The Acts Challenge: Chapter 23, Paul Tried Again

Day 23! Can you believe we’ve come this far? I don’t know about you, but I’ve really learned a lot in not only reading but WRITING through the Scriptures! It’s pretty exciting to see word by word how things are broken down. Suddenly the words just mean so much more!

If you’ve missed any of the previous writings, just click on my home page and scroll down. You’ll find them all there!

Paul Begins to Speak

(Vs. 1) And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

(Vs. 2) And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.

I don’t know how I had read this a million times and only just realized Paul had been slapped in the mouth. Ananias was not fooling around! But then again, neither was Paul…

(Vs. 3) Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?

Paul, probably ignoring the risk of getting slapped in the mouth AGAIN, basically says, God’s gonna slap you too, you hypocrite… judging me from the same law you’re not even following yourself. How dare you.

Again… sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?

Sadducees & Pharisees

(Vs. 4) And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?

(Vs. 5) Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.

(Vs. 6) But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

Honestly, for the particular day and age in which Paul lived, this was a pretty smart move on his part. First of all, he was, in fact, a Pharisee… at least he had been trained to be one. Furthermore, he knew that Pharisees believed there would be a resurrection, while Sadducees believed in no such thing.

By pitting the two against each other, with one of them that would surely be on his side, he had cleared himself a path, albeit a dangerous one!

What To Do?

(Vs. 7) And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.

(Vs. 8) For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

(Vs. 9) And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.

If what Paul had said was true – and it was – that they called him blasphemous for saying Jesus had risen from the dead as the son of God, then the Pharisees were ready to let him go. Since the Sadducees were having no part of that, there was a huge uproar.

Saving Paul Again

(Vs. 10) And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

Once again, the chief captain makes a judgment call that will likely save Paul’s life. The crowd was in such an uproar the soldier’s literally had to take Paul by force to bring him back into the castle.

Paul Gets A Word From God

(Vs. 11) And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

It was meant for Paul to go to Rome to witness for Jesus, and so it would be. The following tells the story of how that happens…

(Vs 12) And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink til they had killed Paul.

(Vs. 13) And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 15) Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

The Jews’ Plan Confounded

(Vs. 16) And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

I think it’s interesting that we never hear of Paul’s sister. But here, her son, Paul’s nephew, had heard the whole thing, how it was planned out, and he took word to Paul himself.

(Vs. 17) Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.

(Vs. 18) So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.

The chief captain and his men must not have hated Paul as badly as the Jews and the council. It seems they allowed much more than they would have allowed with another prisoner. But then, that’s the kind of favor you get with God… favor where you need it.

(Vs. 19) Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?

Paul’s Nephew Recounts the Story

(Vs. 20) And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.

You know, it occurs to me while reading through this book, that as much trouble as the councils gave the early church, a lesson should have been learned.

How could nearly every “Christian” church in existence now be bound by laws and regulations that were handled by the Council of Nicaea? Many of what today’s Christians adhere so closely to are literally Nicean translations of what they wanted the Bible to say.

History relates how the Councils in those early years forced out protestants in favor Catholic churches. Books have been written – and burned – about them. Parishioners excommunicated because of their leanings against the Council Creeds, after finding out how they came to be, and so much more.

It seems the councils, even from Jesus’ day forward, were always trying to do whatever they could to get around the literal and inerrant word of God.

(Vs. 21) But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.

The Chief Captain Takes Measures

(Vs. 22) So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.

(Vs. 23) And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night,

You know the chief cpatain is serious about Paul’s protection when his entourage looks like this
*200 Soldiers
*70 Horsemen
*200 Spearmen
And all at 9 o’clock at night.

(Vs. 24) And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

The Chief Captain Named; His Letter to Felix

(Vs. 25) And he wrote a letter after this manner:

(Vs. 26) Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.

So, now we know the name of the chief captain.

(Vs. 27) This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.

Here, the chief captain is actually stretching his story to make himself appear innocent. If he had told Felix the fact that he had actually bound Paul and readied him for a scourging, all the while with Paul actually being a Roman citizen, the chief captain himself could have been put to death.

So, instead, he paints himself out to be a Savior of sorts, saving Paul from the Jews’ deadly hands

(Vs. 28) And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:

(Vs. 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.

(Vs. 30) And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.

Paul Transferred to Felix the Governor

(Vs. 31) Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

(Vs. 32) On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle.

(Vs. 33) Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

(Vs. 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;

(Vs. 35) I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.

After reading the letter and asking Paul where he was from, the governor decides to take the case. It will be heard, he said, when the accusers come. Until then, he is held in Herod’s judgment hall.

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