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Acts 21:37-39

Context
21:37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, 1  he said 2  to the commanding officer, 3  “May I say 4  something to you?” The officer 5  replied, 6  “Do you know Greek? 7  21:38 Then you’re not that Egyptian who started a rebellion 8  and led the four thousand men of the ‘Assassins’ 9  into the wilderness 10  some time ago?” 11  21:39 Paul answered, 12  “I am a Jew 13  from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. 14  Please 15  allow me to speak to the people.”

Acts 22:24-29

Context
22:24 the commanding officer 16  ordered Paul 17  to be brought back into the barracks. 18  He told them 19  to interrogate Paul 20  by beating him with a lash 21  so that he could find out the reason the crowd 22  was shouting at Paul 23  in this way. 22:25 When they had stretched him out for the lash, 24  Paul said to the centurion 25  standing nearby, “Is it legal for you to lash a man who is a Roman citizen 26  without a proper trial?” 27  22:26 When the centurion 28  heard this, 29  he went to the commanding officer 30  and reported it, 31  saying, “What are you about to do? 32  For this man is a Roman citizen.” 33  22:27 So the commanding officer 34  came and asked 35  Paul, 36  “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” 37  He replied, 38  “Yes.” 22:28 The commanding officer 39  answered, “I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.” 40  “But I was even 41  born a citizen,” 42  Paul replied. 43  22:29 Then those who were about to interrogate him stayed away 44  from him, and the commanding officer 45  was frightened when he realized that Paul 46  was 47  a Roman citizen 48  and that he had had him tied up. 49 

1 tn Or “the headquarters.” BDAG 775 s.v. παρεμβολή 2 has “barracks/headquarters of the Roman troops in Jerusalem Ac 21:34, 37; 22:24; 23:10, 16, 32.”

2 tn Grk “says” (a historical present).

3 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers) See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 31.

4 tn Grk “Is it permitted for me to say” (an idiom).

5 tn Grk “He”; the referent (the officer) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 tn Grk “said.”

7 sn “Do you know Greek?” Paul as an educated rabbi was bilingual. Paul’s request in Greek allowed the officer to recognize that Paul was not the violent insurrectionist he thought he had arrested (see following verse). The confusion of identities reveals the degree of confusion dominating these events.

8 tn L&N 39.41 has “οὐκ ἄρα σὺ εἶ ὁ Αἰγύπτιος ὁ πρὸ τούτων τῶν ἡμερῶν ἀναστατώσας ‘then you are not that Egyptian who some time ago started a rebellion’ Ac 21:38.”

9 tn Grk “of the Sicarii.”

sn The term ‘Assassins’ is found several times in the writings of Josephus (J. W. 2.13.3 [2.254-257]; Ant. 20.8.10 [20.186]). It was the name of the most fanatical group among the Jewish nationalists, very hostile to Rome, who did not hesitate to assassinate their political opponents. They were named Sicarii in Latin after their weapon of choice, the short dagger or sicarius which could be easily hidden under one’s clothing. In effect, the officer who arrested Paul had thought he was dealing with a terrorist.

10 tn Or “desert.”

11 tn Grk “before these days.”

12 tn Grk “said.”

13 tn Grk “a Jewish man.”

14 tn Grk “of a not insignificant city.” The double negative, common in Greek, is awkward in English and has been replaced by a corresponding positive expression (BDAG 142 s.v. ἄσημος 1).

15 tn Grk “I beg you.”

16 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). In Greek the term χιλίαρχος (ciliarco") literally described the “commander of a thousand,” but it was used as the standard translation for the Latin tribunus militum or tribunus militare, the military tribune who commanded a cohort of 600 men.

17 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

18 tn Or “the headquarters.” BDAG 775 s.v. παρεμβολή 2 has “barracks/headquarters of the Roman troops in Jerusalem Ac 21:34, 37; 22:24; 23:10, 16, 32.”

19 tn Grk “into the barracks, saying.” This is a continuation of the same sentence in Greek using the participle εἴπας (eipas), but due to the length and complexity of the Greek sentence a new sentence was begun in the translation here. The direct object “them” has been supplied; it is understood in Greek.

20 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 sn To interrogate Paul by beating him with a lash. Under the Roman legal system it was customary to use physical torture to extract confessions or other information from prisoners who were not Roman citizens and who were charged with various crimes, especially treason or sedition. The lashing would be done with a whip of leather thongs with pieces of metal or bone attached to the ends.

22 tn Grk “they”; the referent (the crowd) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

23 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn Grk “for the thongs” (of which the lash was made). Although often translated as a dative of means (“with thongs”), referring to thongs used to tie the victim to the whipping post, BDAG 474-75 s.v. ἱμάς states that it “is better taken as a dat. of purpose for the thongs, in which case οἱ ἱμάντες = whips (Posidonius: 87 fgm. 5 Jac.; POxy. 1186, 2 τὴν διὰ τῶν ἱμάντων αἰκείαν. – Antiphanes 74, 8, Demosth. 19, 197 and Artem. 1, 70 use the sing. in this way).”

25 sn See the note on the word centurion in 10:1.

26 tn The word “citizen” is supplied here for emphasis and clarity.

27 tn Or “a Roman citizen and uncondemned.” BDAG 35 s.v. ἀκατάκριτος has “uncondemned, without due process” for this usage.

sn The fact that Paul was a Roman citizen protected him from being tortured to extract information; such protections were guaranteed by the Porcian and Julian law codes. In addition, the fact Paul had not been tried exempted him from punishment.

28 sn See the note on the word centurion in 10:1.

29 tn The word “this” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

30 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 24.

31 tn The word “it” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

32 tn Or perhaps, “What do you intend to do?” Although BDAG 627 s.v. μέλλω 1.c.α lists this phrase under the category “be about to, be on the point of,” it is possible it belongs under 1.c.γ, “denoting an intended action: intend, propose, have in mindτί μέλλεις ποιεῖν; what do you intend to do?

33 tn The word “citizen” is supplied here for emphasis and clarity.

34 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 24.

35 tn Grk “and said to.”

36 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

37 tn The word “citizen” is supplied here for emphasis and clarity.

38 tn Grk “He said.”

39 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 24.

40 sn Sometimes Roman citizenship was purchased through a bribe (Dio Cassius, Roman History 60.17.4-9). That may well have been the case here.

41 tn BDAG 495-96 s.v. καί 2.b has “intensive: evenAc 5:39; 22:28.”

42 tn The word “citizen” is supplied here for emphasis and clarity.

sn Paul’s reference to being born a citizen suggests he inherited his Roman citizenship from his family.

43 tn Grk “Paul said.” This phrase has been placed at the end of the sentence in the translation for stylistic reasons.

44 tn BDAG 158 s.v. ἀφίστημι 2.b has “keep awayἀπό τινος… Lk 4:13; Ac 5:38; 2 Cor 12:8…cp. Ac 22:29.” In context, the point would seem to be not that the interrogators departed or withdrew, but that they held back from continuing the flogging.

45 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 24.

46 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

47 tn This is a present tense (ἐστιν, estin) retained in indirect discourse. It must be translated as a past tense in contemporary English.

48 tn The word “citizen” is supplied here for emphasis and clarity.

49 sn Had him tied up. Perhaps a reference to the chains in Acts 21:33, or the preparations for the lashing in Acts 22:25. A trial would now be needed to resolve the matter. The Roman authorities’ hesitation to render a judgment in the case occurs repeatedly: Acts 22:30; 23:28-29; 24:22; 25:20, 26-27. The legal process begun here would take the rest of Acts and will be unresolved at the end. The process itself took four years of Paul’s life.



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