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Summary: At first it looked once more as though Paul might be torn into shreds by the Jewish mob, but he was again rescued by the Roman tribune and taken safely into the barracks. But then the tide turned against Paul again as the tribune decided to examine....

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March 16, 2016

Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson: The Response of the People (Acts 22:22-29)

ACTS 22:22-29 (KJV)

22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.

23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

Introduction

The narrative following Paul’s address is extremely dramatic and filled with suspense. At first it looked once more as though Paul might be torn into shreds by the Jewish mob (22), but he was again rescued by the Roman tribune and taken safely into the barracks. But then the tide turned against Paul again as the tribune decided to examine him by the cruel Roman method of scourging (24). Again Paul was rescued—this time by an appeal to his Roman citizenship (25-29).

COMMENTARY

22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.

AND THEY GAVE HIM AUDIENCE UNTO THIS WORD. What lay behind the desire on Paul’s part to speak to these people? Surely it was a great and passionate craving to persuade his brethren after the flesh. Why else would he ask to speak to this infuriated mob? His greatest desire was for the Jewish people, that they might yet come to an understanding of the truth.

As soon as Paul mentioned the detested word Gentiles they gave vent to their zealous rage, which had become increasingly intense, because it had been held back ever since Paul was rescued from the crowd in the court yard, by soldiers. They yelled, they shouted, they despised Paul, saying that he was “not fit to live.” They were beside themselves. For Paul to go minister to the Gentiles was unpardonable; that he should go to them and tell them that the One they had crucified, was the Messiah and the Savior of the world, the Lord from heaven, was to them the crime of crimes. Paul was a traitor.

“AWAY WITH SUCH A FELLOW FROM THE EARTH!” they screamed. They were through listening to anything Paul had to say. They would hear no more of this blasphemy [“At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, (7:57)],and the opportunity was gone for Paul to defend himself—had that been his desire—against the specific charge that he had “brought Greeks into the temple area” (21:28b). But in any case, that charge was only incidental. The Jews real objection, that he had talked “against our people and our law and this place” (21:28a), had been sufficiently borne out by what they had heard.

Paul should have known better than to refer to his “Gentile” witness. It was ultimately Paul’s openness to Gentiles that got him in trouble with the crowd. [“They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple”; 21:29)]. In those days of rising Jewish nationalism, Paul’s law-free Gentile mission seemed to be disloyal to all that was Jewish [“They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (21:21).] It was no surprise that the crowd resumed its cry of “away with him.” [“The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!” (21:36).]This time they escalated their outcry, adding that such a scoundrel had no right even to exist.

23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

It was good for Paul that the courtyard of the temple was paved. Had there been stones lying around, they would have been used to stone him to death then and there. As it was, they expressed their abhorrence of him vividly enough through wild gestures of outrage. They tore off their outer garments and flung them in the air. They scooped up dust and flung it about. The multitude was a mob once again. At any moment it could be expected to storm the stairway in an effort to seize Paul. The tribune and the soldiers must have been astonished by this sudden outburst of concentrated hate by a crowd that, moments before, had been listening to their prisoner with riveted attention. Their astonishment must have been increased by the fact that they had not been able to understand a word of the language in which he had addressed the crowd.

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