King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 22

Paul’s account of his conversion. (1-11) Paul directed to preach to the Gentiles. (12-21) The rage of the Jews Paul pleads that he is a Roman citizen. (22-30)

Acts 22 Audio:

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Paul’s account of his conversion

1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.

2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)

3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.

7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.

9 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.

10 And I said, What shall I do, LORD? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.

11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

Paul directed to preach to the Gentiles

12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,

13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.

15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

17 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;

18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

19 And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:

20 And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.

21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.

The rage of the Jews Paul pleads that he is a Roman citizen

22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.

23 And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27 Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Hear ye the account.[1] In the Greek, to the apology, or defence. Wi. — S. Paul, in this exordium, as also in Acts vii. 2. shews himself not ignorant of the art of pleading. He adds the name of Fathers, supposing there may be some of his hearers of senatorial dignity, and others deserving the title for their rank and age. Mat. Pol.

Ver. 3. The scholars sat much below their master; and the nearest the master were such as had made the greatest proficiency. Philo de Essenis.

Ver. 4. This way. That is, the Christian faith, which now I profess. Wi.

Ver. 5. As the high priest doth bear me witness. That is, as the letters which he gave me, bear witness. Wi.

Ver. 9. Heard not the voice. To reconcile this with c. ix. v. 7. where it is said that they heard the voice; it may be answered that they heard a noise, and a voice, but heard it not distinctly, nor so as to understand the words. Wi. — They heard not the voice of him who spoke to the apostle, but they heard the latter speak; (Acts ix. 7.) or perhaps they heard a noise, which they could not understand. They perhaps heard the voice of Paul answering, but not that of Christ complaining.

Ver. 14. Shouldst . . . see the Just One. Our Saviour appeared to S. Paul, as it is said; (c. ix. 7.) and he is divers times, both in the Prophets and in the Testament, called the Just One. Wi. — To see and hear the Just One; Him, who is just by excellence, that you also may prove a witness of his resurrection from the dead.

Ver. 16. Wash, &c. The contrition and charity of S. Paul had, no doubt, merited for him the remission of his sins at the moment of his conversion. Still were these effects to be attributed to the desire of the sacrament of baptism, without which the council of Trent defines that the forgiveness of sins, and the punishment due to them, are not obtained. It likewise added a new degree of lustre to his innocence and purity. Tirinus. — Calling upon his name. In such manner, says S. Chrys. (hom. xlvii.) as we invoke the only true God; and as we invoke the saints, and pray to them, that they would pray for us. Wi.

Ver. 17. To Jerusalem . . . that I was in a trance. This might be when he went to Jerusalem, three years after his conversion, or at some other time. It might be in this ecstacy that he was wrapt to the third heaven, as he tells the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xv. 9. Wi.

Ver. 20. Of Stephen, thy witness. Or thy martyr, as the Greek word signifies. Wi.

Ver. 21. Hence we see that not only principals, but all that consent to the persecution of God’s servants for the cause of religion, do highly offend; and this S. Paul mentions here, that the mercy of God may be more remarkably glorified in him hereby. B.

Ver. 22. This word. That is, until he told them that God had sent him to preach to the Gentiles, whom they could not bear to hear preferred before themselves. Not that the Jews forbad preaching to the Gentiles; on the contrary, our Saviour reproached the Pharisees, that they would go over land and sea for the sake of making one proselyte. They were likewise enraged that S. Paul had not laid on the Gentiles the heavy yoke of the law. Calmet. — Hence they exclaim: take away this wicked man from amongst us, for it is a sin to let him live. V.

Ver. 23. Threw off their garments. Or pulling them open to shew themselves ready to stone him. Wi. — This is nicely descriptive of the fury of a populace, who, when unable to vent their rage in some more effectual way, indignantly throw into the air, and against the object of their indignation, such harmless trifles as dust, clothes, &c. Menochius.

Ver. 25. A Roman. That is, a Roman citizen, a freeman of Rome. Wi. — The apostle, on this occasion, not to injure the faith of some weak Christians, who might be scandalized at his public disgrace, prevents the scourging, which on another occasion he patiently submitted to. By the thongs he was probably bound to a pillar; (Tirinus) or being tied hand and foot, was stretched on the ground, with his face downwards. This was frequently done among the Romans. Calmet. — See also Gretser de cruce, l. i. c. 10; who declares that it was the Roman custom to bind to a stake or pillar, such as were condemned to be flogged.

Ver. 28. Civilitatem; that is, Civitatem, Græcè, politeian, the rights of citizenship. These privileges were granted by Antonius to the city of Tarsus. Appianus civilium 5.

Ver. 29. The same law which forbad a Roman citizen to be scourged, forbad him also to be bound. S. Aug. lib. i. de Serm. Dni. c. 29. — It was under Claudius that the abuse of buying the freedom of Rome was introduced. At first the name of a Roman was esteemed much, and bought at a great price. Now (such is the emptiness and vanity of titles) it is refused, and despised; nay, it is fled from, and reckoned disgraceful. Salvian. De Gubern. Dei, lib. v. — If S. Paul, on this occasion, makes use of his privilege, it is not that he was unprepared, or afraid to die for Christ; but because it was lawful to use ordinary means to extricate himself from difficulties, and preserve himself for future services to religion. D. Dion. Carthus.


[1] V. 1. Quam reddo rationem, akousate . . . tes apologias.