Acts 22 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Acts 22)

Verse 3

[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.

I am verily — This defence answers all that is objected, Acts 21:28. As there, so here also mention is made of the person of Paul, Acts 22:3, of the people and the law, Acts 22:3,5,12; of the temple, Acts 22:17; of teaching all men, Acts 22:15-17,21; and of the truth of his doctrine, Acts 22:6. But he speaks closely and nervously, in few words, because the time was short.

But brought up at the feet of Gamaliel — The scholars usually sat on low seats, or upon mats on the floor, at the feet of their masters, whose seats were raised to a considerable height.

Accurately instructed — The learned education which Paul had received was once no doubt the matter of his boasting and confidence. Unsanctified learning made his bonds strong, and furnished him with numerous arguments against the Gospel. Yet when the grace of God had changed his heart, and turned his accomplishments into another channel, he was the fitter instrument to serve God's wise and merciful purposes, in the defence and propagation of Christianity.

Verse 4

[4] And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

And persecuted this way — With the same zeal that you do now.

Binding both men and women — How much better was his condition, now he was bound himself.

Verse 5

[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.

The high priest is my witness — Is able to testify.

The brethren — Jews: so this title was not peculiar to the Christians.

Verse 6

[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.

About noon — All was done in the face of the sun.

A great light shone — By whatever method God reveals himself to us, we shall have everlasting cause to recollect it with pleasure. Especially when he has gone in any remarkable manner out of his common way for this gracious purpose. If so, we should often dwell on the particular circumstances, and be ready, on every proper occasion, to recount those wonders of power and love, for the encouragement and instruction of others.

Verse 9

[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.

They did not hear the voice — Distinctly; but only a confused noise.

Verse 12

[12] And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,

A devout man according to the law — A truly religious person, and though a believer in Christ, yet a strict observer of the law of Moses.

Verse 16

[16] And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Be baptized, and wash away thy sins — Baptism administered to real penitents, is both a means and seal of pardon. Nor did God ordinarily in the primitive Church bestow this on any, unless through this means.

Verse 17

[17] 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;

When I was returned to Jerusalem — From Damascus, and was praying in the temple - Whereby he shows that he still paid the temple its due honour, as the house of prayer.

I was in a trance — Perhaps he might continue standing all the while, so that any who were near him would hardly discern it.

Verse 18

[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.

And I saw him — Jesus, saying to me, Depart quickly out of Jerusalem - Because of the snares laid for thee: and in order to preach where they will hear.

Verse 19

[19] And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:

And I said — It is not easy for a servant of Christ, who is himself deeply impressed with Divine truths, to imagine to what a degree men are capable of hardening their hearts against thee. He is often ready to think with Paul, It is impossible for any to resist such evidence. But experience makes him wiser and shows that wilful unbelief is proof against all truth and reason.

Verse 20

[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.

When the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by — A real convert still retains the remembrance of his former sins. He confesses thorn and is humbled for them, all the days of his life.

Verse 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.

And they heard him to this word — Till he began to speak of his mission to the Gentiles, and this too in such a manner as implied that the Jews were in danger of being cast off.

Verse 23

[23] And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

They rent their garments — In token of indignation and horror at this pretended blasphemy, and cast dust into the air - Through vehemence of rage, which they knew not how to vent.

Verse 25

[25] 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?

And as they — The soldiers ordered by the tribune, were binding him with thongs - A freeman of Rome might be bound with a chain and beaten with a staff: but he might not be bound with thongs, neither scourged, or beaten with rods: Paul said to the centurion - The captain, who stood by to see the orders of the tribune executed.

Verse 26

[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.

Consider what thou art about to do; for this man is a Roman — Yea, there was a stronger reason to consider. For this man was a servant of God.

Verse 28

[28] And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

But I was free born — Not barely as being born at Tarsus; for this was not Roman colony. But probably either his father, or some of his ancestors, had been made free of Rome, for some military service. We learn hence, that we are under no obligation as Christians to give up our civil privileges (which we are to receive and prize as the gift of God) to every insolent invader. In a thousand circumstances, gratitude to God, and duty to men, will oblige us to insist upon them; and engage us to strive to transmit them improved, rather than impaired to posterity.