Acts 21:37-22:21 Providence Gives Paul A Pulpit.
Paul argued with the commander, because it was his right as a Roman citizen. This commander actually thought that Paul was an Egyptian who had previously led a rebellion. Instead he learned that Paul was entitled to due process of the law (vv. 37-39). One may suppose that the commander gave Paul permission to speak to the people in hopes of quelling the uproar-if he was mistaken perhaps they were also (v. 40). Just as Paul’s citizenship stopped the commander, so his fluency in the Hebrew tongue caused the crowd to remain silent (22:1-2). In the various items he lists in his defence, he sought to show his affinity with the background of the crowd, including adhering to the strictness of their fathers’ law, and in persecuting the church (vv. 3-5 Cf. 26:5; II Cor. 11:22; Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:6).
One of the things Paul mentions is how he was taught by Gamaliel, and it is a shame that they didn’t continue to follow his advice and not fight against God (Acts 33-42). Paul also had a zeal like theirs, but it was based on supporting traditions and customs of the fathers, and not according to true knowledge (Cf. Rom. 10:2). Paul in effect began with his personal testimony, which included his encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus (vv. 6ff). In this encounter he told his audience that the Lord Jesus himself confronted him, and asked him why he was persecuting him and his church (vv. 6-8). Paul’s companions also saw the great light, although not to the extent of being blinded as Paul was, even if they did not hear from the Lord as Paul did (vv. 9-11 Cf. 9:7).
To his own testimony he added that of Ananias, “a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there” (v. 12 Cf. 9:10-19). This man was also a believer, informed Paul of the significance of this event, and upon meeting Paul, the latter received his sight (v. 13). He also informed Paul that he was chosen by God to know his will, see the Lord Jesus (the Just One), and to hear him speak (v. 14). This included him being a witness to all men of what he had seen and heard (v. 15 Cf. 23:11; 26:12-18). Having believed Paul was then baptised (v. 16). Furthermore, in those early days, Paul made clear that the Lord told him to leave Jerusalem, because from the very beginning of his conversion, there were those who were violently opposed to his work (vv. 17-18).
However, the Lord had destined him to take the gospel to the Gentiles (vv. 19-21). The crowd remained quiet, until he told them that the Lord had directed him to take the gospel to the Gentiles (v. 22 I Th. 2:16). With this word they wanted him killed. They made their judgment clear (v. 23). However, Paul was legally entitled to appeal to his Roman citizenship, so this is what he did (v. 25-27). The commander was sceptical, stating that he had paid a great sum of money for his Roman citizenship. But Paul did him better, by declaring his citizenship by birth (v. 28 Cf. 16:37). So with all this, Paul’s execution is once again prevented (v. 29). However, this all led to the commander wanting to learn more, and as such it gave Paul a further opportunity to bear witness to the Lord’s work.