23:1So Paul faced the Sanhedrin and said, “Folks, brothers and sisters, I have lived in good conscience as a citizen before God to this day.”23:2But the ruling priest Ananias ordered those standing near him to punch him in the mouth.
23:3“God is about to beat you, you whitewashed wall!” Paul exclaimed. “You sit in judgment of me according to the law, but you broke the law by having me punched!”
23:4But those standing nearby retorted, “That is the ruling priest of God you’re insulting!”
23:5“I was not aware he was the ruling priest,” Paul replied. “For it is written: ‘You must not speak evil of your people’s ruler’.”
23:6Then it occurred to Paul that one half the Sanhedrin was composed of Sadducees, and the other of Pharisees. So he shouted to the Sanhedrin, “Folks, brothers and sisters, I am a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee. I am being judged because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead!”1
23:7When he said this, there was a great commotion among the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the crowd was split.23:8(The Sadducees say there is no resurrection or Messengers or spirits, but the Pharisees affirm them.)23:9Then it erupted into a shouting match, with some of the scripture scholars among the Pharisees contending, “We find no grounds for the charges against this person. What if a spirit or Messenger spoke to him?”
23:10The situation became so volatile that the legion commander feared that Paul might be torn apart by the crowd. So he ordered troops to come down and snatch him away from them and take him to the citadel.23:11That night, the Master stood beside him and said, “Take courage! For just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so also must you do in Rome.”
23:12As the next day began, the Judeans conspired together and bound themselves with an oath, that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.23:13(This cabal had over forty members.)23:14They went to the ruling priests and elders and said, “We have bound ourselves with an oath to taste nothing until we have killed Paul.23:15So here is the plan: Tell the legion commander and the Sanhedrin to take him down to you under the pretext of further interrogation. But we will be ready to kill him before he gets there!”
23:16Now the son of Paul’s sister heard about the ambush, and he went to the citadel to report it to Paul.23:17So Paul called for one of the Roman army captains and said to him, “Take this youngster to the legion commander; he has information for him.”23:18So he escorted him to the legion commander and reported: “The prisoner Paul called me to him and asked me to take this youngster to you, because he has something to tell you.”
23:19The legion commander took him by the hand to speak with him privately, and he asked, “What is it that you have to report to me?”
23:20And he replied, “The Judeans have conspired to ask you to take Paul down to the Sanhedrin tomorrow, under the pretext that they want more accurate information about him.23:21But don’t let them talk you into it, because more than forty of their men will be waiting in ambush, and they have bound themselves with an oath to neither eat nor drink until they have assassinated him. They are ready now in the expectation that you will agree to this.”
23:22Then the legion commander dismissed the youngster and warned him, “Don’t tell anyone that you revealed this to me.”
23:23He then summoned two Roman army captains and said, “Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, along with seventy mounted troops and two hundred guards armed with spears. They are to depart around nine o’clock tonight.23:24Give Paul animals to ride as well, so he will be brought safely to governor Felix.”
23:25He also wrote the following letter:
23:26“From Claudius Lysias
“To the most honorable Governor Felix: Greetings!
23:27“This man was apprehended by the Judeans and they were about to kill him. But I came along with the troops and got him out of there when I realized he was a Roman citizen.223:28In the interest of determining the charges against him, I took him down to their Sanhedrin.23:29It turns out that the indictment concerned questions about their law, but it was certainly nothing deserving of death or imprisonment.23:30Then I was informed about a plot against this man, so I sent him to you at once. I also demanded that the accusers present their case before you.”
23:31So the soldiers followed their orders and took Paul during the night to Antipatris.23:32The next morning they returned to the citadel, while the mounted troops continued on.23:33When they reached Caesarea they handed over the letter to the governor and presented Paul to him.23:34After reading the letter he asked what province Paul was from. When he learned that it was Cilicia23:35he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” Then he ordered him to be kept under guard in Herod’s headquarters.
- 1Paul was using a shrewd tactic to divide the Sanhedrin so he would not be convicted of anything. His statement was technically correct (resurrection of the dead). But since the Pharisees believed in this while the Sadducees did not, he knew he could split his opposition right down the middle by not specifying exactly whose resurrection he was on trial for teaching.
- 2Claudius Lysias is clearly embellishing the facts in order to impress Felix.