Acts 22:1

ESV “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”
NIV Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.'
NASB Brothers and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you.'
CSB "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense before you."
NLT Brothers and esteemed fathers,' Paul said, 'listen to me as I offer my defense.'
KJV Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

What does Acts 22:1 mean?

Paul knows he faces arrest in Jerusalem; the Holy Spirit had warned him (Acts 20:22–23). He comes to James, the half-brother of Jesus, and the other elders to report on his recent success planting a church in Ephesus as well as the health of other churches encircling the Aegean Sea. The elders, in turn, tell him about a rumor that he has been teaching Jewish Christians to not circumcise their sons. The elders ask him to show his devotion to the Mosaic law by taking part in the final ceremony for what was likely a Nazirite vow. Paul agrees (Acts 21:17–26).

Before Paul can fulfill the requirements for the vow, Jews from modern-day Turkey wrongly accuse him. They say he has brought a Gentile into the temple, which would have been an act of defilement and a capital crime. A mob forms and attacks Paul. To save Paul's life, the Roman tribune arrests him. Before the young officer can take Paul too far into the barracks, Paul asks to speak to the crowd (Acts 21:27–40). This is his speech to his fellow Jews—"brothers"—and the elders and priests of the Sanhedrin—"fathers."

When Paul speaks before synagogues, he typically shows how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah who brings the kingdom of God. Here, Paul gives a long explanation as to why his accusers found him in the presence of a Gentile. He starts by identifying himself as a one-time Pharisee trainee and persecutor of the church (Acts 22:3–5). He then explains how he came to worship Jesus (Acts 22:6–16). Finally, he describes returning to Jerusalem after his conversion, particularly how the Jews rejected his new religious state and God commissioned him to reach the Gentiles instead (Acts 22:17–21).

Years before, Jesus warned the disciples about coming persecution. He also told them, "When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matthew 10:19–20). We might wonder why Paul tells the story he does, but apparently, it's by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
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