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Book of Acts Chapter 22 - Christogenea Internet Radio 12-6-2013
With Acts chapter 21, we left Paul in Jerusalem after having seen the apostle James, and undergoing a purification ritual in the Temple. Spotted in the Temple by certain Judaeans who knew Paul from his ministry in Asia, upon their having accused him of defiling the Temple Paul was arrested in the ensuing commotion. Given the violent climate in Judaea at the time, as we exhibited in the last segment of this presentation from the pages of Josephus, Paul's arrest more than likely saved his life. Here, upon his arrest, Paul is about to be brought into the Roman military encampment, under the custody of the commander, who is a chiliarch - a sort of lieutenant commander of a legion whom the Romans called a military tribune, as we would transliterate the title into English. We will begin with the last paragraph of Acts chapter 21, which we reserved for this presentation since it better fits the context of Acts 22.
37 Then being about to enter into the encampment Paul says to the commander “Is it possible for me to say something to you?” And he said “You know Greek? 38 Then you are not the Egyptian who was before these days making an upset and leading out into the desert four thousand men of the Assassins?”
The commander mistook Paul for a leader of the Sicarii, or Assassins, as they were called, which was a group that had been causing much trouble in Judaea and which is discussed and frequently mentioned by Flavius Josephus in his writings. Speaking of a period close to this same time, from Josephus' Antiquities of the Judaeans, Book 20 (20:185-187 [20.8.10]) we have the following description: “185 Upon Festus' coming into Judea, it happened that Judea was afflicted by the robbers, while all the villages were set on fire, and plundered by them. 186 And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers, grew numerous. They made use of small swords, not much different in length from the Persian scimitars, but something crooked, and like the Roman sicae [or sickles], as they were called; and from these weapons these robbers got their name; and with these weapons they slew a great many; 187 for they mingled themselves among the multitude at their festivals, when they were come up in crowds from all parts to the city to worship God, as we said before, and easily slew those who they had a mind to slay. They also came frequently upon the villages belonging to their enemies, with their weapons, and plundered them, and set them on fire. ” That the Sicarii took advantage of the crowds at the feasts and that this time when Paul was arrested was the time of Pentecost probably assisted the commander's confusion. Here Josephus speaks of the beginning part of the proconsular term of Porcius Festus, who is introduced to us as having taken office two years after Paul's arrest, as it is described in Acts chapter 24.
39 And Paul said “I am a Judaean man, of Tarsos of Kilikia, a citizen of no obscure city. Now I ask of you to allow me to speak to the people.”
For the first sentence of verse 39, the Codex Bezae (D) has only “I am a Judaean man, having been born in Tarsos of Kilikia.” Tarsus, the chief city of Kilikia (Cilicia), was a city renowned for its culture and learning. In Book 14 of his Geography [14.5.13] Strabo says of the place that “The people at Tarsus have devoted themselves so eagerly, not only to philosophy, but also to the whole round of education in general, that they have surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place that can be named where there have been schools and lectures of philosophers. But it is so different from other cities that there the men who are fond of learning are all natives, and foreigners are not inclined to sojourn there; neither do these natives stay there, but they complete their education abroad, and when they have completed it they are pleased to live abroad, and but a few go back home... Further, the city of Tarsus has all kinds of schools of rhetoric; and in general it not only has a flourishing population but also is most powerful, thus keeping up the reputation of the mother-city [Tarsus].” (Strabo, Geography, 14.5.13, Loeb Classical Library, translated by H. L. Jones). Therefore, it should be no wonder that Paul called his hometown “no obscure city”, or that Paul was a very educated man not only in Hebrew learning but also in that of the Greeks.
40 And upon his allowing him Paul standing upon the stairs motioned with the hand to the people. And there coming a great silence he spoke out in the Hebrew language [A has only “in his own language”], saying:
According to the popular division, the final line of Acts chapter 21 ends mid-sentence, and what Paul actually said begins in Acts chapter 22:
XXII 1 “Men, brethren and fathers, you hear now my answer to you!”
“My answer”, or “my speech in defense”, the Greek word ἀπολογία (627) is the word from which we have our English word apology. To offer an apology is originally to make a speech in defense of a position or action. Today, more often than not, it is treated merely as a vain expression.
2 And hearing that he called out to them [D wants “to them”] in the Hebrew language, still more they held silent.
The people seem to have respected Paul to a greater degree because he spoke to them in Hebrew, rather than in Greek. This nevertheless infers that at least most of the people understood Greek, and it can be told with certainty from the archaeology of the period that at least most of the Judaeans at this time were fluent in Greek.
Twice in this account, and also in Acts chapter 26 and in his Gospel in chapter 23, either Luke himself or those whom he recorded refer to the native language of the Judaeans as Hebrew, and it is never referred to in the Bible as Aramaic. Elsewhere, in the gospel of John and in the Revelation, there are certain words which are referred to as being Hebrew, and not Aramaic, including the inscription which Pilate placed at the cross of Christ, at John 19:20, the same inscription which is also described in much the same manner at Luke 23:38.
Whether modern scholars want to esteem the native tongue of Judaea at this time as Hebrew or not is immaterial, because those who spoke it believed it to be Hebrew since that is what they called it. This is true in spite of the fact that after the Babylonian captivity the language certainly changed, since we see that the use of targums were necessary by the time of Nehemiah, where its speakers evidently adopted many aspects of the related Syriac, or Aramaic, dialect used by the Babylonians. However we should not take it for granted that it was actually the same as Aramaic, because the apostles certainly distinguished it.
And he said: 3 “I am a Judaean man, having been born in Tarsos of Kilikia, but raised in this city, having been educated at the feet of Gamaliel in accordance with the exactness of the law of the fathers, being zealous of God just as all of you are today, 4 who had persecuted this Way unto death, binding and giving over into prison both men and women, 5 as even the high priest bears witness for me, and all the body of elders, from whom also I had gone to Damaskos, receiving letters to [D has “from”, obviously an error] the brethren, and bringing those who were there bound to Jerusalem that they may be punished.
Paul is attempting to establish his credentials, that in accordance with Judaean standards he was a soundly educated man and not some random idiot, and that at one time he was entrusted by the high priests, so therefore his account should be accepted as being credible.
That Gamaliel was a highly respected teacher among the Pharisees and among Judaeans in general is evident in Acts chapter 5, where upon his pious and sage advice even the Sadducees were compelled to release the apostles Peter and John after they were arrested.
6 And it happened to me traveling and approaching to Damaskos about midday that suddenly from heaven a great light shone around me. 7 Then I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me ‘Saul, Saul why do you persecute Me?’
The Codex Laudianus (E) inserts into the dialogue at the end of this verse: “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks”, text which is found in the King James Version at Acts 9:5 and 26:14 but not here. The text only seems to belong to the original version of Acts at 26:14, where it is indeed found in all of the oldest manuscripts. The line is a Greek adage which refers to an offer of vain resistance, and is found in several of the Greek poets of the fifth century BC (i.e. Euripides, Aeschylus and Pindar).
8 And I replied ‘Who are you, master?’ Then He said to me ‘I am Yahshua the Nazoraian, whom you persecute.’
Persecuting those of the children of Israel who have the message of the Gospel, one is found persecuting God Himself. As for the term Nazoraian, which we discussed at length in our presentation of Acts Chapter 2, Paul is later called “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” at Acts 24:5.
9 And they who were with me surely beheld the light,
We are going to divide this verse, since the beginning of it is not so controversial, but the latter part certainly is. The Codices Bezae (D), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “beheld the light and became fearful”; the text of the Christogenea New Testament agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B). Continuing with Paul:
but for the voice they did not understand that being spoken to me.
And this later part of verse 9 we must discuss at length.
Many critics have read the second part of this verse as it stands in the King James Version, τὴν δὲ φωνὴν οὐκ ἤκουσαν τοῦ λαλοῦντός μοι, which here is translated “but for the voice they did not understand that being spoken to me”, and where the Greek is consistent across all manuscripts, and they have conjectured that it conflicts with Paul’s account as given by Luke in Acts chapter 9. Some even go so far as to accuse Paul of lying because of this perceived conflict. This is, for the most part, caused by the poor rendering of the verse as it is found in the King James Version, and also in other versions..
The Greek without diacritical marks (so that it should display on all devices): την δε φωνην ουκ ηκουσαν του λαλουντος μοι
The King James Version of Acts 9:7 reads “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” The King James Version of this passage reads “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.” So there is certainly a conflict the way that these passages were translated in that version as well as many others. Yet the proper translation of the passage, which shall be examined at length here, reveals that there is no conflict between the various original versions of this account.
The first word of the clause in its translation, but not in the Greek, is δὲ, or but, and that word marks the beginning of a new clause, being a conjunctive Particle with adversative force. However in Greek it is always placed as the second word in a sentence, and therefore in Greek word order it follows the Article τὴν, which is the here.
The phrase τὴν φωνὴν, the voice, is in the Accusative case which marks it as the direct object of the verb. In English, prepositions must often be supplied to make up for the want of different cases, which other Indo-European languages designate with slightly different forms of nouns. An example of one such case which is employed in English may illustrate this need: for where we may say “the Word of God” we may also substitute the phrase “God's Word”. So we see that the apostrophe and the letter 's' are used for the Genitive Case in English, however the prepositions from or of may also be used. But in Greek and other Indo-European languages, while the other grammatical cases are represented by different word endings, this is not so in English, and for that reason appropriate prepositions must be used instead. Therefore in this translation I have supplied the preposition for, just as with the Genitive case of or from must often be supplied, or the prepositions to or with for the Dative case.
The word φωνή (phonê, 5456), which is voice here, may have been rendered as sound, as it is also often translated in the King James Version.
The word οὐκ is the negative Particle not here. As it always does in Luke's writings, it precedes the word or phrase which it negates.
The verb ἤκουσαν is a 3rd person plural form of ἀκούω (191), which means “to hear...to hearken...to listen to, give ear to...to obey...to hear and understand” (Liddell & Scott), and this last sense is very often used in the New Testament. For instance, where Christ is attributed as having said at Matthew 13:9 “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”, it is this same verb both times where it says hear. Yet it is clear from the context that everyone present must have heard the sound of Christ's words, and certainly they all had physical ears. Likewise, once we properly translate this verse here in Acts, it is evident that there were many present who did not understand what was said to Paul, although they heard the sound. Either the physical act of hearing, or the process of hearing with understanding, may be represented by the same word, lest how could one “hearing...hear not”? Now if Luke wanted to write, or perhaps if Paul wanted to say, that the men present with him physically “heard not the voice”, he could well have stopped right here, for he has already said enough to fully express that idea! By continuing with the next phrase, Paul explicitly reveals his intended meaning, that the men heard a voice but did not understand what it said.
The phrase τοῦ λαλοῦντός is a Participle and a Present Active form of the verb λαλέω, which is to speak or to talk. With the Article it is a Substantive, which is a word or a group of words from another part of speech which are being used as a noun. The form of both the Participle and the Article here is of either the Masculine or the Neuter genders, yet there is no personal pronoun present, i.e. him in the King James Version or the one who in the Revised Standard Version of this passage, and the writer or speaker may easily have included a personal pronoun if he wanted to explicitly state as much. Rather, the phrase may just as properly, and perhaps more so for want of the personal pronoun, be written as of that being spoken (since the phrase is in the Genitive case), rather than the King James Version’s of him that spake, or the Revised Standard Version’s of the one who was speaking.
The Greek word μοι, the last word of the clause, is in the Dative case and is therefore rendered to me.
When a translator is confronted with options, in order to be fair he must always do his best to choose the option which is consistent within the context of the larger work. The phrase τοῦ λαλοῦντός may indeed be rendered “of he who is speaking” (although with such a reading in the immediate context the words of this sentence are actually superfluous) or the phrase may be rendered “of that being spoken”, and in that manner there is no conflict in Luke's record of Paul's statements.
It is dishonest to force a translation which makes the original writer out to be a liar, in which case the translator is really the liar. If there are options, wherever possible the option must be chosen in which there is no conflict. And so the manner in which this verse is rendered in the Christogenea New Testament is both quite proper, and there is no conflict whatsoever with Paul’s earlier statement as it was recorded at Acts 9:7. Indeed the men with him heard the voice, or the sound (φωνή), but did not hear with understanding what it was that the sound had said.
10 Then I said ‘What shall I do, Master?’ And the Prince said to me, ‘Arising go into Damaskos and there it shall be spoken to you concerning all things which are assigned for you to do.’ 11 And since I saw nothing because of the effulgence of that light, led by the hand by those who were with me I came into Damaskos.
The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (in this case, both the NA27 and the NA28), following the preponderance of other manuscripts, has “And since I had not looked”; The Codex Laudianus (E) has “And since I did not see”, Here the text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codex Vaticanus (B), which has “And since I saw nothing”. Paul is describing his blindness which resulted from looking at the light, and not any attempt on his part to avoid looking at the light. The account in Acts chapter 9 and the subsequent history of poor eyesight throughout the balance of Paul's life makes it evident that the proper reading for this verse is that which is found in the Codex Vaticanus.
From Hellenistic times there was a large population of Judaeans dwelling in Damascus, and the customs they upheld distinctly from the Greeks and Syrians who lived there were always a cause of troubles. From Josephus, Antiquities of the Judaeans, Book 12: “125 We also know that Marcus Agrippa was of the like disposition toward the Judaeans: for when the people of Ionia were very angry at them, and besought Agrippa that they, and they only, might have those privileges of citizens, which Antiochus, the grandson of Seleucus, (who by the Greeks was called The God), had bestowed on them; and desired that, if the Judaeans were to be joint partakers with them, 126 they might be obliged to worship the gods they themselves worshipped: but when these matters were brought to the trial, the Judaeans prevailed, and obtained permission to make use of their own customs, and this under the patronage of Nicolaus of Damascus; for Agrippa gave sentence that he [meaning Nicolaus of Damascus] could not make a new rule.”
This “Nicolaus of Damascus” also wrote an apparently voluminous history of Judaea which Josephus often cited, but evidently which he did not always like. In Book 14 of his Antiquities, Josephus writes: “9 It is true that Nicolaus of Damascus says that Antipater [meaning the father of Herod 'the Great'] was of the family of the principal Judaeans who came out of Babylon into Judea; but that assertion of his was to gratify Herod, who was his son, and who, by certain changes of fortune, came afterward to be king of the Jews, whose history we shall give you in its proper place hereafter.” It is not apparent in what capacity Josephus meant where he called Herod the “son” (Greek παῖς) of Nicolaus, since Antipater was Herod's natural father and the Greek word has a wide range of meaning. However what is apparent, is that we see that Nicolaus was willing to corrupt history for the benefit of Herod the Edomite subverter, and Josephus was quick to correct that corruption.
12 And a certain Hananias, a devout [A wants “devout”] man in accordance with the law, accredited by all of the Judaean settlers,
The Majority Text, as well as an 8th century papyrus copy of Acts designated P41, has “by all of the Judaeans settled in Damaskos”. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Laudianus (E). The King James Version did not follow the Majority Text in this reading, and this is one passage which illustrates the fact that the King James Version and the Majority Text do not always agree.
The King James Version's New Testament translators primarily employed Theodore Beza’s edition of the Greek, but they also consulted the editions of Erasmus, Stephanus, and the Complutensian Polyglot. It was Beza, who was a disciple of John Calvin, for whom the Codex Bezae was named, however his own published edition of the Greek New Testament employed the readings of other manuscripts as well. The term Majority Text represents a much wider collection of medieval Greek manuscripts, not all of which are always in agreement with each other. However they have a fairly common history as ecclesiastical copies and therefore the variants among them are far fewer than the variants which they have collectively when compared to other more ancient manuscripts. The so-called Textus Receptus is not the Majority Text, but properly that name represents another Greek New Testament manuscript created by the Dutch brothers Elzevir, printers by trade, who employed many of the same sources used by the King James translators. The Elzevir brothers called their text the “Textus Receptus” as an advertising gimmick, and the name stuck.
13 [Hananias] coming to me and standing by said to me ‘Saul, brother, see again!’ And I at that moment looked up at him,
The Codex Alexandrinus (A) wants the word for “up”. The word ὥρα (5610), from which we get the English word hour, is moment” here.
14 and he said: ‘The God of our fathers undertook for you to know that of His will and to see the Just One and to hear a voice from His mouth, 15 that you would be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what should you do? Arise to be immersed and to wash away your errors, being called by His Name.’
The last clause here may be read “calling upon His name”, and while arguments can be made that either reading is correct, we would rather interpret the word according to its most literal sense, since appearing here in the Medium Voice, properly the subject of the verb both produces and receives the action. We described this use at length where the same verb, ἐπικαλέω, is discussed in the first segment of our presentation of Acts Chapter 2.
The King James Version has here “calling on the name of the Lord”, yet the NA27 gives no indication that the phrase “of the Lord” replaces “His” in any of the manuscripts, either those which are generally cited here or any which are more recent.
Isaiah 45: “3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”
Isaiah 62: “1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. 2 And the Nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.”
Christian Israelites, calling themselves by the name of Christ, have indeed fulfilled these prophecies.
17 Then it happened upon my returning into Jerusalem and my praying in the temple for me to be in a trance 18 and to see Him [א has “and I saw Him”] saying to me ‘Hastening then depart quickly from Jerusalem, because they will not receive your testimony concerning Me!’ 19 And I said ‘Prince, they know that I was imprisoning and flaying those believing in You throughout the assembly halls, 20 and when they spilled the blood of Stephanos Your witness, even I myself was standing by and consenting [the MT interpolates “to his slaying”; the text follows א, A, B, and E], and keeping the garments of those slaying him!’
Paul humbly denounced his own worthiness before Yahweh.
21 And He said to me ‘Go, because I shall send you off to distant nations.’”
Here we have an episode which has not been previously described. In Acts 9:15 Luke records that Yahshua had told Hananias, who had expressed doubts about Paul, to “Go! For he is a vessel chosen by Me who is to bear My Name before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel.” Then some time later, after Paul joins the original apostles in Jerusalem which is recorded further on in that same chapter of Acts, we read that “29 he had both spoken to and disputed with the Hellenists, and they endeavored to kill him. 30 But discovering it the brethren brought him down into Caesareia and sent him off to Tarsos.” However these differences do not discredit the accounts in Acts. Rather, they increase the credibility of the accounts in Acts, because they are different records and attestations which were presented at different times over a thirty-year period, and they never conflict with one another, but rather they only coincide with and corroborate and add to the details of one another.
In fact, although Paul expressed a knowledge of his commission to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Nations as early as the events which are recorded at the end of Acts chapter 13, it is never explained at any point earlier in Acts just how Paul came to that knowledge, until this account is made here. In Acts chapter 9, it is only recorded that Yahshua informed Hananias of Paul's forthcoming commission. While Luke did not record this event of Paul's vision in the Temple in Acts chapter 9, here where it appears in Paul's own testimony we see how Paul initially came to this knowledge. Being recorded by Luke here, it substantiates the entire body of Luke's earlier records in this regard.
We must not look at the Book of Acts as a complete record, for it is only a scant collection of records describing various events which took place during several decades. If it were a complete narrative, it would be much longer than the 28 short chapters which we have. Neither should we look at the Book of Acts as a single ongoing narrative. Luke, who was only an eyewitness to a few of the events in Acts, most of which are recorded towards the end of the book, had ostensibly collected the accounts which it contains from multiple sources, later collating them in order to present a chronological sequence of certain events which had indeed occurred over a long period of time. Most of the events in Acts are related in a highly abbreviated manner, and those which we have in detail were, evidently, more completely transmitted for particular reasons. These serve not only that we have examples of the conduct of the apostles in the Faith of Christ, but also that the events in Acts can be verified historically, and indeed they can. But more importantly, they exist so that we may have a record of the religious transitions which the apostles experienced, from the structure and rituals of the Old Covenant to the liberty in Christ in the New Covenant, and from a focus on the remnant at Jerusalem to a focus on the reconciliation of the outcasts of Israel, and how the apostles accepted those transitions so that we may have a record of their validity. This is not conjecture, for such things are explicitly presented by Luke in many portions of the book, such as the opening verses of the book, where he precisely distinguishes the baptism of John from the baptism of Christ. Unfortunately, that most important facet of the Book of Acts is ignored by virtually all of the denominations, and if they cannot understand the first few verses, how could they understand the rest of the book?
22 Now they listened until this word, and raised their voice saying “Take such as him from the earth! For it is not fit that he lives!”
While all of these Judaeans who were at the Temple must have been familiar with the Christians of Judaea and their theological arguments, as we have seen in chapter 21 of Acts that those Christians were myriads in number, Luke seems to be indicating that the commission of Paul “to distant nations” is what had raised the greatest ire from the Judaeans who were present and heard these words. It is therefore the violation of religious exclusivity in their relationship with God that made the Judaeans most jealous, and for this they wanted to kill Paul.
Not much earlier than this, Paul had said in his epistle to the Romans concerning the Israelite people of Judaea “Then I say, had Israel not known? Firstly, Moses says, I will provoke you to jealousy by a nation that is not, by a nation without understanding I will provoke you to anger” (Romans 10:19). Paul here is using the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 as a literary device. For he had already demonstrated his knowledge of true Israel in their dispersions when he wrote 1 Corinthians while in Ephesus several years before this, and some time before he wrote to the Romans, where he quoted a passage from this same scripture, at Deuteronomy 32:17, in relation to the pagan nations who were “Israel according to the flesh” and who had been “sacrificing to devils, and not to God”. In Romans 10:19 Paul quoted Deuteronomy 32:21 in reference to the Judaean Israelites, who were jealous of their relationship to God through the Old Covenant and the Temple rituals, and therefore provoked “by a nation which is not”.
However in this context, the references to a “nation which is not” and a nation “without understanding” can only be references to the dispersed, divorced Israelites, since nobody else was ever to receive the Gospel of Christ.
Jeremiah 5: “20 Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, 21 Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not”.
Isaiah 7: “8... within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.”
Hosea 1: “9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”
While Paul seems to have used Deuteronomy 32:21 as a literary device, today the proverbial shoe is on the other foot, which seems to be the original meaning of the words of Moses: where millions of White Christians are jealous over the supposed “chosen people”, who are really only Canaanites and Edomites and are truly a “nation which is not”, the eternal enemies of God.
23 Then upon their crying out and hurling their garments and throwing dirt into the air,
Here the Codex Bezae has “throwing dirt into the heaven”, where it is especially evident that the word οὐρανός (3772) may be understood to refer to the sky in at least some contexts.
24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the encampment, saying to interrogate him with a whip that he may discover [A has “know”] for what reason they addressed him thusly.
The word ἐπιφωνέω (2019) is to address here, where the Codex Bezae (D) instead has an obscure word, καταφωνέω, which I would render as accuse in this instance.
25 And as they held the thongs out at him, Paul said to the appointed centurion: “If a man is a Roman and uncondemned, is it lawful for you to whip him?” 26 And hearing it the centurion going to the commander reported it saying “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman!”
At the end of verse 26 the Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have the exclamation “Watch what you are about to do, for this man is a Roman!” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B)m Ephraemi Syri (C) and Laudianus (E).
The Romans had different laws for non-citizens than they themselves enjoyed, and non-citizens were treated much more harshly. Paul had a similar experience as it was described in Acts chapter 16, where Paul informed the magistrates at Philippi that they had unjustly beaten and imprisoned both he and Silas, since they were Romans and had not been lawfully convicted.
27 And coming forth the commander said to him [D has “questioned him”] “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said “Yes.” [D has “I am.” ] 28 Then the commander replied “I with great sum acquired this citizenship.”
The Codex Bezae has verse 28 to read “And replying the commander said ‘I know with how great a sum I acquired this citizenship.’” Not until 212 AD were all free persons of the empire considered citizens, and that was during Rome's decline, in a period when it was more attractive to increase the tax rolls than to preserve Roman blood. Caracalla, the Roman emperor who made the change, was himself a Berber and therefore not expected to be a preserver of Roman blood. In the Roman Republic and the early years of the empire, however, Roman citizenship had many benefits and was highly valued. While it was granted to the peoples of certain subject nations, such as the Greeks, it was not granted freely to all.
This man was a military tribune, yet he professes that he bought his citizenship “with great sum”. The rank which he held was at one time usually held by young men of the Roman equestrian class, as a stepping-stone to a position in the Roman Senate. Sometimes freedmen were given citizenship for acts of military valor, however the use of a word which here can mean only head, capital or sum seems to preclude that possibility.
And Paul said “But I likewise was born.” 29 So forthwith those about to interrogate him withdrew from him, and the commander feared, finding out that he is a Roman and that he was bound.
Kilikia (Cilicia), and Tarsus became subject to Rome under Pompey, and Tarsus became the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. In 66 BC, the inhabitants of Tarsus received Roman citizenship. If Paul's ancestors had already resided there, this would be how he had acquired Roman citizenship as a birthright. Otherwise, we do not know how he may have acquired it, since there are no explicit statements elsewhere.
As the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece attests, Acts 22:28 is the last verse of Acts which survived in the Codex Bezae (D).
30 And on the next day, wishing to know with certainty why he was accused by the Judaeans, he released him [the MT interpolates “from the bonds”; the text follows א, A, B, C, and E] and ordered the high priests and all the council to gather together, and bringing down Paul he stood before them.
Paul, being born in Tarsus. And being a citizen of Tarsus thereby being also a Roman citizen, had many more legal rights than Christ. For Christ was born when Judaea was a kingdom, and therefore He had no rights as a Roman, and therefore he had no right to appeal any higher than Pilate. The secular laws therefore conformed to the Sovereign Will of Yahweh: for Paul was commissioned to bring the Gospel of God to Rome, but Christ had to die outside the walls of Jerusalem, as it was expressed in the prophets.