Acts 22:22 - 23:11
22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this. 25 But when they had stretched him out for the whips,[a] Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 27 So the tribune came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I am a citizen by birth.” 29 So those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him. 30 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them.
If you remember from yesterday, Paul had just told theseJews that he was sent, by God, to the Gentiles. This did go well. Jews hated Gentiles. Mostly because of the Roman oppression they had been suffering from. They thought of Gentiles as dogs to be beaten. the thought of god sending one of their own to the Gentiles was revolting.
To symbolize their anger they shouted while swinging their outer garments around their head. Couple this with the dust they were throwing up in the air and it becomes obvious that they want Paul dead. The tribune had to do something, so he takes Paul inside the fortress and orders the soldiers to interrogate him using torture techniques. Specifically scourging.
What would you be thinking if you were Paul? You know that bad news awaited you in Jerusalem, but this seems a little over the top doesn't it? The city wants you dead and the Romans are going to torture you. How would your faith hold up under these circumstances? Could it hold up?
Scourging was a horrible method of torture. Jesus had been whipped just before he was crucified. A whip made of leather thongs with pieces of bone and metal sewn into them was used to beat a persons back. paul had been stoned, beaten and shipped with rods. But this by far was going to be the worst beating of them all. Until . . . .
Paul: Excuse me.
Paul: It is legal to beat a Roman citizen who hadn't been tried by a proper court?
Centurion: HUH? (Face going pale.) Um, excuse me.
(Centurion finds his boss the tribune.)
Centurion: Um, sir.
Centurion: This man is a Roman citizen.
Tribune: (Face going pale too.) HE'S A WHAT?
You see, Roman citizens could not be treated like everyone else. They had rights and Paul was exercising his right not to be whipped mercilessly.
Paul's civil rights had been violated and everyone in the room knew it. (Look how quickly the Roman guards disappeared.) He was detailed until the next day, but you can guarantee that he was the best treated prisoner in the whole fortress.
The next day the tribune ordered the chief priests and Sanhedrin to assemble (that probably didn't leave them in a good mood.) to discover just what Paul had done (that left them in an even fouler mood.)
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God's high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees' party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
Paul declares before the council that he has a clean conscience before God. Many in the room knew who Paul was and of his work across Asia. they knew that he was a follower of Jesus. The High Priest orders Paul to be struck across the mouth. Paul didn't take to this to kindly and calls the High Priest a whitewashed wall. When someone rebukes Paul for calling the High Priest that, Paul immediately apologizes, he didn't now that was the High Priest.
Here is something that you need to understand here. Submission to authority, even evil authority, s a spiritual discipline, just like pray or reading your Bible. Paul wrote in Romans that all authority comes from God and that we are to submit to that authority in as much as it doesn't violate our relationship with Jesus. What Paul said about the Priest was true, but Paul will not usurp God's authority.
Now Paul sees that there are Pharisees and Sadducees in the room. The later doesn't believe in angels or in a resurrection. So Paul declares himself to be a Pharisee, which he is, and that this is the reason why he is being tried. He is counting on the hope of a future resurrection.
Now we know that he is referencing the resurrection of Jesus and that Paul believes that there is a day coming when all followers of Christ (who have died) will be resurrected from the dead. He didn't get to go that far, if he intended to because the room breaks out in a theological argument over the matter. Those who sided with Paul suggested that an angel or spirit must have spoken to him. This angered the Sadducees further, to the point that the tribune through they were going to kill Paul. So he orders him removed and taken back to the fortress.
11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
Well, apparently Paul was beginning to wear down because he needed some cheering up. So Jesus comes and appears to him personally. Jesus promises him the one thing that he has always wanted to do, go to Rome.
English Standard Version (ESV)