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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

"Confused Critics"
Key Verse = Acts 23:11

  1. Paul Before the Sanhedrin
  2. Forty Elders Plot Against Paul
  3. Paul Sent to Felix



PAUL  BEFORE  THE  SANHEDRIN

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Acts 23:1 & 2
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(1)  Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day."

And Paul looking upon the council, said: Men, brethren, I have conversed with all good conscience before God until this present day.

(2)  And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.

And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to strike him on the mouth.


The Council
Greek: the Sanhedrin

Fixing his eyes intently on the council - The word denotes "a fixed and earnest gazing; a close observation."
Paul would naturally look with a keen and attentive observation on the council. He was arraigned before them, and he would naturally observe the appearance, and endeavor to ascertain the character of his judges. Besides, it was by this council that he had been formerly commissioned to persecute the Christians, Acts 9:1-2. He had not seen them since that commission was given. He would naturally, therefore, regard them with an attentive eye. The result shows, also, that he looked at them to see what was the character of the men there assembled, and what was the proportion of Pharisees and Sadducees (vs. 6).
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Sha’ul Paul looked straight at them and probably recognized many familiar faces in the Sanhedrin, since he may well have once been a member himself (26:10). In any case, it is clear from vv. 6-10 that he understood his audience.

Brethren - brothers
These people are still Sha’ul's brothers (compare Acts 22:1&N). However, this is not a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin, for “Brothers” is not a mode of address appropriate for a court in regular session (rather, it is appropriate for old friends). Instead, this is the gathering summoned by the Roman commander (Acts 22:30). In no other Sanhedrin session does the person being questioned commence the proceedings with a speech of his own (compare Acts 4:5-22, 5:21-40, 6:12-7:60Luke 22:66-71). Also, in a formal session the identity of the cohen hagadol (priest high) would have been clear to Sha’ul.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

I have lived

Pepoliteumai (NT:4176) too Theoo
Perfect middle indicative of  politeuoo, an old verb to manage affairs of city (polis) or state, to be a citizen, behave as a citizen. The idea of citizenship was Greek and Roman, not Jewish. "He had lived as God's (Theoo) citizen, as a member of God's commonwealth" (Rackham).
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

The Greek word translated "lived" ( politeuoo) means "to live as a citizen." It gives us the English word Politics.

Good conscience
Suneideései (NT:4893) - the psychological faculty which can distinguish between right and wrong - 'moral sensitivity, conscience. As in Romans 2:15 ('their consciences also show that this is true, since their thoughts sometimes accuse them and sometimes defend them').
(from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright © 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)

As Paul faced the council and examined it carefully, he decided to start with a personal approach "Men and brethren" immediately identified him as a Jew and no doubt helped win the attention of his countrymen.
Paul affirmed that he was a loyal Jew who had lived as a good Jewish citizen and had not broken the Law. His conscience did not condemn him even though the Jews had condemned him. "Conscience" is one of Paul's favorite words; he used it twice in Acts (23:1; 24:16) and twenty-one times in his letters. The word means "'to know with, to know together."
Conscience is the inner "judge" or "witness" that approves when we do right and disapproves when we do wrong (Romans 2:15).
Conscience does not set the standard; it only applies it.
The conscience of a thief would bother him if he told the truth about his fellow crooks just as much as a Christian's conscience would convict him if he told a lie about his friends. Conscience does not make the standards; it only applies the standards of the person, whether they are good or bad, right or wrong.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Conscience may be compared to a window that lets in the light. God's Law is the light and the cleaner the window is, the more the light shines in. As the window gets dirty, the light gets dimmer, and finally the light becomes darkness.
A good conscience or pure conscience, is one that lets in God's light so that we are properly convicted if we do wrong and encouraged if we do right.
(1 Timothy 3:9 "holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience")
A defiled conscience is one that has been sinned against so much that it is no longer dependable.
(1 Corinthians 8:7 "their conscience, being weak, is defiled")
If a person continues to sin against his conscience, he may end up with
An evil conscience or guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22 "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience") or
A seared conscience  (1 Timothy 4:2  "hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron").
Then he would feel convicted if he did what was right rather than what was wrong!

Paul had persecuted the church and had even caused innocent people to die, so how could he claim to have a good conscience? He had lived up to the light that he had, and that is all that a good conscience requires. After he became a Christian and the bright light of God's glory shone into his heart (2 Corinthians 4:6), Paul then saw things differently and realized that he was "the chef of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15).
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Ananias
Not to be confused with Annas in Acts 4:6.
Ananias was high priest A.D. 47 A.D.-52 and about 53-59. Thus Paul here meets Ananias shortly before Agrippa II would remove him. Ananias was a Roman vassal, known for his greed and for stealing the tithes belonging to the poorer priests. The Zealot revolutionaries killed him in A.D. 66, about eight years after this hearing.

Ananias the high priest was so incensed at Paul's saying that he had "lived in all good conscience" that he ordered the nearest Jewish council members to slap Paul across the mouth. (Jesus had been treated in a similar way - John 18:22.) This was, of course, illegal and inhumane; for, after all, Paul had not even been proven guilty of anything. Certainly the high priest would be expected to show honesty and fairness, if not compassion and concern (Leviticus 19:15; Hebrews 5:2).
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

This Ananias was doubtless the son of Nebedinus (Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 5, section 3), who was high priest when Quadratus, who preceded Felix, was president of Syria. He was sent bound to Rome by Quadratus, at the same time with Ananias, the prefect of the temple, that they might give an account of their conduct to Claudius Caesar (Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 6, and section 2). But in consequence of the intercession of Agrippa the younger, they were dismissed and returned to Jerusalem. Ananias, however, was not restored to the office of high priest.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Strike him on the mouth
To stop him from speaking; to express their indignation at what he had said. The anger of Ananias was aroused because Paul affirmed that all he had done had been with a good conscience. Their feelings had been excited to the utmost; they regarded him as certainly guilty; they regarded him as an apostate; and they could not bear it that he, with such coolness and firmness, declared that all his conduct had been under the direction of a good conscience. The injustice of the command of Ananias is apparent to all. A similar instance of violence occurred on the trial of the Savior, John 18:22.

The setting for this brief trial is given here. After Paul claimed all good conscience in his ministry, the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Ananias' response is in keeping with what is known about him from Josephus, who described him as insolent, hot-tempered, profane, and greedy. Ironically, at the beginning of Paul's ministry another Ananias helped him receive his sight.
(from Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(1)  Then Paul, gazing earnestly at the council (Sanhedrin), said, Brethren, I have lived before God, doing my duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day [as a citizen, a true and loyal Jew].
(2)  At this the high priest Ananias ordered those who stood near him to strike him on the mouth.

Acts 23:3-5
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(3)  Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?"

Then Paul said to him: God shall strike thee, though whited wall. For sittest thou to judge me according to the law, and contrary to the law commandest me to be struck?

(4)  And those who stood by said, "Do you revile God's high priest?"

And they that stood by said: Dost thou revile the high priest of God?

(5)  Then Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"

And Paul said: I knew not, brethren, that he is the high priest. For it is written: 'Thou shalt not speak evil of the prince of thy people.'


God will strike you
God shall punish you. God is just; and he will not suffer such a manifest violation of all the laws of a fair trial to pass unavenged. This was a remarkably bold and fearless declaration.
Paul was surrounded by enemies.
They were seeking his life.
He must have known that such declarations would only excite their wrath and make them thirstier for his blood. That he could thus address the president of the council was not only strongly characteristic of the man, but was also a strong proof that he was conscious of innocence, and that justice was on his side.

Sha’ul's outburst is certainly not the behavior of a man who had heard and understood Yeshua's Jesus command to turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39). Yeshua himself, when struck, argued the injustice of it without vexation or irritation (John 18:22). But no claim of perfection is made for Sha’ul. Like the heroes of the Tanakh, whose failings are reported faithfully along with their victories, he is shown to be a man who has not yet achieved the goal, as he himself admits (Philippians 3:12-13, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27). God saves imperfect people.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Paul spoke prophetically, because God did indeed smite this wicked man. When the Jews revolted against Rome in the year 66, Ananias had to flee for his life because of his known sympathies with Rome. The Jewish guerrillas found him hiding in an aqueduct at Herod's palace, and they killed him. It was an ignominious death for a despicable man.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

This expression of Paul, "God shall smite thee," is not to be regarded in the light of an imprecation, or as an expression of angry feeling, but of a prediction, or of a strong conviction on the mind of Paul that a man so hypocritical and unjust as Ananias was could not escape the vengeance of God. Ananias was slain, with Hezekiah his brother, during the agitation that occurred in Jerusalem when the robbers, or Sicarii, under their leader, Menahem, had taken possession of the city. He attempted to conceal himself in an aqueduct, but was drawn forth and killed. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, book 2, chapter 17, section 8. Thus, Paul's prediction was fulfilled.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Whitewashed wall
Jewish law forbade condemnation before the accused was proved guilty. A "whitewashed wall" was one whose weakness or ugliness might be concealed — but not changed — by a veneer of whitewash: an appropriate condemnation of Israel's leaders. Walls facing the street in the eastern Mediterranean were often whitewashed.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

This is evidently a proverbial expression, meaning thou hypocrite. His hypocrisy consisted in the fact that while he pretended to sit there to do justice, he commanded the accused to be smitten in direct violation of the Law, thus showing that his character was not what he professed it to be, but that of one determined to carry the purposes of his party and of his own feelings. Our Savior used a similar expression to describe the hypocritical character of the Pharisees (Matt 23:27), when he compares them to whited sepulchres.
A white wall is a wall or enclosure that is covered with lime or gypsum, and that thus appears to be different from what it is, and thus aptly describes the hypocrite. Seneca (De Providential, chapter 6) uses a similar figure to describe hypocrites: "They are sordid, base, and like their walls adorned only externally."
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Contrary to the Law
In violation of the Law of Moses (Lev 19:35), "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment."
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

God's high priest
It is remarkable that they, who knew that he was not the high priest, should have offered this language. He was, however, in the place of the high priest, and they might have pretended that respect was due to the office.

I did not know
The high priest normally sat in a special place and wore distinctive robes; either he does not do so here because the gathering is informal, or Paul answers ironically, because of the official's corruption and improper claim to power. Socrates and others had endeavored to show themselves more pious in the matter concerning which they were accused than their judges were, which naturally led to condemnation by an angry court. Paul is content to show his piety by citing Scripture.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Of these facts Paul would be doubtless apprised; and hence, what he said (Acts 23:5) was strictly true, and is one of the evidences that Luke's history accords precisely with the special circumstances which then existed. When Luke here calls Ananias "the high priest," he evidently intends not to affirm that he was actually such, but to use the word, as the Jews did, as applicable to one who had been in that office, and who, on that occasion, when the office was vacant, performed its duties.

Paul's reply has been variously interpreted.
Some say that Paul did not know who the high priest was.
Or perhaps Paul was speaking in holy sarcasm: "Could such a man actually be the high priest?"
Since this was an informal meeting of the council, perhaps the high priest was not wearing his traditional garments and sitting in his usual place. For that matter, Paul had been away from the Jewish religious scene for many years and probably did not know many people in the council. The quoting of Exodus 22:28 would indicate that Paul may not have known that it was the high priest who ordered him to be smitten. Again, note that Paul showed respect for the office, but not for the man who held the office. There is a difference.

Exodus 22:28 (You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people). Paul adduces this to show that it was his purpose to observe the Law; that he would not intentionally violate it; and that, if he had known Ananias to be high priest, he would have been restrained by his regard for the Law from using the language which he did.
As the office of high priest was one of importance and authority, Paul declares here that he would not be guilty of showing disrespect for it, or of using reproachful language in regard to it.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

According to the Jewish New Testament Commentary:
Sha’ul's outburst is certainly not the behavior of a man who had heard and understood Yeshua's Jesus command to turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39). Yeshua himself, when struck, argued the injustice of it without vexation or irritation (John 18:22). But no claim of perfection is made for Sha’ul. Like the heroes of the Tanakh, whose failings are reported faithfully along with their victories, he is shown to be a man who has not yet achieved the goal, as he himself admits (Philippians 3:12-13, 1 Corinthians 9:25-27). God saves imperfect people.
I didn't know, brothers, that he was the cohen hagadol.
It has been suggested that this line drips sarcasm, that Sha’ul knew perfectly well who the cohen hagadol was but means that he wasn't acting like one!
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(3)  Then Paul said to him, God is about to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit as a judge to try me in accordance with the Law, and yet in defiance of the Law you order me to be struck?
(4)  Those who stood near exclaimed, Do you rail at and insult the high priest of God?
(5)  And Paul said, I was not conscious, brethren, that he was a high priest; for the Scripture says, You shall not speak ill of a ruler of your people. [Ex 22:28.]

Acts 23:6-10
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(6)  But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!"

And Paul knowing that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, cried out in the council: Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees: concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question."

(7)  And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided.

And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the multitude was divided.

(8)  For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection — and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

(9)  Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees' party arose and protested, saying, "We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God."

And there arose a great cry. And some of the Pharisees rising up, strove, saying: we find no evil in this man. What if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?

(10)  Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

And when there arose a great dissension, the tribune fearing lest Paul should be pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.


The Sanhedrin sat in a semicircle, so most of the members of the court could see each other. Other sharp-witted Jewish strategists of this period, like Josephus not many years later (Life 139, 28), also practiced this method of "Divide and conquer." The hope of the resurrection was central to Judaism, and many martyrs had died staking their hope on it. Paul's views did not violate any central tenets of Pharisaism; he was now a "Pharisee plus," who taught that the resurrection had already been inaugurated in Jesus. Pharisees knew that no true Pharisee would have committed the crime with which Paul had been charged by the original crowd (Acts 21:28).

Pharisees and Sadducees were notorious for their disagreements, especially over the doctrine of the resurrection; Pharisees taught that Sadducees had no part in the world to come, because they did not believe in life after death (at least not in a form acceptable to most other Palestinian Jews).

Some scholars contend that the Sadducees believed only in the five books of Moses; but even if this were the case, they must have believed in the angels that appeared in Genesis. Luke's parenthetical comment here probably refers to the Sadducees' denial of the developed angelology and demonology of the Pharisees. The Sadducees did not believe in life after death.

From the Pharisaic standpoint, if Paul were being condemned for being consistent with his doctrine of the resurrection, then it is natural that the Sadducees want him convicted and likewise natural that the Pharisees and Sadducees should oppose each other on this matter. Later Pharisaic reports declare that the Sadducees would have no share in the world to come, because they did not believe in it.

Although Greek tragedy provides some parallels to the commander's fear for Paul (e.g., a story of two suitors who inadvertently killed their beloved by pulling on her), Greeks would most naturally read this account in the light of Greek comedy, laughing at the ludicrous character of the situation. Disputes in courtrooms chaired by high officials rarely came to blows.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Having failed in his personal approach, Paul then used a doctrinal approach. He declared that the real issue was his faith in the doctrine of the Resurrection, a doctrine over which the Pharisees and Sadducees violently disagreed. Paul knew that by defending this important doctrine, he would divide the council and soon have the members disputing among them selves, which is exactly what happened. So violent was the response that Claudius and his men had to rush down to the floor of the council chamber and rescue their prisoner for the second time! Was Paul "playing politics" when he took this approach? I don't think so. After his unfortunate dash with the high priest, Paul realized that he could never get a fair trial before the Sanhedrin. If the trial had continued, he might well have been condemned and taken out and stoned as a blasphemer. The Asian Jews, if given opportunity to testify, could well have added fuel to the fire with their false witness. No, the wisest thing to do was to end the hearing as soon as possible and trust God to use the Roman legions to protect him from the Jews.

There is a second consideration: Paul was absolutely right when he said that the real issue was the doctrine of the Resurrection, not "the resurrection" in general, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Acts 24:21; 26:6-8; 28:20). Had he been given the opportunity, Paul would have declared the Gospel of "Jesus Christ and the Resurrection" just as he had declared it before Jewish congregations in many parts of the Empire. The witness in Acts centers on the Resurrection (see Acts 1:22; 2:32; 3:15). Jesus had stood trial before the Sanhedrin, and so had His Apostles; and now Paul had witnessed to them. What great opportunities the council had and yet they would not believe!
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

The reasons why Paul resolved to take advantage of their difference of opinion were, probably:
(1) That he saw that it was impossible to expect justice at their hands, and he therefore regarded it as prudent and proper to consult his own safety. He saw, from the conduct of Ananias, and from the spirit manifested (Acts 23:4), that they, like the other Jews, had prejudged the case, and were driven on by blind rage and fury.
(2) His object was to show his innocence to the chief captain. To ascertain that was the purpose for which he had been arraigned. Knowing, therefore, how sensitive they were on the subject of the resurrection, he seems to have resolved to do what he would not have done had they been disposed to hear him according to the rules of justice - to abandon the direct argument for his defense, and to enlist a large part, perhaps a majority of the council, in his favor.
Whatever may be thought of the propriety of this course, it cannot be denied that it was a masterstroke of policy, and that it evinced a profound knowledge of human nature.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

I myself am a Parish (a Pharisee), Greek egg Pharisaism emir.
Egœ” (“I”) adds emphasis (“I myself”),
and the verb “eimi” is present tense (“am”).
Though a Messianic Jew for some twenty years, Sha’ul still considers himself a Pharisee
(compare Philippians 3:5  "circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee")
It is concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead that I am being tried. Compare Yeshua's correction of the Tz’dukim (Sadducees) on this point (Matthew 22:23-32). A Pharisee could believe in Yeshua and his resurrection and remain a Pharisee like Sha’ul; Luke refers to other believing P’rushim at Acts 15:5. But it is difficult to see how a Sadducee could remain a Sadducee after coming to faith in the risen Yeshua, and the New Testament makes no mention of believing Sadducees. It does mention believing cohanim - priests (Acts 6:7&N), and some of these may well have been Tz’dukim before coming to faith.
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 48 - Acts 23:1-10
"And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." (ch. 23:1.) What he means is this: I am not conscious to myself of having wronged you at all, or of having done anything worthy of these bonds. What then said the high priest? Right justly, and ruler-like, and mildly: "And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou white wall: for sites’ thou to judge me after the law, and commands me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Reviles thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wast not, brethren ,that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." (v. 3-5.) Because "I knew not that he was high priest."
Some say, Why then does he defend himself as if it was matter of accusation, and adds, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people?" For if he were not the ruler, was it right for no better reason than that to abuse (him or any) other? He says himself, "Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it" (1 Corinthians 4:12); but here he does the contrary, and not only reviles, but curses. They are the words of boldness, rather than of anger; he did not choose to appear in a contemptible light to the tribune. For suppose the tribune himself had spared to scourge him, only as he was about to be delivered up to the Jews, his being beaten by their servants would have more emboldened him: this is why Paul does not attack the servant, but the person who gave the order.
But that saying, "Thou white wall, and dost thou sit to judge me after the law?" (is) instead of, Being (thyself) a culprit: as if he had said, And (thyself) worthy of stripes without number. See accordingly how greatly they were struck with his boldness; for whereas the point was to have overthrown the whole matter, they rather commend him. (infra, 5:9.) "For it is written," etc. He wishes to show that he thus speaks, not from fear, nor because (Ananias) did not deserve to be called this, but from obedience to the law in this point also. And indeed I am fully persuaded that he did not know that it was the high priest, since he had returned now after a long interval, and was not in the habit of constant interrelation with the Jews; seeing him too in the midst among many others: for the high priest was no longer easy to be seen at a glance, there being many of them and diverse. So, it seems to me, in this also he spoke with a view to his plea against them: by way of showing that he does obey the law; therefore he (thus) exculpates himself. (Archbishop John Chrysostom A.D. 400)
(from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(6)    But Paul, when he perceived that one part of them were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, cried out to the council (Sanhedrin), Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; it is with regard to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am indicted and being judged.
(7)    So when he had said this, an angry dispute arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the whole [crowded] assemblage was divided [into two factions].
(8)    For the Sadducees hold that there is no resurrection, nor angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees declare openly and speak out freely, acknowledging [their belief in] them both.
(9)    Then a great uproar ensued, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees' party stood up and thoroughly fought the case, [contending fiercely] and declaring, We find nothing evil or wrong in this man. But if a spirit or an angel [really] spoke to him — ? Let us not fight against God!
(10)  And when the strife became more and more tense and violent, the commandant, fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, ordered the troops to go down and take him forcibly from among them and conduct him back into the barracks.
 
FORTY  ELDERS  PLOT  AGAINST  PAUL

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Acts 23:11
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(11)   But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome."

And the night following the Lord standing by him, said: Be constant; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.


Be of good cheer
(NT:2293) tharsei -  the basic sense of "to dare," "to be bold," and thence "to be of good courage," "to be cheerful," "to be confident "

This word is used 7 times in the New Testament:
Where Who this word was spoken to What happened after
Matthew 9:2 Man sick of the palsy (he was paralyzed) His sins were forgiven and he was healed
Matthew 9:22 Woman with the issue of blood She was healed
Matthew 14:27 Disciples in the storm at night When Jesus came into the ship the wind stopped
Mark 6:50 Disciples in the storm at night When Jesus came into the ship the wind stopped
Mark 10:49 The blind man (Bartimaeus) He was healed
John 16:33 The Believers in the upper room when promising tribulation Encouragement because Jesus overcame the world
Acts 23:11 Paul in prison in Caesarea Promise that Paul would also witness in Rome

A few years after Paul's conversion,
(Acts 22:17-21) When Paul's life was in danger in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared to him in the temple and told him what to do
(Acts 18:9-10) When Paul was discouraged in Corinth and contemplated going elsewhere, Jesus appeared to him and encouraged him to stay
Now, when Paul was certainly at "low ebb" in his ministry, Jesus appeared once again to encourage and instruct him.
1. It was also a message of commendation.
The Lord did not rebuke Paul for going to Jerusalem. Rather, He commended him for the witness he had given, even though that witness had not been received. When you read the account of Paul's days in Jerusalem, you get the impression that everything Paul did faded miserably. His attempt to win over the legalistic Jews only helped cause a riot in the temple, and his witness before the Sanhedrin left the council in confusion. But the Lord was pleased with Paul's testimony, and that's what really counts.
2. Finally, it was a message of confidence:
Paul would go to Rome! This had been Paul's desire for months (Acts 19:21; Romans 15:22-29), but events in Jerusalem had made it look as though that desire would not be fulfilled. What encouragement this promise gave to Paul in the weeks that followed, difficult weeks when leaders lied about him, when fanatics tried to kill him, and when government officials ignored him. In all of this, the Lord was with him and fulfilling His perfect plan to get His faithful servant to Rome.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

“Encouragement” visits of God to Paul
Passage Purpose Result
Acts 16:9 To send him on to Macedonia to preach Many converts and churches planted.
 
Acts 18:9-10 To get him to stay and preach boldly in Corinth Many converts, some new close friends/coworkers, and a solid ministry begun.
Acts 22:17 To send him from Jerusalem for his safety Protection by the Roman military given.
Acts 23:11 To send him to preach the gospel in Rome Effective ministry in Rome and beyond continued.
Acts 27:24 To promise him protection and guidance through the shipwreck Safety for him and his companions provided.
2 Timothy 4:16-17 To encourage him in his trial in Rome Deliverance from the “lions” provided.
(from The Tyndale Handbook of Bible Charts & Maps. Copyright 2001 (c) by Neil S. Wilson & Linda K. Taylor.)
(Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois)

From the Amplified Bible
(11)  And [that same] following night the Lord stood beside Paul and said, Take courage, Paul, for as you have borne faithful witness concerning Me at Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.

Acts 23:12-15
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(12)  And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

And when day was come, some of the Jews gathered together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying, that they would neither eat, nor drink, till they killed Paul.

(13)  Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.

And they were more than forty men that had made this conspiracy.

(14)  They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.

Who came to the chief priests and the ancients, and said: We have bound ourselves under a great curse that we will eat nothing till we have slain Paul.

(15)  Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near."

Now therefore do you with the council signify to the tribune, that he bring him forth to you, as if you meant to know something more certain touching him. And we, before he come near, are ready to kill him.


Revolutionary-minded Jews considered some assassinations pious acts; Herod the Great had once executed ten Pharisees who had formed an association by oath for the purpose of killing him. If Paul's enemies eventually broke their oaths to kill him, Jewish law would simply require them to bring atonement offerings to the temple; thus their oath here does not mean they would literally starve.

Ambushes by robbers and terrorists were common, especially at night. During these years shortly before the Jewish war with Rome, the sicarii (Acts 21:38) regularly assassinated Jews suspected of collaboration with the Romans, and all Palestine was uneasy; this report is thus quite believable. That aristocratic priests, who in the war of 66-70 turned out to have their own violent agendas, would cooperate in this plot is not surprising.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Paul's life had been in danger from the very beginning of his ministry:
1. (Acts 9:22-25) When he witnessed for Christ in Damascus
2. (Acts 9:29) During his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, the Hellenistic Jews tried to kill him
3. (Acts 13:50-51) The Jews drove him out of Antioch in Pisidia
4. (Acts 14:5) Gentiles & Jews threatened to stone him in Iconium
5. (Acts 14:19-20) Paul was stoned in Lystra
6. (Acts 18:12-17) In Corinth, the Jews tried to get him arrested
7. (Acts 20:3) The Jews planned to kill him at sea

The Greek is, "they anathematized themselves"; that is, they bound themselves by a solemn oath. They invoked a curse on themselves, or devoted themselves to destruction, if they did not do it. Lightfoot remarks, however, that they could be absolved from this vow by the rabbis if they were unable to execute it. Under various pretences they could easily be freed from such oaths, and it was common to take them; and if there was any difficulty in fulfilling them, they could easily apply to their religious teachers and be absolved.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(12)  Now when daylight came, the Jews formed a plot and bound themselves by an oath and under a curse neither to eat nor drink till they had done away with Paul.
(13)  There were more than forty [men of them], who formed this conspiracy [swearing together this oath and curse].
(14)  And they went to the chief priests and elders, saying, We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath and under a curse not to taste any food until we have slain Paul.
(15)  So now you, along with the council (Sanhedrin), give notice to the commandant to bring [Paul] down to you, as if you were going to investigate his case more accurately. But we [ourselves] are ready to slay him before he comes near.

Acts 23:16-18
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(16)  So when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

Which when Paul's sister's son had heard, of their lying in wait, he came and entered into the castle and told Paul.

(17)  Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, "Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him."

And Paul, calling to him one of the centurions, said: Bring this young man to the tribune, for he hath something to tell him.

(18)  So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, "Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you."

And he taking him, brought him to the tribune, and said: Paul, the prisoner, desired me to being this young man unto thee, who hath something to say to thee.


The Diaspora Jewish writer Artapanus reported that Moses learned of a similar plot against himself and was thus able to thwart it. If Paul's sister was raised with him in Jerusalem, the whole family had presumably moved there from Tarsus after Paul's birth, rather than only having sent him there to study.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

We know almost nothing about Paul's family. It is usually assumed that the apostle's words in Phil 3:8 that he had "suffered the loss of all things" mean that when he became a Christian, his family disinherited him. Paul never refers to any members of his family. We know, however, that he had a nephew, the son of a sister, who somehow learned of this plan of ambush (RSV). How he obtained this information we can only guess. However, he had such a warm feeling for Paul that he brought the word of the plot to the prisoner in the Tower of Antonia. Paul at once sent him to the tribune with his information.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

Since Paul's family had long been connected with the Pharisees (Acts 23:6), his sister was no doubt in touch with the "Powers that be" and able to pick up the news that was passed along. Wives do chat with each other, and a secret is something you tell one person at a time!
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

This is all that we know of the family of Paul. Nor do we know for what purpose he was at Jerusalem. It is possible that Paul might have a sister residing there; though, as Paul himself had been sent there formerly for his education, it seems more probable that this young man was sent there for the same purpose.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

We know a bit about Sha’ul's parents—
1.  They were Hellenist Jews
2. They were Pharisees
3. They were of the tribe of Benjamin
4. They spoke Hebrew as well as Greek
5. They lived in Tarsus in Cilicia
6. They were Roman citizens
(Acts 23:6, Philippians 3:5)
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

How old the young man  (neanias) was we do not know, but it is the very word used of Paul in Acts 7:58 when he helped in the killing of Stephen, a young man in the twenties probably.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

From the Amplified Bible
(16)  But the son of Paul's sister heard of their intended attack, and he went and got into the barracks and told Paul.
(17)  Then Paul, calling in one of the centurions, said, Take this young man to the commandant, for he has something to report to him.
(18)  So he took him and conducted him to the commandant and said, Paul the prisoner called me to him and requested me to conduct this young man to you, for he has something to report to you.

Acts 23:19-22
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(19)  Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?"

And the tribune taking him by the hand, went aside with him privately, and asked him: What is it that thou hast to tell me?

(20)  And he said, "The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.

And he said: The Jews have agreed to desire thee, that thou wouldst bring forth Paul tomorrow into the council, as if they meant to inquire something more certain touching him.

(21)  But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you."

But do not thou give credit to them: for there lie in wait for him more than forty men of them, who have bound themselves by oath neither to eat, nor to drink, till they have killed him: and they are now ready, looking for a promise from thee.

(22)  So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me."

The tribune therefore dismissed the young man, charging him that he should tell no man, that he had made known these things unto him.


Took him by the hand

As an expression of kindness and civility. He did it to draw him aside from the multitude, that he might communicate his message privately.

The youth was probably a Pharisee; but natural affection triumphed over the bitterness of religious animosity. The chivalrous spirit of the young man was roused; and, by all means, his uncle, in spite of his heresy, must be saved. We applaud the lad for this. He was better than his creed. Perhaps the apostle had him in mind when he wrote to Timothy, "If any have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home."
When brought before the chief captain, he doubtless dreaded the meeting, but he was
received courteously,
questioned carefully,
and dismissed pleasantly.
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)

The commander
Greek – chiliarchos – or over 1,000 men. In the Roman army he was called a tribune (from the Latin).

Claudius Lysias, a Greek who, having obtained by purchase the privilege of Roman citizenship, took the name of Claudius (Acts 21:31-40; 22:28; 23:26).
(from Easton's Bible Dictionary, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(19)  The commandant took him by the hand, and going aside with him, asked privately, What is it that you have to report to me?
(20)  And he replied, The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council (Sanhedrin) tomorrow, as if [they were] intending to examine him more exactly.
(21)  But do not yield to their persuasion, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush waiting for him, having bound themselves by an oath and under a curse neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him; and even now they are all ready, [just] waiting for your promise.
(22)  So the commandant sent the youth away, charging him, Do not disclose to anyone that you have given me this information.



PAUL  SENT  TO  FELIX

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Acts 23:23-24
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(23)  And he called for two centurions, saying, "Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night;

Then having called two centurions, he said to them: Make ready two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, and seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen for the third hour of the night.

(24)  and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor."

And provide beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe to Felix the governor.


The Commander's Counter-measures
The commander's assignment of two hundred soldiers with the centurions (perhaps a paper strength; two centurions might command only 160 troops in practice) to guard Paul would weaken the garrison in Jerusalem's fortress Antonia by as much as one third; thus they must return quickly (Acts 23:32). The two hundred spearmen are non-Roman light auxiliary infantry. If the Antonia cohort included a regular cavalry unit, it had as many as one hundred horsemen — hence the commander sends most of them with Paul. Given the unrest in Palestine and night attacks by robbers, a smaller contingent would not be safe in the hills of Judea at night. The Roman procurator or governor resided in Caesarea, visiting Jerusalem only for the feasts (to insure order). Caesarea was the military headquarters for Judea (the Roman overseer for all Syria-Palestine resided in Syria.)
Leaving between midnight and 3:00 a.m. (the night's "third hour"), only a protracted march would get them well on their way overnight; Caesarea was sixty miles away.

Shortly after Tiberius Antonius Felix (Tacitus said Antonius, Josephus said Claudius; an inscription may support Josephus's position but the matter is disputed) became procurator of Palestine, he convinced Drusilla to divorce her husband and marry him (Acts 24:24). He secured his position because his brother was Pallas, a powerful freedman of Emperor Claudius. Tacitus reported that Felix was corrupt, having a king's authority but a slave's mind (from a Roman aristocrat, the latter was hardly a compliment). Josephus likewise condemned him as thoroughly corrupt, accusing him of bloody massacres and repression. He remained procurator from A.D. 52 to 59 or 60.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

We certainly must admire the integrity and courage of Claudius Lysias, the captain. How did he know the boy was even telling the truth? Paul had already caused Claudius so much trouble that it might be a relief to get rid of him! The Jews did not know that Claudius was aware of their plot so he could have used his "inside knowledge" for his own profit. No Roman soldier could afford to lose a prisoner, but there were always ways to work things out. Throughout the Book of Acts, Dr. Luke speaks favorably of the Roman military officers, beginning with Cornelius in Acts 10 and ending with Julius (Acts 27:1, 3, 43). There is no record in Acts of official Roman persecution against the church; the opposition was instigated by the unbelieving Jews. While the Empire had its share of corrupt political opportunists, for the most part, the military leaders were men of quality who respected the Roman law.

Claudius' plan was simple and wise. He knew that he had to get Paul out of Jerusalem or there would be one murderous plot after another, and one of them just might succeed. He also knew that he had better determine the charges against Paul or he might be accused of illegally holding a Roman citizen. He could solve both problems by sending Paul to Caesarea and putting him under the authority of Felix, the Roman governor. If Paul had been a private citizen, attempting to travel from Jerusalem to Caesarea (about sixty-five miles), he would have been an easy target for the conspirators. But God arranged for 470 Roman soldiers to protect him, almost half of the men in the temple garrison! Once again in his career, Paul was smuggled out of a city under cover of night (Acts 9:25; 17:10). The captain's official letter is most interesting. Of course, Claudius put himself and his men in the best light, which is to be expected. While it is true they prevented Paul from being killed, it was not because they knew he was a Roman. Claudius thought Paul was an Egyptian and almost had him scourged!
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Third hour of the night = 9:00 PM

Provide mounts
One for Paul and one for each of his attendants. The word translated "mounts" kteenee (NT: 2934) is of a general character, and may be applied either to horses, camels, or donkeys. The latter were most commonly employed in Judea.

Felix
The procurator of Judea at the time Paul the apostle visited Jerusalem for the last time and was arrested there. Antonius Felix became procurator of Judea in A.D. 52, succeeding Cumanus. He remained in office until A.D. 60, when the emperor Nero recalled him. He is depicted in Acts as a man who listened with interest to Paul's defense but failed to make any decision with regard to the case or with regard to the personal implications of Paul's message. Rather he hoped Paul would pay him a bribe (Acts 24:26). Contemporary historians Tacitus and Josephus paint Felix as a brutal, incompetent politician who was finally replaced.
(from Holman Bible Dictionary. Copyright © 1991 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

Felix was thrice married: two of his wives were named Drusilla; one was a Roman, the niece or grand-daughter of Antony and Cleopatra, mentioned by Tacitus, lib. 5 cap. 9. The other, the person in the text (Acts 24:24), was a Jewess, daughter to Herod Agrippa the Great.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)


Antonius Felix was governor (procurator) of Judea. He was married to Drusilla, a Jewess who was daughter of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1) and who left her husband to become Felix's third wife. She was sister of Herod Agrippa Il (Acts 25:13 ff).
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

The governor, or, more exactly, the procurator of Judea. He was governor of Shomron (Samaria) from 48 to 52 C. E., while Cumanas ruled Judea. When the latter was removed from office for failing to suppress rioting between the Jews and Gentiles of Caesarea, Felix replaced him. About him Tacitus wrote, “With all cruelty and lust he exercised the power of a king with the spirit of a slave,” referring to his being a freedman of Emperor Claudius' mother Antonia. Felix had three wives in succession, the last being Drusilla (Acts 24:17).
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(23)  Then summoning two of the centurions, he said, Have two hundred footmen ready by the third hour of the night (about 9:00 p.m.) to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen.
(24)  Also provide beasts for mounts for Paul to ride, and bring him in safety to Felix the governor.

Acts 23:25-30
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(25)  He wrote a letter in the following manner:

(For he feared lest perhaps the Jews might take him away by force and kill him, and he should afterwards be slandered, as if he was to take money.) And he wrote a letter after this manner:

(26)  Claudius Lysias,
To the most excellent governor Felix:
Greetings.

Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor, Felix, greeting.

(27)  This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.

This man being taken by the Jews, and ready to be killed by them, I rescued coming in with an army, understanding that he is a Roman:

(28)  And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council.

And meaning to know the cause which they objected unto him, I brought him forth into their council.

(29)  I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.

Whom I found to be accused concerning questions of their law: but having nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bands.

(30)  And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.
Farewell.

And when I was told of ambushes that they had prepared for him, I sent him to thee, signifying also to his accusers to plead before thee. Farewell.


The empire (except perhaps for Egypt) had no postal service except for official government business; most people sent letters via slaves or friends. The commander sends this letter with the soldiers.

Most excellent governor
This was the standard greeting in letters, and the respectful title was standard for an equestrian official (equestrians were the so-called knight class). Although Felix was not equestrian, his power and status as procurator made that fact irrelevant. Indeed, despite his low birth, his three successive wives (Drusilla probably being the final one) were all from royal households.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.)

Acts 23:29 is another of Luke's "official statements" from Roman officials, proving that Christians were not considered criminals.
(Acts 16:35-40) The officials in Philippi had almost apologized to Paul
(Acts 18:14-15) Gallio in Corinth had refused to try him
(Acts 19:40) In Ephesus, the town clerk told 25,000 people that the Christians were innocent of any crime
And now the Roman captain from the temple fortress was writing the same thing. Later,
(Acts 25:24-25) Festus would affirm that Paul should have been set free.
(Acts 26:31-32) Herod Agrippa would also affirm that Paul should have been set free.
(Acts 28:21) Even the Jewish leaders in Rome had to confess that they had had no official news against Paul.
Leaving at midnight that night, Paul and his escort went from Jerusalem to Antipatris, about thirty-seven miles away. This must have been an all-night forced march for that many people to cover that much ground in that short a time.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

About to be killed
The life of Paul had already been endangered in this manner once before in Jerusalem, Acts 21:30.

Luke must have had access to the document itself in order to quote it exactly.

From the Amplified Bible
(25)  And he wrote a letter having this message:
(26)  Claudius Lysias sends greetings to His Excellency Felix the governor.
(27)  This man was seized [as prisoner] by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the troops and rescued him, because I learned that he is a Roman citizen.
(28)  And wishing to know the exact accusation which they were making against him, I brought him down before their council (Sanhedrin),
(29)  [Where] I found that he was charged in regard to questions of their own law, but he was accused of nothing that would call for death or [even] for imprisonment.
(30)  [However] when it was pointed out to me that there would be a conspiracy against the man, I sent him to you immediately, directing his accusers also to present before you their charge against him.

Acts 23:31-35
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(31)  Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.

Then the soldiers, according as it was commanded them, taking Paul, brought him by night to Antipatris.

(32)  The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks.

And the next day, leaving the horsemen to go with him, they returned to the castle.

(33)  When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.

Who, when they were come to Caesarea, and had delivered the letter to the governor, did also present Paul before him.

(34)  And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,

And when he had read it, and had asked of what province he was, and understood that he was of Cilicia:

(35)  he said, "I will hear you when your accusers also have come." And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's Praetorium.

I will hear thee, said he, when thy accusers come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.


Antipatris
Antipatris, currently being excavated by archeologists at Tel Afek, northeast of Tel Aviv. It is 42 miles from Jerusalem and 26 miles from Caesarea. On a visit there I saw the capital of a Roman column that had been discovered accidentally by a farmer plowing his field; it was still in place, just six inches below the surface.
(from Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

This town was anciently called Cafar-Saba. Josephus says (Antiq., 13:23) that it was about 17 miles from Joppa. It was about 26 miles from Caesarea, and, of course, about 35 miles from Jerusalem. Herod the Great changed its name to Antipatris, in honor of his father Antipater. It was situated in a fine plain, and watered with many springs and fountains. Eli Smith, late missionary to Palestine, who took a journey from Jerusalem to Joppa for the purpose of ascertaining Paul's route, supposes that the site of Antipatris is the present Kefr Saba. Of this village he gives the following description in the Bibliotheca Sacra for 1843: "It is a Muslim village of considerable size, and wholly like the most common villages of the plain, being built entirely of mud. We saw but one stone building, which was apparently a mosque, but without a minaret. No old ruins, nor the least relic of antiquity, did we anywhere discover. A well by which we stopped, a few rods east of the houses, exhibits more signs of careful workmanship than anything else. It is walled with hewn stone, and is 57 feet deep to the water. The village stands upon a slight circular eminence near the western hills, from which it is actually separated, however, by a branch of the plain."

Not only was Paul Protected by an escort fit for a king, but he was put not in the common prison, but in the palace built by Herod the Great where the governor had his official headquarters. We wonder if any of the believers in Caesarea knew about Paul's presence and sought to bring him personal aid and encouragement. They would certainly remember the visit of Agabus and realize that his dire prophecy had been fulfilled (Acts 21:10-14).

As You review the events recorded in this chapter, You Cannot help but be impressed with the commitment of the Apostle Paul to his calling. "None of these things move me!" (Acts 20:24) If ever a man dared to follow Christ, come what may, he was that man. Paul did not look for the easy way but for the way that would most honor the Lord and win the lost. He was even willing to become a prisoner if that would further the work of the Gospel. You are also impressed with the amazing providence of God in caring for His servant. "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them" (Psalms 34:7, NW). "Let us trust in God, and be very courageous for the Gospel," wrote Charles Spurgeon." God's people can afford to be daring, in the will of God, because they know their Savior will be dependable and work out His perfect will. Paul was alone - but not alone! His Lord was with him and he had nothing to fear.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

What province
Greek: of what heparchy eparchias (NT: 1885) he was. He knew from the letter of Lysias that he was a Roman, but he was not informed of what place or province he was. This he doubtless did in order to ascertain whether he properly belonged to his jurisdiction. Roman provinces were districts of country which were entrusted to the jurisdiction of procurators. How far the jurisdiction of Felix extended is not certainly known. It appears, however, that it included Cilicia.

Herod's Praetorium
Greek: in the praetorium of Herod. The word used here denoted formerly "the tent of the Roman praetor"; and since that was the place where justice was administered, it came to be applied to "halls (courts) of justice." This had been raised probably by Herod the Great as his palace, or as a place for administering justice. It is probable; also, that prisons, or places of security, would be attached to such places.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Under guard in Herod's headquarters building (the Praetorium). Sha’ul is placed in military custody for his protection but not put in a prison cell, since no charges have yet been brought against him.
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

 HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 49 - Acts 23:12-35; Homily 50 - Acts 23:31, 32, 33, 34, 35
"Bound themselves by a curse:" it was a kind of necessity that those men fastened on themselves by the curse. "That they would neither eat nor drink." Behold fasting the mother of murder! Just as Herod imposed on himself that necessity by his oath, so also do these. For such are the devil's (ways): under the pretext forsooth of piety he sets his traps. "And they came to the chief priests," etc. And yet they ought to have come (to the tribune), ought to have laid a charge, and assembled a court of justice: for these are not the doings for priests, but for captains of banditti, these are not the doings for rulers, but for ruffians. They endeavor also to corrupt the ruler: but it was providentially ordered, to the intent that he also should learn of their plot. For not (only) by their having nothing to say, but also by their secret attempt, they convicted themselves that they were naught.
It is likely too that after (Paul was gone) the chief priests came to (the tribune) making their request, and were put to shame. For of course he would not have liked either to deny or to grant their request. How came he to believe (the young man's tale)? He did so in consequence of what had already taken place; because it was likely they would do this also. And observe their wickedness: they as good as laid a necessity on the chief priests also: for if they undertook so great a thing themselves, and engaged themselves in the whole risk, much more ought those to do thus much. Do you observe, how Paul is held innocent by those that are without, as was also Christ by Pilate? See their malice brought to naught: they delivered him up, to kill and condemn him: but the result is just the contrary; he is both saved, and held innocent.
For had it not been so, he would have been pulled in pieces: had it not been so, he would have perished, he would have been condemned. And not only does (the tribune) rescue him from the rush (made upon him), but also from much other (violence): see how he becomes a minister to him, insomuch that without risk he is carried off safe with so large a force. "And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; and provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Fare ye well." (v. 23-30).
See how the letter speaks for him as a defense-for it says, "I found nothing worthy of death," but as accusation against them (rather) than against him. "About to have been killed of them:" so set upon his death were they. First, "I came with the army, and rescued him:" then also "I brought him down unto them:" and not even so did they find anything to lay to his charge: and when they ought to have been stricken with fear and shame for the former act, they again attempt to kill him, insomuch that again his cause became all the more clear. "And his accusers," he says, "I have sent unto thee:" that at the tribunal where these things are more strictly examined, he may be proved guiltless. Like some king whom his body-guards escort, so did these convey Paul; in such numbers too, and by night, for fear of the wrath of the people?
Now then you will say that they have got him out of the city, they desist from their violence? No indeed. But (the tribune) would not have sent him off with such care for his safety, but that while he himself had found nothing amiss in him, he knew the murderous disposition of his adversaries. "And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come." Already Lysias has spoken for his exculpation; (but the Jews seek to) gain the hearer beforehand. "And he ordered him to be kept in custody in Herod's praetorium" (v. 34,35): again Paul is put in bonds.
(from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(31)  So the soldiers, in compliance with their instructions, took Paul and conducted him during the night to Antipatris.
(32)  And the next day they returned to the barracks, leaving the mounted men to proceed with him.
(33)  When these came to Caesarea and gave the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul before him.
(34)  Having read the letter, he asked to what province [Paul] belonged. When he discovered that he was from Cilicia [an imperial province],
(35)  He said, I will hear your case fully when your accusers also have come. And he ordered that an eye be kept on him in Herod's palace (the Praetorium).




(End of Chapter Twenty Three)

 

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