The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 26 of 181
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The Chief Captain having secured the Apostle, binding him by two chains, demanded
"who the man might be, and what he had done?" receiving however but a confused and
contradictory reply. Probably afraid that they were to be cheated of their prey, the mob
cried out "Away with him!" (Aire auton), using the identical words of the yelling crowds
who demanded the crucifixion of Christ, as recorded in Luke 23: 18.  The Chief
Captain had ordered Paul to be taken to the barracks, but the surging mob carried the
fettered apostle off his feet, and he was only saved from being torn limb from limb by the
presence of the soldiery. In the midst of all this tumult, one man remained calm--the
poor battered prisoner.
"May I speak a word to you?" said a voice speaking in Greek. Lysias had evidently
assumed that he had at last laid hands on the false Messiah already mentioned and who
had eluded pursuit since Passover, but he knew that this Egyptian impostor could not
speak Greek like that which he now heard. "I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city
in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city, and I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the
people" (Acts 21: 39). The request was strange, and in all probability would have been
refused, had not some dignity and authority made themselves manifest beneath the
battered appearance of the prisoner. To gain attention and command respect the Apostle
had given at length the fact of his citizenship of Tarsus, adding, as further weight, the
comment as to the importance of the city. Moreover, the Romans, if brutal, were also
brave, and the fact that a prisoner, and a Jew, just snatched from a violent death, should
request leave to turn and face his persecutors would impress them in his favour.
Lysias apparently ordering one of Paul's hands to be unchained, the prisoner, standing
on the stairs, with arm uplifted, made signs that he wished to speak. His voice fell upon
their ears with quieting effect, for the "Hebrew tongue", in which Paul spoke (Te
Hebraidi dialekto) was the Syro-Chaldaic, the language of the native population of
Palestine. Had the Apostle spoken in Greek the majority would have misunderstood him,
but hearing what, to them, would be "the holy tongue", a stillness fell upon them all.
Here we must stay. The address which the Apostle gave, and its sequel, constitutes
the opening of the last great section of the Acts, which closes in Rome, with the
imprisoned Apostle "teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all
confidence, no man forbidding him". With this closing section of the Acts is bound up
that ministry with which, through electing grace, all our hopes are associated.