In Acts 22, Paul is about to be flogged, but mentions to a centurion that he is a Roman citizen. The centurion gets the tribune in charge of the situation and brings him to Paul, and this conversation ensues...
27 The tribune came and asked Paul,[e] “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship.” Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”
In particular, I'm curious why Luke has recorded this conversation between the tribune and Paul about how they acquired their Roman citizenship.
Paul's claim to citizenship is, of course, generally crucial to the progress of the narrative - it keeps him from getting flogged and allows him to continue progressing through the proper channels of the legal system all the way until his final appeal to Caesar.
But the conversation about how Paul and the tribune got their citizenship is not necessary to the plot. It seems that Luke must have included it for a reason, but I'm not confident what that reason might be.
I have two theories:
- It does seem that there could be parallels to Jewish and Gentile citizenship in God's kingdom, but I couldn't work out any exact literary device at play there.
- It could also be that Luke is framing Paul as in the right, and emphasizing the corruption of the Roman tribune (much like the various gospel authors emphasize the "kangaroo court" nature of Jesus' trial).
Does one (or both) of these theories cover it? Is there something else going on here? I've looked at several commentaries, but nobody seems to dive into the question of why this conversation was recorded rather than omitted.