Acts 23

Listen to Acts 23
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, "Brothers, 1I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day."
2 And the high priest 2Ananias commanded those who stood by him 3to strike him on the mouth.
3 Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you 4whitewashed 5wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet 6contrary to the law you 7order me to be struck?"
4 Those who stood by said, "Would you revile 8God's high priest?
5 And Paul said, 9"I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, 10'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were 11Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Brothers, 12I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is 13with respect to the 14hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial."
7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.
8 For the Sadducees 15say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.
9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of 16the scribes of the Pharisees' party stood up and contended sharply, 17"We find nothing wrong in this man. What 18if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?"
10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into 19the barracks.
11 20The following night 21the Lord stood by him and said, 22"Take courage, for 23as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must 24testify also in Rome."

A Plot to Kill Paul

12 When it was day, 25the Jews made a plot and 26bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.
14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, "We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul
15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near."
16 Now the son of Paul's sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered 27the barracks and told Paul.
17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, "Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him."
18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, "Paul 28the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you."
19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?
20 And he said, 29"The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him.
21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who 30have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.
22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, "Tell no one that you have informed me of these things."

Paul Sent to Felix the Governor

23 Then he called two of the centurions and said, "Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night.[a]
24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to 31Felix 32the governor."
25 And he wrote a letter to this effect:
26 "Claudius Lysias, to 33his Excellency the governor Felix, 34greetings.
27 35This man was seized by the Jews and 36was about to be killed by them 37when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, 38having learned that he was a Roman citizen.
28 And 39desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council.
29 I found that he was being accused 40about questions of their law, but 41charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.
30 42And when it was disclosed to me 43that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, 44ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him."
31 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
32 And on the next day they returned to 45the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him.
33 When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him.
34 On reading the letter, he asked what 46province he was from. And when he learned 47that he was from Cilicia,
35 he said, "I will give you a hearing 48when your accusers arrive." And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod's 49praetorium.

Acts 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Paul's defence before the council of the Jews. (1-5) Paul's defence. He receives a Divine assurance that he shall go to Rome. (6-11) The Jews conspire to kill Paul, Lysias sends him to Cesarea. (12-24) Lysias's letter to Felix. (25-35)

Verses 1-5 See here the character of an honest man. He sets God before him, and lives as in his sight. He makes conscience of what he says and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, he keeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. He is conscientious in all his words and conduct. Those who thus live before God, may, like Paul, have confidence both toward God and man. Though the answer of Paul contained a just rebuke and prediction, he seems to have been too angry at the treatment he received in uttering them. Great men may be told of their faults, and public complaints may be made in a proper manner; but the law of God requires respect for those in authority.

Verses 6-11 The Pharisees were correct in the faith of the Jewish church. The Sadducees were no friends to the Scripture or Divine revelation; they denied a future state; they had neither hope of eternal happiness, nor dread of eternal misery. When called in question for his being a Christian, Paul might truly say he was called in question for the hope of the resurrection of the dead. It was justifiable in him, by this profession of his opinion on that disputed point, to draw off the Pharisees from persecuting him, and to lead them to protect him from this unlawful violence. How easily can God defend his own cause! Though the Jews seemed to be perfectly agreed in their conspiracy against religion, yet they were influenced by very different motives. There is no true friendship among the wicked, and in a moment, and with the utmost ease, God can turn their union into open enmity. Divine consolations stood Paul in the most stead; the chief captain rescued him out of the hands of cruel men, but the event he could not tell. Whoever is against us, we need not fear, if the Lord stand by us. It is the will of Christ, that his servants who are faithful, should be always cheerful. He might think he should never see Rome; but God tells him, even in that he should be gratified, since he desired to go there only for the honour of Christ, and to do good.

Verses 12-24 False religious principles, adopted by carnal men, urge on to such wickedness, as human nature would hardly be supposed capable of. Yet the Lord readily disappoints the best concerted schemes of iniquity. Paul knew that the Divine providence acts by reasonable and prudent means; and that, if he neglected to use the means in his power, he could not expect God's providence to work on his behalf. He who will not help himself according to his means and power, has neither reason nor revelation to assure him that he shall receive help from God. Believing in the Lord, we and ours shall be kept from every evil work, and kept to his kingdom. Heavenly Father, give us by thy Holy Spirit, for Christ's sake, this precious faith.

Verses 25-35 God has instruments for every work. The natural abilities and moral virtues of the heathens often have been employed to protect his persecuted servants. Even the men of the world can discern between the conscientious conduct of upright believers, and the zeal of false professors, though they disregard or understand not their doctrinal principles. All hearts are in God's hand, and those are blessed who put their trust in him, and commit their ways unto him.

Cross References 49

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:3; [Acts 24:16; Job 27:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Hebrews 13:18]
  • 2. Acts 24:1
  • 3. 1 Kings 22:24; Lamentations 3:30; Micah 5:1; 2 Corinthians 11:20
  • 4. [Matthew 23:27]
  • 5. [Isaiah 30:13; Ezekiel 13:10-14]
  • 6. Deuteronomy 25:1, 2; See John 7:51
  • 7. Deuteronomy 25:1, 2; See John 7:51
  • 8. [1 Samuel 2:28; Psalms 106:16]
  • 9. [Acts 24:1]
  • 10. Cited from Exodus 22:28
  • 11. See Matthew 22:23
  • 12. Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5
  • 13. Acts 24:15, 21; Acts 26:6-8; Acts 28:20
  • 14. [Acts 2:26, 27]; See Colossians 1:5
  • 15. Luke 20:27; [1 Corinthians 15:12]
  • 16. Acts 4:5; Mark 2:16; Luke 5:30
  • 17. [ver. 29]
  • 18. [Acts 22:7, 17, 18; John 12:29]
  • 19. ver. 16, 32; Acts 21:34; Acts 22:24
  • 20. Acts 18:9; Acts 27:23
  • 21. 1 Samuel 3:10
  • 22. [2 Timothy 4:17]
  • 23. [Acts 19:21]
  • 24. Acts 22:15
  • 25. ver. 30
  • 26. ver. 14, 21
  • 27. ver. 10, 32
  • 28. See Ephesians 3:1
  • 29. ver. 14, 15
  • 30. ver. 12, 14
  • 31. ver. 26; Acts 24:2; Acts 25:14
  • 32. ver. 33; Acts 24:1, 10; Acts 26:30; See Luke 20:20
  • 33. Acts 24:1
  • 34. See Acts 15:23
  • 35. Acts 21:27
  • 36. [Acts 21:32, 33]
  • 37. [Acts 21:32, 33]
  • 38. [Acts 22:25-29]
  • 39. Acts 22:30
  • 40. Acts 18:15; Acts 25:19
  • 41. Acts 25:25; Acts 26:31; Acts 28:18; [ver. 9]
  • 42. ver. 20
  • 43. ver. 12; See Acts 9:24
  • 44. ver. 35; [Acts 24:19; Acts 25:16]
  • 45. ver. 10, 16
  • 46. Acts 25:1
  • 47. Acts 21:39
  • 48. ver. 30
  • 49. See Matthew 27:27

Footnotes 1

Acts 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.