Saturday, 7 May 2016

Acts 22 - Zeal for the law

Paul Addresses the Crowd After His Arrest by Gustave Doré.jpg
St Paul addresses the crowd after his arrest,
Gustave Dore

At the end of Acts 21 Paul is arrested by a tribune (captain), perhaps based on a misidentification.  He asks leave to address the crowd, gets it and today we have his speech, which recounts his conversion.  Paul more or less has the crowd on side until he mentions his mention to the gentiles.  The outcry leads to him being arrested.  He is about to be lashed when he asserts his citizenship rights

Acts 22:
 Brethren and fathers, listen to the defence I am putting before you. 2 (And now they gave him even better audience, finding that he spoke to them in Hebrew.) 3 I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia and brought up in this city; I was trained, under Gamaliel, in exact knowledge of our ancestral law, as jealous for the honour of the law as you are, all of you, to-day. 4 I persecuted this way to the death, putting men and women in chains and handing them over to the prisons. 5 The chief priests and all the elders will bear me out in that; it was from them that I was carrying letters to their brethren, when I was on my way to Damascus, to make fresh prisoners there and bring them to Jerusalem for punishment. 
1 Viri fratres, et patres, audite quam ad vos nunc reddo rationem. 2 Cum audissent autem quia hebræa lingua loqueretur ad illos, magis præstiterunt silentium. 3 Et dicit: Ego sum vir Judæus, natus in Tarso Ciliciæ, nutritus autem in ista civitate, secus pedes Gamaliel eruditus juxta veritatem paternæ legis, æmulator legis, sicut et vos omnes estis hodie: 4 qui hanc viam persecutus sum usque ad mortem, alligans et tradens in custodias viros ac mulieres, 5 sicut princeps sacerdotum mihi testimonium reddit, et omnes majores natu: a quibus et epistolas accipiens, ad fratres Damascum pergebam, ut adducerem inde vinctos in Jerusalem ut punirentur. 
 Chrysostom (Homily 47): He shows how great was his zeal for the worship, inasmuch as having left his native city, which was so great and so remote too, he chose to be brought up here for the Law's sake. See how from the beginning he attached himself to the law. But this he says, not only to defend himself to them, but to show that not by human intent was he led to the preaching of the Gospel, but by a Divine power: else, having been so educated, he would not have suddenly changed. For if indeed he had been one of the common order of men, it might have been reasonable to suspect this: but if he was of the number of those who were most of all bound by the law, it was not likely that he should change lightly, and without strong necessity.

But perhaps some one may say: To have been brought up here proves nothing: for what if you came here for the purpose of trading, or for some other cause? Therefore he says, at the feet of Gamaliel: and not simply, by Gamaliel, but at his feet, showing his perseverance, his assiduity, his zeal for the hearing, and his great reverence for the man. Taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers. Not simply, the law, but the law of the fathers; showing that he was such from the beginning, and not merely one that knew the Law...

Then he brings forward proofs also, saying, and I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest does bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders (v. 4, 5): How does this appear. As witnesses he brings forward the high-priest himself and the elders. He says indeed, Being a zealot, as you (Hom. xix. p. 123): but he shows by his actions, that he went beyond them. For I did not wait for an opportunity of seizing them: I both stirred up the priests, and undertook journeys: I did not confine my attacks, as you did, to men, I extended them to women also: both binding, and casting into prisons both men and women.
6 While I was on my journey, not far from Damascus, about midday, this befell me; all at once a great light from heaven shone about me, 7 and I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me? 8 Who art thou, Lord? I answered. And he said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom Saul persecutes. 9 My companions saw the light, but could not catch the voice of him who spoke to me. 10 Then I said, What must I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me, Rise up, and go into Damascus; there thou shalt be told of all the work that is destined for thee. 11 The glory of that light had blinded me, and my companions were leading me by the hand when I came into Damascus. 
 6 Factum est autem, eunte me, et appropinquante Damasco media die, subito de cælo circumfulsit me lux copiosa: 7 et decidens in terram, audivi vocem dicentem mihi: Saule, Saule, quid me persequeris? 8 Ego autem respondi: Quis es, domine? Dixitque ad me: Ego sum Jesus Nazarenus, quem tu persequeris. 9 Et qui mecum erant, lumen quidem viderunt, vocem autem non audierunt ejus qui loquebatur mecum. 10 Et dixi: Quid faciam, domine? Dominus autem dixit ad me: Surgens vade Damascum: et ibi tibi dicetur de omnibus quæ te oporteat facere. 11 Et cum non viderem præ claritate luminis illius, ad manum deductus a comitibus, veni Damascum. 
Chrys: Why did he suddenly fling away all this zeal? Because he looked for honor? And yet he got just the contrary. But an easy life, perhaps? No, nor that either. Well but something else? Why it is not in the power of thought to invent any other object. So then, leaving it to themselves to draw the inference, he narrates the facts....
12 There a certain Ananias, a man well known among his Jewish neighbours for his pious observance of the law, 13 came and stood beside me, and said, Brother Saul, look up and see. And at that instant I looked up into his face. 14 Then he said to me, The God of our fathers has made choice of thee to know his will, to have sight of him who is Just, and hear speech from his lips; 15 and what thou hast seen and heard, thou shalt testify before all men. 16 Come then, why art thou wasting time? Rise up, and receive baptism, washing away thy sins at the invocation of his name. 
12 Ananias autem quidam vir secundum legem, testimonium habens ab omnibus cohabitantibus Judæis, 13 veniens ad me et astans, dixit mihi: Saule frater, respice. Et ego eadem hora respexi in eum. 14 At ille dixit: Deus patrum nostrorum præordinavit te, ut cognosceres voluntatem ejus, et videres justum, et audires vocem ex ore ejus: 15 quia eris testis illius ad omnes homines eorum quæ vidisti et audisti. 16 Et nunc quid moraris? Exsurge, et baptizare, et ablue peccata tua, invocato nomine ipsius. 
Chrys: Again another witness. And see how unexceptionable he makes him also. And one Ananias, he says, a devout man according to the law,— so far is it from being anything alien!— having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt (there). And I in the same hour received sight. Then follows the testimony borne by the facts. Observe how it is interwoven, of persons and facts; and the persons, both of their own and of aliens: the priests, the elders, and his fellow-travellers: the facts, what he did and what was done to him: and facts bear witness to facts, not persons only. Then Ananias, an alien; then the fact itself, the recovery of sight; then a great prophecy...

Here it is a great thing he has uttered. For he said not, Be baptized in His name: but, calling on the name of Christ. It shows that He is God: since it is not lawful to call upon any other, save God. Then he shows also, that he himself was not compelled: for, I said, says he, What must I do? Nothing is (left) without witness: no; he brings forward the witness of a whole city, seeing they had beheld him led by the hand. But see the prophecy fulfilled. To all men, it is said. For he did become a witness to Him, and a witness as it ought to be; by what he suffered, by what he did, and by what he said. Such witnesses ought we also to be, and not to betray the things we have been entrusted withal: I speak not only of doctrines, but also of the manner of life.
17 Afterwards, when I had gone back to Jerusalem, and was at prayer in the temple, I fell into a trance, 18 and saw the Lord there speaking to me; Make haste, he said, leave Jerusalem with all speed; they will not accept thy witness of me here. 19 But, Lord, I said, it is within their own knowledge, how I used to imprison those who believed in thee, and scourge them in the synagogues; 20 and when the blood of Stephen, thy martyr, was shed, I too stood by and gave my consent, and watched over the garments of those who slew him. 21. And he said to me, Go on thy way; I mean to send thee on a distant errand, to the Gentiles.
Chrys: Here he establishes two things: both that they are without excuse, since they persecuted him contrary to all likelihood or calculation of reason; and, that Christ was God, as prophesying things contrary to expectation, and as not looking to past things, but fore-knowing the things to come...He reminded them of the murderous spirit heinously indulged (by him and them). Then of course above all they would not endure him, since this convicted them; and truly the prophecy was having its fulfilment: great the zeal, vehement the accusation, and the Jews themselves witnesses of the truth of Christ!
22 Up to this point, they listened to his speech; but then they cried aloud, Away with such a fellow from the earth; it is a disgrace that he should live. 23 So, when he saw them raising shouts and throwing down their garments and flinging dust into the air, 24 the captain had Paul taken into the soldiers’ quarters, telling them to examine him under the lash; thus he would find out the cause of the outcry against him. 25 And they had already tied Paul down with thongs, when he said to the centurion who was in charge, Have you the right to scourge a man, when he is a Roman citizen, and has not been sentenced? 
Chrys: ...Whereas both the tribune ought to have examined whether these things were so— yes, and the Jews themselves too— or, if they were not so, to have ordered him to be scourged, he bade examine him by scourging, that he might know for what cause they so clamored against him. And yet he ought to have learned from those clamorers, and to have asked whether they laid hold upon anything of the things spoken: instead of that, without more ado he indulges his arbitrary will and pleasure, and acts with a view to gratify them: for he did not look to this, how he should do a righteous thing, but only how he might stop their rage unrighteous as it was...

And observe he does not say it peremptorily (ἁ πλὥς), but, Is it lawful for you? The charges brought are two, both its being without examination, and his being a Roman. They held this as a great privilege, at that time: for they say that (it was only) from the time of Hadrian that all were named Romans, but of old it was not so...
26 The centurion, as soon as he heard this, went to the captain and told him of it, What art thou about? he said. This man is a Roman citizen. 27 So the captain came and asked him, What is this? Thou art a Roman citizen? Yes, he said. 28 Why, answered the captain, it cost me a heavy sum to win this privilege. Ah, said Paul, but I am a citizen by birth. 29 Upon this, the men who were to have put him to the question moved away from him; and the captain himself was alarmed, to find out that this was a Roman citizen, and he had put him in bonds. 30 So, the next day, determined to discover the truth about the charge the Jews were bringing against him, he released him, summoned a meeting of the chief priests and the whole Council, and brought Paul down to confront them with him.

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