Acts 22:23

ESV And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,
NIV As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,
NASB And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air,
CSB As they were yelling and flinging aside their garments and throwing dust into the air,
NLT They yelled, threw off their coats, and tossed handfuls of dust into the air.
KJV And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

What does Acts 22:23 mean?

Jews, many from modern-day Turkey, have come to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. A rumor has been circulating about a certain man named Paul, who teaches that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. The rumor claims Paul has been teaching Jews from Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece that they should no longer circumcise their sons (Acts 21:20–21). He's even been seen in Jerusalem with a Gentile (Acts 21:29).

When this Paul arrives at the temple, the worshipers assume he has brought the Gentile with him, thus desecrating their most sacred place (Acts 21:27–29). The worshipers become a crowd and the crowd becomes a mob who attack Paul and drag him from the temple. The Roman army tribune rescues Paul by arresting him and lets him give his defense (Acts 21:30–40). The crowd listens respectfully until Paul says this Jesus commissioned him to teach Gentiles. This is too far past the line, and the mob shouts for Paul's arrest and execution (Acts 22:1–22).

The Greek word for "throwing off" may be translated "waving" or "shaking." Jesus told the disciples to "shake off the dust" from their feet when leaving a town that refused to listen to their message about Him (Matthew 10:14). Paul shook the dust from his garments in Corinth after the Jews rejected His teaching (Acts 18:6). Though the specific Greek terms are different, there may be a common message implied. By metaphorically shaking the dust off their cloaks, the mob is rejecting every bit of what Paul is saying and represents.

The tribune still needs to learn why the Jews are so upset, however, so he tries to flog the information from Paul. Fortunately for Paul, he is a Roman citizen and therefore may not be tortured without a court conviction. In addition, he may not be chained. When the young commander discovers Paul's status and looks down at the chains he had ordered his men to wrap around Paul's wrists (Acts 21:33), he realizes how badly he's messed up (Acts 22:24–29).
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