Acts 22:1-5
Acts 22:1 (KJB)
Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.
Paul then begins to speak to them. The word for “defence” in the Greek is the word “apologias” where we get the word “apologetics” from and that is a discipline in Christianity whereby someone gives a defense of the faith. Paul calls them brethren and fathers, two words which carry a respect for those who were listening. Paul was not out to justify himself but to give a defense as to what he believed because there was much misunderstanding and lies being told about him. Maybe the Roman tribune figured that if Paul could explain himself, then all the commotion would go away.
Acts 22:2 (KJB)
(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
Paul had conversed with the Roman tribune in Greek but when it came time for him to speak to the crowd, he wisely switched to Hebrew knowing they could understand plus it would convey to the crowd that he was a Jew and not a Greek Gentile because all the Gentiles carried on their business in the Greek language. As soon as they heard the Hebrew, it became much quieter.
Acts 22:3 (KJB)
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.
Perfect - Exactness or strictness
Fathers - Inherited from one’s fathers or ancestors, paternal
Paul then gives a little of his personal history. He was born in the city of Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but from an early age he had come to Jerusalem and learned the law and all the traditions of the fathers from Gamaliel. He was one of the most well know Rabbis of his day and he was also a member of the Sanhedrin. In Acts 5 it was Gamaliel who warned the Sanhedrin to be careful how they deal with the Apostles because if what they were teaching and doing was of God, then they would be fighting against God. Gamaliel was the grandson of the famous Rabbi, Hillel. Gamaliel is not mentioned after Acts 5, except here, in Paul’s defense. Paul states that he was instructed in the exactness of the law and no room for personal interpretation as it would have been an accurate instruction in the law of Moses plus the other Rabbinical additions down through the ages, no doubt from the Babylonian Talmud. He tells them that he was a very zealous person toward God because he believed in strict obedience to the law and then he equates that zeal with those he is speaking to now because he identified with that mindset.
Acts 22:4 (KJB)
And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
Paul then goes on to state that he was not always a Christian, in fact, he had persecuted the church to the point that he was complicit in the death of Stephen and who knows how many others. His desire was to completely destroy the church. Here he calls it “this way.” (Acts 19:9 KJV) But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. (Acts 19:23 KJV) And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. They were not called Christians until Acts 11 in Antioch but the Jews knew it as “the way.” He had received permission from the chief priests in Jerusalem to bring back as many of the way as he could, binding them. His zeal was so misguided that it caused him to help in a man’s murder.
Acts 22:5 (KJB)
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.
He then implicates the High Priest because he gave Paul permission to find the Christians and to bring them back to Jerusalem for the purpose of punishing them. They were also to be bound as if they were prisoners or criminals. The authority they gave Paul to try and destroy Christianity, was for all of the nation of Israel and all the way into Damascus. Damascus had become the center of Christianity with thousands of Christians. It bewilders me how Paul thought he could bring them all back to Jerusalem. This is the essence of misguided zeal. Things are never thought out before hand and are done on the spur of the moment. Paul would never have been able to bring back thousands of Christians and if he could, where would he lodge them when he brought them?