Acts 22:1-21 [cf. Paul’s testimony in Acts 9 and 26]
22:1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
22:2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic [generally, Jews born and raised outside of Palestine could not speak Greek or Hebrew, so Paul spoke to his audience in Aramaic; this gave weight to Paul’s Jewish credentials], they became very quiet. Then Paul said:
22:3 [Paul’s Jewish credentials] “I am a Jew [cf. 2 Cor. 11:22; Phil. 3:5; Paul identified with his listeners], born in Tarsus [city on southeastern coast of Asia Minor; city had a university] of Cilicia, but brought up [nursed, nourished] in this city [implication is that Paul was sent to Jerusalem while still young, perhaps 13 or 14 years old (cf. Acts 26:4)]. Under Gamaliel [highly regarded Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin; considered the best Jewish teacher of his day; Paul became a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) like his teacher] I was thoroughly [strictness, exactness] trained [instructed] in the law [written OT law as well as oral interpretations (often referred to as the traditions of the fathers)] of our fathers and was just as zealous [Paul actually was more zealous: cf. Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:6] for God as any of you [those who had accused Paul of violating Jewish law as per Acts 21:28] are today.
22:4 I persecuted [to pursue, to hunt an animal; cf. Acts 9:1] the followers of this Way [earliest self-designation of the first believers in Jesus at Jerusalem; see Jn. 14:6] to their death [actual death as per Acts 26:10], arresting both men and women [shows how far Paul went in his zeal for Judaism] and throwing them into prison,
22:5 as also the high priest and all the Council can testify [details of Paul’s testimony could be verified]. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
22:6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light [brighter than the midday sun] from heaven flashed around me.
22:7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me [words that pierced his heart], ‘Saul! Saul [Paul’s Jewish name]! Why do you persecute me [a challenge to Paul’s misdirected way of life; forced Paul to reexamine his direction in life]?’
Note: This verse contains one of five double expressions in the New Testament. Each double expression reveals something about the concern of Jesus.
• “Saul, Saul” expresses His concern for the sinner (Acts 22:7).
• “Simon, Simon” expresses His concern for the saint (Lk. 22:31).
• “Martha, Martha” expresses His concern for our service (Lk. 10:41).
• “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem” expresses His concern for society (Matt. 23:37).
• “My God, my God”“ expresses His concern for sin (Matt. 27:46).
22:8 “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. “‘I am Jesus of Nazareth [the Son of God, not the impostor that Paul had imagined Him to be], whom you are persecuting [to persecute the church / Jesus’ followers is to persecute Him],’ he replied.
22:9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice [heard the sound, but did not understand the message] of him who was speaking to me [the experience was personal yet could be confirmed by others].
22:10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked [submitting to His authority]. “‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do [which would be different than Paul’s original intentions].’”
22:11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus [where he fasted for three days (Acts 9:9)], because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
22:12 “A man named Ananias [a Jewish Christian who lived in Damascus] came to see me [three days after the Damascus Road experience]. He was a devout [pious, godly] observer of the law [Jew; Paul introduced to Christianity by a devout Jew, not a lawbreaker] and highly respected by all the Jews living there [Damascus].
22:13 He stood beside me and said [cf. Acts 9:17], ‘Brother [first time Paul addressed as brother] Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment [“immediately” (Acts 9:18)] I was able to see him.
22:14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One [cf. Acts 7:52; Jesus the Messiah] and to hear words from his mouth.
22:15 You will be his witness to all men [including Gentiles] of what you have seen and heard.
22:16 And now what are you waiting for [emphasizes that Paul needed to act]? Get up, be [submit yourself to] baptized [pictured the change that had already taken place in Paul’s life] and wash your sins away, calling [“having previously called upon His Name” (Wuest); “The calling on the Lord effects the washing away of sin.” (Rienecker/Rogers)] on his name [cf. Acts 2:21; 4:12].’
22:17 “When I returned to Jerusalem [after his conversion (cf. Acts 9:26-30)] and was praying at the temple [indication that he had not renounced his Jewish heritage], I fell into a trance [received a vision from God]
22:18 and saw the Lord speaking. ‘Quick [urgency]!’ he said [a warning; a command] to me. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they [cf. Acts 9:29 re: Greek-speaking Jews in Jerusalem who tried to kill Paul] will not [regardless of how it is presented] accept your testimony about me [Christ].’
22:19 [Paul did not want to leave Jerusalem] “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these men know [Paul’s reputation as a persecutor of Christians] that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you.
22:20 [cf. 22:4] And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed [indicates that the stoning of Stephen still weighed heavily on Paul’s mind], I stood there giving my approval [cf. Acts 8:1] and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
22:21 “Then the Lord [had other plans for Paul] said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles. [cf. Gal. 1:11-12]’”