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Bible Commentaries
Acts 23

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Acts 23:6 . υἱὸς Φαρισαίων ] approved by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born., according to A B C א , min. Syr. Vulg. Tert. But Elz. and Scholz have υἱὸς Φαρισαίου . The sing. was inserted, because people thought only of the relation of the son to the father.

Acts 23:7 . λαλήσαντος ] Lachm. reads εἰπόντος , only according to A E א , min.

τῶν Σαδδ .] The article is to be deleted with Lachm. Tisch. Born, on preponderating evidence.

Acts 23:9 . οἱ γραμματεῖς τοῦ μέρους τῶν Φαρισ .] A E, min. Copt. Vulg. have τινὲς τῶν Φαρισ .; so Lachm. But B C א , min. vss. and Fathers have τινὲς τῶν γραμματέων τοῦ μέρ . τ . Φαρισ .; SO Born. Lastly, G H, min. Aeth. Oec. have γραμματεῖς τοῦ μέρ . τ . Φαρισ .; so Tisch. At all events, τινές is thus so strongly attested that it must be regarded as genuine. It was very easily passed over after ἀναστάντες . But with τινές the genitive τῶν γραμματ . κ . τ . λ . originally went together, so that the omission of τινές drew after it the conversion of τῶν γραμματ . into γραμματεῖς (Tisch.) and οἱ γραμματεῖς (Elz.). The reading of Lachm. is an abbreviation, either accidental (from homoeoteleuton) or intentional (from the deletion of the intervening words superfluous in themselves). We have accordingly, with Born., to read: τινὲς τῶν γραμματέων τοῦ μέρ . τω ̄ ν Φαρισ .

After ἅγγελος Elz. has, against greatly preponderating testimony, μὴ θεομαχῶμεν , which was already rejected by Erasm. and Mill as an addition from Acts 5:39 , and, following Griesb., by all the more recent editors (except Reiche, I.c., p. 28).

Acts 23:10 . εὐλαβηθείς ] Preponderant witnesses have indeed φοβηθείς , which Griesb. has recommended and Lachm. adopted; but how easily was the quite familiar word very early substituted for εὐλαβ ., which does not elsewhere occur in that sense in the N.T.!

Acts 23:11 . After θάρσει Elz. has Παῦλε , in opposition to A BC*E א , min. vss. Theophyl. Oec. Cassiod. Ambrosiast. An addition for the sake of completeness. Acts 23:12 . συστροφὴν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ] Elz. Rinck read τινὲς τῶν Ἰονδαίων συστρ ., in opposition to A B C E א , min. Copt. Syr. p. Aeth. Arm. Chrys. Occasioned by Acts 23:13 .

Acts 23:13 . ποιησάμενοι is to be read instead of πεποιηκότες , with Lachm. Tisch. Born., on decisive testimony.

Acts 23:15 . After ὅπως Elz. has αὔριον . An addition from Acts 23:20 , against decisive evidence.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read εἰς ὑμᾶς , following A B E א , lo ti . Sahid. Rightly; πρός is the more usual.

Acts 23:16 . τὴν ἐνέδραν ] B G H, min. Chrys. Theophyl. Oec. have τὸ ἔνεδρον , which Griesb. and Rinck have recommended, and Tisch. and Born. (not Lachm.) have adopted. But the preponderance of the Codd. is in favour of τὴν ἐνέδραν . The neuter was known to the transcribers from the LXX., therefore the two forms might easily be interchanged.

Acts 23:20 . μέλλοντες ] Lachm. Tisch. Born, read μέλλων , after A B E, min. Copt. Aeth. The very weakly attested Recepta is from Acts 23:15 . א * has μέλλον , א **, μελλόντων .

Acts 23:25 . περίεχουσαν ] Lachm. Born. read ἔχονσαν , according to B E א , min. Neglect of the (not essential) compound.

Acts 23:27 . αὐτόν ] is wanting in A B E א , min. Chrys. Oec. Deleted by Lachm. and Born. But how easily was the quite unessential word passed over!

Acts 23:30 . μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι ] Lachm. Born. have only ἕσεσθαι , according to A B E א , min. But the future infinitive made μέλλειν appear as superfluous; there existed no reason for its being added.

After ἕσεσθαι Elz. Scholz have ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων , which is deleted according to preponderant evidence as a supplementary addition. Instead of it, Lachm. and Born, have ἐξ αὐτῶν (with the omission of ἐξαυτῆς ), following A E א , min. vss. But ἐξ αὐτῶν is also to be regarded as a marginal supplement (as the originators of the ἐπιβουλή are not mentioned), which therefore displaced the original ἐξαυτῆς .

The conclusion of the letter ἕῤῥωσο is wanting in A B 13, Copt. Aeth. Sahid. Vulg. ms. Deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Born.; and rightly, as it is evidently an addition from Acts 15:29 , from which passage H, min. have even ἕῤῥωσθε .

Acts 23:34 . After ἀναγν δέ Elz. has ὁ ἡγεμών , against decisive testimony.

Acts 23:35 . ἐχέλευσέ τε ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read κελεύσας , after A B E א ** ( א * has χελεύσαντος , min. Syr. p. The Recepta is a stylistic emendation.

Verses 1-2

Acts 23:1-2 . Paul, with the free and firm look ( ἀτενίσας τῷ συνεδρ .) in which his good conscience is reflected, commences an address in his own defence to the Sanhedrim, and that in such a way as without any special testimony of respect (comp. Acts 4:8 , Acts 12:2 ) for the sacred court, and with perfect freedom of apostolic self-reliance (which is recognisable in the simple ἅνδρες ἀδελφοί ) to appeal first of all to the pure self-consciousness of his working as consecrated to God. The proud and brutal (Joseph. Antt . xx. 8 f.) high priest sees in this nothing but insolent presumption, and makes him be stopped by a blow on the mouth from the continuance of such discourse.

πάσῃ συνειδ . ἀγ .] with every good conscience , so that in every case I had a good conscience, i.e . agreeing with the divine will (1 Timothy 1:5 ; 1 Timothy 1:19 ; 1 Peter 3:16 ). Comp. on Acts 20:19 .

In the ἐγώ at the commencement is implied a moral self-consciousness of rectitude.

πεπολίτευμαι τῷ Θεῷ ] I have administered (and still administer, perfect) mine office for God , in the service of God (Romans 1:9 ); dative of destination. He thus designates his apostolic office in its relation to the divine polity of the church; see on Philippians 1:27 .

ὁ δὲ ἀρχιερεὺς Ἀνανίας ] Acts 23:4 proves that this (see Krebs, Obss. Flav . p. 244 ff.) was the high priest actually discharging the duties of the office at the time. He was the son of Nebedaeus (Joseph. Antt . xx. 5. 2), the successor of Joseph the son of Camydus ( Antt . xx. 1. 3, 5. 2), and the predecessor of Ishmael the son of Phabi ( Antt . xx. 8. 8, 11). He had been sent to Rome by Quadratus, the predecessor of Felix, to answer for himself before the Emperor Claudius ( Antt . xx. 6. 2, Bell . ii. 12. 6); he must not, however, have thereby lost his office, but must have continued in it after his return. See Anger, de temp. rat . p. 92 ff. As Acts 23:4 permits for ὁ ἀρχιερ . only the strict signification of the high priest performing the duties , and not that of one of the plurality of ἀρχιερεῖς , [142] and as the deposition of Ananias is a mere supposition, the opinion defended since the time of Lightfoot, p. 119 (comp. ad Joh . p. 1077), by several more recent expositors (particularly Michaelis, Eichhorn, Kuinoel, Hildebrand, Hemsen), is to be rejected, namely, that Ananias, deposed from the time of his suit at Rome, had at this time only temporarily administered (usurped) the office during an interregnum which took place between his successor Jonathan and the latter’s successor Ishmael. Against this view it is specially to be borne in mind, that the successor of Ananias was Ishmael , and not Jonathan (who had been at an earlier period high priest, Joseph. Antt . xviii. 4. 3, 5. 3); for in the alleged probative passages ( Antt . xx. 8. 5, Bell . ii. 13. 3), where the murder of the ἀρχιερεύς Jonathan is recorded, this ἈΡΧΙΕΡ . is to be taken in the well-known wider titular sense. Lastly, Basnage (ad an. 56, § 24) quite arbitrarily holds that at this time Ishmael was already high priest, but was absent from the hastily (?) assembled Sanhedrim, and therefore was represented by the highly respected ( Antt . xx. 9. 2) Ananias.

τοῖς παρεστ . αὐτῷ ] to those who (as officers in attendance on the court) stood beside him , Luke 19:24 .

τύπτ . αὐτοῦ τὸ στ .] to smite him on the mouth . Comp. as to the αὐτοῦ placed first, on John 9:15 ; John 11:32 , al .

[142] In opposition to van Hengel in the Godgel. Bijdrag . 1862, p. 1001 ff., and Trip, p. 251 ff.

Verse 3

Acts 23:3 . The words contain truth freely expressed in righteous apostolic indignation , and require no excuse, but carry in themselves ( καὶ σὺ κάθῃ κ . τ . λ .) their own justification. Yet here, in comparison with the calm meekness and self-renunciation of Jesus (John 18:22 ; comp. Matthew 5:39 ), the ebullition of a vehement temperament is not to be mistaken.

τύπτειν [143] σὲ μέλλει ὁ Θεός is not to be understood as an imprecation (Camerarius, Bolten, Kuinoel), but for which the categorical μέλλει is decisive as a prophetic announcement of future certain retribution; although it would be arbitrary withal to assume that Paul must have been precisely aware of the destruction of Ananias as it afterwards in point of fact occurred (he was murdered in the Jewish war by sicarii, Joseph. Bell . ii. 17. 9).

τοῖχε κεκον .] figurative designation of the hypocrite , inasmuch as he, with his concealed wickedness, resembles a wall beautifully whitened without, but composed of rotten materials within. See Senec. de provid . 6; Ep . 115; Suicer, Thes . II. p. 144. Comp. Matthew 23:27 .

καὶ σύ ] thou too , even thou, who yet as high priest shouldest have administered thine office quite otherwise than at such variance with its nature.

κρίνων ] comprises the official capacity, in which the high priest sits there; hence it is not, with Kuinoel, to be taken in a future sense, nor, with Henry Stephanus, Pricaeus, and Valckenaer, to be accented κρινῶν . The classical παρανομεῖν , to act contrary to the law , is not elsewhere found in the N.T.

[143] Observe the prefixing of tie τύπτειν , which returns the blow just received in a higher sense on the high priest. That the command of the high priest was not executed (Baumgarten, Trip), is an entirely arbitrary assumption. Luke would have mentioned it, because otherwise the reader could not but understand the execution as having ensued.

Verses 4-5

Acts 23:4-5 . Παρεστῶτες ] as in Acts 23:2 .

τὸν ἀρχιερ . τ . Θεοῦ ] the holy man, who is God’s organ and minister.

οὐκ ᾔδειν κ . τ . λ .] I knew not that he is high priest . It is absolutely incredible that Paul was really ignorant of this, as Chrysostom, [144] Oecumenius, Lyra, Beza, Clarius, Cornelius a Lapide, Calovius, Deyling, Wolf, Michaelis, Sepp, and others (comp. also Ewald, Holtzmann, p. 684, Trip) assume under various modifications. For, although after so long an absence from Jerusalem he might not have known the person of the high priest (whose office at that time frequently changed its occupants) by sight, yet he was much too familiar with the arrangements of the Sanhedrim not to have known the high priest by his very activity in directing it, by his seat, by his official dress, etc. The contrary would only be credible in the event of Ananias not having been the real high priest, or of a vacancy in the office having at that time taken place (but see on Acts 23:2 ), or of such a vacancy having been erroneously assumed by the apostle, [145] or of the sitting having been an irregular one, not at least superintended by the high priest, and perhaps not held in the usual council-chamber, which, however, after Acts 22:30 , is the less to be assumed, seeing that the assembly, expressly commanded by the tribune, and at which he himself was present (Acts 23:10 ), was certainly opened in proper form, and was only afterwards thrown into confusion by the further sagacious conduct of the apostle (Acts 23:6 ff.). Entirely in keeping, on the other hand, with the irritated frame of Paul, is the ironical mode of taking it ( τινές already in Chrysostom, further, Calvin, Camerarius, Lorinus in Calovius, Marnixius in Wolf, Thiess, Heinrichs; comp. also Grotius), according to which he bitterly enough (and ἀδελφοί makes the irony only the more sharp) veils in these words the thought: “a man, who shows himself so unholy and vulgar, I could not at all regard as the high priest.” Comp. Erasmus. [146] What an appropriate and cutting defence against the reproach, Acts 23:4 ! It implies that he was obliged to regard an ἀρχιερεύς , who had acted so unworthily, as an οὐκ ἀρχιερεύς ( 2Ma 4:13 ). Others, against linguistic usage (comp. on Acts 7:18 ), have endeavoured to alter the meaning of οὐκ ᾔδειν , either: non agnosco (so, with various suggestions, Cyprian, Augustine, Beda, Piscator, Lightfoot, Keuchen, and others), or non reputabam (so Simon Episcopius, Limborch, Wetstein, Bengel, Morus, Stolz, Kuinoel, Olshausen, and others, also Neander), so that Paul would thus confess that his conduct was rash. This confession would be a foolish one, inconsistent with the strong and clear mind of the apostle in a critical situation, and simply compromising him. Baumgarten has the correct view, but will not admit the irony. But this must be admitted, as Paul does not say οὐκ ἔγνων , or the like; and there exists a holy irony. Lange, apost. Zeitalt . II. p. 314, imports ideas into the passage, and twists it thus: “Just because it is written, Thou shalt not curse the ruler of thy people, and YE have cursed the high priest of our people (Christ), for that reason I knew not that this is a high priest.” Zeller understands the words (left by de Wette without definite explanation) as an actual untruth , which, however, is only put into the mouth of the apostle by the narrator . But such a fiction, which, according to the naked meaning of the words, would have put a lie into the mouth of the holy apostle, is least of all to be imputed to a maker of history. The exceptionableness of the expression helps to warrant the certainty of its originality .

γέγραπται γάρ ] gives the reason of οὐκ ᾔδειν . In consequence, namely, of the scriptural prohibition quoted, Paul would not have spoken κακῶς against the high priest, had not the case of the οὐκ ᾔδειν occurred (by the conduct of the man!). The passage itself is Exodus 22:28 , closely after the LXX.: a ruler of thy people thou shalt (future, see on Matthew 1:21 ) not revile = κακολογεῖν , Acts 19:9 . The opposite: εὖ εἰπεῖν , to praise , εὖ λέγειν , Hom. Od . i. 302; Xen. Mem . ii. 3. 8. The senarian metre in our passage is accidental (Winer, p. 595 [E. T. 798]).

[144] Rejecting the ironical view, Chrysostom says: καὶ σφόδρα πείθομαι , μὴ εἰδέναι αὐτὸν , ὅτι ἀρχιερεύς ἐστι · διὰ μακροῦ μὲν ἐπανελθόντα χρόνου , μὴ συγγινόμενον δὲ συνεχῶς Ἰουδαίοις , ὁρῶντα δὲ καὶ ἐκεῖνον ἐν τῷ μέσῳ μετὰ πολλῶν καὶ ἑτέρων .

[145] This hypothesis cannot be accepted, as Paul had already been for so many days in Jerusalem; therefore the interpretation of Beelen: “je ne savais pas, qu’il y eût un souverain Pontife ,” is a very unfortunate expedient. ἀρχιερ . did not require the article any more than in John 18:13 ; John 11:49 ; John 11:51 .

[146] Baur also, I. p. 237, Exodus 2:0 , recognises the admissibility of no other view than the ironical ; but even thus he sees in it an element of the unworthiness of the (fictitious) story.

Verses 6-7

Acts 23:6-7 . Whether the irony of Acts 23:5 was understood by the Sanhedrists or not, Paul at all events now knew that here a plain and straightforward defence, such as he had begun (Acts 23:1 ), was quite out of place. With great presence of mind and prudence he forthwith resorts to a means all the more effectual in the excited state of their minds of bringing the two parties, well known to him in the council, into collision with one another , and thereby for the time disposing the more numerous party, that of the Pharisees, in favour of his person and cause . He did not certainly, from his knowledge of Pharisaism and from his previous experiences, conceive to himself the possibility of an actual “internal crisis” among the Pharisees (Baumgarten); but by the enlisting of their sectarian interests, and preventing their co-operation with the Sadducees, much was gained in the present position of affairs, especially in presence of the tribune, for Paul and his work.

ἐν τῷ συνεδρ .] so that he thus did not direct this exclamation ( ἔκραξεν ) to any definite individuals.

ἐγὼ Φαρισ . εἰμι , υἱὸς Φαρισ .] i.e. I for my part am a Pharisee, a born Pharisee . The plural Φαρισαίων refers to his male ancestors (father, grandfather, and perhaps still further back), not, as Grotius thinks, to his father and mother, as the mother here, where the sect was concerned, could not be taken into account (it is otherwise with Philippians 3:5 , ἐξ Ἑβρ .). We may add, that Paul’s still affirming of himself the Φαρισαῖον εἶναι is as little untrue as Philippians 3:5 (in opposition to Zeller). He designates himself as a Jew , who, as such , belonged to no other than the religious society of the Pharisees; and particularly in the doctrine of the resurrection, Paul, as a Christian, continued to defend the confession of the Pharisees (in opposition to all Sadduceeism) according to its truth confirmed in the case of Christ Himself (Acts 4:1 f.). His contending against the legal righteousness, hypocrisy, etc., of the Pharisees, and his consequent labouring in an anti-Pharisaical sense, were directed not against the sect in itself , but against its moral and other perversions. Designated a Jew, Paul still remained what he was from his birth, a Pharisee, and as such an orthodox Jew, in contrast to Sadducean naturalism.

περὶ ἐλπ . καὶ ἀναστ . νεκρ . ἐγὼ κρίν .] on account of hope , etc.; hope and ( and indeed , as regards its object) resurrection of the dead it is, on account of which I ( ἐγώ has the emphasis of the aroused consciousness of unjust treatment) am called in question . Comp. Acts 24:15 , Acts 26:6-8 . As the accusations contained in Acts 21:28 , οὗτος … διδάσκων , [147] were nothing else than hateful perversions of the proposition: “This man preaches a new religion, which is to come in place of the Mosaic in its subsisting form;” and as in this new religion, in point of fact, everything according to its highest aim culminated in the hope of the Messianic salvation, which will be realized by the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:0 ): so it follows that Paul has put the cause of the ΚΡΊΝΟΜΑΙ in the form most suited to the critical situation of the moment, without altering the substance of the matter as it stood objectively. [148]

ΣΤΆΣΙς ΤῶΝ ΦΑΡΙΣ . ΚΑῚ ΣΑΔΔ . ] without repetition of ΤῶΝ (see the critical remarks): the Pharisees and Sadducees , the two parties conceived of together as the corporation of the Sanhedrim (comp. on Matthew 3:6 ), became at variance (Acts 15:2 ), and the mass the multitude of those assembled was divided .

[147] The untruth added to these accusations, ἔτι τε χαὶ Ἕλληνας κ . τ . λ ., Paul might here with reason leave entirely out of consideration.

[148] The procedure of Paul in helping himself with dialectic dexterity was accordingly this: he reduces the accusations contained in Acts 21:28 to the pure matter of fact, and he grasps this matter of fact (the announcement of the Messianic kingdom) in that form which was necessary for his object. “Non deerat Paulo humana etiam prudentia, qua in bonum evangelii utens, columbae serpentem utiliter miscebat et inimicorum dissidiis fruebatur,” Grotius.

Verse 8

Acts 23:8 . For the Sadducees, indeed, maintained , etc.

μηδὲ ἄγγελον μήτε πνεῦμα ] not even angel or spirit (generally). The μήτε πνεῦμα is logically subordinate to the μηδὲ ἄγγ . (inasmuch as πνεῦμα is conceived as being homogeneous with ἄγγελος ); for τὰ ἀμφότερα divides the objects named into two classes, namely (1) ἀνάστασις , and (2) ἄγγελος and πνεῦμα . Hence μηδέ before ἄγγελ . is to be defended, and not (in opposition to Fritzsche, ad Marc . p. 158, and Lachmann) to be changed into μήτε . See Klotz, ad Devar . p. 709; comp. also Buttmann, neut. Gr . p. 315 [E. T. 367], and on Galatians 1:12 . In the certainly very important codd. (A B C E א ) which have μήτε , this is to be viewed as a grammatical correction, originating from the very old error, which already Chrysostom has and Kuinoel still assumes ἀμφότερον … καὶ περὶ τριῶν λαμβάνεται .

The Sadducees (see on Matthew 3:7 ) denied (as materialists, perhaps holding the theory of emanations) that there were angels and spirit-beings, i.e. independent spiritual realities besides God. To this category of πνεύματα , denied by them, belonged also the spirits of the departed; for they held the soul to be a refined matter, which perished ( συναφανίσαι ) with the body (Joseph. Antt. xviii. 1. 4, Bell. ii. 8. 14). But it is arbitrary, with Bengel, Kuinoel, and many others, to understand under πνεῦμα anima defuncti exclusively. Reuss, in Herzog’s Encykyl. XIII. p. 294, has a view running directly counter to the clear sense of the narrative.

Verse 9

Acts 23:9 . The designed stirring up of party-feeling proved so successful, [149] that some scribes (“os partis suae,” Bengel), who belonged to the Pharisaic half of the Sanhedrim, rose up and not only maintained the innocence of Paul against the other party, but also, with bitter offensiveness towards the latter, added the question: But if a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel? The question is an aposiopesis (comp. on John 6:62 ; Romans 9:22 ), indicating the critical position of the matter in the case supposed, without expressing it ( quid vero, si , etc.). We may imagine the words uttered with a Jesuitically-treacherous look and gesture toward the Sadducees, to whom the speakers leave the task of supplying in thought an answer to this dubious question.

πνεῦμα ] is not, with Calovius and others, to be taken of the Holy Spirit, but without more precise definition as: a spirit , quite as in Acts 23:8 , where Luke by his gloss prepares us for Acts 23:9 .

ἐλάλησεν ] giving him revelation concerning the ἐλπίς and ἀνάστασις , Acts 23:6 . A reference precisely to the narrative, which Paul had given of his conversion at Acts 22:6 ff., is not indicated.

[149] Baur and Zeller, following Schneckenburger, p. 144 ff., contest the historical character of this event, because the two parties had already so long been rubbing against each other, that they could not have been so inflamed by the apple of discord thrown in among them by Paul; the sequel also contradicting it, as Paul a few days afterwards was accused by the chief priest and Sanhedrim before Felix. But in this view sufficient account is not taken of the frequently quite blind vehemence of passion, when suddenly and unexpectedly aroused, in parties whose mutual relations are strained. As this vehemence, particularly in the presence of the tribune, before whom the sore point of honour was touched, might easily overleap the boundaries of discretion and prudence; so might the prudent concert for a joint accusation subsequently take place, when the fit of passion was over. Comp. also Baumgarten, II. p. 197 f.

Verse 10

Acts 23:10 . Μὴ διασπασθῇ ] that he might be torn in pieces . Comp. Symm., 1 Samuel 15:33 ; Herod. iii. 13; Dem. 136. 15; Lucian, Asin . 32. The tribune saw the two parties so inflamed , that he feared lest they on both sides should seize on Paul the one to maltreat him, and the other to take him into their protection against their opponents and thus he might at length even be torn in pieces , as a sacrifice to their mutual fury!

ἐκέλ . τὸ στράτ . καταβ . κ . τ . λ .] he ordered the soldiery to come down (from the Antonia) and to draw him away from the midst of them . The reading καταβῆναι καί is a correct resolution of the participial construction. See Hermann, ad Viger . p. 774.

Verses 11-14

Acts 23:11-14 . Whether the appearance of Christ encouraging Paul to further stedfastness was a vision in a dream, or a vision in a waking state, perhaps in an ecstasy, cannot be determined (in opposition to Olshausen, who holds the latter as decided, see on Acts 16:9 ).

εἰς Ἱερουσ . and εἰς Ῥώμ .] The preacher coming from without preaches into the city ; comp. Mark 14:9 . See on Mark 1:39 , also on Acts 9:28 , Acts 26:20 . Observe also, that Jerusalem and Rome are the capitals of the world , of the East and West. But a further advance, into Spain , were it otherwise demonstrable, would not be excluded by the intimation in this passage, since it fixes no terminus ad quem (in opposition to Otto, Pastoralbr . p. 171).

Acts 23:12 . συστροφήν ] a combination (Acts 19:40 ; 1Ma 14:44 ; Polyb. iv. 34. 6), afterwards still more precisely described by συνωμοσίαν , a conspiracy . That the conspirators were zealots and sicarii, perhaps instigated by Ananias himself (concerning whom, however, it is not demonstrable that he was himself a Sadducee), as Kuinoel thinks, is not to be maintained. Certainly those Asiatics in Acts 21:27 were concerned in it.

οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ] the Jews , as the opposition. This general statement is afterwards more precisely limited, Acts 23:13 .

ἀνεθεμ . ἑαυτούς ] they cursed themselves , pronounced on themselves (in the event of transgression) the הֶדֶם , the curse of divine wrath and divine rejection, declaring that they would neither eat nor drink ( γεύσασθαι , Acts 23:14 , expresses both) until, etc. See on similar self-imprecations (which, in the event of the matter being frustrated without the person’s own fault, could be removed by the Rabbins, Lightfoot in loc.), Selden, de Synedr. p. 108 f.

ἔως ] with the subjunctive, because the matter is contemplated directly, and without ἄν ; Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 499; Winer, p. 279 [E. T. 371].

Acts 23:14 . τοῖς ἀρχ . κ . τ . πρεσβ .] That they applied to the Sadducean Sanhedrists, is evident of itself from what goes before.

ἀναθέμ . ἀναθεματίσ .] Winer, p. 434 [E. T. 584].

Verse 15

Acts 23:15 . Ὑμεῖς ] answering to the subsequent ἡμεῖς δέ . Thus they arrange the parts which they were to play.

σὺν τῷ συνεδρίῳ ] Non vos soli, sed una cum collegis vestris (of whom doubtless the Pharisees were not to be allowed to know the murderous plot), quo major significationi sit auctoritas , Grotius.

ὅπως αὐτὸν κ . τ . λ .] design of the ἐμφανίσατε τ . χιλ . From this also it follows what they were to notify, namely, that they wished the business of Paul to be more exactly taken cognisance of in the Sanhedrim than had already been done (comp. Acts 24:22 ).

τοῦ ἀνελ . αὐτ .] The design of ἕτοιμοί ἐσμεν ; 2 Chronicles 6:2 ; Ezekiel 21:11 ; 1Ma 3:58 ; 1Ma 5:39 ; 1Ma 13:37 . Comp. also Acts 23:20 .

πρὸ τοῦ ἐγγίσαι αὐτ .] so that you shall have nothing at all to do with him.

Verses 16-20

Acts 23:16-20 . Whether the nephew of Paul was resident in Jerusalem; whether, possibly, the whole family may have already, in the youth of the apostle, been transferred to Jerusalem (as Ewald conjectures), cannot be determined.

παραγεν .] belongs to the vivid minuteness with which the whole history is set forth.

Acts 23:18 . The centurion on military duty, without taking further part in the matter, simply fulfils what Paul has asked.

ὁ δέσμιος Παῦλος ] he is now, as a Roman citizen, to be conceived in custodia militaris (comp. on Acts 22:30 ). See on Acts 24:27 .

Acts 23:19 . ἐπιλαβ . δὲ τῆς χειρ .] “ut fiduciam adolescentis confirmaret,” Bengel.

ἀναχωρ . κατʼ ἰδίαν ] in order to hold a private conversation with him, he withdrew (with him) without the addition of a third person , perhaps to a special audience-chamber. Comp. Luke 9:10 .

Acts 23:20 . ὅτι ] recitative .

συνέθεντο ] have made an agreement to request thee. Comp. on John 9:22 .

ὡς μέλλ .] i.e. under the pretext, as if they would . See Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec . 1152. It is otherwise in Acts 23:15 : in the opinion , as, etc.

Verses 21-22

Acts 23:21-22 . And now ( καὶ νῦν , see Hartung, Partikell . I. p. 135) they are in readiness to put into execution the ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν (comp. Acts 23:15 ), expecting that on thy part the promise (to have Paul brought on the morrow to the Sanhedrim) will take place .

ἐπαγγ . is neither jussum (Münthe, Rosenmüller) nor nuntius (Beza, Camerarius, Grotius, Alberti, Wolf; Henry Stephanus even conjectured ἀπαγγ .), but, according to its constant meaning in the N.T., promissio .

ἐκλαλ .] he commanded to tell it, to divulge it, to no one. Comp. Dem. 354. 23; Jdt 7:9 ; not elsewhere in N.T.

ἐνεφ . πρός με ] Oratio variata. See on Acts 1:4 .

Verse 23

Acts 23:23 . Δύο τινάς ] some two ; see on Acts 19:14 . Comp. Thuc. viii. 100. 5 : τινὲς δύο . Luke 7:19 . It leaves the exact number in uncertainty; Krüger, § Leviticus 16:4 .

So considerable a force was ordered, in order to be secure against any possible contingency of a further attempt.

στρατιώτας ] is, on account of the succeeding ἱππεῖς , to be understood of the usual Roman infantry ( πεζοὶ στρατιῶται , Herodian, i. 12. 19), milites gravis armaturae , distinguished also from the peculiar kind of light infantry afterwards mentioned as δεξιολάβοι .

δεξιολάβους ] a word entirely strange to ancient Greek, perhaps at that time only current colloquially, and not finding its way into the written language. It first occurs in Theophylactus Simocatta, [150] and then again in the tenth century in Constant. Porphyr. Themat . i. 1 (see Wetstein). At all events, it must denote some kind of force under the command of the tribune, and that a light-armed infantry, as the δεξιολ . are distinguished both from the cavalry and from the στρατιώτ . That they were infantry, their great number also proves. It is safest to regard them as a peculiar kind of the light troops called rorarii or velites , and that either as jaculatores (javelin-throwers, Liv. Acts 22:21 ) or funditores (slingers), for in Constant. Porphyr. ( οἱ δὲ λεγόμενοι τουρμάρχαι εἰς ὑπουργίαν τῶν στρατηγῶν ἐτάχθησαν . Σημαίνει δὲ τοιοῦτον ἀξίωμα τὸν ἔχοντα ὑφʼ ἑαυτὸν στρατιώτας τοξοφόρους πεντακοσίους , καὶ πελταστὰς τριακοσίους , καὶ δεξιολάβους ἑκατόν ) they are expressly distinguished from the sagittarii , or bowmen ( τοξοφόρ .), and from the targeteers, the peltastae (or cetrati , see Liv. xxxi. 36). Detailed grounds are wanting for a more definite decision. [151] The name δεξιολ . ( those who grasp with the right hand ) is very naturally explained from their kind of weapon, which was restricted in its use to the right hand (it was otherwise with the heavy-armed troops, and also with the bowmen and peltastae). This word has frequently been explained (following Suidas: παραφύλακες ) halberdiers, life guardsmen (who protect the right side of the commander), to which, perhaps, the translation of the Vulgate (also Ath. and Sahidic): lancearios (from the spear which the halberdiers carried), is to be referred. Already the Coptic and Syriac p. translate stipatores . Meursius (in the Glossar .), on the other hand: military lictors (“Manum nimirum injiciebant maleficis”). But even apart from the passages of Theophyl. Simocatta, and Constant. Porphyr., of whom the latter particularly mentions the δεξιολ . alongside of the purely light-armed soldiers, and indeed alongside of mere ordinary soldiers: the great number of them is decisive against both views. For that the commander of a cohort should have had a body-guard, of which he could furnish two hundred men for the escort of a prisoner, is just as improbable, as that he should have had as many lictors at his disposal. On the whole, then, the reading ΔΕΞΙΟΒΌΛΟΥς in A (Syr. jaculantes dextra ; Erp. jaculatores ), approved by Grotius and Valckenaer, is to be considered as a correct interpretation, whether they be understood to be javelin-throwers or slingers.

ἀπὸ τρίτης ὥρας τῆς νυκτός ] from this time (about nine in the evening) they were to have this force in readiness, because the convoy was to start, for the sake of the greatest possible security from the Jews, at the time of darkness and of the first sleep.

[150] In the seventh century. The passage in question, v. 1, is as follows: προστάττει δὲ καὶ δεξιολάβοις δυνάμεσιν ἰχνηλατεῖν κ . τὰς ἀτραποὺς πάσας κατασφαλίζεσθαι . From this it only follows that they must have been a light-armed force.

[151] Ewald, p. 577, now explains it from λαβή , grasp of the sword ; holding that they were spiculatores cum lanceis (Sueton. Claud . 35); and that they carried their sword, not on the left, but on the right . But we do not see why this was necessary for the sake of using their spears by the right hand. The sword on the left side would, indeed, have been least a hindrance to them in the use of the spear. Earlier, Ewald took them to be slingers .

Verse 24

Acts 23:24 . Κτήνη τε παραστῆσαι ] still depends on εἶπεν , Acts 23:23 . The speech passes from the direct to the indirect form. See on Acts 19:27 .

κτήνη ] sarcinaria jumenta , Caes. Bell. civ . i. 81. Whether they were asses or pack-horses, cannot be determined. Their destination was: that they (the centurions to whom the command was given) should make Paul mount on them, and so should bring him uninjured to Felix the procurator . The plural number of the animals is not, with Kuinoel, to be explained “in usum Pauli et militis ipsius custodis,” but, as ἵνα ἐπιβ . τ . Παῦλ . requires, only in usum Pauli , for whom, as the convoy admitted of no halt (Acts 23:31-32 ), one or other of the κτήνη was to accompany it as a reserve , in order to be used by him in case of need.

On Felix , the freedman of Claudius by his third wife son-in-law of Agrippa I. and brother-in-law of Agrippa II., and brother of Pallas the favourite of Nero, that worthless person, who “per omnem saevitiam ac libidinem jus regium servili ingenio in Judaea provincia exercuit” (Tac. Hist . v. 9), and after his procuratorship was accused to Nero by the Jews of Caesarea, but was acquitted through the intercession of Pallas, see Walch, Diss, de Felice Judaeor. procur . Jen. 1747; Ewald, p. 549 ff.; Gerlach, d. Röm. Statt-halter in Syr. u. Jud . p. 75 ff.

Verses 25-26

Acts 23:25-26 . Γράψας ] adds to εἶπεν , Acts 23:23 , a contemporaneous accompanying action. Such passports, given with transported prisoners, were called at a later period (in the Cod. Theodos.) elogia .

περιέχ . τ . τύπον τοῦτ .] which contained the following form ; τύπος ( 3Ma 3:30 ), the same as τρόπος elsewhere (Kypke, II. p. 119; Grimm, on 1Ma 11:29 ), corresponds entirely to the Latin exemplum, the literal form, the verbal contents of a letter. Cic. ad Div. x. 5 : literae binae eodem exemplo.”

The lie in Acts 23:27 (see in loc. ) is a proof that in what follows the literal expression is authentically contained; therefore there is no reason, with Olshausen, to regard the letter as a literary production of Luke. A documentary source, it is true, from which the verbal form came to him, cannot be specified, although possibilities of this nature may well be imagined.

τῷ κρατίστῳ ] see on Luke, Introd. § 3. Comp. Acts 24:3 , Acts 26:25 .

Verses 27-30

Acts 23:27-30 . See Acts 21:30-34 , Acts 22:26-27 ; Acts 22:30 , Acts 23:1 ff., Acts 23:19 ff.

συλληφθ .] without the article: after he had been seized. Observe, that Lysias uses not τὸν ἄνθρωπον , but with a certain respect, and that not only for the Roman citizen, but also for the person of his prisoner, τ . ἄνδρα .

ἐξειλόμην αὐτὸν , μαθὼν ὅτι Ῥωμ . ἐστι ] contains a cunning falsification of the state of the facts, Acts 21:31-34 and Acts 22:25 ff.; for Acts 23:28 comp. with Acts 22:30 proves that the tribune did not mean the second rescue of the apostle, Acts 23:10 . Therefore the remark of Grotius is entirely mistaken, that μαθών denotes “nullum certum tempus” but merely καὶ ἔμαθον generally; [152] and so is Beza’s proposal to put a stop after ΑὐΤΌΝ , and then to read: ΜΑΘῺΝ ΔῈ ὍΤΙ Κ . Τ . Λ .

ΑὐΤΌΝ ] Compare on this resumption after a long intervening sentence, Plat. Rep. p. 398 A; and see, moreover, Matthiae, § 472; Winer, p. 139 f. [E. T. 184].

Acts 23:30 . μηνυθείσης … ἔσεσθαι ] The hurried letter-writer has mixed up two constructions: (1) ΜΗΝΥΘΕΊΣΗς ΔΈ ΜΟΙ ἘΠΙΒΟΥΛῆς Τῆς ΜΕΛΛΟΎΣΗς ἜΣΕΣΘΑΙ , and (2) ΜΗΝΥΘΈΝΤΟς (comp. Polyaen. ii. 14. 1) ΔΈ ΜΟΙ ἘΠΙΒΟΥΛῊΝ ΜΈΛΛΕΙΝ ἜΣΕΣΘΑΙ . See Grotius in loc .; Fritzsche, Conjectur. I. p. 39 f.; Winer, p. 528 [E. T. 710]. Similar blendings are also found in the classics; Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab. iv. 4. 18. As to the import of μηνύειν , see on Luke 20:37 .

[152] Nor does it mean, as Otto suggests: “on which occasion ( in consequence of which ) I learned.” The Vulgate, Erasmus, and Calvin correctly render: cognito , comp. Philippians 2:19 . Beza also correctly renders by edoctus , with the remark: “Dissimulat ergo tribunis id, de quo reprehendi jure potuisset.” Castalio anticipated the misinterpretation of Grotius and Otto: “eripui ac Romanum esse didici.” And so also Luther. The μαθὼν ὅτι κ . τ . λ . is nothing else than ἐπιγνοὺς ἵτι Ῥωμαῖός ἐστι , Acts 22:29 . Comp. Acts 16:38 .

Verses 31-34

Acts 23:31-34 . Antipatris, on the road from Jerusalem to Caesarea, built by Herod I., and named after his father Antipater, was 26 miles (thus 5 1/5 geographical miles) distant from Caesarea. See Robinson, III. p. 257 ff.; Ritter, Erdk. XVI. p. 571.

διὰ τῆς νυκτός ] as in Acts 17:10 . Inexact statement a potiori ; for, considering the great distance between Jerusalem and Antipatris (about 8 geographical miles), and as they did not set out from Jerusalem before nine in the evening (Acts 23:25 ), besides the night a part of the following forenoon must have been spent on the journey to Antipatris, which must, moreover, be conceived of as a very hurried one; yet the following night is not, with Kuinoel (against Acts 23:32 ), to be included.

Acts 23:32 . ἐάσαντες κ . τ . λ .] thus from their own foresight (because such a strong force was unnecessary at the distance which they had reached, and might be required in case of an uproar at Jerusalem), not according to the literal command of the tribune, Acts 23:23 .

τοὺς ἱππεῖς ] not also the δεξιολάβους , whom they took back with them, as may be concluded from their not being mentioned.

Acts 23:33 . οἵτινες ] “ad remotius nomen , secus atque expectaveris refertur,” Ellendt, Lex. Soph . II. p. 368.

καὶ τ . Παῦλ .] simul et Paulum.

Acts 23:34 . Felix makes only a preliminary personal inquiry , but one necessary for the treatment of the cause and of the man, on a point on which the elogium contained no information.

ποίας ] is qualitative : from what kind of province. Cilicia was an imperial province.

Verse 35

Acts 23:35 . Διακούσομαι ] denotes the full and exact hearing (Xen. Oec . 11. 1, Cyrop . iv. 4. 1; Polyb. iii. 15. 4; Dorvill. ad Char . p. 670), in contrast to what was now held as merely preliminary.

τὸ πραιτώριον τοῦ Ἡρ .] was the name given to the palace which Herod the Great had formerly built for himself, and which now served as the residence of the procurators. From our passage it follows that the place, in which Paul was temporarily kept in custody, was no common prison (Acts 5:18 ), but was within the praetorium. The determination of the manner of the custodia reorum depended on the procurator (L. 1, D. xlviii. 3), and the favourable elogium might have its influence in this respect.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 23". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/acts-23.html. 1832.
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