Acts 22 Paul’s First Defense

Tod Kennedy, 17, 2001

Main points of application or “So what?” from Acts 12

  1. Do we who believe God, ask him, like Paul did after he believed in Christ, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 9.6 and Acts 22.10)
  2. Like Paul in Acts 22.14-15, God has given each of us a special ministry for him. Peter clearly speaks of this in 1 Peter 4.7-11. Paul wrote of this in Ephesians 2.10 and Philippians 1.27-28.
  3. Prepare yourself—especially through the local church—and so be ready, like Paul was, to give a reasoned and spirited defense of what you believe (Acts 22.1; 1 Peter 3.15; Jude 3; Ephesians 4.11-16).
  4. Put your preparation into practice throughout each day. Look for your own opportunities to speak for Christ.  When you have an opportunity to tell another about your hope in Christ, use that opportunity. James taught this in James 2.14-26, and Paul taught in it Philippians 4.9.
  5. Paul needed prayer support while he was in Jerusalem. He asked, about three years later, in his letters to the Ephesians 6.18-20 and the Colossians 4.2-4, that we support, by prayer, him and  those who witness to unbelievers. Do we consistently pray for others who serve the Lord?

Summary Outline

  1. Acts 22.1-2. Paul, after the Roman soldiers rescued him, began a reasoned and spirited defense or “apologia” of his faith to the Jewish mob—“brethren and fathers”—in the Aramaic language, the language of the Jews at that time.
  2. Acts 22.3-21. Paul’s defense took the form of an autobiographical sketch in which he traced his life from his physical birth in Tarsus of Cilicia to the first time the religious Jews ran him out of Jerusalem about three years after his salvation. Luke recorded Paul’s defense.  Paul, in Acts 22.3-4, first spoke of his wonderful heritage. He was a Roman citizen by birth and a Pharisee by education and training. He studied under Raban Gamaliel the Elder. Paul, like much of unbelieving Israel (Romans 10.2),  had great zeal for God, but a zeal that was not according to knowledge. He then, in Acts 22.5-9, explained his Damascus road encounter with the Lord and his sudden realization that Jesus was the Lord and Messiah; he trusted Jesus as his savior.  In the third part of Paul’s message, Acts 22.10-21, he explained that once he had accepted Jesus as his Messiah he asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” Everything that Paul had learned about the God of Israel and Israel’s Messiah now became clear in the person of Jesus the Nazarene. Jesus is Lord God and savior, so Paul’s response was to serve him completely.  God revealed Paul’s new ministry to him through Ananias in the city of Damascus. Paul was to witness about the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, and witness especially to Gentiles.
  3. Acts 22.22-23. At this point the Jews could no longer restrain their hatred of Paul and his gospel. Paul made two points that finally brought the crowd to its feet against him. He identified himself and the religious Jews with the death of that great martyr, Stephen, and then he had the nerve to say that God had commissioned him to witness to the Gentiles, which implied that Jews and Gentiles were equal before God through Jesus Christ, and that the law was not in any way necessary for this relationship with God.
  4. Acts 22.24-26. The Roman commander had seen enough, though he could not understand Paul, since he spoke in Aramaic. He had his soldiers bring Paul into the barracks for scourging and questioning.  The scourge was a murderous type of torture. A scourge had leather thongs attached to a wooden handle. The thongs had pieces of bone and metal attached. This torture would cripple or kill its victim. Just before the Romans began scourging Paul, he dropped a verbal bomb: he was a Roman citizen. That stopped the Romans in their tracks. Early Roman laws protected Roman citizens from undergoing this punishment.  “By the Valerian and Porcian laws, passed at various times between 509 B.C. (the traditional date of the founding of the Roman Republic) and 195 B.C., Romans citizens were exempted from degrading forms of punishment and had certain valued rights established for them in relation to the law.” (F.F. Bruce , The Book of the Acts, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, 340)
  5. Acts 22.26-30. Once the commander learned that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth he had to release him from his chains. The commander then ordered the Sanhedrin to meet, to which he brought Paul. This was a religious matter and the Sanhedrin had to make any legitimate charges against Paul.

Dictionary of Bible Doctrine

  1. Apologetics
  2. Witnessing for Christ