Gazing intently at the high council, a Paul began: "Brothers, I have always lived before God in all good conscience!"
Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth.
But Paul said to him, "God will slap you, you whitewashed wall! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?"
Those standing near Paul said to him, "Is that the way to talk to God's high priest?"
"I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't realize he was the high priest," Paul replied, "for the Scriptures say, 'Do not speak evil of anyone who rules over you.'b"
Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, "Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were all my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!"
This divided the council -- the Pharisees against the Sadducees --
for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these.
So a great clamor arose. Some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees jumped up to argue that Paul was all right. "We see nothing wrong with him," they shouted. "Perhaps a spirit or an angel spoke to him."
The shouting grew louder and louder, and the men were tugging at Paul from both sides, pulling him this way and that. Finally, the commander, fearing they would tear him apart, ordered his soldiers to take him away from them and bring him back to the fortress.
That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, "Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have told the people about me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome."12
The next morning a group of Jews got together and bound themselves with an oath to neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.
There were more than forty of them.
They went to the leading priests and other leaders and told them what they had done. "We have bound ourselves under oath to neither eat nor drink until we have killed Paul
You and the high council should tell the commander to bring Paul back to the council again," they requested. "Pretend you want to examine his case more fully. We will kill him on the way."
But Paul's nephew heard of their plan and went to the fortress and told Paul.
Paul called one of the officers and said, "Take this young man to the commander. He has something important to tell him."
So the officer did, explaining, "Paul, the prisoner, called me over and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you."
The commander took him by the arm, led him aside, and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?"
Paul's nephew told him, "Some Jews are going to ask you to bring Paul before the Jewish high council tomorrow, pretending they want to get some more information.
But don't do it! There are more than forty men hiding along the way ready to jump him and kill him. They have vowed not to eat or drink until they kill him. They are ready, expecting you to agree to their request."
"Don't let a soul know you told me this," the commander warned the young man as he sent him away.
Then the commander called two of his officers and ordered, "Get two hundred soldiers ready to leave for Caesarea at nine o'clock tonight. Also take two hundred spearmen and seventy horsemen.
Provide horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix."
Then he wrote this letter to the governor:
"From Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency, Governor Felix. Greetings!
This man was seized by some Jews, and they were about to kill him when I arrived with the troops. When I learned that he was a Roman citizen, I removed him to safety.
Then I took him to their high council to try to find out what he had done.
I soon discovered it was something regarding their religious law -- certainly nothing worthy of imprisonment or death.
But when I was informed of a plot to kill him, I immediately sent him on to you. I have told his accusers to bring their charges before you."
So that night, as ordered, the soldiers took Paul as far as Antipatris.
They returned to the fortress the next morning, while the horsemen took him on to Caesarea.
When they arrived in Caesarea, they presented Paul and the letter to Governor Felix.
He read it and then asked Paul what province he was from. "Cilicia," Paul answered.
"I will hear your case myself when your accusers arrive," the governor told him. Then the governor ordered him kept in the prison at Herod's headquarters.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)