Notes and References
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Acts of the Apostles
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Acts Chapter 23 n 24
PAUL FACES HIS ACCUSERS AND THEN SENT TO FELIX IN CEASAREA
1And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God 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: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
"God shall smite thee", came to pass according to Josephus at the hands of the Sicarii (violent men, assassins), approximately 66-70 AD during the Jewish Roman wars, for being a Roman collaborator.
4And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?
5Then 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.
6But 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.
7And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude 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 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.
10And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
11And 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.
12And when it was day, certain of 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 which had made this conspiracy.
It is thought that these who made this conspiracy were Sicarii. "Bound themselves under a curse" meant causing a curse to fall upon them if they do not complete the assassination of Paul. Now if they cannot fulfill the vow, they can be absolved of the curse by a priest.
14And 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.
15Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
16And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
17Then 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.
18So 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.
19Then 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?
20And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would inquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
21But 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.
22So 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.
23And 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;
24And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
This plays out like an old Western movie where there is going to be a lynch mob the next day coming for the prisoner at the jail, but the sheriff gets wind of it and whisks away the prisoner with armed men into the night to face trial in a safer town.
Paul is defended by 470 men! 200 soldiers, 70 riders, 200 spearmen all escort him at 9 pm or the third hour of the night. 400 of the men only travel about half way to Caesarea and return to Jerusalem. The horsemen continued with Paul.
25And he wrote a letter after this manner:
26Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
This verse is how we know the chief captain's name was Claudius Lysias.
27This 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.
28And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
29Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
30And 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.
31Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
32On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:
33Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.
34And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;
35I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.
THE LAWYER TERTULLUS SPEAKS FOR THE JEWS
1And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
2And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,
3We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.
4Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
5For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
6Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
7But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,
8Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.
9And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
PAUL DEFENDS HIMSELF
10Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:
Felix had been governor about seven years.
11Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
12And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city:
13Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.
Paul had only been in Jerusalem 12 days up until his being sent to Ceasarea, hardly enough time to accomplish all the accusations.
14But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
15And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
16And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
17Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
18Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
19Who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me.
20Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council,
21Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
Because there were no witnesses present regarding the accusations against Paul, especially those Jews of Asia who started all of the commotion, the charges should have been dropped according to Mosaic Law. Two witnesses must testify in order for a man to be put to death.
30…but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.
6At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
7The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.
The Jews were unlawful in their pursuit of Paul in this matter.
22And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
23And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
24And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
26He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
Bribes - always a means of favor, common in other countries even today.
27But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
Paul is imprisoned two full years at Ceasarea. This puts the timeline somewhere around 61-62 AD. Paul is martyred in Rome in approximately 67 AD.
Paul's story is coming to a close here in the book of Acts, but his legacy lives on some 1933 years later. His gospel of faith in Jesus Christ alone which is sufficient for salvation, is the foundation for the true body of believers, by whom millions have been given everlasting life.