Note: Paul is going to try to make his defense before the Jewish council, but they aren’t going to listen.
Acts 23:1 “…I have lived in all good conscience before God…”
Paul lived according to the law before his conversion, and he has lived according to what Christ said since. Even though he fought against Christ unknowingly before, he did it with the best of intentions. He was doing what he thought God required. He’s not claiming he was perfect, but that his intent was clear.
2 “…Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him…”
No willingness to listen, but to destroy what they didn’t want to hear. If you have no argument against a point just don’t allow the other side to speak. Same tactic is used today.
3 “…contrary to the law”
The law required that judges judge fairly. Not allowing the accused to speak in his defense or striking him for his words is certainly not fair. Further shows that Ananias had no real intention of hearing Paul’s argument.
6 “…when Paul perceived…”
He saw he wasn’t going to get a fair hearing so he turned them on each other. His statement to set them off was also the truth. His message of Christ was concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead. Nice play.
11 “…you must also bear witness at Rome”
Direct clarification and confirmation by Christ that Paul had been following His lead all this time. God was calling him to go to Rome, and He was going to use this mess to get Paul there.
12-15 “…more than forty…you, therefore, together with the council…”
True conspiracy. No doubt as to their guilt. They are directly conspiring to kill someone.
16 “…Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush…”
Only mention of Paul’s family. Commentaries suggest his nephew may have been in Jerusalem studying with the Jewish elders as Paul did. If so, he may have been in a position to hear of the plot.
19 “…commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately…”
In all of his dealings with Paul, the commander appears to be an honorable man. No indication is given that he was partial or inclined to be slack in his duty concerning the situation. Makes you wonder why the men who took the oath didn’t try to bribe him. Perhaps they knew by his reputation that he would not have consented to it.
23 “…two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen…”
Pretty large force. Commentary says the contingent at Jerusalem would have been large enough to provide for it with no problems. The commander obviously took his duty to preserve the peace and to provide for the safety of Roman citizens very seriously.
26 “Claudius Lysias…”
The name of the commander. Nice that it was included for posterity.
26 “…governor Felix…”
Roman governor of the area. Not sure offhand of the area covered by him.
29 “…had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains”
Lysias knows Paul has done nothing against Roman law, although he must follow procedure. Once Paul makes his appeal to Caesar in Rome, it is believed that he was released due to this fact. But in the process, God used the entire time to spread the Gospel through Paul.
Commentary says about forty miles from Jerusalem on the way to Caesarea.
32 “…left the horsemen to go on with him…”
The four hundred soldiers returned to Jerusalem leaving the seventy horsemen to continue on with Paul. As they had not encountered any resistance thus far, and the force going on was so large, there was no reason for all of them to continue. Commentary says the remaining distance was around twenty-five or twenty-six miles.
34 “…what province he was from…he was from Cilicia”
Felix decided to hear the case once he determined where Paul was from, being a Roman citizen. Not clear if he was just making sure Paul was a Roman citizen or if he was checking to see if he had jurisdiction over him or the situation. Commentaries are a bit vague on the point. At any rate, all agree Felix was checking to see if this was his case. He decided it was and held Paul until his accusers came to present their case.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.