Acts 22 Paul Stands Before the Sanhedrin
Summary

Following Paul’s arrest and identification in chapter 21, the apostle gives his first defense speech. He declares himself to be a faithful Jew, one who has responded to the promises of God, and who is follow-ing the direction of the Messiah. He will go on to explain that because of the appearance of Jesus to him, he no longer persecutes Jewish Christians but rather he is a believer. In his defense speech, Paul speaks of his conversion and of his past Jewish efforts to persecute Christians. He recounts his calling to preach the gospel and to go to the Gentiles. That, of course, creates additional resentment among the Jews. Their reaction seems to border on violence and the captain takes Paul into the barracks.

22“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

2And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:

3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[1] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

6“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[2] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

Question 1

Was Saul of Tarsus saved from his sins when he saw the light on the road?

12“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Question 2

What role did Ananias play in Saul’s conversion?

Question 3

What was Saul of Tarsus told to do so that his sins could be washed away?

17“When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Question 4

What did the Lord have in mind for Saul to do for Him after his conversion?

Paul and the Roman Tribune

22Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25But when they had stretched him out for the whips,[3] Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

Question 5

What benefits did Saul have as a Roman citizen?

Paul Before the Council

30But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

People
  • Luke
  • Theophilus
  • Saul of Tarsus
  • Making a defense of his faith

  • Ananias
  • The preacher sent to Saul

  • Commander of the Roman forces in Jerusalem
  • Tried to determine what Paul had done

Places
  • Jerusalem

22“Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

Acts 22:1

Paul had addressed the commander in the Greek language. He speaks to the crowd in Hebrew.

This speech was not directly intended for the Romans but for Paul’s Jewish brethren.

2And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said:

3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[1] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

Acts 22:3

All the hearers knew who Gamaliel was. He was one of their foremost rabbis and teachers.

At that point, Paul was a pre-Christian unbeliever. He is still bearing his sins. Until his sins were washing away, he was a lost man even though religious, moral, and having a clear conscience.

He was not saved yet though he had seen the light, believed who Jesus is, prayed, and repented

6“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[2] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

Acts 22:9

Paul evidently means that they did not understand the voice. They heard a voice sound (Acts 9:7).


Acts 22:10

At this point, Paul is a pre-Christian believer (that is, he believes in Jesus but must do something more to be a true Christian.) He would need to hear the gospel message and its requirements to be saved (see 1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 1:16,17; Romans 10:10-17).

12“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Acts 22:16

Upon being baptized, Paul would be a Christian believer (his sins washed away).

17“When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Acts 22:17

Paul says that he returned to Jerusalem after being saved, but the Lord sent him to other places because the Jews would not listen to him.


Acts 22:21

When Paul said God had sent him to Gentiles, the Jews stopped listening to his defense.

Paul and the Roman Tribune

22Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25But when they had stretched him out for the whips,[3] Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

Acts 22:24

It appears the commander was going to try to beat the truth out of Paul by scourging. Scourging was beating with a whip (flagella) of leather thongs to which were attached metal or bone chips.


Acts 22:25

A Roman citizen was not to be scourged. The place of scourging was called the Gabbatha. It was a stone pavement in the fortress courtyard. Jesus was probably scourged there.


Acts 22:28

Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, having been born in Tarsus, a free Roman city.

Paul Before the Council

30But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.

Acts 22:30

The council was the Sanhedrin, the high court consisting of 70 Jewish scribes, elders, and priests The commander asks for them to meet to determine the reasons for the chaos

Perspectives

Before becoming a Christian, Saul was both an Israelite and a citizen of Rome.

Salvation from sin comes through hearing the gospel and obeying it.

To become a Christian, one must be baptized and wash away his sins.