22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”
23 Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air,
24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.
25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”
26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”
27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”
28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”
29Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.
this word (v.22) — Gentiles
The cause of the great uprising that followed Paul’s address should be kept in mind as we read this part of the narrative. The multitude raised no commotion as the apostle related how he had found Jesus to be the Messiah. Tens of thousands in Jerusalem believed this and the rest tolerated it (See Acts 21:20). What enraged them was Paul’s preaching of the finished work of the now-risen Christ and the consequent replacement of law by grace sufficient for uncircumcised Gentiles as well as Jews (21:28). This was the issue even among the believers at Jerusalem (See 21:20-21).
And this is still the great issue today. “Christianity” as an offshoot of Judaism, with believers in Christ under the law, is tolerated, but true Christianity, with its freedom from the law and its riches of grace cannot be countenanced! Even some leaders of Fundamentalism pronounce it anathema. This, the glorious all-sufficiency of Christ, is what Satan hates and opposes most bitterly. — Stam, pages 49-50.
tore off their clothes (v.23) — their outer garments, perhaps in preparation for stoning
scourging (v.24) — torture to find the truth or to force a confession. In this case, to find out why the Jews were so demonstrative in their hatred of Paul.
bound (v.25) — The Roman method of scourging was to strip the man and either tie him to a pillar in a bending position or to stretch him on a frame. He was then lashed with leather thongs weighted with pieces of lead. The verb here used is peculiar to this verse, and means “to stretch forward” into a position for scourging. — Walker, page 483.
lawful (v.25) — It was against Roman law to scourge a Roman citizen.
you (v.27) — emphatic — Are YOU (whom I took to be a Jewish trouble-maker) a Roman?
sum (v.28) — It is known that, under the emperor Claudius, his wife Messalina and his chief ministers sold the Roman citizenship. It was most likely through having purchased the privilege under that emperor that the chief captain bore the name Claudius Lysias (see Acts 23:26). — Walker, page 484.
but I (v.28) — emphatic, with an air of dignity
born (v.28) — We don’t know how Paul’s family became Roman citizens.
council (v.30) — the Sanhedrin
If the unbelieving Jews were Paul’s bitter enemies then “James and the elders” along with any of the 12 apostles who were present, were his very doubtful friends. Neither now, nor later, do we find one of them standing at his side, even though James, Peter and John had officially and publicly acknowledged him, some years back, as the apostle of grace and the apostle to the Gentiles.
Indeed, the compromise which James and his party had persuaded Paul to make had produced nothing — but this uproar — while they stayed in the background. — Stam, pages 57-58.