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Acts 23

SUMMARY.--The Insult of the High Priest. Paul's Rebuke. His Appeal to the Pharisees. Their Favor. The Dissension. Paul Removed. The Vision of the Lord in the Night. The Plot of the Sicarii. Revealed to the Chief Captain by Paul's Nephew. Paul Sent Under an Escort of Soldiers to Cæsarea. The Letter of Claudius Lysias to Felix.

      11. The night following. Paul's conditions seemed most forlorn. He was even suspected by the church in Jerusalem. He was a prisoner to the Romans. His own nation was thirsting for his life. He had twice, within two days, narrowly escaped death. He needed comfort, and hence the Lord stood by him, cheered him, and gave him encouragement concerning his future work. It not doubt was like a ray of light, as he passed a sleepless night in his prison cell, to learn that the dear Lord still had work for him.

      12-24. Certain of the Jews banded together. Perhaps these Jews were of the bitter enemies from Asia who had laid hands on him in the temple. They may have belonged to a wild fanatical association of Jewish assassins, who, a few years later, played a prominent part, called Sicarii. The Talmud says that those who took such a vow were released from it, if it was impossible to carry it out. Their purpose was to induce the chief priests, who were Sadducees, to have Paul appear before the Sanhedrim the next day, and then they would murder him. Paul's sister's son heard. This is the only mention in Acts of any of Paul's relations. It is possible that this nephew was studying in Jerusalem, as Paul had done many years before, and heard of the plot from those who did not know that he was in any way related to Paul. Whether he was a Christian or not, he took pains to inform his uncle. There was no difficulty of access, for Paul was a Roman, and would be treated with courtesy. Paul, at once, sent him to the chief captain with his information. 19. Took him by the hand. To show how carefully he was listening to the story. Called unto him two centurions. These were told to prepare four hundred and seventy soldiers for an escort, a large force, but the country was in a disturbed condition, and all the occurrences connected with Paul confused and alarmed the commander. Bring him safe unto Felix. Of this man, then governor, we will hear more. He was originally a slave, but had risen by base arts to a high position. His brother Pallas was the emperor's favorite, and secured the important post of governor for Felix in A. D. 52. In A. D. 60 he was removed.

      25-30. He wrote a letter. Roman law required that when a prisoner was sent by a lower official to a higher for trial, a letter should be sent stating the charges. That of Lysias states his understanding of the case. I rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. Like many modern officials, he prevaricates. He found out he was a Roman after he rescued him. I sent him straightway to thee. "Though I held him to be innocent, hearing of the plot against his life, I thought it best to send him to thee." Had he released Paul in Jerusalem, the conspirators would have murdered him.

      31-35. Brought him by night to Antipatris. They departed by night so that the Jews would know nothing of Paul's departure until the next day. Antipatris was about thirty-eight miles from Jerusalem. The march was not probably made by night, but begun at night and was completed the next day. On the morrow. The morrow after they reached Antipatris, all returned but the horsemen. Cæsarea was now only twenty-six miles distant, and the danger was over. He asked of what province he was. Felix was governor of Judea under the proconsul of Syria. Had he found the prisoner to be of some other province under the proconsul, he would probably have turned him over to its governor (compare Luke 23:6 Luke 23:7 ), but when he found he was of Cilicia, a distant part of the empire, he retained him. Kept in Herod's judgment hall. The palace built by Herod the Great in Cæsarea for his own residence, but now occupied by Felix.

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