Acts chapter 22

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What does Acts chapter 22 mean?

Acts 22 is the first full chapter of Paul's incarceration by the Roman government. He had traveled to Jerusalem to report the progress of his church-planting ministry to the church leaders and apostles. They rejoiced to hear of the new strong church in Ephesus and the continued growth of the churches around the Aegean Sea, but they were more anxious about local news. Legalistic Jewish Christians spread a rumor that Paul taught other Jewish Christians to reject the Mosaic law—specifically, that they should not circumcise their sons. In truth, Paul only taught that the Gentiles did not need to follow the customs of the Mosaic law, by order of the very men reporting these charges (Acts 15). The church elders proposed Paul assist four Jewish Christians in completing their Nazirite vow to prove he still respected the Mosaic law. While doing so, non-Christian Jews from the province around Ephesus saw him in town with a Gentile Christian they knew from home. When they saw Paul in the temple, they wrongly accused him of bringing the Gentile man into the temple and incited the crowd to attack him. The Roman tribune received word of the rampage and rescued Paul by arresting him. Paul, never one to leave an issue undiscussed, begged the tribune to let him speak. The tribune agreed, hopeful Paul's words would explain the crowd's violence (Acts 21:17–40).

Acts 22:1–22 records the text of that speech and the Jews' reaction. Instead of overtly preaching the gospel, Paul gives a defense as to why he traveled with a Gentile from Ephesus. In verses 3–5, he reminds them of his strict education by the Pharisee rabbi Gamaliel and how violently he had, at first, persecuted Christians. In verses 6–16, Paul recounts his conversion, as narrated in Acts 9:1–19. In verses 17–21, he explains that when he returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, the Jews rejected him so strongly they sought to kill him, so God told him to leave Jerusalem and concentrate on reaching the Gentiles, instead. The mention of Gentiles reignites the mob's rage.

In Acts 22:23–30, the last part of the chapter, the Roman tribune realizes neither Paul's speech nor the crowd's renewed anger explain anything. So, he falls back on the traditional Roman way to uncover information: beating people until they talk. The soldiers tie Paul up but before the centurion raises the flagellum, Paul points out that, as a Roman citizen, he cannot be flogged until he has faced a trial. The centurion rushes to the tribune who, in turn, rushes to Paul to validate the information. All the Romans are horrified; not only would it have been a crime to flog Paul, but it was also a crime when they shackled him in the temple courtyard (Acts 21:33). Verse 30 continues the tribune's search for the truth as he schedules a meeting with the Sanhedrin, hoping they can shed light on the situation.

Paul's meeting with the Sanhedrin starts when he professes his innocence, they strike him, and he inadvertently insults the high priest. Realizing he has nothing to gain in this meeting, Paul shrewdly mentions the resurrection of the dead, in which the Pharisees believe, while the Sadducees do not. The two sects promptly come to blows, and the foiled tribune takes Paul back to the Roman barracks. The next day, Paul's nephew uncovers the Sanhedrin's murder plot. The tribune realizes he has not merely lost control over the situation, but he probably never had it. He sends Paul to the governor in Caesarea Maritima and doesn't even show up for the trial (Acts 23).
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