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Bible Commentaries
Acts 23

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Act 23:1. No specific charge had been made against Paul, hence he had none to deny. It was appropriate, therefore, for him to make a statement to the effect that he was not conscious of any wrong ever having been committed. Paul had caused Christians to be slain and had committed general persecution against the church, yet his good conscience included that time. This proves that a man can be conscientious in doing wrong, which also gives us the conclusion that a good conscience alone will not. justify one before God.

Verse 2

2 Act 23:2. Ananias had the common but erroneous idea that if a man is conscientious he is right. To him the statement of Paul meant that he had never done anything wrong. He thought that such an assertion from one who had been opposing Judaism so persistently was one of arrogance. Smiting one on the mouth was an act of con tempt and humiliation, and not one especially considered as a physical punishment.

Verse 3

3 Act 23:3. Whited wall was a figure of speech that meant Ananias was a hypocrite. It was similar to the words of Jesus in Mat 23:27. The hypocrisy of Ananias consisted in his posing as an administrator of justice under the law, and then directing an unlawful action against a prisoner who had not so much as been legally accused. It was like a judge in the courts of our land who will swear a jury to decide a case according to the law and evidence, then require it to bring in a "directed verdict." God shall smite thee was doubtless an inspired prediction. Smith's Bible Dictionary says Ananias was assassinated at the beginning of the last Jewish war.

Verse 4

5 Act 23:4-5. Paul agreed that the rulers of God's people should not be spoken against, and even cited the law that forbids such a speech (Exo 22:28). But the history of those times shows that Ananias was an evil character, who had been in difficulties with the civil authorities and had once been deposed from his office. Afterward, however, he assumed the place as president of the Sanhedrin, which is the meaning of Paul's words "sittest thou to judge" (verse 3). Knowing him to have been a usurper, the remark of the apostle, I wist [knew] not, etc., was the apostle's way of ignoring his assumption, thus showing him not to be entitled to the usual judicial courtesy.

Verse 6

6 Act 23:6. Having disposed of their quibble over the highpriesthood of Ananias, Paul used the divided condition of sentiment in the Sanhedrin to bring to the fore the fundamental principle of the Gospel, the truth of which was the basis of his diffictulties with the Jews. (See the note at Mat 16:12 on the differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees.) With regard to the most important difference between these sects, the belief in the resurrection, Paul declared he was a Pharisee.

Verse 7

7 Act 23:7. Paul's declaration of faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, divided the multitude and set them at variance among themselves.

Verse 8

8 Act 23:8. See the comments at verse 6.

Verse 9

9 Act 23:9. Paul's declaration of faith had the effect he expected. The Pharisees believed in the existence of angels and spirits (verse 8), hence they were prepared to listen to Paul as an inspired man. Moreover, they have given us a point on the subject of authoritative teaching, namely, to oppose the word of an inspired man is the same as fighting against God.

Verse 10

0 Act 23:10. In the riot among the two sects of the Jews, their attention was turned upon Paul who was regarded as the cause of the disturbance. There was even so much indication of violence against him that the chief captain feared for his bodily safety. The reader should note that this act of soldiers under lawful direction was solely for the purpose of protecting Paul from mob violence. This should be remembered when considering the falsehoods of Tertullus in chapter 24:6, 7. Paul was removed from the Sanhedrin by the soldiers and taken into the castle for his bodily safety.

Verse 11

1 Act 23:11. The imprisonment of Paul in the soldiers' barracks was a friendly act as it pertained to his personal safety, but the whole situation was one of apparent danger, and one that had many discouraging phases. It was an appropriate time for the Lord to speak words of cheer to him. Bear witness also at Rome. See the comments at chapter 19:21 as to when he would bear this testimony at Rome.

Verse 12

3 Act 23:12-13. A curse means some kind of harm to be wished upon one. This harm was to come upon these Jews if they ate or drank until they had killed Paul. It was a rash proposal, but there is no evidence that they stuck to it though Paul was not killed.

Verse 14

4 Act 23:14. They notified the chief priests of their curse, thinking it would impress them with the genuineness of their determination.

Verse 15

5 Act 23:15. Paul was in the castle or barracks, and these Jews suggested that the priests ask the captain to bring the prisoner before the Sanhedrin again on the pretext of a fuller hearing. That would have given them an opportunity of killing him.

Verse 16

6 Act 23:16. Paul's nephew heard of the plot and told him of it.

Verse 17

8 Act 23:17-18. Paul arranged a meeting of his nephew with the captain.

Verse 19

0 Act 23:19-20. The young man first told the captain of the request that was soon to be made of him by this wicked band of 40 Jews.

Verse 21

1 Act 23:21. The young man then told him of the plot to kill Paul if he should be allowed to appear outside the castle, and he urged him to deny their request.

Verse 22

2 Act 23:22. The captain bound the young man to secrecy and then dismissed him, but he intended to act on behalf of Paul's safety.

Verse 23

3 Act 23:23. This was a military escort to conduct Paul to Caesarea, the headquarters of the Roman government in Palestine. Altogether there were 470 military men in the escort, some of whom had special services to perform. The horsemen were included to continue the guarded journey after the others returned to Jerusalem (verse 32). This journey was begun at 9 P. M. according to our time.

Verse 24

4 Act 23:24. Felix the governor was a ruler at Caesarea on behalf of the Roman Empire.

Verse 25

6 Act 23:25-26. Claudius Lysias was the chief captain at Jerusalem. As a judicial courtesy, he wrote a letter to Felix explaining why he was sending Paul to him.

Verse 27

7 Act 23:27. This part of the letter is a truthful report of the rescue of Paul by the soldiers of the captain, recorded in chapter 21:32-34.

Verse 28

8 Act 23:28. The captain understood that the council (Sanhedrin) was a place where the Jews held their examinations of accused persons.

Verse 29

9 Act 23:29. The captain regarded the dispute between Paul and the Jews to be mostly a religious one and not such as he should try.

Verse 30

0 Act 23:30. The court of Felix also was a secular one, but the captain felt that Paul's personal safety required that he appear there. Besides, the Jews had intimated that Paul was a general disturber of the peace (chapter 21:28), and hence it seemed proper for the court at Caesarea to hear what the accusers had against him, they having been commanded also to appear at Caesarea for that purpose.

Verse 31

2 Act 23:31-32. Antipatris was about halfway between Jerusalem and Caesarea. The entire military escort went that far, at which place it was thought that most of the danger was over. The day after leaving Jerusalem they reached that place, from which all of the escort except the horsemen started back to Jerusalem, and the horsemen conducted Paul the rest of the jorney to Caesarea.

Verse 33

3 Act 23:33. Upon arrival, the horsemen presented Paul to the governor, and also delivered the epistle that was sent by the chief captain.

Verse 34

4 Act 23:34. This inquiry was to learn whether he should have jurisdiction in the case. Cilicia (the province containing the birthplace of Paul) was in such jurisdiction.

Verse 35

5 Act 23:35. While waiting for the accusers to appear, Paul was to be kept in a place built by Herod, but now being occupied by Felix. Some one of. the buildings attached thereto was Paul's prison, pending the arrival of his accusers.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Acts 23". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/acts-23.html. 1952.
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