1 Paul, looking intently at the Sanhedrin, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life in all good conscience for God up to this day.” 2 But the kohen gadol Ananias ordered those standing by him to strike him on the mouth.
3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you on the mouth, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit judging me according to the Torah, and yet in violation of the Torah you order me to be struck?”#23:3. cf. Lev. 19:15; Deut. 25:2.
4 Those standing nearby said, “Do you insult God’s kohen gadol?”
5 Paul said, “I didn't know, brethren, that he is the kohen gadol. For it has been written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”#23:5. Exod. 22:28.
6 But recognizing that one group was Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Sanhedrin, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees! I am on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead!”
7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angel or spirit, but the Pharisees affirm them all. 9 Then there was a great uproar. Some of the Torah scholars of the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested sharply, “We find nothing wrong with this man! What if a spirit or angel has spoken to him?”
10 As a big dispute was developing, the commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. So he ordered the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and to bring him into headquarters.
11 The following night the Lord stood beside Paul and said, “Take courage! For just as you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome!”
Conspiracy to Kill Paul
12 When it was day, the Judean leaders formed a conspiracy. They bound themselves by an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who formed this plot. 14 They went to the ruling kohanim and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves with a solemn oath to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. 15 So now you and the Sanhedrin serve notice to the commander to bring him down to you—like you are about to investigate his case more thoroughly. But we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
16 But the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush. He went into the headquarters and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has a message for him.”
18 So the centurion took him and led him to the commander and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.”
19 The commander took him by the hand, stepped aside, and began asking him privately, “What is it that you have to report to me?”
20 And he said, “The Judean leaders have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow—as if they are about to investigate more thoroughly about him. 21 But do not give in to them, for more than forty of them have bound themselves by an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. Even now, they are ready and waiting for your consent.”
22 So the commander dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me about these things.”
Escorted to Caesarea
23 Calling two of his centurions, he said, “At the third hour of the night,#23:23. 9 p.m. prepare two hundred soldiers, along with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen, to proceed as far as Caesarea. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride, so that he might be brought safely to Felix the governor.”
25 He wrote a letter to this effect:
26 “Claudius Lysias,
To the Most Excellent Governor Felix:
27 This man was seized by the Judean leaders and was about to be killed by them, when I came on the scene with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 Desiring to know the charge of which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that he was accused concerning issues of their law, but charged with nothing worthy of death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed that there was a plot against the man, I sent him to you immediately, also ordering his accusers to state before you what they have against him.”
31 So the soldiers, in keeping with their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 On the next day, they returned to headquarters, leaving the horsemen to go on with him. 33 When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul before him. 34 Upon reading the letter, the governor asked what province he was from. When he learned that Paul was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers have arrived also.” Then he gave orders for Paul to be guarded in Herod’s Praetorium.
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