22 “Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, saying that he should be examined by flogging, to find out why they were shouting against him like this.” (Acts 22:22–24)
You may be wondering what was the crowd’s reaction, both Jew and Roman, to Paul’s passionate defense of the Gospel. Was it reminiscent of the Athenians who were either critical, curious, or convinced (Acts 17:16-34)?
Up to this point, the crowd had listened to him. Then they turned violently vocal and repeatedly said, ““Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” In other words, they wanted Paul executed.
Luke then introduces a cultural idiom or phrase describing their behavior. “And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air.” First, the Jews were persistently screaming for Paul’s death. Second, their intense anger against Paul was displayed by throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust in the air. The act of throwing and flinging, respectively their outer garments and dust in the air, displayed their uncontrolled spasm of wild rage.
Seeing this scene, the Roman tribune, Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:26), ordered his soldiers to bring the apostle in the barracks. The tribune had every intention of flogging, or whipping, Paul in order to discover why the people were so agitated against him.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Lysias realized he would have to interrogate Paul privately. He ordered his soldiers to bring the prisoner into Fortress Antonia, away from the angry mob so that he should be examined by flogging. This was a brutal Roman interrogation method. Prisoners frequently died after being flogged with the Roman flagellum (metal-tipped leather thongs attached to a wooden handle).”
When next we meet, we will discover how Paul avoided such a punishment. Until then, consider reading and meditating upon Ephesians 2:12-19, Hebrews 12:22-24, and I Peter 2:10-11 about what it means that this fallen world is not the believer’s true home.
Soli deo Gloria!