What does Acts 22 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Acts 22:1–5 begins Paul's defense against false rumors he brought a Gentile into the temple. He reminds the crowd how much he formerly hated Jesus-followers. Gamaliel, the great Pharisee rabbi, trained Paul in the strict ways of the law. Paul embodied that training by chasing down Christians and imprisoning them. In fact, he chased them far from Jerusalem—as far as Damascus. The incidents described in the early part of Paul's speech are also explained in Acts 9:1–2.
Acts 22:6–16 continues Paul's defense against accusations that he both breaks the Mosaic law and associates with Gentiles. He has described his early life training to be a Pharisee and persecuting the church (Acts 22:3–5). Now, he explains how he came to follow Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. His accusers show polite interest in his story until he arrives at the point in the narrative where Jesus tells him to give Gentiles the way of salvation. Paul's conversion experience is also recorded in Acts 9:1–19 and reiterated in Acts 26:12–18.
Acts 22:17–22 comes after a mob has accused Paul of bringing a Gentile into the temple. He did not, but he has traveled to Jerusalem with them. He's trying to explain how years ago, Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus and not only saved him but selected him. Paul's new role was to bring that same message of forgiveness to the Gentiles, including the man seen with Paul in the city. The crowd rejects Paul's explanation, the Romans arrest him, and he stays under house arrest for five years. Paul's conversion experience is described in Acts 9:1–19 and he repeats his story in Acts 26:12–18.
Acts 22:23–30 describes how the Roman army tribune continues to seek understanding. A mob of Jews on the temple mount want Paul dead (Acts 21:27–40). The officer let Paul speak, hoping to uncover the cause, but Paul only managed to agitate the crowd more (Acts 22:1–22). Now, the tribune tries the traditional Roman way of uncovering the truth: flogging. Unfortunately, he missed the part where Paul is a Roman citizen. Even the chains on Paul's wrists are illegal. The next morning, the tribune will try one last tactic: the Sanhedrin. It doesn't end well (Acts 23:1–10).
Chapter Summary:
In Acts 22, a young Roman military officer realizes he cannot control Jews who do not wish to be controlled. He has just rescued Paul from a crowd that largely doesn't know why they want to kill Paul. In hopes of gathering information, the tribune allows Paul to speak to the crowd. The crowd listens only briefly, then explodes again. The tribune tries flogging but is foiled by Paul's Roman citizenship. Finally, the tribune schedules a meeting with the Sanhedrin. It does not go well (Acts 23:1–10).
Chapter Context:
Paul came to Jerusalem to tell the church of his ministry's success with Gentiles. The leaders are more worried about a rumor that Paul no longer respects the Jewish law. Paul agrees to perform a very Jewish ritual, but in the process is falsely accused of bringing a Gentile into the temple. A mob assaults him, and the Roman tribune arrests him (Acts 21:17–36). The tribune tries to uncover the truth by letting Paul speak to the crowd, then almost flogging him (Acts 21:37—22). Next, he will bring Paul to the Sanhedrin, to no avail (Acts 23:1–10).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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