Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 23

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Acts 23

Supplemental Commentary:

THE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF ST. PAUL  13, 1 -- 28, 31 (continued)

4.  Imprisonment in Palestine  21, 17 -- 26, 32 (continued)

22, 30 -- 23, 11:  The Sanhedrin (continued).    23, 2.  Ananias, high priest about 47-59 A.D., was called by Josephus "a great hoarder of money" and was slain during the internal strife that accompanied the final revolt against Rome.    5.  In this investigation conducted by the Roman tribune the High Priest may not have been conspicuous, and St. Paul may not have known him personally.

23, 12-21:  A Conspiracy.  Such a murderous plot fits in well with the violence that marked this period during which the way was being prepared for the revolt against Rome and for the war that followed.

23, 22-35:  To Caesarea.    27.  Claudius dresses up the story to put himself in the best light.    31.  Antipatris was about thirty miles northwest of Jerusalem.  The rest of the journey to Caesarea would be along the plain of Sharon and less exposed to attack.

Confraternity Bible:

1 Then Paul, looking steadily at the Sanhedrin, said, "Brethren, I have conducted myself before God with a perfectly good conscience up to this day."  2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing by him to strike him on the mouth.  3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike thee, thou whitewashed wall.  Dost thou sit there to try me by the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?"  4 But the bystanders said, "Dost thou insult God's high priest?"  5 And Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people.'"

6 Then Paul, knowing that part of them were Sadducees and part of them Pharisees, cried out in the Sanhedrin, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; it is about the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial."  7 And when he said that, there arose a dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the multitude was divided.  8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are no angels or spirits, whereas the Pharisees believe in both.  9 So there was a great uproar, and some of the Pharisees got up and began to insist, saying, "We find no evil in this man; what if a spirit has really spoken to him, or an angel?"  10 And as the dispute was becoming violent, the tribune, fearing lest Paul should be torn to pieces by them, ordered the soldiers to come down and take him by force from among them and bring him into the barracks.  11 But on the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be steadfast; for just as thou hast borne witness to me in Jerusalem, bear witness in Rome also."

A Conspiracy  12 Now when day broke, some Jews assembled and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.  13 There were more than forty that had made this conspiracy; 14 and they went 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.  15 Now therefore do you, with the Sanhedrin, suggest to the tribune that he bring him to you as though you mean to look into his case more carefully; but we are ready to kill him before he gets here."

16 Now the son of Paul's sister heard of the ambush, and he came and entered the barracks and told Paul.  17 Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, "Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to report to him."  18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, "The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to thee, for he has something to say to thee."  19 So the tribune took him by the hand, and going aside with him, asked him, "What is it that thou hast to tell me?"  20 And he said, "The Jews have agreed to ask thee to bring Paul to the Sanhedrin tomorrow, on the plea that they intend to have a more thorough investigation made into his case.  21 But do not believe them; for more than forty of them are lying in wait for him, having bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they have killed him; and they are now ready, only waiting for thy promise."

To Caesarea  22 The tribune therefore let the young man go, charging him not to divulge to anyone that he had given him this information.  23 Then he called two centurions and said to them, "Get ready by the third hour of the night two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, and seventy cavalry and two hundred spearmen; 24 and provide beasts to mount Paul and take him in safety to Felix the governor."  25 [For he was afraid that the Jews might seize him by force and kill him, and he himself should afterwards be slandered, as though he intended to receive money.]

And he wrote a letter in these terms: 26 Claudius Lysias to His Excellency Felix the governor, greeting.  27 Whereas this man had been seized by the Jews and was on the point of being killed by them, I came on them with the troops and rescued him, having learnt that he was a Roman.  28 And wishing to know what charge they had preferred against him, I took him down into their Sanhedrin.  29 I found him accused about questions of their Law, but not of any crime deserving of death or imprisonment.  30 And when I was told of an ambush which they had prepared for him, I sent him to thee, directing his accusers also to state the case before thee.  Farewell."

31 So the soldiers, in accordance with their instructions, took Paul and conducted him by night to Antipatris; 32 and the next day they returned to the barracks, leaving the cavalry to go on with him.  33 When they reached Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and also handed Paul over to him.  34 On reading it he asked from what province he was; and learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 "I will hear thee," he said, "when thy accusers have come."  And he ordered him to be kept in Herod's palace.