Paul’s defence to the Jerusalem Jews
Brothers and fathers, hear the defence which I now make to you. 2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they were even more quiet; and he said: 3 I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as you all are this day. 4 And I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, 5 as also the high priest does bear me witness, and all the council of the elders. From whom also I received letters to the brothers and journeyed to Damascus, to bring them also that were there to Jerusalem in bonds to be punished. 6 And it came to pass, that as I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? 8 And I answered: Who are you Lord? And he said to me: I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute. 9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, but they did not understand the voice of him that spoke to me. 10 And I said: What shall I do Lord? And the Lord said to me: Arise and go into Damascus, and there you shall be told all things which are appointed for you to do. 11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand by those that were with me, I came into Damascus.
12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well reported of by all the Jews that dwelt there, 13 came to me; and standing by me, he said to me: Brother Saul, receive your sight. And in that very moment I looked upon him. 14 And he said: The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, and to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth. 15 For you shall be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you delay? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
17 And it came to pass, that when I had returned to Jerusalem and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, 18 and saw him saying to me: Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not welcome your testimony concerning me. 19 And I said: Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those that believed in you; 20 and when the blood of Stephen your witness was shed, I also was standing by and approved, and guarded the robes of those that slew him. 21 And he said to me: Depart! For I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.
Paul uses his Roman citizenship
22 And they listened until this word, and then they lifted up their voice and said: Away with such a fellow from the earth! For it is not fitting that he should live. 23 And as they cried out and threw off their cloaks and threw dust into the air, 24 the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the fortress, bidding that he should be examined by scourging, that he might know for what cause they so shouted against him. 25 And when they had tied him up with the thongs, Paul said to the centurion that stood by: Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman citizen and uncondemned? 26 And when the centurion heard it, he went to the chief captain and told him, saying: What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman. 27 And the chief captain came and said to him: Tell me, are you a Roman? And he said: Yes. 28 And the chief captain answered: With a great sum of money I obtained this citizenship. And Paul said: But I am Roman born. 29 Then those that were about to torture him withdrew from him immediately; and the chief captain also was afraid when he knew that he was a Roman, because he had bound him. 30 But the next day, desiring to know with certainty why he was accused by the Jews, he released him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together, and brought Paul down and set him before them.
22:2 If we communicate with people in their language, literally or metaphorically, i.e. in the terms they understand and are familiar with, then they will listen the more carefully.
22:13 Paul was called “brother” even before his baptism, and even after his baptism, he refers to the Jews as his “brethren” (v. 5). Of course, he knew all about the higher status and meaning of brotherhood in Christ; but he wasn’t so pedantic as to not call the Jews his ‘brethren’. He clearly didn’t have any of the guilt-by-association paranoia which has led many believers to be so separate from the world that they can’t effectively witness to it.
22:16 There should be no delay to baptism- it is for the forgiveness of our sins. This is why baptism is a complete immersion in water- to symbolize the washing away of sin. “Calling [up]on [yourself] His name” (Greek) is what we do at baptism- we become His.
22:26 Paul was a Roman citizen. But he invites all of us to see ourselves as a citizen of a Heavenly state (Phil. 3:20); he downplayed his Roman citizenship in his own mind, because he was so conscious of being a citizen of God’s Kingdom. We too should allow the wonder of our citizenship in Christ to lead us to despise all worldly advantage which we may have.