Acts 22; 24 Commentary: Paul’s Submission to Authority
Apostle Paul was careful to offend Roman authority. However, he rebuked high-ranking Jewish leaders, such as the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:1-3). He observed the separation of church and state and avoided offending civil authority.
A pharisee and son of a Pharisee himself, he criticized religious leaders for their hypocrisy. His focus was not to change how they ran the abusive “religious government” but to tell them who Jesus was. (Acts 23:6)
How Paul submitted to civil government authority
1. Paul used his privileges to witness in Rome, and his testimony was critical in influencing the governor.
Apostle Paul was a citizen of Rome by birth. By law, he had certain privileges that he used to supervene his mission. The commander and soldiers worried about how they treated him after learning he was a Roman citizen.
Those who were about to examine him withdrew from him immediately, and the tribune was also afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and had bound him.
2. He didn’t openly criticize authority, and Governor Felix enabled him to talk about Jesus.
“They beat us in public without a trial, although we are Roman citizens, and threw us in jail. And now are they going to smuggle us out secretly? Certainly not! On the contrary, let them come themselves and escort us out!”
Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so he may be safely taken to Governor Felix.”
3. Paul was accused of stirring riots, but the ‘peaceable reputation’ of Christians made it difficult to prove
He was respectful to the soldiers and commander and accepted the course of law without contempt and bitterness. When he wrote to the Philippians, Paul’s heart was full of joy and thankfulness.
As a result, the commander protected him from his people, and Paul was able to share the Gospel in Jerusalem and Rome (Acts 23:11,23).
Paul’s ‘peaceable attitude’ towards civil authority earned him a favor
Governor Felix knew the reputation of Christians (the Way) and found it difficult to find in them and Paul. The Apostles admonished Christians to always be at peace with unbelievers to win them; otherwise, they endanger the Gospel mission. (Acts 24:22-27; 1 Peter 2:23-24)
“Saint Paul” had a single mission: To proclaim who Jesus is, not to change the government. Moral decay is not a government issue but spiritual. He knew that only repentance and turning to Jesus would bring transformation, not by changing the government.