Paul testifies before the High Council. More than 40 men conspire to kill him. To protect him, Claudius Lysias sends Paul to Governor Felix in Caesarea. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Paul, looking steadfastly at the council, said, “Brothers, I have lived before God in all good conscience until today.”
The high priest, Ananias. The historian Josephus described Ananias as insolent, hot-tempered, profane, and greedy.
VERSE 3. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to judge me according to the law, and command me to be struck contrary to the law?”
VERSE 4. Those who stood by said, “Do you malign God’s high priest?”
VERSE 5. Paul said, “I didn’t know, brothers, that he was high priest. For it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”
VERSE 6. But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
resurrection of the dead. In this setting, justice for Paul is impossible. The jury is rigged.
Recognizing this, Paul changes his tactics. He states his hope in the resurrection of the dead.
This triggered a heated dispute amongst the council, and they forgot about interrogating him. This was a clever move by Paul!
VERSE 7. When he had said this, an argument arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the crowd was divided.
VERSE 8. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess all of these.
VERSE 9. A great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ part stood up, and contended, saying, “We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or angel has spoken to him, let’s not fight against God!”
VERSE 10. When a great argument arose, the commanding officer, fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
VERSE 11. The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Cheer up, Paul, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must testify also at Rome.”
Cheer up. Paul was given the privilege of telling even more people about Jesus Christ.
And so are we! We too can exercise the ministry of evangelism, and tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ!
Jerusalem … Rome. The gospel of Jesus Christ would literally go from Jerusalem to Rome by means of Paul the Apostle.
VERSE 12. When it was day, some of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.
neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. This is the level of hatred that these fanatics had for Paul and his message.
more than forty. They are fanatics, and there are more than 40 of them.
VERSE 14. They came to the chief priests and the elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great curse to taste nothing until we have killed Paul.
VERSE 15. Now therefore, you with the council inform the commanding officer that he should bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to judge his case more exactly. We are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
VERSE 16. But Paul’s sister’s son heard they were lying in wait, and he came and entered into the barracks and told Paul.
Paul’s sister. Paul had a sister.
Paul’s sister’s son. That is, Paul’s nephew.
VERSE 17. Paul summoned one of the centurions, and said, “Bring this young man to the commanding officer, for he has something to tell him.”
young man. This Greek word is “neanias.” It means a man in his twenties or thirties.
VERSE 18. So he took him, and brought him to the commanding officer, and said, “Paul, the prisoner, summoned me and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to tell you.”
VERSE 19. The commanding officer took him by the hand, and going aside, asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”
VERSE 20. He said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though intending to inquire somewhat more accurately concerning him.
VERSE 21. Therefore don’t yield to them, for more than forty men lie in wait for him, who have bound themselves under a curse to neither eat nor drink until they have killed him. Now they are ready, looking for the promise from you.”
VERSE 22. So the commanding officer let the young man go, charging him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”
VERSE 23. He called to himself two of the centurions, and said, “Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears, at the third hour of the night.”
soldiers … horsemen … men. The secular government is protecting Paul from the religious leaders. They assign more than 470 of their own people to the task.
at the third hour of the night. That is, 9 pm.
VERSE 24. He asked them to provide animals, that they might set Paul on one, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.
VERSE 25. He wrote a letter like this:
Claudius Lysias. He was a Roman tribune and the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.
governor Felix. Marcus Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Iudaea Province from 52 to 58 AD. He married three times. His cruelty and licentiousness, coupled with his accessibility to bribes, led to a great increase of crime in Judaea.
VERSE 27. “This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.
VERSE 28. Desiring to know the cause why they accused him, I brought him down to their council.
VERSE 29. I found him to be accused about questions of their law, but not to be charged with anything worthy of death or of imprisonment.
VERSE 30. When I was told that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him to you immediately, charging his accusers also to bring their accusations against him before you. Farewell.”
VERSE 31. So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
VERSE 32. But on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the barracks.
VERSE 33. When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
VERSE 34. When the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. When he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said,
VERSE 35. “I will hear you fully when your accusers also arrive.” He commanded that he be kept in Herod’s palace.
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