Paul is in Jerusalem and has been accused in Acts 21:28 “This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place!” and is held in chains until he is brought before the Sanhedrin. Paul relates his experience with Jesus who has sent Paul with a message of salvation that extends to all, including the Gentiles. Though Paul speaks to them in their native tongue, Aramaic, and explains his Jewish upbringing, it is Pauls claim that causes a reaction in Acts 23:1 “Men and brothers, I have lived my life in all good conscience before God to this day.” because they don’t recognize him as being under the law and then his statement in Acts 23:6-7 “Men and brothers! I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am being judged concerning the hope and the resurrection of the dead! that causes a great division.
Is It Permitted For Me To Say Something?
Men – Brothers – Fathers, Listen
Paul has an opportunity to address the crowd. Since it is near the time of Passover, there are the local Jewish men; priests, Levites, and elders and there are also Jewish men from many other places including the Jews from Asia that had started the accusations against Paul. And, the main accusation were that Paul taught against the law of Moses and that he brought Greeks (Gentiles) into the temple in
Acts 21:28 “Israelite men, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place! And furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!”
Neither of these were accurate, but they played to the fears of the Jews. Paul begins to quiet them, first by establishing some common ground as he addresses them as brothers and also speaks to them in Aramaic in
Acts 22:1–2 ““Men—brothers and fathers—listen to my defense to you now!” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Aramaic language, they became even more silent. And he said”
We might remember here, that there were many languages spoken on the day of Pentecost in
Acts 2:8-11 “… we hear them speaking in our own languages the great deeds of God!”
And during this time, “Many Jews from the Dispersion could not speak the Hebrew or Aramaic languages: even the greatest Jewish scholar of the first century, Philo of Alexandria, could not read the books of Moses (on which he wrote extensive commentaries) in Hebrew. For Paul to address the people in their own tongue was an effective way of commanding their attention”.1
However, they were in Jerusalem and Paul chose to speak, “Aramaic … (which) was the more common spoken language at the time. Paul’s use of it demonstrates to those present that he is a Jew and respects their culture”.2
What Should I Do Lord?
The God of Our Fathers Has Appointed You
Paul has given an account of his encounter with the Lord and now relates the words of Ananias who charged Paul “as a witness for him to all people” in
Acts 22:14–15 “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 because you will be a witness for him to all people of what you have seen and heard.”
Paul then recounts his next experience in Jerusalem where the Lord appears to him in
Acts 22:18 “and saw him saying to me, ‘Hurry and depart quickly from Jerusalem, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
and then Paul tells them how the Lord commanded him to go to the Gentiles in
Acts 22: 21 “And he said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’ ”
Paul had been taking the gospel to the Gentiles when these “Jews from Asia” in Acts 21:27 encountered him. And, the crowd was listening until this point, but this idea that God was sending salvation to the Gentiles was more than they could hear in Acts 22:22.
But I Indeed Was Born A Citizen
In All Good Conscience Before God
Paul has been held in prison, for his protection from the crowds, and the tribune releases Paul for an audience before the Sanhedrin in Acts 22:30. As Paul begins to address them, he again is trying to build common ground calling them brothers and expressing that “I have lived my life in all good conscience before God” in
Acts 23:1 “And looking intently at the Sanhedrin, Paul said, “Men and brothers, I have lived my life in all good conscience before God to this day.””
but Paul is stopped almost immediately as in
Acts 23:2 “the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to strike his mouth”.
Paul recognized that they were not willing to listen so changed his approach. Paul deflects the crowd from the accusations against him personally and shifts the focus instead to “the resurrection of the dead” in
Acts 23:6-7 “Men and brothers! I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am being judged concerning the hope and the resurrection of the dead! 7 And when he said this, a dispute developed between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided”.
We Have Bound Ourselves Under A Curse
- Acts 22:1-5 Men – Brothers – Fathers, Listen
- Acts 22:14-21 The God of Our Fathers Has Appointed You
- Acts 23:1-11 In All Good Conscience Before God
- Acts 21:37-40
- Acts 22:1-30
- Acts 23:1-22
- 1. Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 373). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 2. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ac 21:40). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.