Men, brethren, and fathers - A Hebrew form of expression for brethren and fathers: for two classes only are addressed. See the note on Acts 7:2.
Hear ye my defense - Μου της απολογιας, This apology of mine; in this sense the word apology was anciently understood: hence the Apologies of the primitive fathers, i.e. their defenses of the Christian religion. And this is as proper literal meaning; but it is now used only as implying an excuse for improper conduct. That this is an abuse of the term requires no proof.
Men, brethren, and fathers - This defense was addressed to the Jews, and Paul commenced it with an expression of sincere respect for them. Stephen began his defense with the same form of address. See the notes on Acts 7:2.
My defence - Against the charges brought against me. Those charges were, that he had endeavored to prejudice people everywhere against the Jews, the Law, and the temple, Acts 21:28. In order to meet this charge, Paul stated:
(1)That he was a Jew by birth, and had enjoyed all the advantages of a Jewish education, Acts 22:3;
(2)He recounted the circumstances of his conversion, and the reason why he believed that he was called to preach the gospel, Acts 22:4-16;
(3)He proceeded to state the reasons why he went among the Gentiles, and evidently intended to vindicate his conduct there, Acts 22:17-21; but at this point, at the name Gentiles, his defense was interrupted by the enraged multitude, and he was not permitted to proceed.
What would have been his defense, therefore, had he been suffered to finish it, it is impossible to know with certainty. On another occasion, however, he was permitted to make a similar defense, and perhaps to complete the train of thought which he had purposed to pursue here. See Acts 22.
In the midst of the tumult the apostle was calm and self-possessed. His mind was stayed upon God, and he knew that angels of heaven were about him. He felt unwilling to leave the temple without making an effort to set the truth before his countrymen. As he was about to be led into the castle he said to the chief captain, “May I speak unto thee?” Lysias responded, “Canst thou speak Greek? Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers?” In reply Paul said, “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.” AA 408.1
The request was granted, and “Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people.” The gesture attracted their attention, while his bearing commanded respect. “And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense which I make now unto you.” At the sound of the familiar Hebrew words, “they kept the more silence,” and in the universal hush he continued: AA 408.2
“I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” None could deny the apostle's statements, as the facts that he referred to were well known to many who were still living in Jerusalem. He then spoke of his former zeal in persecuting the disciples of Christ, even unto death; and he narrated the circumstances of his conversion, telling his hearers how his own proud heart had been led to bow to the crucified Nazarene. Had he attempted to enter into argument with his opponents, they would have stubbornly refused to listen to his words; but the relation of his experience was attended with a convincing power that for the time seemed to soften and subdue their hearts. AA 409.1Read in context »