BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
PAUL DEFENDS HIMSELF AGAINST FALSE CHARGES
In Acts 22 the Apostle Paul begins to defend himself against the slanderous charges that had been brought up against him by the anti-CHRIST Jews who had followed him from the province of Asia, to Jerusalem. Paul, had been communicating to the Roman commander of the cohort, who rescued him from peril, in the Greek language, but now, he turns and begins to speak and address the riotous crowd who tried to kill him, in the Aramaic tongue.
Most of the crowd was Jewish, and the Jews in those days communicated mostly in the Aramaic tongue, which was a sort of blending of the Hebrew and Arabic languages. When they heard Paul speaking in their own language, a divine hush fell over the crowd, and they were all just as surprised as the Roman commander was when he heard Paul address him in Greek. Here Paul demonstrates more than anywhere else in Scripture, his ability to communicate in many languages (tongues), as he had once declared he could, in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:18-19).
He begins by sharing with the crowd, some of his pedigree. Here he tells them that he was Jewish like them, and was born into the tribe of Benjamin in the city of Tarsus, an important seaport in Cilicia at the mouth of the Cydnus River. Paul was raised and educated in Jerusalem under the most important teacher in Israel in those days, Gamaliel, who had taught at the famous School of Hillel, and had died just five years earlier. There, he learned how to follow the Laws of Moses, and all Jewish customs to the letter, and he was indeed, a Rabbi, and, a Pharisee.
Paul goes on to share his history of being a persecutor of Christian Jews, hounding them, throwing them into jails and prisons, and even overseeing the murder of some (i.e. Stephen-Acts chapter 7). The High Priest and all the Council members (The Sanhedrin) could attest to this fact. For they often armed Paul with letters authorizing him to arrest and bring in Christians, so that they could be prosecuted by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem for treason and blaspheme.
Paul then shared his famous “Damascus Road” experience with the crowd, and how he received his calling from CHRIST to deliver the message of salvation to the Gentiles. He tells of how he was blinded by intense light, and had to be led into Damascus by his companions. There he was confronted by a GODly man named Ananias, a prophet, who lived there in that ancient city.
The prophet first restored Paul’s sight, and then, he informed him that GOD had chosen him, an enemy of the Christians, to deliver the Gospel of salvation to the Gentiles. He told Paul to get up, go be baptized and have your sins washed away, calling on the name of JESUS.
When Paul returned to Jerusalem he said that he was instructed by JESUS to leave and go to the Gentiles in far-away lands, and it is at this point that the crowd, once again, turned on him shouting, “Kill him!”, and began throwing dust into the air, a gesture of insane anger that usually led to the death of the person who is the object of its dissatisfaction.
Paul believed that GOD loves all mankind, but his audience mistakenly believed that GOD only loved the Jews. In fact, they even believed that it was blasphemous to teach otherwise. And so, in some sense Paul could identify with the angry crowd, however, in the divine sense of Christianity and the desires of GOD, he could not.
PAUL REVEALS HIS ROMAN CITIZENSHIP
As the angry crowd worked its way back up to a fever pitch, the commander, not knowing what Paul had said to them in Aramaic to rile them up again, took Paul inside the fortress and ordered him to be whipped, trying to force him to confess his alleged crime. As they were tying Paul down to lash him, he shouted to one of the officers standing there, “Isn’t it illegal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?”
The officer walked over to the commander and said, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen! And so the commander went over to Paul and asked if it was true that he was a Roman citizen. Paul replied, “Yes! I certainly am! The commander, who had to buy his freedom replied, “I am too, and it cost me plenty!”
Paul, who was born a citizen of Rome, did not have to purchase his freedom as the commander once had, and so the commander was terrified at the consequences he could face for his mistreatment of Paul, a natural born Roman. He quickly ordered his men to cease and desist, as he was concerned about what would happen to him for even ordering Paul to be bound and whipped in the first place, without a trial.
The commander did, however, still hold Paul overnight, mostly for his own safety, and the next day he freed him from his chains and ordered the Jewish hierarchy, the Sanhedrin, into emergency session to try Paul, in order to determine his guilt or innocence. Knowing that his task was just beginning, Paul readied himself for the defense of the Gospel of CHRIST JESUS, his LORD and SAVIOR, for WHOM he was totally prepared to die for, when the time came.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website