Section 2: Trial I. Place, Jerusalem-Temple.—Judicatory, The Mixed Multitude.—Acts 22:1-21
Scene, the Temple. Judges, prosecutors, and—stated as intended executioners, a Jerusalem multitude. Sole class, by whom any declared or special cause of irritation had been received, the Christianized Jews, provoked by Paul's preachings against the law of the land, to which they as yet maintained their adherence; by his intrusion upon their society, by which, were it only for his former persecution, he could not but be abhorred; and by the notorious perjury he was at that moment committing, having chosen to commit it, rather than cease to obtrude upon them the object of their abhorrence.
Of the particulars of the accusation nothing is said: but, the above circumstances, and the subsequent charges made upon him the next day by the constituted authorities,—who immediately took up the matter, and carried on a regular prosecution against him,—sufficiently show, what, if expressed, would have been the purport of them. By the preparations made for execution, we shall see broken off the defence, before it had come, if ever it was designed to come, to the substance of the alleged offence.
Points touched upon in it are these:
- 1. Defendant's birthplace, Tarsus; parentage, Jewish; religious persuasion, Pharasaical; education, under Gamaliel.(Acts 22:3.)
- 2. Part, borne by him, in the persecution of the Christians, when Stephen was stoned: his commission for that purpose stated, and the High Priest and Elders called to witness.(Acts 22:4-5.) N.B. Time of that same commission, according to the received chronology, not less than 26 years before this.
- 3. Story, of that first vision, of which so much has been seen: namely, that from whence his conversion was dated: occasion, his journey to Damascus, for the execution of that same commission.(Acts 22:6-16.)
- 4. Story of his trance: for this see Chapter IV. §. 7. In this state, "the Lord" seen by him.—Lord to Defendant.
Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.Acts 22:18 Defendant, to Lord. Informing or reminding said Lord of the details of the part borne by said defendant in the persecution of Saint Stephen.—Lord to Defendant, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.Acts 22:21 Note, Defendant cut short: Lord's patience no match for defendant's eloquence.
Judges and executioners.—At the word Gentiles, exclamation:—"Away with him ... he is not fit to live"(Acts 22:22.):—clothes cast off,(Acts 22:23.) as in Stephen's case, as if to prepare for stoning him.81 "Dust thrown into the air."(Acts 22:23.) Present, chief captain Claudius Lysias, who commands him to be "brought into the castle," and "examined by scourging."(Acts 22:24.) While, for this purpose, they are binding him, on Defendant crying out, "I am a Roman citizen,"(Acts 22:25.) the binding ceases, no scourging commences:(Acts 22:25.) the next day he is released, and the "chief priests and all their council" are "sent for," and Defendant is "set before them."(Acts 22:30.)
81 If in any former part of this work, in speaking of this scene, the persons in question have been spoken of as having actually proceeded to acts of manual violence, it was an oversight.
As to the examination by scourging,—singular enough will naturally appear this mode of collecting evidence: declared purpose of it, "that he," the captain, "might know wherefore they," the Jews, "cried out against him," meaning the defendant. A simpler way would have been to have asked them; and, as to the scourge, what use it could have been of is not altogether obvious. To begin with torturing a man, and proceed by questioning him, was, however, among the Romans a well-known mode of obtaining evidence. But, then and there, as now and everywhere, unless the United States form an exception, "whatever is—is right," provided always that it is by power that it is done.