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25 February 2024 // Acts 22


Paul Speaks:
Who I am… vs.3
Who I was… vs. 4-5
What happened to me… vs. 6-16
Who I became… vs. 17-21
Oh by the way… vs. 22-29
  • What did the message teach me about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?
  • What did the message teach me about the human condition?
  • Is there anything I need to confess, repent, or be grateful for, because of this passage?
  • How do I need help in believing and applying this scripture to my life?
  • How can I encourage others with this passage?

 Duty to Others
Increase Mather, pastor of the Second Church of Boston during the 17th century, wrote a Puritan tract entitled “The Duty of Parents to Pray for Their Children.” His eldest son, Cotton Mather, served as his father’s assistant and then became senior pastor of the same church. During the second half of his life he wrote over four hundred publications and exerted influence not only among the Puritan constituency but among Protestant churches at large, and even in politics. Interestingly, he also wrote a tract paralleling his father’s title, “The Duty of Children to Their Parents Who Have Prayed for Them.”

Our chapter raises the question, “For whom do you live?” Paul lived to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. Some people live for themselves. Greed has become a popular motivator in our day. Others live for family. Some live and even die for the church. Like Paul, some modern Christians live for Christ. Someone has written a prayer based on Psalm 119.

Oh God, I want so very much to please you.
To walk in your ways,
And carry out your purposes.
There is nothing as important to me
As being in the center of your will
And living within your design for my life.
Not only have you fashioned me with your hands, Oh Lord,
And created me for your purposes,
But you have stamped your image upon my heart.
Therefore my deepest longings are met only in you
And in the dedication of my life
To the accomplishment of your objectives.
(Source unknown)

I am not able to identify the author of those gracious words, but they certainly reflect the life force of the apostle Paul as we shall continue to see right up to the end of this wonderful history book about the early church.[1]

A.  Apologetics (vv. 3–21)
According to Ronald S. Wallace, apologetics can be formally defined as “the use of theology in order to justify Christianity before men, in the claims it makes to be ultimate truth, in the demands it makes on its followers, and in its universal mission.” Though “apologists” for the Christian faith did not arise until the second century (Justin, Tatian, Athenagoras, Tertullian, and others), the presentation of an apologia takes place right here in our chapter by Paul’s own choice of words.

In Greco-Roman culture the kind of defense speech called an apologia took on specific structure: Exordium (also called the Proemium), self-commendation to the audience; Narratio, recounting events; Probatio, proof by eyewitnesses, signs, or omens; and the Refutatio, direct personal answer to charges (Bock, 150).

Christian thinkers have debated the role of apologetics in contemporary theology, particularly as to its function in leading people to faith in Christ. Some have concluded (and I agree) that the primary purpose of apologetics is not evangelism but rather a strengthening of believers. We achieve this through demonstrating that Christianity can be substantiated by documentable evidence such as archaeological discoveries, historicity, etc. If apologetics plays too large a role in evangelism, we stand in danger of convincing people’s minds but not their hearts.

B.  Comparative Conversion Accounts (vv. 3–16)

Though source critics attribute the repetitions of this account to a plurality of sources, it is not unlike Luke or any other Bible writer to emphasize and reemphasize important portions of his work. Throughout his entire ministry Paul repeatedly had to defend his decision to take the gospel to the Gentiles, and his defense centered in God’s call for him to do precisely that. In each of the three records of his conversion (chaps. 9, 22 and 26), that feature surfaces as the major point. As Longenecker puts it:

It was not a strategy Paul thought up or a program given to him by another; it was a compelling call that came directly from Christ himself. Nor can it be explained psychologically or as an evolution of ideas whose time was ripe. Instead, it came to him by revelation, and he had no choice but to obey (Longenecker, 367).

One can pick at minor details, but, as we have already noted in the commentary section, the differences in the accounts occur because of two basic reasons: one is told by Luke and two by Paul; and each takes place in a different setting with a different purpose.

C.  Brought Up in Jerusalem (v. 3)
Obviously at some point in his young life, Paul moved from Tarsus to Jerusalem. Some take his word here to mean that he was born in Tarsus but spent all his childhood and youth in Jerusalem, presumably right up to the time we find him in Acts 8. But anatrepho need not be understood in the narrow modern definition. It appears only three times in the New Testament, all of them in Acts. We find the other two in Stephen’s speech: for three months Moses was cared for in his father’s house and then brought … up by Pharaoh’s daughter (Acts 7:20–21). In The Ministry and Message of Paul, Longenecker explains it like this.

At thirteen a Jewish boy became a bar mitzvah (son of a commandment), at which time he took upon himself the full obligation of the Law and the more promising lads were directed into rabbinic schools under abler teachers. It was probably at this age, or shortly thereafter, that Paul came to Jerusalem to further his training, perhaps living with the married sister spoken of in Acts 23:16.… It is some indication of Paul’s youthful ability, and perhaps also of his parents’ importance, that not only was he selected for further rabbinic study, but that he came to Jerusalem to study under one of the greatest Rabbis of the first century—Gamaliel I (Acts 22:3) (Longenecker, 22).

D.  Rights of a Roman (vv. 25–29)
Paul’s status as a Roman citizen surfaces right here, but comes to a head in 25:11 with his words, I appeal to Caesar! According to first-century Mediterranean law, Paul’s Roman citizenship was more important than any other aspect of his nationality, however he might stress his Jewishness. It would have placed him among the aristocracy in Tarsus and probably indicated that his family was one of distinction and perhaps some wealth. Ramsay observes,

It also implies that there was in the surroundings amid which he grew up, a certain attitude of friendliness to the imperial government (for the new citizens in general, and the Jewish citizens in particular, were warm partisans of their protector, the new imperial regime), and also of pride in a possession that ensured distinction and rank and general respect in Tarsus. (Ramsay, 31).

Ramsay also thinks that Paul’s family did not simply reside in Tarsus but were Tarsians, citizens with full colonial rights. Furthermore, the family might have lived in that city for almost two centuries before Paul’s time, possibly settled along with other Jews by the Seleucid emperor Antiochus IV.[2]

      1.   What happened in your life before you became a Christian to prepare you for more effective Christian ministry?
      2.   What is the difference between loyal church membership and being a Christian?
      3.   Describe your conversion experience to another person. What mission did God choose you for as he saved you?[3]

[1] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 377–378.
[2] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 378–380.
[3] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 381.