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23. Paul Transferred to Caesarea
1And Paul, looking stedfastly on the council, said, Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day. 2And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: and sittest thou to judge me according to the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? 5And Paul said, I knew not, brethren, that he was high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people. 6But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees: touching the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9And there arose a great clamor: and some of the scribes of the Pharisees part stood up, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: and what if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel? 10And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the castle. 11And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer: for as thou hast testified concerning me at Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. 12And when it was day, the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13And they were more than forty that made this conspiracy. 14And they came to the chief priests and the elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul. 15Now therefore do ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you, as though ye would judge of his case more exactly: and we, before he comes near, are ready to slay him. 16But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the castle and told Paul. 17And Paul called unto him one of the centurions, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain; for he hath something to tell him. 18So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and saith, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and asked me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say to thee. 19And the chief captain took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, What is it that thou hast to tell me? 20And he said, The Jews have agreed to ask thee to bring down Paul tomorrow unto the council, as though thou wouldest inquire somewhat more exactly concerning him. 21Do not thou therefore yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, who have bound themselves under a curse, neither to eat nor to drink till they have slain him: and now are they ready, looking for the promise from thee. 22So the chief captain let the young man go, charging him, Tell no man that thou hast signified these things to me. 23And he called unto him two of the centurions, and said, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night: 24and he bade them provide beasts, that they might set Paul thereon, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. 25And he wrote a letter after this form: 26Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix, greeting. 27This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be slain of them, when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. 28And desiring to know the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him down unto their council: 29whom I found to be accused about questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. 30And when it was shown to me that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to thee forthwith, charging his accusers also to speak against him before thee. 31So the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32But on the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 33and they, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, presented Paul also before him. 34And when he had read it, he asked of what province he was; and when he understood that he was of Cilicia, 35I will hear thee fully, said he, when thine accusers also are come: and he commanded him to be kept in Herod's palace.
6-9. when Paul perceived—from the discussion which plainly had by this time arisen between the parties.
that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out—raising his voice above both parties.
I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee—The true reading seems to be, "the son of Pharisees," that is, belonging to a family who from father to son had long been such.
of the hope and resurrection of the dead—that is, not the vague hope of immortality, but the definite expectation of the resurrection.
I am called in question—By this adroit stroke, Paul engages the whole Pharisaic section of the council in his favor; the doctrine of a resurrection being common to both, though they would totally differ in their application of it. This was, of course, quite warrantable, and the more so as it was already evident that no impartiality in trying his cause was to be looked for from such an assembly.
8. the Sadducees say … there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit—(See on Lu 20:37).
the scribes … of the Pharisees' part … strove, saying, We find no evil in this man, but—as to those startling things which he brings to our ears.
if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him—referring, perhaps, to his trance in the temple, of which he had told them (Ac 22:17). They put this favorable construction upon his proceedings for no other reason than that they had found him one of their own party. They care not to inquire into the truth of what he alleged, over and above their opinions, but only to explain it away as something not worth raising a noise about. (The following words, "Let us not fight against God," seem not to belong to the original text, and perhaps are from Ac 5:39. In this case, either the meaning is, "If he has had some divine communication, what of that?" or, the conclusion of the sentence may have been drowned in the hubbub, which Ac 23:10 shows to have been intense).
10. the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled to pieces … commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force, &c.—This shows that the commandant was not himself present, and further, that instead of the Sanhedrim trying the cause, the proceedings quickly consisted in the one party attempting to seize the prisoner, and the other to protect him.
Ac 23:11-35. In the Fortress Paul Is Cheered by a Night Vision—An Infamous Conspiracy to Assassinate Him Is Providentially Defeated, and He Is Despatched by Night with a Letter from the Commandant to Felix at Cæsarea, by Whom Arrangements Are Made for a Hearing of His Cause.
11. the night following—his heart perhaps sinking, in the solitude of his barrack ward, and thinking perhaps that all the predictions of danger at Jerusalem were now to be fulfilled in his death there.
the Lord—that is, Jesus.
stood by him … Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou … also at Rome—that is, "Thy work in Jerusalem is done, faithfully and well done; but thou art not to die here; thy purpose next to 'see Rome' (Ac 19:21) shall not be disappointed, and there also must thou bear witness of Me." As this vision was not unneeded now, so we shall find it cheering and upholding him throughout all that befell him up to his arrival there.