Acts 21:37–22:2 – Paul’s Personal Introduction
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 21:37-22:2
In verse 22, Paul described his forth coming statements as a “defense”.
Next week we will deal with the WHAT and WHY of the defense.
Today’s lesson is simply a brief introduction.
And to that end, it will be useful to understand Paul’s actions and motivations through the lens of 1 Peter.
1 Peter 3:14-17 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 4:14-16 – If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
In these verses, Peter unknowingly described precisely what Paul experienced in Acts 21 & 22’s lessons.
From 1 Peter 3:14-17:
Vs. 14 – “suffer for righteousness’ sake” – Acts 21:27-36
Vs. 15 – “in your hearts honor Christ” – Acts 21:23 & 26
Vs. 15 – “prepared to make a defense” – Acts 22:1
Vs. 15 – “with gentleness and respect” – Acts 21:37-40
Vs. 16 – “when you are slandered” – Acts 21:28 & Acts 21:38
Vs. 17 – “suffer for doing good” – Acts 21:26
Vs. 17 – “should be God’s will” – Acts 9:16
From 1 Peter 4:14-16:
Vs. 14 – “insulted for the name of Christ” – Acts 21:28
Vs. 15 – “none of you suffer as a murderer…” – Paul’s suffering was a result of what?
Vs. 16 – “let him not be ashamed” – Acts 22:3-21 (next weeks lesson)
Although all the parallels are worth examining, we will focus on Peter & Paul’s shared desire to make a defense.
It is worth noting that Paul engaged in two types of defenses in the course of his ministry.
One is the “gospel defense” that Paul regularly made as demonstrated in Acts 13:16-41; 17:2; 17:17; 18:4; 19:8.
The second is the “personal defense” made in our text today.
So in light of all that was going on, why did Paul desire to make a personal defense (apologia)?
The first reason has to do with a clarification for the Roman soldiers; the second an identification with the Jewish mob.
1) THE ROMANS AND A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY – PAUL’S CLARIFICATION
Acts 21:37b-38 & 39a – And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?”…39a Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city.
Who was the Egyptian?
There was a lot of Jewish Nationalist unrest under Roman rule at this time and as a result there were violent revolts.
The Roman tribune made the assumption that Paul was one of the Jews involved in these revolts.
The “Assassins” mainly targeted those Jews who sympathized with Roman interests.
However, when Paul spoke Greek to the tribune, it became clear to the him that Paul was something other.
The historian Josephus provides further insight into the Egyptian:
This Egyptian is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. l. xx. c. 7. sec. 6. Bel. l. ii. c. 13. sec. 5) who says that he pretended to be a prophet, and persuaded a multitude of people to follow him to the top of mount Olivet, telling them that they should see the walls of the city fall down before them; but Felix attacked them with horse and foot, killed 400 on the spot, took 200 prisoners, and put the Egyptian himself to flight.
Smith, J. H. (1992; 1996). The new treasury of scripture knowledge. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson.
This is another of many historical correlations between Biblical and Secular history found in Acts.
Paul emphatically states that not only am I not Egyptian but I am a Jew from a prominent Roman city.
Due to this revelation and his ability to speak Greek, many commentators speculate that the Roman tribune began to suspect that Paul may have been a Roman citizen.
Paul would confirm that suspicion shortly.
So Paul clears up the Roman misconception.
He is then left with his identification with the Jewish mob.
But first, a interesting Point of Interest.
POI – Paul’s actions in our text also serve to underscore principals from previous lessons.
Acts 21:37a & 39b & 40a– As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?”… 39b I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” 40a And when he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people.
Romans 13:3 tell us that “rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad”.
The Roman presence was clearly a deterrent to the violent conduct of the Jewish mob – Acts 21:32.
This is another example of how political power served (in this case) to protect Paul from being beaten to death – a terror to bad conduct.
But the Romans did more than just protect Paul physically.
Paul submitted to the authority of the tribune as demonstrated by his humility and respect.
As a result, the tribune allowed Paul to make his defense to the Jewish mob.
So we see another example of “Blessed by Submission” and not “Diminished by Submission.”
2) THE JEWISH MOB AND A CASE OF BROTHERLY LOVE – PAUL’S IDENTIFICATION
Acts 21:40b-22:2 – And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying: 22:1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet.
The second reason for Paul’s personal defense was to identify with his fellow Jews as shown with “brothers/fathers.”
I think he sought to do this both to demonstrate their shared heritage and because he desired to see them saved.
To the first point, Paul’s defense spoken in Aramaic was just the first of many ways he would demonstrate how much he and the mob had in common.
It is interesting that Paul’s use of Aramaic had the same affect on the Jews as his Greek had on the Romans.
To the second point, Paul’s words in Romans reveal what underlies an affection for the Jewish Mob who sought to kill him.
Romans 10:1 – Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them (unbelieving Israel) is that they may be saved.
He longed to see them complete their relationship with the God that had redeemed Israel out of Egypt generations before.
And to that end, Paul was about to establish that – “LIKE YOU, I AM JEWISH AND SERVE YAHWEH.”