The Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 23

As Paul pleads his cause, 1, Ananias commands them to smite him, 2-6. Dissension among his accusers, 7-10. God encourages him, 11-13. The Jews' laying wait for Paul, 14-19, is declared to the chief captain, 20-26. He sends him to Felix the governor, 27-35.

1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, "Men, brothers, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, "God shall smite you, you whited wall. For do you sit to judge me according to the law, and command me to be smitten contrary to the law?" 4 And those who stood by said, "Do you revile God's high priest?" 5 Then Paul said, "I did not know, brothers, that he is the high priest. For it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.'"

6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men, brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." 7 And when he had said this, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the multitude was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees confess both. 9 And there arose a great cry. And the scribes who were of the Pharisees' part arose and contended, saying, "We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God." 10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing, lest Paul would have been pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and bring him into the castle.

11 And the following night, the Lord stood by him, and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified concerning me in Jerusalem, so you must bear testimony also at Rome."

12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. 13 And they were more than forty who had made this conspiracy. 14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. 15 Now therefore, you and the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down to you tomorrow as though you would inquire something more perfectly concerning him. And we, before he comes near, are ready to kill him."

16 And when the son of Paul's sister heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him, and said, "Bring this young man to the chief captain, for he has a certain thing to tell him." 18 So he took him and brought him to the chief captain, and said, "Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring to you this young man who has something to say to you." 19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand and went with him aside privately, and asked him, "What is it that you have to tell me?" 20 And he said, "The Jews have agreed to desire of you that you would bring Paul down tomorrow into the council as though they would inquire somewhat more perfectly concerning him. 21 But do not yield to them, for there are of those who lie in wait for him more than forty men who have bound themselves with an oath that they will neither eat nor drink until they have killed him. And now they are ready, looking for a promise from you." 22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, "See that you tell no man that you have revealed these things to me."

23 And he called two centurions to him, saying, "Make ready two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night. 24 And provide for them beasts that they may set Paul on and bring him safe to Felix the governor." 25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:

26 "Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix, sends greeting. 27 This man was taken by the Jews and would have been killed by them. But I came with a body of soldiers and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 28 And when I would have known the cause for which they accused him, I brought him forth into their council, 29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death, or of bonds. 30 And when it was told to me that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent immediately to you and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before you what they had against him. Farewell."

31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 On the next day, they left the horsemen to go with him and returned to the castle. 33 When they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, they also presented Paul before him. 34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia, 35 He said, "I will hear you when your accusers have also come." And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment-hall.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Acts, Chapter 23[➚]


[v.5] - Quoting Exodus 22:28 (LXX).