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Bible: What Does Acts 22 Teach Us About Paul's Conversion?
The Apostle Paul
Acts 22: Paul's Testimony Before the Jerusalem Mob; His Encounter with Lysias
Paul's Personal Testimony
Addressing them in their native tongue quiets the Jewish crowd even more (vv. 1-2).
Paul begins his personal testimony by reassuring them about his religion (Jewish), his place of birth (Tarsus of Cilicia), and his fundamentalist educational upbringing under Gamaliel in Jerusalem (v. 3).
He proceeds to inform them that he had zealously persecuted Christians (“the Way”), arresting both males and females and imprisoning them in Jerusalem.
Paul concludes his introduction by telling the incredulous and interested parties among his listeners that they may verify his story by consulting the high priest and elders, who gave him written permission to execute this “ministry” in Damascus (vv. 4-5).
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Ananias and Paul
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On the Road to Damascus
While on the road to Damascus, Paul continues, he himself was arrested by a “great light from heaven” that felled him to the ground (vv. 6-7a).
Out of this light, he says, he heard a Voice that addressed him personally, and asked why he (then Saul) was persecuting Him (v. 7b).
Wanting to know whom he was persecuting, he relates to the mob that he respectfully asked the Voice to identify Himself (v. 8a)—a request to which the Voice replied: “I am Jesus of Nazareth . . .” (v. 8b).
Jesus Appears to Paul
The apostle next indicates that his companions also saw the light, but did not understand what Jesus said (v. 9).
Paul recalls that, while temporarily blinded—the gracious result of this divine encounter—, he asked the Lord, in essence, “What’s my next step?” (vv. 10a, 11a).
The Lord’s answer: enter Damascus where someone would tell him what to do (v. 10b).
The apostle adds that his servants led him to the city where Ananias addressed him as “Brother Saul,” and commanded that his sight be restored (vv. 11-13).
[Paul is careful to inform this Jewish mob that Ananias was a devout Jew with a good reputation in Damascus (v. 12).]
Ananias Encounters Paul
According to Paul’s testimony, Ananias then informed him that God had chosen him to be a special witness, having privileged him to “know His will,” to “see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth” (vv. 14-15).
[Seeing the resurrected Jesus is one of the primary prerequisites to becoming an apostle (see Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1).]
After he had delivered the Lord’s message, this good servant exhorted Saul to submit to immersion as evidence that he had called on Christ and been forgiven (v. 16).
[Ananias, of course, was not teaching baptismal regeneration here.]
Jesus Commands Paul to Leave Jerusalem
Paul then relates that he entered the temple upon his return from Damascus, and fell into a trance in which he saw Jesus commanding him to leave Jerusalem in order to avoid assassination (vv. 17-18).
The apostle recounts how he argued with the Lord, trying to convince Him that since the Jews knew his reputation, they would never attempt to kill him (vv. 19-20).
The Lord, however, reiterated His order that Paul must depart, adding that He was sending him to the Gentiles (v. 21).
[It seems as though Paul wished to ignite the Jews against him, deliberately telling them not only that other Jews in Jerusalem wanted to kill him, but also that God cared about the salvation of Gentiles.]
Lysias Rescues Paul from a Mob
This last remark from Jesus, as relayed by the apostle, infuriates the Jews, since they regarded Gentiles as unworthy of salvation; they now believe Paul to be a false teacher (v. 22).
While the mob is behaving like lunatics released from an asylum, Lysias orders his soldiers to bring Paul into the barracks and examine him under scourging, so that he could discover the gist of the Jews’ complaint (vv. 23-24).
As they stretch him out, Paul again exercises his right as a Roman citizen, warning a nearby centurion about the illegality of scourging such a one who had not been condemned after standing trial (v. 25).
Paul Reveals His Roman Citizenship
When Lysias hears about Paul’s claim to citizenship, he indirectly inquires into how the apostle came to possess it by telling him that he bought his social standing with a large sum of money (vv. 26-28a).
Learning that Paul was born a citizen of Rome causes the examining soldiers to release him and Lysias to fear the charges the apostle might bring against him (vv. 28b-29).
Nevertheless, the commander keeps Paul overnight in the barracks; only in the morning does he release him from his bonds.
In order to discover why the Jews had accused Paul so vociferously, Lysias summons the Sanhedrin before him, and brings the apostle out to face them (v. 30).
© 2013 glynch1