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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Acts 23

Verse 1

1. ἀτενίσας δέ, and earnestly beholding. The verb is one which St Luke very frequently employs to note a speaker’s expression at the commencement of a speech, and it is one of those features in the Acts which shew us where the compiler has acted as editor to the narratives which he used. He very generally gives some word to indicate the gesture or look of the person who speaks.

On its use in describing St Paul’s earnest look, see Acts 14:9, note.

ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί. See note on Acts 1:16.

ἐγὼ πάση συνειδήσειἄχρι ταύτης τῆς ἡμέρας, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. The ἐγώ is emphatic. It is as though the Apostle would say, ‘You see me before you as though I were an offender, but personally I feel myself innocent.’ πολιτεύομαι in profane authors signifies ‘to discharge the duties of a citizen.’ St Paul implies by its use that he has been obedient to God’s laws, as a good citizen would be to the laws of his country. He employs the verb again in his epistle to the Philippians (Philippians 1:27). It is also found in LXX. 2 Maccabees 6:1; 2 Maccabees 11:25 πολιτεύεσθαι κατὰ τὰ ἐπὶ τῶν προγόνων αὐτῶν ἔθη.

So far as being devoted to God’s service, St Paul’s whole life up to the present moment had been of one piece, it was only that his conscience had been enlightened, and so his behaviour had changed. He had at first lived as a conscientious and observant Jew, his conscience now approved his conduct as a Christian.

Verses 1-10


Verse 2

2. ὁ δὲ ἀρχιερεὺχ Ἀνανίας, and the high priest Ananias. This was Ananias the son of Nebedæus (Joseph. Ant. xx. 5. 2). In the time of the Emperor Claudius he had been suspended from his office for some offence and sent to Rome (Ant. xx. 6. 2) but afterwards seems to have been held in great reputation in Jerusalem (Ant. xx. 9. 2).

τύπτειν αὐτοῦ τὸ στόμα, to smite him on the mouth. No doubt St Paul’s address, before the high priest gave this order, had extended much beyond the single sentence which St Luke records. He only preserves for us that which appears to have moved the anger of the authorities, his claim to have led a life of which in God’s sight he was not ashamed. The action was intended to put a stop to what would be counted the presumptuous language of St Paul.

For ρύπτειν τὸ στόμα τινος, which is not a common form, cf. Luke 22:64.

Verse 3

3. τύπτειν σε μέλλει ὁ θεός, τοῖχε κεκονιαμένε, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall. Here we may see how very far even the excellence of St Paul comes short of the behaviour of the Divine Master, who when He suffered threatened not, and when reviled, reviled not again. We need not however consider that St Paul’s language here was a wish for evil upon the high priest, but only an expression of confidence in God that such conduct as that of Ananias would not be allowed to go unpunished. We know from Josephus (B. J. II. 17. 9) that Ananias did come to a violent end. St Paul calls him ‘whited wall’ because he bore the semblance of a minister of justice, but was not what he seemed. Cf. ‘whited sepulchres’ (τάφοι κεκονιαμένοι, Matthew 23:27). κεκονιαμένοι μετὰ ἀδικίας is found in LXX. (Proverbs 21:9).

καὶ σὺ κάθη κρίνων με, and dost thou sit judging me. The σὺ seems intended to refer to the epithet just applied to Ananias. Dost thou (such an one) sit, &c.

παρανομῶν, contrary to the law. Literally ‘transgressing the Law.’ For St Paul had not yet been heard to the end. Cf. John 7:51.

Verse 4

4. τὸν ἀρχιερέα τοῦ θεοῦ, God’s high priest. So styled because he sat on the judgment-seat as God’s representative, cf. Deuteronomy 17:8-13. In the Old Test, the priestly, and even other, judges are sometimes called by God’s own name ‘Elohim.’ (See Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9 and cf. Psalms 82:1.)

Verse 5

5. οὐκ ᾔδειν, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι ἐστὶν ἀρχιερεύς, I knew not, brethren, that he was the high priest. Several explanations have been given of this statement of St Paul. Some think that it may have been true that St Paul from defect of sight, with which he is supposed to have been afflicted, could not distinguish that the speaker was the high priest; others that the high priest was not in his official position as president of the court; or that owing to the troublous times, and St Paul’s recent arrival in Jerusalem, he was not aware who was high priest; or that he was speaking in irony, and meant to imply that the action of the judge was of such a character that none would have supposed him to be high priest; or that he meant by οὐκ ᾔδειν that for the moment he was not thinking of what he was saying. It is most consonant with St Paul’s character to believe that either his own physical deficiency, or some lack of the usual formalities or insignia, made him unable to distinguish that he who had given the order was really the high priest.

Chrysostom’s opinion on the subject is given thus: καὶ σφόδρα πείθομαι μὴ εἰδὲναι αὐτὸν ὅτι ἀρχιερεύς ἐστι· διὰ μακροῦ μὲν ἐπανελθόντα χρόνου, μὴ συγγινόμενον δὲ συνεχῶς Ἰουδαίοις· ὁρῶντα δὲ καὶ ἐκῖνον ἐν τῷ μέσῳ μετὰ πολλῶν καὶ ἐτέρων. οὐκέτι γὰρ δῆλος ἦν ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς πολλῶν ὄντων καὶ διαφόρων.

γέραπται γάρ, for it is written. The quotation is from Exodus 22:28 and is another illustration of what was said above on Acts 23:4. The whole sentence of the O.T. is ‘Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people,’ and the marginal note on ‘gods’ is ‘Or, judges,’ which margin should be in the text.

Verse 6

6. γνοὺς δέ ὁ ΙΙαῦλος, but when Paul perceived. We are not told in what way the knowledge which the Apostle here acted on was gained. Perhaps the Pharisees, as in the parable of the Pharisee and publican, kept themselves apart; or to a Jewish eye some mark of their dress may have been enough to bespeak a difference of party. St Paul used this party spirit in a perfectly legitimate manner. What he did was not done merely to set them by the ears, but to secure an opportunity for speaking on that central doctrine of Christianity, the resurrection of the dead. (Cf. Acts 24:21.)

υἱὸς Φαρισαίων, a son of Pharisees. This reading has the advantage of removing St Paul’s language beyond the questioning which has sometimes been raised about it. ‘I am a Pharisee,’ he says. And it has been asked, whether he had a right to describe himself thus. When he continues ‘a son of Pharisees’ we see that he is stating that by descent and birth his family had for generations been members of that party. Having said this, he then propounds that doctrine which, of all their teaching, was that which severed them from the Sadducees. That this point also was the central doctrine of Christianity makes St Paul’s address not disingenuous, but an appeal to those who agreed with him thus far in his belief to hear what he had further to say which might meet with their acceptance. And it is not as if the Apostle had raised the question in their midst on some side-issue. The whole teaching of the Christian Church rested on the truth of the Resurrection, and therefore with much wisdom and without any thought of deception he cries, ‘I am a Pharisee, and for teaching the doctrine of the Resurrection (which they hold) I am now called in question.’

On the καὶ before ἀναστάσεως which = namely, ‘for the hope, even the resurrection of the dead,’ cf. Winer-Moulton, p. 546. See also above on Acts 1:25.

Verse 7

7. ἐγένετο στάσις, there arose a dissension. The two parties began to take sides for and against the Apostle.

Verse 8

8. Σαδδουκαῖοι μὲν γὰρ λέγουσιν μὴ εἶναι ἀνάστασιν, for the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection. It is said that their teaching had its rise in the thought that ‘God’s servants should not do service with the hope of reward.’ As the life to come would be a reward we are told that their doctrine developed into the denial of the Resurrection. As we meet with them in the New Testament, they are mainly members of the priestly order, and appear to have accepted only the written Law, as distinct from tradition; yet in spite of the mention of angels in the Pentateuch they appear to have explained the language in such wise as to identify these angelic appearances with some manifestation of the divine glory, and thus to have come to deny the existence of any spiritual beings distinct from God Himself. In political matters they were on the side of Rome, and in consequence are found uniting at times with the Herodians.

μήτε ἄγγελον μήτε πνεῦμαἀμφότερα, neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees confess both. Here the ἄγγελος and πνεῦμα are coordinate, and must be taken as together signifying ‘manifestations of a spirit world.’ Then ἀνάστασις is one point, and the rest of the sentence another included under the word ἀμφότερα.

Chrysostom remarks here, καὶ μὴν τρία ἐστί· πῶς οὖν λέγει ἀμφότερα; ἢ ὅτι πνεῦμα καὶ ἄγγελος ἔν ἐστι, ἢ ὅτι οὐ μόνον ἡ λέξις δύο, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τριῶν λαμβάνεται. καταχρηστικῶς οὖν οὕν οὕτως εἶπε καὶ οὐ κυριολογῶν.

Verse 9

9. ἐγένετο δὲ κραυγὴ μεγάλη, and there arose a great clamour. The noise of an excited assembly. κραυγή is used in the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:6) to describe the shout at midnight ‘the bridegroom cometh.’

τινὲς τῶν γραμματέων τοῦ μέρους τ. Φ., and some of the Scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part, i.e. certain individuals as representatives of the whole body.

διεμάχοντο, strove. The verb is used of strife in words, Sirach 8:3 μὴ διαμάχου μετὰ ἀνθρώπου γλωσσώδους.

εἰ δὲ πνεῦμα ἐλάλησεν αὐτῷ ἢ ἄγγελος, and if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel.… St Luke appears to have left the sentence as an incomplete exclamation. This the Rev. Ver. has endeavoured to represent by rendering the clause ‘And what if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?’ The temper of these Pharisees is so very much akin to the counsel of Gamaliel in chap. Acts 5:39, that it is not difficult to understand how a thoughtful reader filled up on his margin the unfinished exclamation by an adaptation of Gamaliel’s language (μὴ θεμαχῶμεν), and that these words found their way in a short time into the text.

Verse 10

10. ὁ χιλίαρχος, the chief captain. He must have been in some position where he could watch all the proceedings, though we can hardly think that he was presiding in the Sanhedrin.

μὴ διασπασθῆ, lest he should be pulled in pieces. The Pharisees had constituted themselves protectors of the Apostle, and so the possession of his person had become the object of a struggle between them and their opponents, διασπάω is frequently used in the LXX. of wild beasts tearing their prey in pieces. For the Apostle’s position among the assembly cf. Acts 22:30 on εἰς αὐτούς. He was evidently where the people could lay hands on him (cf. ἐκ μέσου αὐτῶν, below in this verse).

ἐκέλευσεν τὸ στράτευμα καταβὰν κ.τ.λ., he commanded the soldiers to go down, &c. They were in the tower of Antonia, overlooking the Temple-precincts, and so were ready to interfere in the struggle as soon as they were hidden. They were in considerable numbers, for στράτευμα is properly an army, as the A.V. renders in Acts 23:27 below. Jerusalem was at this time in such an excited state that the presence of a large Roman force was necessary.

Verse 11

11. τῇ δὲ ἐπιούση νυκτί, and the night following. The Apostle was now, though not rightly a prisoner, yet kept, that he might be out of harm’s way, under the charge of the Roman soldiers. The hearing of his case having been interrupted, another time was to be appointed when the examination should be completed.

ἐπιστὰς αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος, the Lord stood by him. Appearing in a vision as before at Corinth. Cf. on Acts 18:9.

For the verb ἐπιστάς see above on Acts 12:13.

θάρσει, be of good cheer. The Apostle could hardly be otherwise than downcast with the events of the previous day. He had entered the Temple and undertaken the Nazirite vow with a view of conciliating the Jews and he had only been saved from being torn in pieces of them through the interference of the Roman commander.

οὕτω σε δεῖ καὶ εἰς Ῥώμην μαρτυρῆσαι, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. St Paul had already written to the Roman Church of his ‘longing to see them,’ and that ‘oftentimes he had purposed to come unto them’ (Romans 1:11-13), and St Luke (Acts 19:21) records the intention in the history of St Paul’s stay at Ephesus. The way to compass such a visit had not yet been found, but now it is pointed out by the Lord Himself.

The preposition εἰς implies, as in other instances, that the Apostle is to go to Rome, and then bear his testimony. See note on Acts 8:40.

In διαμαρτυρέω in this verse there seems to be an allusion to the thoroughness and zeal of St Paul’s work hitherto.

Verses 11-25


Verse 12

12. γενομένης δὲ ἡμέρας, and when it was day. While Paul was receiving comfort from the Lord, the Jews were plotting to secure his destruction, and they let no time be wasted; their plans were ready by the next day, and as soon as it arrived they set about their execution.

ποιήσαντες συστροφὴν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, the Jews having banded together. To form such a compact is quite in the spirit of the time. The men who did so were probably belonging to the Zealots of whose fanaticism Josephus gives several instances.

ἀνεθεμάτισαν ἑαυτούς, bound themselves under a curse. Lit. ‘placed themselves under an anathema.’ The noun is used in very solemn language twice over by St Paul (Galatians 1:8-9), ‘Let him be accursed.’ It was an invocation of God’s vengeance upon themselves, if they failed to do the work which they undertook.

μήτε φαγεῖν μήτε πιεῖν, neither to eat nor drink. So that there was no time to be lost. Their work most be promptly executed.

Verse 13

13. πλείους τεσσεράκοντα, more than forty. Shewing the excited state of popular feeling at this moment among the Jews. They may have been prompted to this method of getting rid of the Apostle, because they had not the power of life and death any longer, and were not likely to procure Paul’s death at the hands of the Roman authorities, on any accusation connected with a religious question.

οἱ ταύτην τὴν συνωμοσίαν ποιησάμενοι, who had made this conspiracy. The middle voice, which is the best supported reading, is the most in accordance with classical usage. The Greeks use ποιεῖν to be a cause (to others) of anything, ποιεῖσθαι to bring about for oneself. So they say ποιεῖσθαι πόλεμον, εἰρήνηω, συμμαχίαν, when men procure the war, peace or alliance unto themselves.

Verse 14

14. τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις, to the chief priests and elders. These most likely were Sadducees, and so would have no wish that Paul should be spared.

ἀναθέματι ἀνεθεματίσαμεν ἐαντούς, we have bound ourselves under a great curse. Literally, ‘with a curse have we cursed ourselves.’ This is a Hebrew mode of expressing the intensity and earnestness of an action. Cf. above on ch. Acts 5:28.

μηδενὸς γεύσασθαι, to taste nothing. This includes both eating and drinking.

Chrysostom says on this: ἄρα διαπαντός εἰσιν ἀναθεματισμένοι ἐκεῖνοι, οὐ γὰρ ἀπέκτειναν τὸν Παῦλον.

Verse 15

15. νῦν οὖν ὑμεῖςσὺν τῷ συνεδρίῳ, now therefore do ye with the council signify, &c. ἐμφανίζω in this sense of giving notice or information is frequent in LXX. Cf. Esther 2:22, καὶ αὐτὴ ἐνεφάνισε τῷ βασιλεῖ τὰ τῆς ἐπιβουλῆς. See also 2 Maccabees 3:7; 2 Maccabees 11:29. The chief priests and elders, of the Sadducees’ party, were to use their influence in the council, that a request might proceed from the whole body of the Sanhedrin, for Paul to be again brought before them by the chief captain. From what we read of the Sadducees in the N.T. and Josephus, it is easy to believe that they would be in a majority.

καταγάγη αὐτόν, that he bring him down, i.e. from the tower of Antonia to the place where the Sanhedrin held its meetings. See above on Acts 23:10.

ὡς μέλλοντας διαγινώσκειν ἀκριβέατερον τὰ περὶ αὐτοῦ, as though ye would judge of his case more exactly. They would profess a desire to know the whole right and wrong in the matter.

ἕτοιμοί ἐσμεν τοῦ ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν, we are ready to kill him. So that the suspicion of complicity in the crime would not fall upon the chief priests and elders. Their intention would appear to have been to give St Paul a fair hearing, and the murder would seem to be the work of some fanatics unconnected with the council.

For ἕτοιμος followed by the genitival infinitive, cf. LXX. 1 Samuel 13:21, καὶ ἦν ὁ τρυγητὸς ἔτοιμος τοῦ θερίζειν and 1 Maccabees 13:37, ἕτοιμοί ἐσμεν τοῦ ποιεῖν ὑμῖν εἰρήνην. Also 2 Chronicles 6:2, &c.

Verse 16

16. ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀδελφῆς Παύλου, but Paul’s sister’s son heard, &c. We have no other mention of the family of St Paul anywhere in the history. It seems improbable that the sister and her son were settled inhabitants of Jerusalem, or we should have been likely to hear of them on Paul’s previous visits. His imprisonment at this time was only to keep him from being killed, and so any relative or friend was permitted to come to him.

παραγενόμενος καὶ εἰσελθών, he went and entered, &c. Another punctuation joins παραγενόμενος with the former clause of the sentence, so that the sense is ‘he heard of their lying in wait, having come in upon them.’ Thus it would describe the way in which he had gained his information. But this rendering seems to press too much into this participle.

Verse 17

17. ἕνα τῶν ἑκατοντάρχων, one of the centurions. The Apostle was under the charge of a military guard, and so would have no difficulty in getting his message conveyed. And the knowledge that he was a Roman citizen, and that by birth, would have spread among the soldiery and would not be without its influence.

ἔχει γάρ τι ἀπαγγεῖλαι αὐτῷ, for he hath something to tell him. We have nothing to guide us to a knowledge of how Paul’s nephew became acquainted with the plot to murder his uncle. As we know nothing of any kinsmen of St Paul being Christians, we may perhaps be right in supposing that the young man was a Jew, present in Jerusalem on account of the feast, and that he had heard among the Jewish population about the uproar, and the undertaking of the would-be assassins. In his interview with the chief captain it is clear that he was prepared with evidence which was convincing to that officer.

Verse 18

18. παραλαβὼν αὐτὸν ἤγαγεν, he took him and brought him. With soldier-like obedience and raising no questions.

ὁ δέσμιος Παῦλος, Paul the prisoner, a title which the Apostle used often afterwards to apply to himself. Cf. Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:9, &c.

Verse 19

19. ἐπιλαβόμενος σὲ τῆς χειρός, and having taken him by the hand. The messenger sent by a Roman citizen was entitled to some consideration, and the action of the chief captain is meant to encourage the young man. The chief captain would naturally incline after his conversation with him to favour Paul rather than his Jewish accusers. We can gather this from the tone of the letter which he subsequently sent to Cæsarea.

κατ' ἰδίαν ἐπυνθάνετο, inquired privately. The A.V. joins the adverb with ἀναχωρήσας but as this verb of itself implies a going aside, it is better, and more also in accordance with the order of the Greek, to join it with ἐπυνθάνετο.

Verse 20

20. ὡς μέλλων τι ἀκριβέστερον πυνθάνεσθαι, as though thou wouldest enquire somewhat more accurately. μέλλων is to be preferred to μέλλοντες, for in addressing the chief captain Paul’s nephew would naturally speak as though he, who had control of the whole proceedings, was the person to enquire; while the plural in Acts 23:15 is equally natural in the mouth of a speaker among the Zealots, who would say to the chief priests ‘as though ye would enquire.’

Verse 21

21. σὺ οὖν μὴ πεισθῇς αὐτοῖς, do not thou therefore yield to them. The οὖν refers to the idea of a scheme in which the chief captain was to be made use of; this has only been suggested in the previous verse, not directly stated.

ἀνεθεμάτισαν ἑαυτούς, they have bound themselves under a curse. Cf. Acts 23:12 above.

προσδεχόμενοι τὴν ἀπὸ σοῦ ἐπαγγελίαν, looking for the promise from thee, i.e. which they are coming to try and induce thee to make to them.

Verse 22

22. ὁ μὲν οὖν χιλίαρχος ἀπέλυσε τὸν νεανίσκον, so the chief captain let the young man depart. For ἀπολύειν = to dismiss a person, and let him go, Cf. 2 Maccabees 12:25, ἀπέλυσαν αὐτὸν ἕνεκα τῆς τῶν ἀδελφῶν σωρηρίας.

ὅτι ταῦτα ἐνεφάνισας πρὸς ἐμέ, that thou hast shewed these things to me. Here the sentence which began in the oratio obliqua passes into the oratio recta. If the original form of the clause had been continued the close should have been = ‘bidding him tell no one that he had shewed these things to him.’ For a similar change though not so unmanageable to translate cf. Acts 1:4.

Verse 23

23. τινὰς δύο, two. The effect of τινάς is to intimate that the number is not precisely given; ‘two or so,’ ‘about two.’ But this cannot be put into acceptable English.

ὅπως πορευθῶσιν ἕως Καισαρείας, to go unto Cæsarea. ἕως literally ‘as far as.’ Cæsarea was the residence of the Roman governor and the seat of the chief jurisdiction. The distance from Jerusalem to Cæsarea is about 70 miles.

δεξιολάβους, spearmen. The Greek word is a very unusual one, and signifies ‘graspers by the right hand.’ Hence it has been explained, as in the A.V., of soldiers who carried a spear in their right hand; others have thought a military guard was meant, who kept on the right hand of the prisoners of whom they had charge. Others, soldiers who were fastened to the right hand of the prisoners. This is improbable, because for such a purpose two hundred could not have been needed. The Vulgate gives lancearii, lancers.

ἀπὸ τρίτης ὥρας τῆς νυκτός, at the third hour of the night. This, according to Jewish reckoning, would be 9 P.M.

This was to be the point in time from which the journey was to commence. Hence ἀπό is used to define it.

Verse 24

24. κτήνη τε παραστῆσαι. Here we have the contrary change to that noted in Acts 23:22. With ἑτοιμάσετε began a direct order, and this is continued in the oratio recta down to the close of Acts 23:23. But with 24 the construction is oblique, as if some verb like ἐκέλευσεν had preceded παραστῆσαι. Consequently the Rev. Vers. has inserted in italics he bade them.

πρὸς Φήλικα τὸν ἡγεμόνα, to Felix the governor. Felix was made procurator of Judæa by Claudius in A.D. 53. He was the brother of Pallas, the favourite freedman of Claudius, and it was by the interest of his brother that Felix was advanced, and retained in his position even after the death of Claudius. The character of Felix, as gathered both from Roman and Jewish historians, is that of a mean, profligate and cruel ruler, and even the troublous times in which he lived are not sufficient to excuse the severity of his conduct. After his return to Rome, on the appointment of Festus to be governor in his stead, Felix was accused by the Jews of Cæsarea and only saved by the influence which his brother Pallas had with Nero, as he had had with his predecessor. Felix was connected with the Herodian family by his marriage with Drusilla the daughter of Herod Agrippa I. He continued to hold office at Cæsarea for two years after St Paul’s coming there (Acts 24:27), and during the whole of that time the Apostle was his prisoner.

Verse 25

25. ἐπιστολὴν ἔχουσαν τὸν τύπον τοῦτον, a letter after this form. As both the writer and receiver of the letter were Romans, it is most likely that Latin was the language in which it was written, and that St Luke has given us a representation of the substance of the document rather than its very words.

Verse 26

26. τῷ κρατίστῳ ἡγεμόνι Φήλικι χαίρειν, to the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. The infinitive χαίρειν is governed by λέγει or some similar verb understood. See above, Acts 15:23.

The title κράτιστος ‘most excellent’ is that which is given by St Luke at the beginning of his Gospel to the Theophilus for whom he wrote it. Hence it is probable that Theophilus held some official position, it may be under the Romans in Macedonia, where St Luke remained for some time and where he may probably have written his gospel.

Verses 26-30


Verse 27

27. τὸν ἄνδρα τοῦτον συλλημφθέντα ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίωνἐξειλάμην. This man who was taken of the Jews … I rescued. συλλαμβάνειν implies a seizure or arrest. It is used (Matthew 26:55; Mark 14:48) of the party of men who came to seize our Lord, and (Acts 12:3) of Herod Agrippa’s arrest of St Peter.

It is to be noted that the chief captain is represented as employing throughout the letter ἀνήρ not ἄνθρωπος for man. The former implies much more respect, and was used no doubt because he was presently about to mention that he was a Roman citizen. The same distinction exists in Latin as in Greek, so that the original may have been in either language. There can be little doubt that Roman officers at this time were familiar enough with Greek to write in it, if need were.

καὶ μέλλοντα ἀναιρεῖσθαι, and likely to be killed. The chief captain does not give a very exact report of what had happened. He says nothing about the strife between the two religious parties. Perhaps he did not understand either its nature or cause.

ἐπιστὰς σὺν τῷ στρατεύματι, coming upon them with the soldiers. This must refer rather to the first rescue from the mob in the Temple-precincts (Acts 21:32). There is no word said of what happened afterwards, the binding with two chains, and the intention of scourging the prisoner.

On στράτευμα see above, Acts 23:10 note.

μαθὼν ὅτι Ῥωμαῖός ἐστιν, having learnt that he was a Roman. The chief captain puts this in such wise as to claim credit for interference on behalf of a Roman citizen, and in so doing omits to state that it was only when Paul was about to be scourged and had protested against it that he was discovered to be a citizen of Rome by birth.

Verse 28

28. βουλόμενός τε ἐπιγνῶναι, and desiring to know. The method by which the chief captain proposed to satisfy this desire was by scourging the prisoner (cf. Acts 22:24).

τὴν αἰτίαν δι' ἥν, the cause wherefore. For which we had in Acts 22:24 the attracted form δι' ἥν αἰτίαν.

Verse 29

29. ὃν εὗρον ἐγκαλούμενον, whom I found to be accused. At first he would have discovered that the outcry against St Paul had something to do with the regulations of the Temple, then that there was a dispute about the resurrection of those who were dead, and that on this point some of the Jewish leaders sided with St Paul. Such questions about their law would seem to the Roman officer quite as unworthy of consideration as they did to Gallio at Corinth (Acts 18:15).

Verse 30

30. μηνυθείσης δέ μοι ἐπιβουλῆς εἰς τὸν ἄνδρα ἔσεσθαι ἐξ αὐτῶν, and when it was shewn to me that there would be a plot against the man by them. The construction is very strange. The full sentence would be grammatically μηνυθείσης μοι ἐπιβουλῆς ἐπιβουλὴν ἔσεσθαι κ.τ.λ.

ἔπεμψα πρός σε, I sent to thee, i.e. I sent him. Of course Lysias implies by his language that he felt Felix to be a more fit person than himself to deal with such a case.

λέγειν αὐτοὺς ἐπὶ σοῦ, themselves to speak before thee, i.e. to say whatever they had to say.

Verse 31

31. οἱ μὲν οὔν στρατιῶταιἀναλαβόντες τὸν Παῦλον, so the soldiers … took Paul and, &c., i.e. they formed a party for his escort and placed him in their midst.

On this escort Chrysostom remarks: καθάπερ βασιλέα τινὰ δορυφόροι παρέπεμπον μετὰ τοσούτου πλήθους καὶ ἐν νυκτὶ φοβούμενοι τοῦ δήμου τὴν ὀργὴν τῆς ὁρμῆς ἐπεὶ οὗν τῆς πόλεως αὐτὸν ἐξέβαλον τότε ἀφίστανται. οὐκ ἂν δὲ ὁ χιλίαρχος μετὰ τοσαύτης αὐτὸν ἀσφαλείας ἐξέπεμψεν εἰ μὴ καὶ αὐτὸς οὐδὲν ἦν αὐτοῦ κατεγνωκώς, καὶ ἐκείνων ᾔδει τὸ φονικόν.

ἀναλαμβάνω is thus used LXX. Genesis 24:61, of the servant of Abraham, when he escorts Rebecca to his master.

διὰ νυκτός, by night, i.e. that same night, starting off early in the night and travelling during night-time, thus getting clear away from Jerusalem before the ambush of the Jews was prepared.

εἰς τὴν Ἀντιπατρίδα, to Antipatris. This place was 42 miles from Jerusalem and 26 from Cæsarea. It was in early times called Capharsaba, but Herod the Great rebuilt it and named it Antipatris in memory of his father Antipater. It lay in a beautiful part of the Vale of Sharon and was both well watered and rich in wood. There-mains of a Roman road have been found close by it. For notices of the older city, see Josephus, Ant. XVI. 5. 2; 1 Maccabees 7:31; of the place as rebuilt, see Josephus, B. J. I. 4. 7; II. 19. 1 and 9; IV. 8. 1.

Verses 31-35


Verse 32

32. τῇ δὲ ἐπαύριον, but on the morrow. That part of the escort which now seemed no longer needed returned, and would get back to Jerusalem on the day of the intended plot. Those who returned were the στρατιῶται and the δεξιολάβοι.

ἐάσαντες τοὺς ἱππεῖς ἀπέρχεσθαι σὺν αὐτῷ, having left the horsemen to go on with him. Now that they were far away from Jerusalem and in no fear of a surprise, seventy horsemen were guard enough for the remainder of the way. But it may give us some idea of the dangerous state of the country at the time, when we consider that the chief captain thought it needful to send with this one prisoner a guard of 470 soldiers. We may also form some idea of what the garrison in Jerusalem must have been when so many men could be detached at a moment’s notice.

ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν παρεμβολήν, they returned to the castle. Apparently coming back as quickly as it was possible for them to do so. As the road was one much travelled they were probably able to obtain a change of horses here and there.

Verse 33

33. οἵτινες, who, i.e. the horsemen who went on with St Paul. It is better with Rev. Vers. to break up the relative into a conjunction and personal pronoun. ‘And they, when,’ &c.

παρέστησαν καὶ τὸν Παῦλον αὐτῷ, presented Paul also unto him. If the letter as given above be a rendering of the original, the prisoner was not mentioned in it by name, but the soldiers would merely declare that this was the man that had been committed to their charge, and Felix would learn all the rest by questioning Paul.

Verse 34

34. ἐκ ποίας ἐπαρχίας ἐστίν, of what province he was. Cilicia had been at one time, and perhaps still was, attached to the province of Syria. It was so in the time of Quirinus. This will explain why at once Felix without question decided that, at the proper time, he would hear the cause.

Verse 35

35. διακούσομαί σου, I will hear thee. The verb implies a full and thorough hearing of a case. ‘I will give thee a fall hearing.’ The Rev. Vers. renders ‘I will hear thy cause.’

ὅταν καὶ οἱ κατήγοροί σου παραγένωνται, when thine accusers are also come; assuming that they would appear, since they had been bidden to do so by the chief captain, as was explained in his letter. Of course Lysias had not said a word of this to the Jews when his letter was written, but intended to do so when Paul was safely on the road to Cæsarea.

ἐν τῷ πραιτωρίῳ τοῦ Ἡρώδου φυλάσσεσθαι, to be kept in Herod’s palace. πραιτώριον may signify either the palace of a prince, the tent of a general, or the barracks of the soldiery. Here it is probably the name of the palace which Herod had erected for himself, and which now was used as the governor’s residence. It seems (from Acts 24:24-26) that it was close to the quarters of Felix himself, and that Paul could speedily be sent for. φυλάσσεσθαι only implies that Paul was to be taken care of; he was not kept in close imprisonment. ‘A Roman and uncondemned’ would not be subject to needless indignities, when his accusers were Jews who could make no such claim for consideration. Cf. Acts 24:23.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Acts 23". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.