the most

natural division, and is followed by some of the most correct

editions of the original text.

1. IN his address to the council, Paul asserts that he is a Jew,

born of and among Jews; and that he had a regular Jewish

education; and he takes care to observe that he had early

imbibed all the prejudices peculiar to his countrymen, and had

given the fullest proof of this in his persecution of the

Christians. Thus, his assertions, concerning the unprofitableness

of the legal ceremonies, could neither be attributed to ignorance

nor indifference. Had a Gentile, no matter how learned or eminent,

taught thus, his whole teaching would have been attributed to

ignorance, prejudice, and envy. God, therefore, in his endless

mercy, made use of a most eminent, learned, and bigoted Jew, to

demonstrate the nullity of the whole Jewish system, and show the

necessity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. At the close of this chapter, Dr. Dodd has the following

judicious remark:-"As unrighteous as it was in the Roman officer,

on this popular clamour, to attempt putting this holy apostle to

the torture, so reasonable was St. Paul's plea, as a Roman

citizen, to decline that suffering. It is a prudence worthy the

imitation of the bravest of men, not to throw themselves into

unnecessary difficulties. True courage widely differs from rash

and heedless temerity; nor are we under any obligation, as

Christians, to give up our civil privileges, which ought to be

esteemed as the gifts of God, to every insolent and turbulent

invader. In a thousand circumstances, gratitude to God, and duty

to men, will oblige us to insist upon them; and a generous concern

for those who may come after us should engage us to labour to

transmit them to posterity improved rather than impaired." This

should be an article in the creed of every genuine Briton.

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