Paul before a Roman court
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.
Paul before Sanhedrin
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.
The Jews listening to Paul were with him all the way. They understood his heritage, his education and his theology. In fact they listened in respect when he told them of his meeting with the risen Christ. But when he said that Christ had sent him to the Gentiles they said he is not fit to live. Such was their fanaticism that they believed that it was their God given duty to murder him on the spot. They cried out in horror, they tore their clothes off which were symbolic of the Jewish heritage and threw dust into the air which was for them the beginning of an act of utter despair. The Chief Captain took Paul into the fortress. Paul was now safely in Roman protection but the Captain was going to have Paul scourged as a standard means of questioning. So as Paul was being bound he said to the centurion, is it lawful to scourge a Roman who has had no trial? The centurion told the captain of the Roman guard saying be careful what you do because he is a Roman. Then the captain of the guard came to Paul and asked him are you a Roman? Paul answered yes. The captain of the guard said l purchased by roman citizenship at great cost. Yes said Paul but l was free born. In other words he was a Roman by birth. Paul was more Roman than this captain of the guard. It was a very strict Roman law that no Roman could be scourged and that every Roman had the right to be tried by his fellow countrymen. And that if he were unsatisfied by the outcome he could appeal to Caesar and nobody would question his Roman right to be heard in the emperor’s court. This was going to be the path that Paul’s life would take. The Roman captain was even afraid that he had bound him. On the next day the captain wanted to know much more clearly what Paul had been accused of so he released Paul from his chains and commanded the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to appear before him and he brought Paul down from the fortress and he set Paul in front of them. We will read what happened next tomorrow.