Acts 23

Acts 23

Paul before the Supreme Council
1Paul fixed his eyes on the members of the council and said, “My brothers, up to this day I have lived my life before God with a perfectly clear conscience.” # 23:1 The Aramaic is “I have been blessed by God in every way unto this day” or “I have been guided by God unto this day.”
2At that moment, Ananias # 23:2 It is ironic that one Ananias was God’s instrument to bring healing and sight to Paul in Damascus, but here it is a different Ananias. the high priest ordered those standing near Paul to strike him in the mouth.
3Paul responded, “God is going to strike you, you corrupt pretender! # 23:3 Or “white-washed wall” (or “hypocrite”). See Ezek. 13:10–16; Matt. 23:27–28. For you sit there judging me according to the law, yet you broke the law when you ordered me to be struck.”
4Those standing near Paul said to him, “Do you dare insult the high priest of God?”
5Paul answered, “I had no idea, brothers, that he was the high priest. # 23:5 It was common for priests and rabbis to wear common clothes except on holy occasions. This could be why Paul did not recognize him as the high priest. There was also uncertainty as to who the high priest was, as Paul had been away from Jerusalem for years. For the Scriptures say, ‘Do not curse the ruler of your people.’ ” # 23:5 See Ex. 22:28.
6Just then Paul realized that part of the council were Sadducees, who deny the resurrection of the dead, # 23:6 This clause is borrowed from v. 8 and inserted here for the sake of clarity of the English narrative. Of the three major sects of Judaism of that day (Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees), the Sadducees were a small but influential group that philosophically denied the supernatural (including the resurrection of the dead, angels, and spirits) and gravitated instead toward political control of the people. and others were of the separated ones. So he shouted, “My fellow Jews, I am a separated one, # 23:6 Or “Pharisee,” which means “separated one.” They were strict keepers of the law and believed in angels and the resurrection. and the son of a separated one. That’s why I’m on trial here. It’s because of the hope I have that the dead will rise to live again.” # 23:6 Or “the hope and the resurrection from the dead.” This is most likely a hendiadys. The Aramaic is “I have faith in the [miracle] of the resurrection from the dead.”
7When he said this, a heated argument started among them, dividing the council between the Sadducees and the separated ones. 8Paul knew that the Sadducees teach there is no resurrection and do not believe in angels or spirits, but the separated ones believe in them all. 9This sparked an even greater uproar among them.
Finally, some of the separated ones who were religious scholars # 23:9 Or “scribes” (experts in the law). stood up and protested strongly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man. It could be that the Spirit # 23:9 The Spirit referred to was obviously sent from God (the Holy Spirit). has spoken to him or an angel came to him.”
10When the shouting match became intense, the commander, fearing they would tear Paul to pieces, intervened and ordered his soldiers to go in to their meeting and seize him and take him back to their headquarters.
11That night our Lord appeared to Paul and stood before him and said, # 23:11 The Lord Jesus works with his apostolic servants and appeared to them throughout church history to encourage and give them direction for the expansion of God’s kingdom realm. See also Mark 16:15; Acts 18:9–10; 22:17–18; 27:23–24; 2 Cor. 12:1. “Receive miracle power. # 23:11 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “Have courage.” For just as you have spoken for me in Jerusalem, you will also speak for me in Rome.” # 23:11 The Aramaic is “You are destined to speak for me in Rome also.”
The Plot to Kill Paul
12-13The next day, more than forty Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves under an oath # 23:12–13 Or “with a curse.” That is, they pronounced a curse upon themselves, calling down heaven’s punishment if they did not murder Paul. One wonders what happened to them when their plot failed. to have no food or water until they had killed Paul. 14They went to the high priest and the elders to divulge their plans and said to them, “We have united in a solemn oath not to eat or drink until Paul is dead. 15So we urge you to have the commander bring him to you as though you were to determine his case with a more thorough inquiry. And we will kill him before he even gets here!”
16When Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, overheard their plot to kill him, he came to the headquarters and informed him of their plans. 17Paul called for one of the captains # 23:17 Or “centurions.” See also v. 18. and said, “Take this boy # 23:17 The Aramaic is “preteen boy.” The Greek is “young man.” to the commander, for he has something important to report to him.”
18The captain took him to the commander and informed him, “Paul the prisoner asked me to bring this boy to you because he has something important for you to know.”
19The commander took him by the arm and led him aside in private and asked him, “What do you have to tell me?”
20He replied, “The Jews have plotted to kill Paul. Tomorrow they will ask you to bring him again to the supreme council under the pretense of wanting to question him further. 21Don’t believe them, because they have forty men lying in wait to ambush Paul. These men have sworn an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They’re all waiting for you to agree to their request so they can carry out their plot.”
22The commander dismissed Paul’s nephew after directing him, “Tell no one that you’ve reported these things to me.” 23-24Then he summoned two of his captains and said to them, “I want you to take Paul by horseback to Caesarea tonight at nine o’clock. Dispatch two hundred infantrymen, seventy horsemen, and another two hundred spearmen to provide security and deliver him safely to Governor Felix.” 25He sent with them a letter that read:
26From Claudias Lysias, to His Excellency, Governor Felix: # 23:26 This was Antonius Felix, the governor of Caesarea who had jurisdiction over Israel and parts of Syria. He was known as a corrupt and cruel tyrant. However, he was married to a Jewish woman and was well acquainted with Jewish laws and traditions. It was important that Paul, a Roman citizen, be tried by Roman authorities.
Dear Governor,
27I rescued this man, who was seized by the Jews as they were about to put him to death. I intervened with my troops because I understand that he is a Roman citizen. 28I was determined to learn exactly what charge they were accusing him of, so I brought him to stand before the Jewish supreme council. 29I discovered that he was being accused with reference to violating controversial issues about their law, but I found no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30When I was informed of an imminent plot to kill him, I sent him to you at once, and I have ordered his accusers to also come before you and state their charges against him.
Claudius Lysias
31The soldiers carried out their orders and escorted Paul during the night until they reached the city of Antipatris. # 23:31 This was over halfway from Jerusalem to Caesarea. 32The next day the horsemen continued on with Paul and the rest of the soldiers were dismissed to return to their headquarters.
33Upon their arrival in Caesarea, they presented the letter to the governor and brought Paul before him. 34After reading the letter, he asked Paul what province he was from.
Paul answered, “Southeast Turkey.” # 23:34 Or “Cilicia.”
35The governor said, “I will give you a full hearing when your accusers arrive here also.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.
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