The Road to Rome
And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,
In Jerusalem the Roman soldiers were housed in the castle of Antonia. It was a castle rebuilt by Herod the Great and named to honor Mark Antony. It was built on a small hill just above the Temple. Now picture Paul standing on those stairs beckoning to the people, the people that moments ago wanted to tear him apart.
But remember the statement from Acts 21:34, “some cried one thing, some another.” Everyone in the riot was not there because of anger with Paul. So, he is able to bring the mob to a great silence. Remember also Paul’s enemies in Corinth, the false apostles of Second Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 10:10
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
They spoke of Paul’s physical presence as weak and his speech contemptible. “Weak” is the Greek word asthenes and means feeble, impotent, sickly. “Contemptible” is the Greek word exoutheneo meaning worthy of utter contempt, to be despised.
Those enemies did not see this man standing on the stairs of Antonia Castle, above the crowd, bringing them to silence.
Picture the majestic figure Paul must have presented, standing on the stairs of the castle.
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
Then he spoke to them in Hebrew, and they were more silent.
When Paul spoke of his oratory skills he said:
2 Corinthians 11:6a
But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge…
“Rude” is the Greek word idiotes and means unskilled. Paul is saying he is not trained in oratory skills.
I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, LORD? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
They listened until he reached their prejudice, Gentiles.
Prejudice is an illogical thought pattern based on the emotions of an unsound mind.
You have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” God agrees.
1 Samuel 16:7
But the LORD said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
God sees the real person, not the outward trimmings that no one controls.
1 John 2:11
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.
“Hateth” is the Greek word miseo.
Helps Word-studies: “miséō, properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e. to renounce one choice in favor of another.”
Prejudice is an illogical thought pattern based on the emotions of an unsound mind.
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
Gamaliel was a well respected and well known Doctor of the Law and a member of the Sanhedrin. Then Paul compliments them for being zealous toward God.
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
Again, Paul identifies with his audience, while showing his working relationship with the High Priest and the Sanhedrin. These are the points Paul used to try and convince his Lord, Acts chapter nine, for him to witness in Jerusalem.
And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
These words acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth as Lord, as risen, as ascended. How many just heard about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth for the first time? How many just heard a man that the High Priest and the Sanhedrin trusted just call Jesus of Nazareth Lord for the first time? It may not be the witness Paul desired, but he is saying some things these people may have never heard.
In the Bible there is a study principle known as scripture build-up, whereby more than one section of scripture handles an identical event. These different sections can build on one another, adding detail. When it comes to Paul’s meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus it is handled in three different places (Acts 9 and Acts 22 and Acts 26). We will stop and look at the full account when we come to the account in Acts 26.
Notice while we are here that there is no outcry against Paul’s statements concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again…
Paul is now speaking of when he returned to Jerusalem, in 37 A.D., after being in Damascus and Arabia for three years. This is also an example of scripture build-up.
And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
This is Paul returning from Damascus to Jerusalem. The believers were afraid of him.
But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
Now Galatians adds details to this event.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Here God gives us the time of Paul’s stay in Jerusalem and which apostles Paul met during this time.
And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.
Besides meeting with Peter and James, and spending time with Barnabas, Paul was disputing with the Grecians (Hellenist in the text, Greek speaking Judeans). “Disputed” is the Greek word suzeteo, which means to examine together.
Then, when he was praying in the Temple, he received this vision.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
Then, after receiving this vision, we would have verse thirty of Acts 9.
Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.
This then is a full sequence of what happened when Paul returned to Jerusalem, for 15 days in 37 A.D. after three years in Arabia and Damascus.
Then we can pick up our context in Acts 22 where Paul, in 58 A.D. is sharing his testimony with a mob of Judeans. This is Paul’s witness as to what changed his life.
And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
This is the context that we have just seen with scripture build-up.
And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
The Greek word translated “martyr” is martus and it means witness. We have already seen in previous teachings that God is looking for living sacrifices. That early Christianity, late first century and early second century, turned the word martus into an honor to die for God is a perversion of God’s Word and a corruption by religious zealots due to ignorance of the heart of God.
A more accurate translation for that section of Acts 22:20 would read, “when the blood of thy witness Stephen was shed.” Yes, Stephen died, more accurately he was murdered. Some witnesses are killed, but it is never the goal.
And he said unto me, depart….
Another translation for the word depart would be, Go! As in, the discussion is over.
“Then He said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
Holman Christian Standard Bible
And he said unto me, depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they gave him audience unto this word…
The revelation Paul received during his return to Jerusalem in Acts nine had indeed not changed, they will not receive your witness.
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 as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
This is an imitation of stoning Paul, being too far away to actually stone him and the presence of the Roman soldiers also being a hindrance. What began with such promise dissolved once again into a riotous mob.
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.
The Chief Captain did not understand what was going on, why did they hate this man? He wanted the facts, the details in order to make a determination about his next step. So, he ordered Paul to be scourged. Scourging meant you would be tied to poles and whipped with thirty lashes. Rome figured you would talk to avoid more pain. It was common for scourging whips to have pieces of bone or metal at their tips to rip the flesh.
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?
Then Paul asked a question, can you lawfully scourge a Roman citizen without a trial? Remember the response in Philippi when the magistrate learned he had beaten and imprisoned a Roman citizen without trial?
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
The Chief Captain was not going to make the same mistake as the Philippian magistrate, but he had already gone to far. For it was also illegal to tie a Roman citizen to a scourging pole without a trial.
When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. And the chief captain answered, with a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. 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.
The examiner, the one to scourge Paul, is sent away and Paul is released from the poles. This confirms for us that having “bound him” refers to the scourging poles because it was not illegal to handcuff a Roman citizen who was under arrest, but it was illegal to scourge a Roman without a trial. Notice also in verse thirty Paul is handcuffed, again to confirm this earlier binding was to the scourging poles.
On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore, he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
The Chief Captain still is unsure of what is happening. What has this man done? What crime has he committed? So, Paul will spend the night under arrest in the Roman castle and the next day the Chief Captain has ordered the High Priest and the Sanhedrin to appear before him.
An angry mob tries to kill Paul by ripping him to shreds. He is arrested and almost scourged by Roman soldiers. The mob tries for another crack at Paul, wanting to stone him. Now, he has to stand before the Sanhedrin, on trial, while the Romans are still trying to figure out what is going on with this man.
Paul never should have set a foot in Jerusalem.
© Auxano Ministry 2023