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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 23

 

 

Verses 1-10

Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:10. Paul Before the Sanhedrin.—This is a difficult section, and does not advance the action. Unless the proceedings took place in Greek, the tribune would scarcely secure his object of learning the charge against Paul; it is strange that he should have called a meeting of the Sanhedrin for this purpose, which could be reached otherwise. Paul is released from his chains and faces the court without them, and without the presence of military. He begins a speech which was to explain his position, but is rudely interrupted; he has not been asked to speak, and might be regarded as treating the court without respect. He retorts with applying an abusive epithet to the High Priest who had ordered the interruption. The "and" before his question (Acts 23:3 b) expresses surprise or indignation. Ananias, son of Nedebæus, was High Priest from about A.D. 47; Paul might not have seen him before, but he was presiding at the meeting, "judging" him, Paul says. There is a screw loose in the narrative, and the appeal (Acts 22:5) to Exodus 22:28 does not make it tight. Paul, however, is not silenced; he calls out aloud the subject of difference between the two great parties, which they no doubt ignored at their meetings, thus playing the enfant terrible among those grave and reverend men. It is on account of the hope and the resurrection of the dead that he is being judged, he says. He was not being judged at all (Acts 22:30), and if he was, the charge against him was not that he believed in the Resurrection, but that he subverted the authority of Moses among the Jews of the Dispersion (Acts 21:21). The diversion, however, is very successful; the meeting is at once in an uproar. Some of the Pharisees actually defend Paul; they find the story he tells (ch. 22) of his vision credible. He may have been visited by a spirit or an angel, and then—the conclusion is left to be imagined. The tribune fears that in spite of this Paul will be torn in pieces; the military are to come and remove him. The author does not state his conclusion as to the charge here, but see Acts 22:29.


Verse 11

Acts 23:11. The Lord Appears to Paul.—This section is independent of the preceding scene; the testifying spoken of is in ch. 22, and the vision would stand quite well after Acts 22:29. The idea of Rome was in his mind (see Acts 19:21); the Lord makes his imprisonment appear as a road there, which it was.


Verses 12-24

Acts 23:26-30. Letter of Claudius Lysias to Felix.—Felix is addressed as "most excellent" (so Luke 1:3, Acts 26:25), a title of courtesy applied to proconsuls, officers of rank, and private persons. Lysias allows himself to say that he had assisted Paul because he had heard he was a Roman, and that he had done nothing worthy of bonds (cf. the two chains, Acts 21:33, Acts 22:30). An official sending a prisoner to a higher court might specify the charge (cf. Acts 25:27); and Lysias takes credit for having investigated the point, and for having found that the charge involved no legal offence. This, even if true, does not prove that the Sanhedrin scene (Acts 22:30 to Acts 23:10) had really taken place; Lysias had other means of satisfying himself.


Verses 31-35

Acts 23:31-35. Arrival at Cæsarea.—Antipatris (p. 28), a Greek town even the name of which has disappeared, was where Ras-el-Ain is now, on the road from Lydda to Cæsarea, 40 miles from Jerusalem, 25 from Cæsarea. 40 miles are more than a night's march for infantry. The procurator asks the necessary question as to the province of the prisoner (cf. Luke 23:6 f.), and undertakes to hear the case when the prosecutors arrive. Of the prætorium (mg.) of Herod at Cæsarea nothing is known.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 23:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/acts-23.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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