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Julian Period, 4771. Vulgar Æra,
St. Paul makes his Defence before the Populace.
ACTS xxi. 37. to the end. xxii. 1-21.
37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? who said, Canst thou speak Greek?
38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?
39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.
40 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,
1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence, which I make now unto you.
2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
3 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.
4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
5 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.
6 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.
7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou perse
9 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.
10 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.
11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light,
Julian Pe- being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came Jerusalem. riod, 4771. into Damascus. Vulgar Era,
12 And one Ananias, a devout man_according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
12 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
14 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.
15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard.
16 And now, why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
17 And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in
18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
20 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.
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence, unto the Gentiles.
On declaring his Mission to preach to the Gentiles, the
ACTS xxii. 22.
22 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.
St. Paul claims the Privilege of a Roman Citizen.
23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes,
24 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.
25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto Jerusalem. riod, 4771. the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge Vulgar Æra,
a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.
27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.
28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born 34.
34 It has been a question much agitated among the learned, how St. Paul's ancestor became free of the city of Rome? St. Paul saying, in his answer to Lysias, "But I was free born," Acts xxii. 20. Vid. Gron. not. ad Joseph. p. 41-46. Never, certainly, was there a dispute more needless, since it is so very plain from many unquestionable authorities, that the freedom of the city of Rome was attainable by foreigners in various ways. By merit thus two whole cohorts of Cameritians; thus Heracliensium Legio, and many others, mentioned by Tully, pro Balbo, c. 22. By favour: thus the cohort garrisoned at Trapezus, spoken of by Tacitus, Hist. 1. 3. c. 47; thus Alaudarum Legio, so often mentioned by Cicero, Suet. Jul. 24. 2. Nothing is more certain, than that the Jews assisted Julius Cæsar with their forces, Jos. Antiq. I. xiv. c. 8. § 1, 2, 3. which he also very gratefully acknowledges. Ibid. c. x. § 2. 7. The like they did by Mark Antony, Ibid. c. 15. § 8. Can it be supposed that many of them did not at that time, either by merit or favour, procure the freedom of the city of Rome? or was it Antipater alone who had that honour conferred on him? Ibid. c. viii. § 3. By money: as in the instance of the centurion. Hence, probably, it is that we read of so many Jews free of the city of Rome, who dwelt in Grecce and Asia. Ibid. c. x. § 13, 14. 16, 17, 18, 19. By being freed from servitude: very great numbers became citizens this way, through the covetousness or vainglory of their masters, as well as from their own merit. Vid. Dionys. Halic. Ant. Rom. 1. iv. c. 24. Suet. Aug. c. xlii. n. 3. That multitudes of the Jews, in particular, became free this way, appears from Tiberius enlisting four thousand freed Jews at one time, and sending them to Sardinia. Compare Suet. Tib. c. xxxvi. n. 2. Tacitus, 1. 2. c. lxxxv. n. 4. Jos. Antiq. 1. 18. c. iii. § 5.
It has been generally believed, however, that the inhabitants of Tarsus, born in that city, had the same rights and privileges as Roman citizens, in consequence of a charter or grant from Julius Cæsar. Calmet disputes this, because Tarsus was a free, not a colonial city; and he supposes that St. Paul's father might have been rewarded with the freedom of Rome for some military service; and that it was in consequence of this that St. Paul was born free. But, that the city of Tarsus had such privileges, appears extremely probable. In chap. xxi. 39. Paul says, "he was born at Tarsus in Cilicia;" and in this chap. ver. 28. he says, "he was free-born ;" and at ver. 26. he calls himself a Roman; as he does also chap. xvi. 37. From whence it has been reasonably concluded that Tarsus, though no Roman colony, yet had this privilege granted to it, that its natives should be citizens of Rome. Pliny, in Hist. Nat. lib. v. 27. tells us, that Tarsus was a free city. And Appian, De Bello Civil. lib. v.
29 Then straightway they departed from him which Jerusalem, riod, 4771. should have examined him; and the chief captain also Vulgar Æra, was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
St. Paul is brought before the Sanhedrim, who are sum-
ACTS xxii. 30. and xxiii. 1-10.
30 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.
1 And Paul earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by to smite him on the mouth.
3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smíte thee, thou whited wall for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?
5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest : for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
p. 1077. Ed. Tollii, says that Antony made the people of Tarsus
35 St. Paul's ignorance that Ananias was high-priest, has presented some difficulty, and occasioned much discussion. The former modes of considering the subject are given by the learned Witsius (a). How, it is demanded, could St. Paul be mistaken in the person of a man so exalted in rank as the high-priest? And, if he was mistaken, can his excuse be considered as sufficient? The Jews were forbidden to revile their ruler; were they therefore permitted to revile the rest of their countrymen ? In reply to this, some explain the words "not to know," as equivalent to "not to acknowledge." I do not acknowledge him for high-priest-our great high-priest is Jesus Christ: him only can I allow as such. This, however, does not appear satisfactory to Witsius, and he proposes two elucidations, leaving his reader to choose between them.
6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sad- Jerusalem. riod, 4771. ducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the counVulgar Era,
1st. It is very possible that St. Paul was not acquainted with the person of the high-priest. For St. Paul had been for some time absent from Judea; and the office of high-priest being completely at the disposal of the Roman governor, changes were very frequent; so much so, that, as Josephus informs us, there have been three high-priests in the course of one year. It may further be observed, that Ananias did not wear his pontifical robes, which were worn only in the temple.
2dly. We may suppose that St. Paul was not mistaken in the person of the high-priest, but happening to have his eyes turned another way when the command was given, he was not aware from whom the expression proceeded, but attributed it to some other member of the Sanhedrim seated with the high-priest upon the bench. Le Clerc, and the most learned of the English interpreters, incline to this explanation. But what can justify the harshness of Paul's reply, (v. 3.) supposing it addressed to any indifferent individual? It is answered, that Paul's words amount to a prophetical denunciation, and not an imprecation-TUTTELV σE μEEL. This was proved in the event; for, as Grotius observes, Ismael Phabi succeeded to the high priesthood soon after; whether on account of the death or the removal of Ananias is uncertain.
Michaelis (b) has solved the difficulty, however, in a very satisfactory manner. On this passage it has been asked, 1. Who
was this Ananias? 2. How can it be reconciled with chrono-
Ananias, the son of Nebedeni, was high-priest at the time that Helena, Queen of Abiadene, supplied the Jews with corn from Egypt, during the famine which took place in the fourth year of Claudius, mentioned in the eleventh chapter of the Acts. St. Paul, therefore, who took a journey to Jerusalem at that period, could not have been ignorant of the elevation of Ananias to that dignity. Soon after the holding of the first council, as it is called, at Jerusalem, Ananias was dispossessed of his office, in consequence of certain acts of violence between the Samaritans and the Jews, and sent prisoner to Rome, whence he was afterwards released, and returned to Jerusalem. Now from that period he could not be called high-priest, in the proper sense of the word, though Josephus has sometimes given him the title of apxupɛvs, taken in the more extensive meaning of a priest, who had a seat and voice in the Sanhedrim; and Jonathan, though we are not aequainted with the circumstances of his elevation, had been raised in the mean time to the supreme dignity of the Jewish church. Between the death of Jonathan, who was murdered by order of Felix, and the high priesthood of Ismael, who was invested with that office by Agrippa, clapsed an interval in which this dignity continued vacant. Now it