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22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” 23 Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. 25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.” 27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.” 28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” 29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. 30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

 

Following Paul’s speech, Acts 22:22-29 describes how the apostle was to be beaten by the Roman government. However, Paul revealed himself as a Roman citizen, preventing him from being thrashed.

22:22

And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”

Having heard Paul’s speech, the Jews demanded his death.

22:23

Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air,

The people of Jerusalem responded to Paul’s speech by tearing off their clothes and throwing dust in the air. This act was a sign that the Jews believed Paul had committed an act of apostasy. They were also outraged that Paul would minister to the Gentiles.

22:24

the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.

The Roman commander commanded Paul to be brought into the barracks and beaten so that he could know why the mob was against him. He could not understand Aramaic.

“Scourging” was a severe form of punishment where they would beat the prisoner with a wooden handle with leather strips of metal and bone. Paul had never experienced what the Romans call flagellum, where the beating would result in infection and loss of blood. Many died from this procedure. Jesus experienced flagellum (Jn 19:10).

22:25

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

As the Romans bound Paul for flogging, he asked the centurion whether flogging an uncondemned Roman citizen was legal. It was, in fact, illegal for a Roman to undergo flagellation without due course.

22:26

When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”

The apostle asked the centurion whether it was wise to beat a Roman citizen. It was illegal under Roman law to beat a Roman without a trial. The centurion charged with beating Paul went to his commander to tell him of Paul’s Roman citizenship. To violate Roman law established by Valerian and Porcian edits would cost the commander his career.

22:27

Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”

The Roman commander went to Paul and asked him whether he was a “Roman.” Paul replied, “Yes.”

22:28

The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”

The commander asked Paul how he obtained his citizenship, indicating that he purchased it with money. Paul answered that he was “born a citizen.” He was a citizen by birth, not by purchase.

22:29

Then, immediately, those who were about to examine him withdrew from him, and the commander was also afraid after he had bound him.

The commander became afraid because he bound a Roman citizen in chains. At this point, they stopped interrogating Paul.

22:30

The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

The next day, the commander released Paul from his chains. His Roman citizenship prevented him from being imprisoned. The commander wanted to know why Jewish leadership accused Paul of crimes, so he brought the apostle before the Jewish council.

PRINCIPLE:

It is proper for Christians to use their secular citizenship.

APPLICATION:

The Roman commander went through phases of understanding Paul. First, he thought he was an Egyptian rebel, then he learned that Paul was a learned Jew from Tarsus, and then finally, he discovered the apostle was born a Roman citizen. After discovering Paul’s Roman citizenship, he respected his rights and gave him protective custody. As Paul used his rights as a citizen, Christians should use their rights in governmental affairs.

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