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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 23

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1

PAUL SET BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN V. 1-5

1) "And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said," (atenisas de ho Paulos to sunedrio eipen) "Then Paul gazing at the council (looking them straight in the eye) said," or gave his testimony calmly, without fear, as follows: many of these council members had no doubt voted to stone Stephen to death, with Paul present, years before, Acts 7:51-60.

2) "Men and brethren," (andres adelphoi) "Ye responsible men, brethren," in the Jewish flesh, ye national brethren. Paul considered himself always to be a member of the true faith of the theocracy of Israel and interested in the highest spiritual good of her people, Romans 9:1-3; Romans 10:1-4; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22.

3) "I have lived in all good conscience toward God," (ego pase suneidesei agathe pepoliteumati to theo) "I have lived (deported myself) in all good conscience toward God," or lived before God as a God-fearing citizen of the commonwealth of Israel. He asserts that he is a man of integrity, Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:13-18.

4) "Until this day." (achri tautes tes hemeres) "Until this day, " as I stand before you all. It is this manner of a life of integrity to which all believers, and members of the Lord’s church, His true witnesses, are called, 1 Peter 3:15-16; Matthew 5:15-16.

Verse 2

1) "And the high priest, Ananias commanded them that stood by him," (ho de archeireus Ananias epetaksen tois perestosin auto) "Gave order to those who stood by him," who stood by Paul. He was not the Ananias of Jesus’ day but one appointed by Herod of Chalcis from A.D. 47-59 and who is thought to have retained his office of high priest until deposed, just before the departure of Felix as governor, according to Josephus.

2) "To smite him on the mouth." (tuptein autou to stoma) "To strike (slap) the mouth of him," to slap him ’in the mouth. It was a common method of silencing a speaker in the East, and is common to this day. But for a judge to order such done to a prisoner who was prefacing his defence, by asserting his integrity, was a callous act of infamy. Yet our Lord was also treated in this manner, John 18:22; 1 Kings 22:24; Jeremiah 20:2. Paul apparently forgot that he was before his judges and ought not to have spoken until being asked.

Verse 3

1) "Then said Paul unto him," (tote ho Paulos pros auton eipen) "Then Paul instantly replied to him," to the high priest, Ananias.

2) "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall:” (tuptein se mellei ho theos toiche kekoniamene) "God is about to strike (to slap you in the mouth), you whitewashed wall; “The phrase is one indicating hypocrisy, similar to our Lord’s use of the term "whited sepulchre," Matthew 23:27; Luke 11:44. Ananias had the semblance of a minister of justice, but he was not what he appeared to be.

3) "For sittest thou to judge me after the law," (kai su kathe krinon me kata ton nomon) "And you sit judging me according to the law?" drawing conclusions of condemnatory nature, before hearing conclusion of the evidence or testimony, as it relates to the law of Moses, upon which basis Ananias was supposed to be judging Paul; He was "hasty" in judgement, Proverbs 29:20.

4) "And commandest me to be smitten," (keleueis me tuptesthai) "You command me- to be smitted," struck, slapped in the mouth, in presumption of guilt, before hearing the testimony, having the facts, Proverbs 26:12. ’He drew conclusion on matters about which he had little or no information, though it was available, like a hypocrite, Luke 18:11; Romans 12:16.

5) "Contrary to the law?" (paranomon) "Contravening law," disregarding simple fair play and ethics in all civilized law? This ought to have put him to shame, Leviticus 19:35; Deuteronomy 25:1-2; John 7:51 reads "Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" The answer is "no." See Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 17:8-13; Deuteronomy 19:15.

Verse 4

1) "And they that stood by said," (hoi de p-arestoles eipan) "Then those who stood by (who had struck him) said," asked in a chiding, reproving manner.

2) "Revilest thou God’s high priest?" (ton archierea tou theou loidoreis) "Do you dare revile the High Priest of God?" God’s representative, the high priest who sets on the judgement seat, as God’s representative, Deuteronomy 17:8 and also the name Elohim by which priestly and other judges were sometimes known, Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9; Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6. Jesus recognized that those who sat in places of adjudication of Moses’ law were often referred to as "gods" John 8:34-35; Psalms 82:6; Exodus 22:28; Romans 13:1.

Verse 5

1) "Then said Paul," (ephe te ho Paulos) "Then Paul replied," in apology and explanation of his reproof of the high priest, Acts 23:3.

2) "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest

(ouk edein adelphoi hoti estin archiereus) I did not know, recognize, or realize, brethren, that he was the high priest," perhaps either because he was not the same high priest as when Paul lived in Jerusalem, more than 20 years previously, or because of the "habit" or different garment that he wore. But if it were because of the insult, how quickly and gracefully he recovered from his error, which he acknowledged.

3) "For it is written," (gegraptai gar) "For it has been written," a matter that I respect under the jurisdiction of the administration of Moses Law, Exodus 22:28. Thus Paul gracefully acknowledged that he should have remembered the law and showed his high regard and respect for it.

4) "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." (hoti archonta tou laou sou ereis kakos) "Thou shalt not speak in an evil manner of the ruler of the people," of Israel, Exodus 22:28; Leviticus 24:15-16; John 10:34-35. Certainly Paul was Christ like in the manner in which he handled this matter, John 18:22-23.

Paul taught respect for all those in places of public authority, Romans 13:1-7 as Peter did, 1 Peter 2:13-17; 2 Peter 2:10.

Verse 6

PAUL APPEALS TO PHARISEES OF THE COUNCIL V. 6, 7

1) "But when Paul perceived," (gnousde Paulos) "Then when Paul recognized," from his observation of members of the council of elders before whom he stood - the Sanhedrin, Acts 22:30.

2) "That one part were Sadducees," (hoti to en meros estin saddoukaion) "That one part of the council was Sadducees," who were liberals, skeptics, doubters, and deniers of 1) the resurrection of the dead, 2) of the existence of angels, and 3) of the existence of spirits, Acts 23:8.

3) "And the other Pharisees," (to de heteron phariasion) "But the other part of a different kind of councilmen were Pharisees," of a differing religious concept, on numerous Jewish religious matters. The Sadducees also rejected all of the Old Testament, as authentic or inspired, except the Pentateuch, while the Pharisees accepted existence of all as true, Acts 23:8; Psalms 119:116.

4) "He cried out in the council, ’(ekrazen en to sunedrio) "He cried out, raised his voice loudly, in the council, to identify himself in philosophy with the Pharisees, who believed all the Bible to be inspired, and in the future resurrection of all men, and in angels and spirits, John 5:39; Psalms 119:160.

5) "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee:” (andres brethren ego Pharisaios limi huios Pharisaion) "Responsible men and brethren, l am (exist as) a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee," or an heir of Pharisees, regarding basic truth on the issues in question, Acts 26:5; Acts 24:15; Acts 24:21.

6) "Of the hope and resurrection of the dead," (peri elpidos kai anastaseos nekron) "it is concerning hope and resurrection of dead ones," Acts 26:7; Acts 26:23; Acts 28:20.

7) "I am called in question." (krinomai) "That I am being judged," being called in question, called to give account. The resurrection was a cardinal tenet of the true Hebrew faith, as well as it is of the Christian faith, Job 14:14-15; John 5:28-29; Romans 8:11.

Verse 7

1) "And when he had so said," (touto de auto lalountos) "Then as he repeatedly affirmed this matter," of hope in the resurrection of the dead, as embraced and espoused by the Pharisees and by Paul, Acts 23:8; Philippians 3:5.

2) "There arose a dissension," (egeneto stasis) "There came to be (to exist), there became a state of discord," in the council, among members of the Sanhedrin, a cleavage, a sharp division of sentiment and emotions, between the jury of judges who evaluated his testimony, Acts 22:30; Acts 23:1.

3) "Between the Pharisees and the Sadducees:” (ton Pharisaion kai Saddaukaion) "Of the Pharisees and the Sadducees," who held conflicting views on the subject of the resurrection of the dead, as set forth Acts 23:8.

4) "And the multitude was divided." (kai eschisthe to plethos) "And the multitude was (also) divided," unsettled on the matter. Not only were members of the Sanhedrin, the adjudicating council divided, but also those who had cried against him in the mob multitude; The witnesses were divided, Acts 21:34. They contradicted each other before the high priest, Ananias and the chief captain, Lysias, Acts 22:29-30; Acts 23:1-2. Herein was set forth a basic truth in controversy "divide and you may thereby command."

Tho Paul and the Pharisees differed in their application of the doctrine of the resurrection of all men, they agreed on the fact of it. Paul’s use of this was therefore warranted, and used with astute integrity, since he was before a prejudiced jury anyway.

Verse 8

DIFFERENCE AND CONFLICT BETWEEN PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES V. 8-10

1) "For the Sadducees say," (Saddaukaioi gar legousin) "For the Sadducees tenaciously say, hold, or contend;"

a) "That there is no resurrection," (me einai anastasin) "That there is (exists) no resurrection," from the dead. Our Lord confronted them on the issue, Matthew 22:23-33. Men who deny or question the resurrection, still "err not knowing the Scripture,"

b) "Neither angel," (mete angelon) "Nor even a single angel," much less angels, Matthew 18:10. Yet Jesus asserted that there was a resurrection, after death, when men shall be as angels - neither male nor female, asexual in new bodies, Mark 12:18-25.

c) "Nor spirit," (mete pneuma) "Nor so much as a spirit," good or bad spirit, Luke 20:27-40; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:14; This Sadducees denied, as scoffers, cynics, and doubters; Their faith was made of negations.

2) "But the Pharisees confess both." (Pharisaioi de homologousin ta amphotera) "Yet the Pharisees confess to believe and contend for the existence of both, "that is of the physical resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits or spiritual beings, different from human beings, Hebrews 1:14. The Bible speaks of a) unclean spirits, Mark 3:11; Mark 5:13; Mark 6:7; Luke 10:20; b)Seducing spirits, 1 Timothy 4:1; c) Ministering spirits, Hebrews 1:14. The Sadducees were therefore basically infidels, with total disregard for the accuracy of the Word of God, Psalms 119:160.

Verse 9

1) "And there arose a great cry," (egeneto de krauge megale) "Then there became a great cry," of boisterous clamoring and controversy between them, as they cried aloud to be heard. It is facetiously said, "You’ve never really had the wax cleaned out of your ears," if you haven’t heard a quarrel over religious matters among t he Jews.

2) "And the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose," (kai anastantes tineston grammateon tou metous ton Pharisaion) "And some of the scribes of the Pharisees viewpoint arose up, got the upper hand in the vociferous disputation," in the confused babble of many voices.

3) "And strove, saying," (diemach onto legontes) "They strove, repeatedly, defensively shouting, in the council clamor" The scribes (those who wrote the law) being more familiar with its definitive wording, "violently contended," with deep convictions.

4) "We find no evil in this man:” (ouden kakon heuriskomen en to anthropo touto) "Not even one thing evil we find in this man, Paul," so far as the law of Moses is concerned, nothing, nothing at all! They had searched the Scriptures, and were prepared to answer from the Scriptures, on this issue, John 5:39-40.

5) "But if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him," (ei de pneuma elalesen auto e angelos) "Yet, what is more, if a spirit or an angel (which we believe exist) spoke to him," as he had affirmed, for they believed in their existence, as set forth in the Pentateuch, which even the Sadducees claimed to believe, as angels appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Lot.

6) "Let us not fight against God." (omitted in earlier Gk. texts) "Forget it, any charges against him based on our law," lest we be anarchists against God, is at least the contention and final conclusion of the majority of the council, though omitted from the R.V. -See Acts 5:39; Acts 22:7; Acts 22:17-18; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15-16; Romans 8:11.

Verse 10

1) "And when there arose a great dissension," (polles de ginomenes staseos) "Then when (so) much discord raged," that the council’s conduct would have been condemned by Caesar, as an "unlawful assembly," neither conducted any longer in "decency or in ’order," Acts 19:37-41; 1 Corinthians 14:40. This was similar to the uproar recounted in Ephesus, Acts 19:32; Acts 19:40.

2) "The chief captain fearing," (phobetheis ho chiliarchos) "The chief captain fearing, upset," at the uncivil conduct of the judges in the Sanhedrin council, fighting over a prisoner in whose midst he had delivered Paul. This was the court in which Jesus had been condemned, known for its reputation of "unjust judgement," Psalms 43:1; Luke 18:6; 1 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Peter 2:9.

3) "Lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them," (me diaspasthe ho Paulos hup’ auton) "Lest Paul should be torn asunder by them," as they treated him like a lamb between two starving she-wolves. Lest Paul should be torn as a wild beast tears its prey, limb from limb, bone from bone, the chief captain feared for he was required to give account of such to Rome.

4) "Commanded the soldiers to go down," (ekeleusen to strareuma kataban) "He commanded the soldiers to come down," into the haranguing council, into the midst of the religious hubbub of screaming, shoving, and clamoring council.

5) "And to take him by force from among them," (harpasai auton ek mesou auton) "And to seize and whisk him out of and away from their midst," by the use of whatever force was necessary.

6) "And to bring him into the castle." (agein te eis ten parembolen) "And to escort him back up to the castle fort," for safety from the irrational, hate mongering Sadducees, to be kept or guarded in the barracks of the Roman soldiers, adjoining the outer court of the temple area.

Verse 11

PAUL CALLED OF THE LORD TO GOOD CHEER V. 11

1) "And the night following," (te de epiouse nukti) "Then during the next night," the night following his arraignment and the dissension and uproar in the Jewish council, described, Acts 23:2-10.

2) "The Lord stood by him and said," (epistas auto ho kurios eipen) "The Lord came to, and stood by or before him, (and) said;" In the solitude of his barracks-ward, as a man, Paul likely thought that the many predictions of danger to him in Jerusalem were now about to be fulfilled in his death there, but his glorified, ever present Master came, Hebrews 13:5; He came as He had in a vision, Acts 18:9.

3) "Be of good cheer, Paul:” (tharsei) "Be of good courage," or disposition, Paul. For it is proper always to rejoice, 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 6:10.

4) "For thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem," (hos gar diemarturo ta peri emou eis lerousalem) "For as you solemnly, earnestly, testified things concerning me in Jerusalem," before the wild, incited mob, and before the Sanhedrin council, as well as formerly at the Jerusalem church council, Acts 15:12.

5) "So must thou bear witness also at Rome." (houto se die kai eis hromen marturesai) "So must you also bear witness to me in Rome," a thing he had long desired and often expressed a will to do, Romans 1:13-16; Romans 15:21-32; Acts 19:21; Acts 27:23-24; Acts 28:16-31.

Our Lord comes to His people, to help even in their crisis: 1) To cheer the sick and diseased, Matthew 9:2; Matthew 9:22; Mark 10:49.

2) To the disciples in the storm, Matthew 14:27.

3) "And to the disciples in deeper need, to cheer, John 16:33; Hebrews 13:5.

Verse 12

JEWISH CONSPIRACY TO KILL PAUL, INVOLVING THE SANHEDRIN V. 12-22

1) "And when it was day," (genomenes de hemeras) "Then as day came," early in the morning.

2) "Certain of the Jews banded together,’ (poiesantes sustrophen hoi loudaioi) "The Jews formed a conspiracy," entered by collusion into a despicable plot. Such was often done in Old Testament days, 1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 3:35.

3) "And bound themselves under a curse," (anethematisan heautou) "Binding themselves under a curse," an oath to a pledge of premeditated malice aforethought, to do harm to Paul, to murder him. "They placed themselves under an anathema," literally declared themselves liable to the direct punishment of God, if they did not follow thru with their "guide vow or oath."

4) "Saying that they would neither eat nor drink," (legontes mete phagein mete pein) "Repeating to each other, vowing, or solemnly pledging, neither to eat nor to drink," that they would do it hastily, right away, to take no food, that is to fast, to go without food or drink, pledged to starve to death, if they did not kill Paul. This is what Peter went so far as to do in denying the Lord, Mark 14:71.

5) "Till they had killed Paul." (heos ou apokteinosin ton Paulon) "Until they should kill or murder Paul;" Such hate our Lord had foretold would await His followers, John 15:19-21; Matthew 5:10-12.

Verse 13

1) "And they were more than forty," (esan de pleious tessarakonta) "And there were more than forty of them," of the craft or guild of Jews who had entered into the collusion or company of treachery against Paul.

2) "Which had made this conspiracy," (hoi tauten ten sunomosian poiesamenoi) "Who had formed, made, or entered by collusion into this murderous, conspiratorial plot of forty against one," like Judas Iscariot who betrayed his Lord, Matthew 26:15; Matthew 27:3; Zechariah 11:12.

Conspiracies were notable in Old Testament times, as follows:

1) Absalom’s against David, 2 Samuel 15:10-12

2) Amaziah slain by -a conspiracy, 2 Kings 14:17-20.

3) Shallum’s conspiracy to slay Zachariah, 2 Kings 15:8-15.

4) A conspiracy of Jerusalem prophets, Ezekiel 22:23-25. (Selfish, covetous, greedy, absconding thieves, who devoured widows’ houses, preyed upon the weak), Matthew 23:13-14.

Verse 14

1) "And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said," (oitines proselthontes tois archiereusin kai tois presbuterois) "These Jews with this murder-plot and pledge-curse approaching the chief priests and elders said," laid out their premeditated murderous intentions and commitments, before the chief priests and elders, evidently some of the council of the Sanhedrin, the judges or adjudicators of Jewish law.

2) "We have bound ourselves under a great curse,”(anathemati anethematis amen heautous) "With a voluntary, self-imposed, great curse, we have cursed ourselves," the reflexive pronoun (heautous) indicates a self-imposed "called down" or "called upon" ourselves a great curse.

3) "That we will eat nothing," (medenos geusasthai) "That individually and collectively we will eat nothing," even "taste nothing," a rash vow or pledge, Ecclesiastes 5:2; Proverbs 10:19; Matthew 6:7; Matthew 12:36.

4) "Until we have slain Paul." (heos ou apokteinomen ton Paulon) "Until we have liquidated, exterminated, or slain Paul," till he is murdered. These vowed to take the law into their own hands, without permission or direction of the Roman law which was legally to give its order or consent before the Jews could even put one of their own nation to death; Pilate had to give his consent, even for Jesus to be crucified, (after both he and Herod had publicly announced that they had found him innocent of the charges laid against him) Luke 23:13-16. Yet, "Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required," Luke 23:24-25.

Verse 15

1) "Now therefore ye with the council," (nun oun humeis) "Now and hereafter therefore, (in the light of this) you all," (sun to sunedrio) "In concord or collusion with the Sanhedrin council," before whom he had been arraigned, Acts 22:30; Acts 23:1-2. Man proposes, but God disposes, according to His will or purpose, Psalms 37:32-33.

2) "Signify to the chief captain," (emphhanisate to cheliarcho) "Inform or advise the chief captain," give Lysias a statement of your intentions to lead him on, but there is no counsel that can stand against the Lord, Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 8:9-10.

3) "That he bring him down unto you tomorrow," (hopos katagage autoi eis humas) "So that he may be influenced to bring him down to you all," from the barracks or the castle-fort.

4) "As though ye would inquire," (hos mellontes diaginoskein) -As if you intended to ascertain or verify," wanted more information.

5) "Something more perfectly concerning him:” (akribesteron ta peri autou) "The matters concerning him more accurately," in more definitive detail. Murder was in their hearts, like that of Judas’ heart when he planted the "hail master" traitor-kiss on the cheek of the Lord, Matthew 26:49. But every work with every secret thing shall be brought into judgement one day, Ecclesiastes 12:14,

6) "And we, or ever he come near," (hemeis de pro tou engesai auton) "Then we, (the mafia-forty), the liquidation clan, before he draws near," to meet, to appear before you all, as he is on his way, being led down to you from the barracks.

7) "Are ready to kill him." (etoimoi esmen tou anelein auton) "We are set and ready to kill him," with finger on the trigger, hand on the sword, or with a heap of rocks and clubs for ammunition. In this manner the council would seem to be clear of complicity - what a scheme!

Verse 16

1) "And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait," (akousas de ho huios tes adelphes Paulou ten enedran) "Then when the son of Paul’s sister (his nephew) heard of the treachery, conspiracy, or devious plot," of those lying in wait by the castle, fort, or barracks stairs. Very little is often known of relatives of great men, but the quiet servants will too be rewarded one day, 1 Corinthians 3:8-9.

2) "He went and entered directly into the castle," (para genomenos kai eiselthon eis ten parembolen) "He went and entered directly into the castle-fort," where Paul was being held in security barracks, under supervision of the centurion. He went of his own volition, care, concern, and of his own life. That he was able to see Paul indicates that Paul was more a man under protection of the law than a prisoner in custody.

3) "And told Paul." (aprngeilen to Paulo) "He reported it (the plot) to Paul." He gave to Paul the report of a collusion for his death, by means of a trial or tripartate conspiracy of:

1) The more than forty Jews who vowed under a curse to be the trigger men, 2) The chief priests and elders who were to call for Paul to come down, be brought down from the fort to them, and 3) The chief captain who was to be influenced to lead Paul down on the "death march."

It is believed that Paul’s nephew was in school in Jerusalem, as Paul had been a generation before, and that some of the students were monitoring actions surrounding the council, and found out about the conspiracy, then related it to Paul’s nephew, who secured access to visit Paul in the castle for the above disclosure.

Verse 17

1) "Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said," (prskalesamenos de ho Paulos hena ton hekatonterchon ephe) "Then Paul called to him one of the centurions and requested him," the centurion to whose care or custody he had been assigned, he requested:

2) "Bring this young man unto the chief captain:" (ton neanian touton apage pros ton chiliarchon) "Bring or lead this youth (young man) to the chief captain," who had power to dispose of the business, and in whom Paul had confidence, believing him to be a captain of integrity.

3) "For he hath a certain thing to tell him." (echei gar apangeilai ti auto) "For he has something specific to report to him," something that regards his Roman duties and responsibilities. Tho Paul had been Divinely assured of his own safety, he did not let this keep him from the duty he had to care for his own life, so far as he was able, and the work he was to continue doing, so far as he was able, Ephesians 2:10; James 1:22. He was evidently a remarkable young man, based on the reception the chief captain of the Roman Guard gave him, and the charge he committed to him, Acts 23:19-22.

Verse 18

1) "So he took him," (ho men oun paralambanon auton) "Therefore he took him in confidence," the centurion received him, the young man, Paul’s nephew, in trust, to lead him to and introduce him to Lysias, chief captain of the Roman guard in Jerusalem.

2) "And brought him to the chief captain, and said," (egagen pros ton chiliarchon kai phesin) "And led him, went with him, to the chief captain and said," to Lysias, as requested by Paul, Acts 23:17.

3) "Paul the prisoner called me unto him," (ho desmios Paulos proskalesamenos me) "Paul the prisoner (the chained prisoner) calling me to him," or having called me to him, privately.

4) "And prayed me to bring this young man unto thee," (erotesen touton ton neaniskon agagein pros se) "Asked, requested, or begged me to bring this young man to you," for a confidential interview.

5) "Who hath something to say unto thee." (echonta ti lalesai aoi) "Who has something to tell you," a report you should be aware of, a private matter that affects your position, honor, integrity, and legal responsibility to Caesar.

Verse 19

1) "Then the chief captain took him by the hand," (epilabomenos de tes cheiros autou ho chiliarchos) "Then the chief captain taking him (the youth) by the hand," took hold of his hand, a warm and kindly gesture, to a perhaps frightened lad.

2) "And went with him aside privately," (kai anachoresas kai idian epunthaneto) "And he retired privately with him," to indicate both personal concern and confidentiality toward the young man and the message he had brought to him. The centurion was in total ignorance still, of the assassination scheme and plot that Paul’s nephew had discovered, and was delivering to the chief captain.

3) "And asked him," (epunthaneto) "And inquired," made a specific inquiry.

4) "What is it that thou hast to tell me?" (ti estin ho echeis apangelai moi) "What is it that you have to report to me?" that I should know? Tell me in confidence and it will go no further - you will not be hurt, was the impression the chief captain sought to convey to the lad. It may be concluded, from the tone of the letter that Lysias wrote to Caesar, that he rather favored Paul than his Jewish accusers, Acts 23:25-30.

Verse 20

1) "And he said, The Jews have agreed," (eipen de hoti hoi loudaioi sunethento) "Then he (the lad) said to him, the Jews have agreed," in a collusion manner, by a conspiracy.

2) "To desire thee," (tou erotesai se) "To request you," to send a request, appeal to you.

3) "That thou wouldest bring down Paul tomorrow into the council," (hopos aurion ton Paulon katagages eis to sunedrion) "That tomorrow you would bring Paul down into the council," of the Sanhedrin, down into the castle or by the barracks steps into the council.

4) "As though they would enquire," (hos mellon ti akribesteron punthanesthai) "As if (the council)’were intending to inquire something more accurately,"

5) "Somewhat of him more perfectly." (peri autou) "Something more accurately concerning him," concerning Paul, a thing they had privately concocted in a collusion band of forty men, Acts 23:12-13.

Verse 21

1) "But do not thou yield unto them:” (sou oun me peisthes autois) "Therefore do not be persuaded to do what they have conspired to get your assistance to do:"

2) "For there be in wait for him more than forty men," (enedreuousin gar auton eks auton andres pleious tesserakonta) "For out of (from among) them (the Jews) there lie in wait to kill him more than forty men, Acts 23:13-15

3) "Which have bound themselves with an oath," (oitines anethematisan heautous) "Who cursed themselves," or took upon themselves an oath, Acts 23:12.

4) "That they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him:” (mete phagein mete pein heos ou anelosin auton) "Neither to taste, to eat, nor to drink anything until they kill him."

5) "And now are they ready," (kai nun eisin hetoimoi) "And now are they all continuing ready," cowed, hiding in the shadows, disguised, waiting, lurking, waiting for the kill, yet.

6) "Looking for a promise from thee." (prodechomenoi ten apo sou epangelian) "Awaiting the promise or commitment from you to the council," to send Paul down to the council, Acts 23:15. Deliverance came at the last moment only after the plot was all prepared, as is so often the case with God’s people, Ezra 4:7-17; Ezra 7:4.

Verse 22

1) "So the chief captain then let the young man depart," (ho men oun chiliarchos apeluse ton neaniskon) "So then the chief captain dismissed the young man," Paul’s nephew who had revealed to him the assassination plot against Paul. The captain released him to the centurion to escort from the castle.

2) "And charged him, See thou tell no man," (parangeilas medeni eklalesai) "Charging him to divulge (the plot) to no one," or disclose to no one that you have divulged the matter of the conspiracy to me or to Paul, Acts 23:16.

3) "That thou hast shewed these things to me." (hoti touta enephanisas prose eme) "That you reported these things to me," the highest Roman official in the city. This charge of secrecy was made to Paul’s nephew, lest the chief captain’s counter-plans, to save Paul should be thwarted by the craft of the blood thirsty, hungry plotters, conspirators against the life of Paul, Acts 23:13.

Verse 23

PAUL SENT FROM JERUSALEM TO FELIX AT CAESAREA V. 23-35

1) "And he called unto him two centurions, saying," (kai proskalesamenos tinas fuo ton hekatontarchon eipen) "And he called two certain (specific, trusted) centurions, and instructed," charged them as follows:

2) "Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea," (hetoimasate stratiotas diakosious hopos pareuthosin heos Kaisareias) "You all prepare two hundred soldiers so that they may go as far as Caesarea," a distance of some sixty miles overland. They were javelin-throwing, light-armed soldiers.

3) "And horsemen threescore and ten," (kai hippeis hebimekonta) "And seventy horsemen," cavalry men, also prepared for the trip to Caesarea.

4) "And spearmen two hundred," (kai deksiolabous diakosious) "And two hundred spearmen," bearers of spears also prepared for a trip to Caesarea, making four hundred foot soldiers and seventy cavalry men. The depot at Jerusalem was large enough to spare this number of men.

5) "At the third hour of the night " (apo trites horas tes

nuktos) "At or shortly following the third hour of the night," to leave about nine o’clock in the evening so that by daybreak Paul would be safely, a safe distance from the conspirators; The number of the 470 escort was designed to guard against any unexpected surprise attack.

He who does "exceeding abundantly above that we are able to ask or think," in his provisions, provided more than ten protectors for each of the 40 conspirators against Paul, Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:19.

Verse 24

1) "And provide them beasts," (ktenes te perastesai) "And prepare beasts to stand by," to be in readiness also, as relays on the journey.

2) "That they may set Paul on," (hina epibibasantes ton Paulon) "In order that they might put or set Paul thereon," on the beast. The beast was to bear Paul and his luggage on his hastily prepared night flight departure to Caesarea.

3) "And bring him safe to Felix the governor." (diasososi pros phelika ton hegemona) "And that they might carry him (deliver him) safely or securely to Felix, the governor of Caesarea, Acts 23:23. Felix was an avaricious, cruel, and licentious man of energy and talent, formerly a slave. He had been appointed governor of Judea by Claudius Caesar A.D. 52. The -Gk. term" (hegemona) is used to designate generally a state or regional procurator, ruler or governor, Luke 21:12; 1 Peter 2:14.

Verse 25

1) "And he wrote a letter," (grapas epistalen echousan) "He (the chief captain) wrote a letter," an epistle to send with Paul to Caesarea, which was later delivered to the governor, Acts 23:33.

2) "After this manner:" (ton tupon touton) "After this pattern, manner, or form,” containing the following information, which Luke secured for this letter. The following is an abstract or summary of the contents of the epistle, or legal reporting instrument from Lysias, captain of the Jerusalem Roman Guard to Felix, then governor of Judea, who was residing in Caesarea by the seaside.

Verse 26

1) "Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix," (Klaudios Lusias to kratisto hegemoni Pheliki) " Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor," procurator or viceroy; This indicates that the name of the chief captain of the Roman guard or garrison in Jerusalem was Claudius Lysias, also referred to as Lysias, Acts 24:22. Thus the name of the chief captain was disclosed, for the first time since he entered the narrative. Claudius was his Latin name that he took when he purchased his citizenship, and Lysias was his Greek name, Acts 22:28, Acts 21:31. He addressed Felix, the governor, as a "most excellent or noble" person, an honorary title.

2) "Sendeth greeting." (charein) "Sends greetings directly to Felix," who is the governor of this territory, of Judea. The language was likely in Latin, since both the writer and receiver of the letter were Romans, and Roman officials.

Verse 27

1) "This man was taken of the Jews," (ton andra touton suelemphthenta hupo ton loudaion) "This responsible and respectable man who, had been arrested by the Jews," when I heard about it, and came to his rescue, Acts 21:31-32.

2) "And should have been killed of them,"(kai mellonta anareisthei hup’ auton) "And was about to be killed by them," Acts 21:30-32; Acts 21:36.

3) "Then came I with an army and rescued him," (epistas sun to strateumati ekseilamen) "I came upon the scene, with the soldiers, and rescued him," Acts 21:32; Acts 21:34. The chief captain wishes to report his actions in the best light, after his hastiness and derelict actions recounted, Acts 21:33; Acts 22:24. He, for fear of punishment, wanted the letter to present his actions in a favorable light,

4) "Having understood that he was a Roman." (mathon hoti hromaios estin) "When I had learned that he was (or is) a Roman," after I had taken custody of him, Acts 21:39. He failed to report that he did not learn that Paul was a Roman citizen by birth, until he was about to scourge him, and Paul stood in protest, after he had been bound and was being stretched out for the whipping, Acts 22:24-29.

Verse 28

1) "And when I would have known the cause," (boulomenos te epignonai ten aitian) "And because I desired to know exactly, or fully, the actual or specific cause," Acts 22:30; Acts 23:1-3.

2) "Wherefore they accused him," (di’ en enekaloun auto) "On account of the occasion for which they (the Jews) were accusing him," Acts 21:34-36.

3) "I brought him forth into their council:" (kategagon eis to sunedrion auton) "I brought or had him brought down into the council of their (Jewish) Sanhedrin," for them to examine him, presenting himself in as favorable light as possible, veiling, concealing or covering up the fact that he had twice prejudged him, without determining that he was a freeborn Roman citizen, Acts 21:33; Acts 22:23-29.

Verse 29

1) "Whom I perceive to be accused," (hon heuron egkaloumenon) "Whom I found out was being repeatedly accused," or charged, Acts 24:8.

2) "Of questions of their law," (peri zetematon tou nomou auton) "Concerning question of their Jewish law," and customs, Acts 22:22-23, a thing with which we Roman citizens do not meddle. See Acts 18:15; Acts 25:18-19.

3) "But to have nothing laid to his charge," (meden de echonta egklema) "Yet they had not a charge," not one thing as a charge, did they have, that was defensible, factual, or relative to their murderous desires against him, Acts 26:31-32.

4) "Worthy of death or of bonds." (haksion thanatou e elesmon) "Worthy of (that merited or justified) either death or bonds," not deserving in a Roman sense. For the Romans alone had the power of capital punishment, to put one to death. As difficult as it may have been for the chief captain to determine facts relating to the emotional rantings of the circumcision-bound Jews, Lysias had at least concluded that any offence on the part of Paul’s guilt was of religious nature, and had no place in a civil tribunal and that he needed protection, as a freeborn Roman citizen, from the hate of the Jews who sought his life in treachery, Acts 23:13-22; Acts 26:31-32.

Verse 30

1) "And when it was told me," (munutheises de moi) "Then it was revealed to me," disclosed in a private manner to me, by the nephew of Paul, Acts 23:17-19.

2) "How that the Jews laid wait for the man," (epiboules eis ton andra esesthai) "That there existed (was already set up) a plot, or death conspiracy, against the man," lam sending to you, against Paul, as recounted, Acts 23:20-21.

3) "I sent straightway to thee," (eksautes epempsa pros se) "I sent at once to you," prepared to have Paul brought to your custody, Acts 23:23-30.

4) "And gave commandment to his accusers also," (parageilas kai tois kategorois) "Commanding also the accusers," after he was safely escorted away by an army of 470 soldiers by night, Acts 23:20.

5) "To say before thee what they had against him. Farewell." (legein pros auton epi aou) "To say before you what they have to charge to him," Acts 24:8; Acts 25:6-7. Instead of hearing from the plotters of Paul’s death, his accusers hear of Paul’s escape, and they are themselves ordered by the chief captain to go all the way to Caesarea, to bring their complaints before Felix.

Verse 31

1) "Then the soldiers," (hoi men oun stratiotai) "Therefore the soldiers," forthwith responded.

2) "As it was commanded them," (kata to diatetagmenon autois) "in harmony, or accord, or according to the thing they were directed to do," in preparing for the night flight from Jerusalem to Caesarea.

3) "Took Paul," (analabontes ton Paulon) "Took charge of Paul," or took Paul up, set him upon a beast, for custodial transport out of Jerusalem, across Judea toward Caesarea.

4) "And brought him by night to Antipatris." (egagon dia nuktos eis ten Antipatrida) "And brought him through (during) the night unto Antipatris," a distance of 38 miles from Jerusalem, more than half way to Caesarea. Antipatris was a very fine, pleasant residence built by Herod the Great, and named in honor of his father, believed to have been located in the present plains of Kefr Saba. The term (dia nuktos) "Thru the night" may mean that they traveled at night only, took not one night, but two nights to arrive at Antipatris.

Verse 32

1) "On the morrow," (te de epaurion) "Then on the following day," after their long and rapid night flight or (escape) from Jerusalem, Acts 23:31. If they traveled at night only, leaving at nine o’clock, it is likely that they took two nights to travel to reach Antipatris, and it was on the next day, after their second night of travel, that:

2) "They left the horsemen to go with him," (easantes tous hippeis aperchesthai sun auto) "They allowed the horsemen to depart in company with him;" the 70 cavalry men to escort him the remainder of the journey into Caesarea, Acts 23:23. It was evidently the judgement of the centurion in charge of Paul, and the soldiers, that Paul was beyond likely surprise attack, that the cavalry alone could not handle alone.

3) "And returned to the castle:” (hupestrepsen ten parembolen) "Then they returned to the castle or fort," of Antonio, back in Jerusalem. The "they" who returned to the castle-fort-barracks, refers to the four hundred foot-soldiers, Acts 23:23; Acts 23:31.

Verse 33

1) "Who when they came to Caesarea," (oitines eiselthontes eis ten kaesareian) "Who having entered into Caesarea," when the 70 horsemen, (men of the cavalry) had brought Paul safely to Caesarea, headquarters of the Roman Governor or procurator, Felix of Judea. It was a distance of about twenty-five more miles on from Antipatris.

2) "And delivered the epistle to the governor," (kai anadontes ten epistolen to hegemoni) "And they handed the letter over to the governor," the letter that Claudius Lysias, chief captain of the Jerusalem Guard, had sent as a legal statement relating to Paul, the prisoner, Acts 23:25-30.

3) "Presented Paul also before him." (parestesan kai, ton Paulon auto) "And presented Paul also to him," to his custody or care, until the charges against him might be properly disposed.

Verse 34

1) "And when the governor had read the letter," (anagnous de) "Then when the governor had read the letter," the instrument prepared and directed to him by Lysias, concerning Paul, Acts 23:25-30.

2) "He asked of what province he was." (kai eperotesas ek poias eparicheias estin) "And he inquired out of what province he was," a native, from where he was born; It was determined that it was Tarsus, in Cilicia. The question was to determine 1st whether or not Paul was a Roman citizen, and 2nd whither or not he had jurisdiction over him, officially, Luke 23:7.

3) "And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;” (kai puthimenos hoti apo kilikias) "And when he had learned that he was from Cilicia," as certified by Paul, Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3, a part of the ancient territory of Syria.

Verse 35

1) "I will hear thee, said he," (diakousomai sou, ephe) "He said (to Paul) I will hear you," hear your cause, he promised. The term "hear thee" indicates or implies a "Judicial hearing" "a full hearing" regarding his arraignment and detainment.

2) "When thine accusers are also come." (hotankai hoi kategoroi sou paragenontai) "When your accusers also arrive," those referred to in the legal epistle or letter, Acts 23:30

3) "And he commanded him to be kept " (keleusas auton phulassesthai) "And he commanded him to be kept (held under guard), detained, or confined.

4) "In Herod’s judgement hall." (en to praetorio tou Herodon) "In the judgement hall (praetorium) of King Herod," in some apartment assigned to him for security purposes, in or adjoining the palace of Herod, in Caesarea. It was both a palace and a fortress containing a guard room in which Paul was kept, Acts 24:1; Acts 24:10; Acts 25:16; Matthew 27:27.

It must be realized that "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him," Psalms 34:7; Hebrews 13:5. And in this assurance, Paul could write, "rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, rejoice," Philippians 4:4.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Acts 23". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/acts-23.html. 1985.
 
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