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Bible Commentaries
Acts 23

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Verse 1

Acts 23:1 . ἀτενίσας , see on chap. Acts 1:10 , “looking stedfastly,” R.V. The word denotes the fixed stedfast gaze which may be fairly called a characteristic of St. Paul. On this occasion the Apostle may well have gazed stedfastly on the Council which condemned Stephen, and although many new faces met his gaze, some of his audience were probably familiar to him. There is no need to suppose that the word implied weakness of sight (Ramsay, St. Paul , p. 38). ἄνδ . ἀδελ .: the omission of πατέρες suggests that he addressed the assembly not as judges but as fellow-countrymen. On ἀδελ . see on Acts 1:15 . It is of course possible, as Chrysostom observes, that he did not wish to appear εὐκαταφρόνητος before the chiliarch. συνειδήσει : the word occurs no less than thirty times in N.T., R.V., so also in John 8:9 , but 1 Corinthians 8:7 , συνηθείᾳ , R.V., and of these no less than twenty times in St. Paul’s Epistles, twice in Acts, on both occasions by St. Paul, three times in 1 Peter, and five times in Hebrews. It may therefore be almost reckoned as a Pauline word. It does not occur at all in the Gospels (but cf. John 8:9 ), but it need hardly be said that our Lord distinctly appeals to its sanction, although the word is never uttered by Him. The N.T. writers found the word ready to their use. In Wis 17:10 (11) we have the nearest anticipation of the Christian use of the word, whilst it must not be forgotten that it first appears at least in philosophical importance amongst the Stoics. (In Ecclesiastes 10:20 it is used but in a different sense, and in Sir 42:18 , but in the latter case the reading is doubtful, and if the word is retained, it is only used in the same sense as in Ecclesiastes 10:20 .) It is used by Chrysippus of Soli, or Tarsus, in Cilicia, Diog. Laert., vii., 8, but not perhaps with any higher meaning than self-consciousness. For the alleged earlier use of the word by Bias and Periander, and the remarkable parallel expression ἀγαθὴ συνείδησις attributed to the latter, see W. Schmidt, Das Gewissen , p. 6 (1889), and for two quotations of its use by Menander, Grimm-Thayer, sub v.; cf. also Davison, The Christian Conscience (Fernley Lectures), 1888, sec. ii. and vi.; Cremer, Wörterbuch, sub v. ; Sanday and Headlam, Romans 2:15 , and for literature “Conscience,” Hastings’ B.D. For the scriptural idea of the word cf. also Westcott, additional note, on Hebrews 9:9 . πεπολ .: however loosely the word may have been used at a later date, it seems that when St. Paul spoke, and when he wrote to the Philippians, it embraced the public duties incumbent on men as members of a body , Hort, Ecclesia , p. 137, Lightfoot on Philippians 1:27 (Acts 3:20 ), cf. Jos., Vita , ii. St. Paul was a covenant member of a divine πολιτεία , the commonwealth of God, the laws of which he claims to have respected and observed. The word is also found in LXX, Esther 8:13 (H. and R.), 2Ma 6:1 ; 2Ma 11:25 , and four times in 4 Macc. Lightfoot, u. s. , parallels the use of the verb in Phil. by St. Paul from Clem. Rom., Cor [371] , xxi. 1, and Polycarp, Phil. , v., 5. But Clem. Rom., u. s. , vi., 1, has the phrase ποῖς ἀνδράσιν ὁσίως πολιτευσαμένοις , referring to the O.T. Saints, and so St. Peter and St. Paul. To this latter expression Deissmann, Bibelstudien , i., p. 211, finds a parallel in the fragment of a letter dating about 164 B.C. (Pap., Par. , 63, coll. 8 and 9), τοῖς θεοῖς πρὸς οὓς ὁσίως καὶ … δικαίως ( πολι ) τευσάμενος . τῷ Θεῷ : in another moment of danger at the close of his career, 2 Timothy 1:3 , the Apostle again appeals to a higher tribunal than that of the Sanhedrim or of Caesar. For the dative of the object cf. Romans 14:18 , Galatians 2:19 . ἄχρι ταύτης τῆς ἡμ ., emphatic, because the Apostle wished to affirm that he was still in his present work for Christ a true member of the theocracy, cf. Romans 9:1 ff.

[371] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

Verse 2

Acts 23:2 . Ἀναν .: not the Ananias of Acts 4:7 , Luke 3:2 , John 18:13 , but the son of Nebedæus, appointed to his office by Herod of Chalcis, high priest from c. 47 59. He was sent to Rome on account of the complaints of the Samaritans against the Jews, but the Jewish cause prevailed, and there is no reason to suppose that Ananias lost his office. The probabilities are that he retained it until he was deposed shortly before the departure of Felix. Josephus gives us a terrible picture of his violent and unscrupulous conduct, Ant. , xx., 9, 2. But his Roman sympathisers made him an object of hatred to the nationalists, and in A.D. 66, in the days of the last great revolt against the Romans, he was dragged from a sewer in which he had hidden, and was murdered by the weapons of the assassins whom in his own period of power he had not scrupled to employ, Jos., B.J. , ii., 17, 9, “Ananias,” B.D. 2 , and Hastings’ B.D., O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte , pp. 130, 146. τύπτειν : because Paul had forgotten that he was before his judges, and ought not to have spoken before being asked, cf. Luke 6:29 , John 18:22 , 2Co 11:20 , 1 Timothy 3:3 , Titus 1:7 . The act was illegal and peculiarly offensive to a Jew at the hands of a Jew, Farrar, St. Paul , ii., p. 323.

Verse 3

Acts 23:3 . Wetstein sees in the words the customary formula of malediction among the Jews. But we need not regard Paul’s words as an imprecation of evil on the high priest, but only an expression of the firm belief that such conduct would meet with punishment, cf. Knabenbauer, in loco. The terrible death of Ananias was a fulfilment of the words. On the paronomasia and other instances of the same figure see Blass, Gram. , p. 292. τοῖχε κεκον ., cf. Matthew 23:27 , Luke 11:44 , the expression may have been proverbial, in LXX, cf. Proverbs 21:9 . A contrast has been drawn between St. Paul’s conduct and that of our Lord under provocation, as, e.g. , by St. Jerome, Adv. Pelag. , iii., 1, but there were occasions when Christ spoke with righteous indignation, and never more severely than when He was condemning the same sin which St. Paul censured hypocrisy. καὶ σύ , emphatic, cf. Mark 4:13 , Luke 10:29 . καὶ at the commencement of a question expressing indignation or astonishment (Page). κάθῃ κρίνων , later form for κάθησαι , cf. for the phrase Luke 22:30 . παρανομῶν : only here in N.T., but cf. LXX, Psalms 75:4 , 118:51; the verb also occurs several times in 4 Macc.

Verse 4

Acts 23:4 . τὸν ἀρχ . τοῦ Θεοῦ : of God, emphatic, i.e. , sitting on the judgment-seat as God’s representative, cf. Deuteronomy 17:8 ff., and also the name Elohim, by which the priestly and other judges were sometimes known, Exodus 21:6 ; Exodus 22:8-9 , Psalms 81:1 .

Verse 5

Acts 23:5 . οὐκ ᾔδειν : the subject of ἐστιν is not expressed as in A. and R.V., in the Greek it is simply “I wist not that it was the high priest (who spoke)”. If it be said that St. Paul could scarcely have been ignorant that Ananias was high priest, we must bear in mind that not even the high priest wore a distinctive dress when not engaged in actual service (Edersheim, Temple and its Services , p. 67, with reference to this same passage), if we are not prepared to accept the view of Chrysostom and Oecumenius amongst others, that the Apostle, owing to his long absence from Jerusalem, did not know the high priest by sight, or to suppose that his weakness of eyesight might have prevented him from seeing clearly (so Lewin, Plumptre). The interpretation that St. Paul spoke ironically, or by way of protest, as if such behaviour as that of Ananias on his nomination to office by Herod of Chalcis was in itself sufficient to prevent his recognition as high priest, is somewhat out of harmony with the Apostle’s quotation of Scripture in his reply, nor are the attempts to translate οὐκ ᾔδειν as = non agnosco or non reputabam successful. See further Zöckler’s summary of the different views, Apostelgeschichte , 2nd edition, in loco. ἀδελφοί : the word indicates St. Paul’s quick recovery from his moment of just anger to a conciliatory tone. γέγ . γὰρ : in this appeal to the law, St. Paul showed not only his acquaintance with it, but his reverence for it another proof of his wisdom and tact. ἄρχοντα τοῦ λαοῦ σου κ . τ . λ .: LXX, Exodus 22:28 , the Apostle apparently only quotes the latter part of the verse; in the Hebrew we have “thou shalt not revile God ( margin , the judges), nor curse a ruler of thy people”. Cf. the ruling principle of the Apostle’s conduct Romans 13:1-7 (1 Peter 2:13-17 ).

Verse 6

Acts 23:6 . γνοὺς … τὸ … ἓ τὸ δὲ ἕτερον . On ἕν … ἕτερον : see Simcox Language of the N.T. , pp. 71, 72. That Pharisees and Sadducees alike had seats in the Sanhedrim during this period is borne out not only by the N. T., but by Jos., Ant. , xx., 9, 1, B.J. , ii., 17, 3, Vita , 38, 39. It is possible that the Pharisees might have attracted the attention of the Apostle by their protest against the behaviour of Ananias and their acceptance of the words of apology (so Felten, Zöckler), but it is equally probable that in St. Luke’s apparently condensed account the appeal to the Pharisees was not made on a sudden impulse (see below), but was based upon some manifestation of sympathy with his utterances. In Acts 23:9 it is evidently implied that the story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus had been narrated, and his acceptance of the Messiahship of the Risen Jesus carried with it his belief in a resurrection. ἔκραξεν : the word may here as sometimes elsewhere, cf. John 7:37 ; John 12:44 , indicate no isolated cry, but a reference to something previously said, and it is probable that St. Luke may have passed over here as elsewhere some portions of the Apostle’s speech, which were less intimately connected with the development and issue of events. It must however be noted that the verb may mean that the Apostle cried aloud so that all might hear him amidst the rising confusion. ἐγὼ φαρι . εἰμι κ . τ . λ .: the words have been severely criticised, but in a very real sense they truthfully expressed the Apostle’s convictions. Before Felix St. Paul made practically the same assertion, although he did not use the word φαρ . ( cf. also Acts 26:5 ), Hort, Judaistic Christianity , p. 111. Moreover it is difficult to see why the Apostle should not describe himself as a Pharisee in face of the statement, Acts 15:5 , that many members of the sect were also members of the Christian Church. They, like St. Paul, must have acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. But that Messiahship was attested by the avowal of the resurrection of Jesus, and the resurrection was a prominent article of the Pharisees’ creed. In the acceptance of this latter doctrine St. Paul was at one not only with the “Pharisees who believed,” but with the whole sect, and that he used the title in this limited way, viz. , with relation to the hope of the resurrection, is plain from the context, which fixes the limitation by the Apostle’s own words. But because the declaration shows the tact of St. Paul, because it is an instance of his acting upon the maxim Divide et impera , has it no higher side in relation to his character and purpose? May we not even say that to the Pharisees he became as a Pharisee in order to save some, to lead them to see the crown and fulfilment of the hope in which he and they were at one, in the Person of Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life? That the Apostle’s action met with Divine approval seems evident, Acts 23:11 . See “Paul” (Dr. Llewellyn Davies), B.D. 1 , iii., 754, 755, and amongst recent writers, Luckock, but on the other hand Gilbert, Student’s Life of Paul , p. 187 ff. Bethge attributes to the Apostle an apologetic aim, viz. , to show the chiliarch that Christianity should be protected by the State, since it was no new religion, but really proceeded from Judaism; and in support he refers to the words of Lysias, Acts 23:29 ; but although the Apostle’s appeal may have helped Lysias to form his judgment, it seems somewhat strained to attribute to the Apostle the motive assigned by Bethge. υἱὸς φαρ .: “a son of Pharisees,” R.V. plural, which is the best reading, i.e. , his ancestors, 2 Timothy 1:3 , Philippians 3:5 , possibly including his teachers by a familiar Hebraism. περὶ ἐλπίδος καὶ ἀνασ .: generally taken as a hendiadys (so Page), “hope of a resurrection of the dead” (see, however, Winer-Moulton, lxvi. 7). In Acts 26:6 ἐλπίς is used of the hope of a future Messianic salvation the hope of Israel but in Acts 24:15 St. Paul distinctly makes mention of the hope of a resurrection of the dead, and his own words again in Acts 24:21 seem to exclude anything beyond that question as under discussion on the present occasion.

Verse 7

Acts 23:7 . στάσις : There is no difficulty in supposing that this dissension took place in the Assembly; it may have been no sudden result, because the Apostle had evidently said much more than is mentioned in the preceding verse (see above), and there is good evidence that one of the fundamental differences between the two sects was concerned with the question which St. Paul had raised, Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah , i., 315; Jos., Ant. , xviii., 1, 4; B.J. , ii., 8, 14. ἐοχίσθη τὸ πλ ., Æn. , ii., 39, and instances in Wetstein.

Verse 8

Acts 23:8 . ἄγγελον … πνεῦμα : are joined together by the speaker as one principal conception, so that the following ἀμφότερα presents no difficulty, see Winer-Moulton, Leviticus , 6, Page, in loco. πνεῦμα would include the spirits of the dead, to one of which Paul would appear to have appealed, Acts 22:7 ; Acts 22:18 (Weiss). On the denial see Schürer, Jewish People , div. ii., vol. ii., p. 13, E.T., cf. also the remarks of Dr. A. B. Davidson, “Angel,” Hastings’ B.D., as to the possible sense of this denial and its possible limitation, with which we may compare Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums , ii., 7, 1046. ὁμολ ., i.e. , as part of their religious creed, their confession and open profession of faith: “but the faith of the Sadducees is well described by negations”.

Verse 9

Acts 23:9 . κραυγὴ μεγ .: “there arose a great clamour,” R.V., so A.V. in Ephesians 4:31 ; the noun also denotes not only the loud cry of partisan applause as here, but of joyful surprise, Luke 1:42 , of grief, Revelation 21:4 , of anger, Ephes. u. s. , Westcott on Hebrews 5:7 , cf. LXX, Exodus 12:30 , Jdt 14:19 , 2Ma 15:29 . ἀναστάντες , characteristic, see on Acts 5:17 . γραμματεῖς , the professional lawyers exercised considerable influence in the Sanhedrim, belonging chiefly to the Pharisees, but also numbering in their ranks some Sadducean scribes, Schürer, Jewish People , div. ii., vol. i., pp. 178, 319, E.T. The notice may therefore be placed to the writer’s accuracy. διεμάχοντο : only here in N.T., cf. LXX, Daniel 10:20 , Sir 8:1 ; Sir 8:3 ; Sir 51:19 R., frequent in classics. Overbeck and Holtzmann can only see in this scene a repetition of chap. Acts 5:33 . εἰ δὲ πνεῦμα : “And what if a spirit hath spoken to him, or an angel?” R.V. reading after ἄγγελος a mark of interrogation. Often explained as aposiopesis (so Weiss), cf. W.H [372] reading John 6:62 , Romans 9:22 , but see Blass, Gram. , p. 288, Burton, pp. 109 110. The words may been followed by a significant gesture or look towards the Sadducees, or by some such words as St. Chrysostom suggests: ποῖον ἔγκλημα ! or, without any real aposiopesis , the words may have been interrupted by the tumult, Winer-Moulton, lxiv., ii. πνεῦμα : the word evidently refers back to St. Paul’s own statements, Acts 22:6-7 , while at the same time it indicates that the Pharisees were far from accepting Paul’s account of the scene before Damascus as an appearance of Jesus of Nazareth.

[372] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

Verse 10

Acts 23:10 . εὐλ ., see critical note. μὴ : after verbs of fear and danger in classical Greek, with subjunctive after primary tenses, with optative (more usually) after secondary tenses, but in N.T. only the subjunctive, Burton, p. 95, and Viteau, Le Grec du N.T. , p. 83 (1893), Acts 27:17 , 2Co 11:3 ; 2 Corinthians 12:20 , Hebrews 4:1 . διασπασθῇ , cf. LXX, Hosea 13:8 , for use in same sense as here, to tear like a wild beast tears its prey in pieces (elsewhere in N.T., Mark 5:4 , cf. LXX, Jeremiah 2:20 ), cf. in classical Greek, Herod., iii., 13, Dem., 58, 8. καταβὰν from Antonia. ἁρπάσαι ἄγειν τε = ἁρπάσαι ἄγειν (Blass), see critical note.

Verse 11

Acts 23:11 . τῇ ἐπι . νυκτί ., see Knabenbauer’s note, p. 385, on Hilgenfeld’s strictures; and below on the need and fitness of the appearance of the Lord on this night. ἐπιστὰς , cf. Acts 12:7 , and Acts 18:9 . ὁ κ ., evidently Jesus, as the context implies. θάρσει : only in the imperative in N.T. (seven times); the word on the lips of Christ had brought cheer to the sick and diseased, Matthew 9:2 ; Matthew 9:22 , Mark 10:49 ; to the disciples sailing on the sea, Matthew 14:27 , Mark 6:50 ; to the same disciples in an hour of deeper need, John 16:33 , cf. its use in LXX as a message of encouragement (elsewhere we have the verb θαρρεῖν , so in Paul and Heb., but cf. Apoc. of Peter , v., Blass, Gram. , p. 24). The Apostle might well stand in need of an assurance after the events of the day that his labours would not be cut short before his great desire was fulfilled. The words of the Lord as given to us by St. Luke intimate that the Evangelist regarded Paul’s visit to Rome as apex Evangelii , so far as his present work was concerned. διεμαρτύρω : the word seems to imply the thoroughness of the Apostle’s testimony, and to show that his method of bearing it was approved by his Lord, see on Acts 2:40 .

Verse 12

Acts 23:12 . συστροφήν , Acts 19:40 . ἀνεθεμάτισαν ἑαυτούς : literally “they placed themselves under an anathema,” i.e. , declared themselves liable to the direst punishments of God unless, etc. In N.T. the verb is only used in this passage, cf. 14, 21 and once by St.Mark, Mark 14:71 , cf. the use of the verb in LXX, Joshua 6:21 , 1Ma 5:5 . In N.T. the noun ἀνάθεμα is only found in Luke and Paul, see Lightfoot on Galatians 1:8 , Sanday and Headlam on Romans 9:3 . For instances of similar bindings by oath, Jos., Vita , liii, and a similar combination of ten men to murder Herod, Ant. , xv., 8, 3, 4. Of whom the band consisted we are not told, although probably Ananias would not have scrupled to employ the Sicarii, Jos., Ant. , ix. 2. The conspirators seem to have affected to be Sadducees, Acts 23:14 , but Edersheim evidently holds that they were Pharisees, and he points out that the latter as a fraternity or “guild,” or some of their kindred guilds, would have furnished material at hand for such a band of conspirators, Jewish Social Life , p. 227 ff. πεποι . see critical note, ἕως οὗ , cf. Matthew 5:25 ; Matthew 13:33 , John 9:18 ; Burton, p. 128.

Verse 14

Acts 23:14 . τοῖς ἀρχ ., cf. Acts 4:23 , see critical note on reading in [373] (Blass). ἀναθέματι ἀνεθεμ .: “we have bound ourselves under a great curse,” thus representing the emphatic Hebrew idiom, cf. Acts 5:28 , and for the same phrase cf. Deuteronomy 13:15 ; Deuteronomy 20:17 . The conspirators may have been instigated by the knowledge that the Sanhedrim could no longer inflict capital punishment, and from despair of obtaining the sanction of the Roman authorities for violence against Paul. It is quite certain that sentence of death must at all events be ratified by the procurator. Another serious restriction of the Jewish powers lay in the fact that the Roman authorities could step in at any moment and take the initiative, as in the case of Paul. Moreover the incidents before us illustrate the strange fact that even the chiliarch of the Roman force stationed in Jerusalem seems to be able to summon the Sanhedrim for the purpose of submitting to it any question upon which the Jewish law had to be learnt, cf. Acts 22:30 , Schürer, Jewish People , div. ii., vol. i., p. 188 ff., with which, however, should be compared O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgeschichte , pp. 175, 176. γεύσασθαι : “to taste nothing,” R.V. “Hoc certe tam præposterum concilium nunquam probassent sacerdotes, si qua in illis fuisset gutta pii rectique affectus, imo sensus humani,” Calvin. Edersheim quotes a curious illustration of the rash vow before us, which shows how easily absolution from its consequences could be obtained, Jewish Social Life , p. 229, J. Lightfoot, Hor. Heb.

[373] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

Verse 15

Acts 23:15 . νῦν οὖν : only in Acts in N.T., where it occurs four times, frequent in LXX. ἐμφανίσατε : “signify” in A. and R.V.; this rendering apparently conveys a wrong idea, for it implies that the Council had the authority, whereas this lay with the Roman officer, cf. Acts 24:1 , Acts 25:2 ; Acts 25:15 . In LXX, Est 2:22 , Malachi 3:7; Malachi 3:7 ; 2Ma 11:29 . σὺν τῷ συν .: with the whole Council, including both those who had previously inclined to favour Paul as well as his opponents; the former could not object to the pretext that further inquiries were to be made into Paul’s position, especially when the Sadducees urged such an inquiry. ὅπως , Burton, p. 87. ὡς μέλλοντας : this use of ὡς with the participle expressing the pretext alleged by another, often in Luke, cf. Luke 16:1 ; Luke 23:14 , Acts 23:20 ; Acts 27:30 , Viteau, Le Grec du N.T. , p. 189 (1893), but we may also compare 1 Corinthians 4:18 (Burton). διαγ .: “as though ye would judge of his case more exactly,” R.V., accurate cognoscere; the word need not be used here in the forensic sense as in Acts 24:22 (Acts 25:21 ), Grimm, Blass; the “inquiry” is expressed by the usual word in Acts 23:20 . The verb is used in 2Ma 9:15 . πρὸ τοῦ ἐγγίσαι : so that the crime could not be imputed to the priests. ἕτοιμοί ἐσμεν τοῦ : for genitive of the infinitive after a noun or an adjective, in Luke and Paul (1 Peter 4:17 ), (Viteau, u. s. , p. 169, Burton, p. 158. In LXX, cf. Mich. Acts 6:8 , Ezekiel 21:10-11 (Ezekiel 21:15-16 ), 1Ma 3:58 ; 1Ma 5:39 ; 1Ma 13:37 . ἀνελεῖν αὐτὸν , cf. Hackett’s note, which gives a formal justification from Philo for the assassination of apostates.

Verse 16

Acts 23:16 . ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀδελφῆς : whether he and his mother lived in Jerusalem, as Ewald conjectured, we are not told. Probably not, as the mother is not otherwise mentioned. Paul’s nephew may have been a student in Jerusalem, as the Apostle had been in his earlier days. Edersheim, Jewish Social Life , p. 227, gives an interesting account of the way in which the young man as a member of the Pharisaic “Chabura,” or guild, might have gained his knowledge of the conspiracy. At the same time nothing is told us in the text, and we cannot wonder at the comment “quis is fuerit, unde rescierit, ignoratur” (Blass). παραγεν .: “having come in upon them ,” R.V. margin, “and he entered into the castle,” etc. παραγεν . is thoroughly Lucan, and often gives a graphic touch to the narrative, but it is doubtful whether we can press it as above, although the rendering is tempting. ἀπήγγειλε τῷ Π .: evidently Paul’s friends were allowed access to him, and amongst them we may well suppose that St. Luke himself would have been included. On the different kinds of Roman custody see below, Acts 24:23 , note.

Verse 17

Acts 23:17 . τὸν νεανίαν τοῦτον , see on Acts 7:58 and previous note above. The narrative gives the impression that he was quite a young man, if we look at his reception by the chiliarch and the charge given to him.

Verse 18

Acts 23:18 . ὁ δέσμιος Π .: used by Paul five times of himself in his Epistles, here for the first time in Acts with reference to him.

Verse 19

Acts 23:19 . ἐπιλαβ .: “ut fiduciam adolescentis confirmaret,” Bengel, so Knabenbauer; on ἐπιλ . see note, Acts 17:19 . τῆς χειρὸς αὐτοῦ , cf. Luke 8:54 , Winer-Moulton, xxx. 8 d; see Calvin’s note on the humanitas (as he calls it) of the centurion in thus receiving the young man. ἀναχ .: used also in Acts 26:31 , but not by Luke in his Gospel, although found in the other Evangelists. κατʼ ἰδίαν ἐπυν .: “asked him privately,” R.V., as suggested by the order of the Greek.

Verse 20

Acts 23:20 . συνέθεντο , Luke 22:5 , John 9:22 , so in classical Greek in middle, cf. 1 Samuel 22:13 , Dan. (Th.) Acts 2:9 . τοῦ ἐρωτῆσαι : the word certainly points to a certain equality with the person asked (not αἰτέω ), see above on Acts 23:15 but still a request, not a demand. μέλλοντες , see critical note; if plural, the clause intimates the pretext put forward by the conspirators; if singular, it is perhaps more in accordance with the deference of the youth, who would refer the control of the proceedings to the chiliarch.

Verse 21

Acts 23:21 . ἐνεδρ .: only in Luke in N.T., Luke 11:54 , with the accusative also in classical Greek, and several times in LXX, 1Ma 5:4 , Jos., Ant. , v., 2, 12. καὶ νῦν , see on Acts 20:22 . προσδεχ .: only once elsewhere in Acts, Acts 24:15 , probably in same sense as here, so R.V. text. In the Gospels, the word is found once in Mark 15:43 (= Luke 23:51 ), and five times in Luke, four times translated in R.V. as here; Luke 2:25 ; Luke 2:38 ; Luke 12:36 ; Luke 23:51 , cf. also Titus 2:13 , Jude 1:21 , and Wis 18:7 , 2Ma 8:11 . In classical Greek two meanings as in N.T.: (1) to accept, receive favourably, (2) to wish for or expect a thing. ἐπαγγελίαν : only here in N.T. of a human promise, see above on Acts 1:4 , cf. Esther 1:7; Esther 1:7 , Esther 4:7 , 1Ma 10:15 .

Verse 22

Acts 23:22 . ἐκλαλῆσαι , Jdt 11:9 (but al [374] ), “to divulge,” here only in N.T., but in classical Greek, and in Philo. As in i. 4, transition to oratio recta , cf. Luke 5:14 , Mark 6:9 , etc., very common in Greek prose, Winer-Moulton, lxiii., ii., 2, Blass, Gram. , p. 280.

[374] Alford’s Greek Testament .

Verse 23

Acts 23:23 . See critical note; if we place τινάς before δύο , Blass, Weiss, Knaben bauer take it of two centurions whom he could specially trust, see their notes in loco , and Blass, Gram. , p. 174. In Luke 7:19 the order is different, Blass compares Herman, Vis. , i., 4, 3, δύο τινὲς ἄνδρες (but see on the other hand Page’s note, and Wendt, edit. 1899). ἑτοιμάσατε : here only in Acts, but frequent in Luke’s Gospel, more so than in Matthew or Mark, in John only twice. On the aorist imperfect see Winer-Moulton, xliii., 3, “have immediately … in readiness to march”. στρατ . διακ .: milites gravis armaturæ . Blass brackets the first διακ ., and καὶ before ἱππεῖς , so that στρατ . includes under it both ἱππεῖς and δεξιολάβους , see critical note. δεξιολ .: apparently a special class of light-armed soldiers (javelin-throwers, Livy, Acts 22:21 , or slingers), Schürer, Jewish People , div. i., vol. ii., p. 56, E.T., who says that this much only is certain. The word only occurs elsewhere twice, and that in later Greek literature of the seventh and tenth century (see references in Grimm-Thayer, sub v. , and Meyer Wendt, in loco ), where they are distinguished from the τοξοφόροι and πελτασταί . Probably from δεξιός and λαμβάνω , grasping their weapons by the right hand, so here of those who carried their light weapon, a lance, in their right hand, Vulgate, lancearios . This is more probable than the derivation from λαβή , a sword-hilt, as if the word referred to spiculatores cum lanceis , who wore their swords fastened not on the left but on the right (so Ewald). Still more fanciful is the derivation of Egli who accented thus δεξιολάβοι , and took the word to refer to those who were unable to use the right hand, Judges 3:15 ; Judges 20:16 , so “lefthanded” slingers. Others interpret as if the word meant military lictors who guarded captives bound by the right hand, but their large number here seems to conflict with such an interpretation (Grimm-Thayer), see the full notes of Meyer Wendt, 1888, 1899, and cf. Renan, Saint Paul , p. 532, Overbeck for various interpretations, and Winer-Schmiedel, p. 69. A reads δεξιοβόλους (Syr. Pesh. jaculantes dextra , Ar e jaculatores ), which would be a correct interpretation if we understood the word of javelin-throwers or slingers. ἀπὸ τρίτης ὥρας : about nine in the evening; the journey was to commence from that time, so that by daybreak Paul would be in safety, cf. Acts 10:30 . The number of the escort was meant to guard against surprise.

Verse 24

Acts 23:24 . παραστῆσαι : depending on ειπεν , Acts 23:23 ; a change to indirect speech, cf. references in Acts 23:22 . κτήνη ( κτάομαι ): jumenta , Vulgate, almost always in plural, property in general, herds or flocks, cattle; in LXX, where it is very frequent, and in N.T. it is used of beasts of burden or for riding, cf. Luke 10:34 , Revelation 18:13 , sometimes quite generally in LXX, as in 1 Corinthians 15:39 . ἐπιβ .: only in Luke and Acts in N.T., Luke 10:34 ; Luke 19:35 , in each case in same sense; so in classical Greek and LXX. The reason why the plural κτήνη is used vix satis perspicitur (Blass); the word has sometimes been taken to apply to the soldiers, as if they were all mounted, but taking the word in relation to Paul, one or more beasts might be required for relays or for baggage, so Weiss, Wendt, Hackett, or, as the prisoner was chained to a soldier, another κτήνος would be required (Kuinoel, Felten). διασώσωσι : five times in Acts, once in Luke’s Gospel, only twice elsewhere in N.T., “ut . salvum perducerent,” Vulgate, frequent in LXX, cf. its use in Polyb. and Jos., see further on Acts 27:44 . φήλικα , see on Acts 24:3 . τὸν ἡγεμόνα : used of a leader of any kind, or of an emperor or king; in N.T. of the procurator, of Pilate, Felix, Festus, so by Josephus of Pilate, Ant. , xviii., 3, 1, of governors more generally, Luke 21:12 , 1 Peter 2:14 , etc.

Verse 25

Acts 23:25 . περιέχουσαν , see critical note above. τύπον : “form,” R.V., a précis or summary of the contents of a letter, 3Ma 3:30 . Such a letter would be called elogium , Alford, in loco , Renan, Saint Paul , p. 532. It is quite true that τύπος does not demand that the letter should have been given verbally, and in an oft-quoted passage, Plato, Polit. , 3, p. 414, ἐν τύπῳ is contrasted with διʼ ἀκριβείας , but the letter bears the marks of genuineness, e.g. , the part which Lysias claims to have played, and the expression “questions of their law” (see below). Moreover St. Luke might have easily learnt its contents, as there is reason for supposing that the letter would have been read in open court before Felix, as containing the preliminary inquiry, and that a copy may have been given to Paul after his appeal, see Bethge, Die Paulinischen Reden Apostelgeschichte , p. 226.

Verse 26

Acts 23:26 . κρατίστῳ , see note on Acts 1:1 . χαίρειν ( λεγει or κελεύει ), cf. Acts 15:23 .

Verse 27

Acts 23:27 . ἄνδρα , not ἄνθρωπον : Bengel and Wendt take the word to indicate a certain degree of respect. συλλ .: used in various senses, but in all four Gospels of the capture of Jesus, and in Luke, where the word is frequent, often of the capture of prisoners, Acts 1:16 ; Acts 12:3 ; Acts 26:21 , Luke 22:54 (Plummer) so in LXX. μέλλοντα ἀναι .: “was about to be killed,” R.V. ἐπιστὰς : the word seems to intimate that he was ready at the right moment to rescue the prisoner. τῷ στρατ .: “with the soldiers,” R.V., those under his command. ἐξειλόμην , Acts 7:10 . μαθὼν ὅτι Ῥ .: “qua ratione id compererit, tacere satius erat,” Blass. The chiliarch wishes to put the best interpretation on his own conduct after his hastiness in Acts 21:33 , Acts 22:24 , see reading in [375] text. Overbeck and Wendt (and even Zöckler) defend the chiliarch from a crafty misrepresentation, and compare the condensed explanation of the letter and the facts given in the narrative to the different accounts of Saul’s conversion, but the chiliarch had a motive for dissembling his real part in the transaction, viz. , fear of punishment.

[375] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

Verse 28

Acts 23:28 . δέ : if we read τε Weiss regards it as closely connecting the wish of the chiliarch with the previous rescue affected by him, and as hoping to veil his conduct in the interim which was so open to censure. ἐνεκάλουν αὐτῷ , Acts 19:38 , with dative of the person as here, and in classical Greek, cf. Sir 46:19 . In N.T. only in Luke and Paul, cf. Simcox, Language of the N.T. , p. 148. In the letter of Lysias Hilgenfeld omits Acts 23:28-29 , as an addition of the “author to Theophilus”. Acts 23:26 ; Acts 23:30 , are quite sufficient, he thinks, for “military brevity,” whilst Acts 23:28 could not have been written by Lysias since he would have written an untruth. But it is quite conceivable that the Roman would not only try to conceal his previous hastiness, but to commend himself to the governor as the protector of a fellow-citizen. Spitta omits Acts 23:28 in the letter, and Jüngst also Acts 23:29 . But Jüngst equally with Hilgenfeld declines to omit the whole letter as Clemen proposes.

Verse 29

Acts 23:29 . ζητημάτων , cf. Acts 18:14-15 , “a contemptuous plural” (Page). ἔγκλημα ἔχοντα : phrase only here in N.T., criminis reum esse, accusari , as in classical Greek, cf. Thuc., i., 26; the noun occurs again in Acts 25:16 , but not elsewhere in N.T., not found in LXX.

Verse 30

Acts 23:30 . A mingling of two constructions, Blass, Gram. , p. 247, Winer-Moulton, lxiii., 1, 1. ἔσεσθαι : on the future infinitive denoting time relatively to the time of the principal verb see Burton, pp. 48, 52. ἔπεμψα : epistolary aorist, cf. 1 Corinthians 5:11 , Philippians 2:28 , Ephesians 6:22 , Colossians 4:8 , Philemon 1:11 ; Burton, p. 21. ἐξαυτῆς , see critical note. λέγειν τὰ πρὸς αὐτὸν , cf. Acts 19:38 , omitting τὰ , see critical note. ἐπὶ σοῦ : coram , cf. Acts 24:20-21 , Acts 25:9 ; Acts 25:26 , Acts 26:2 , 1 Corinthians 6:1 (1 Timothy 6:13 ), Winer-Moulton, xlvii.

Verse 31

Acts 23:31 . οἱ μὲν οὖν … τῇ δὲ ἐπαύριον : Rendall, appendix on μὲν οὖν , p. 162. Page finds the antithesis in μετὰ δὲ , Acts 24:1 , referring the five days there not to Paul’s arrival in Cæsarea, but to his despatch from Jerusalem by Lysias, “so then the soldiers, etc.… but after five days …” (see also note below). ἀναλαβόντες , cf. Acts 20:13 . διὰ ( τῆς ) νυκτὸς : “by night,” this use of διά with genitive of time passed through ( cf. Acts 1:3 ) is comparatively rare, Luke 5:5 , Hebrews 2:15 , except in almost adverbial phrases as here, cf. Acts 5:19 , Acts 16:9 , Acts 17:10 , Simcox, Language of the N.T. , p. 140. εἰς τὴν Ἀντιπατρίδα : founded by Herod the Great, on the road from Jerusalem to Cæsarea, not apparently as a fortress but as a pleasant residence, giving it its name in honour of his father, most probably on the site now called Râs el ‘Ain , “the spring-head,” and not where Robinson placed it, on the site of the present Kefr Saba . The more modern site, the discovery of which is due to Conder, is more in accordance with the abundant supply of water referred to by Josephus. It is to be noted that while Josephus in one passage identifies Antipatris with Kefr Saba, in another his description is more general, and he places it in the Plain of Kefr Saba (for notices cf. Ant. , xiii., 15, 1, xvi. 5, 2, B.J. , i., 21, 9). They were now more than half way to Cæsarea, and the road traversed the open plain so that they were no longer in danger of surprise, G. A. Smith, Historical Geography , p. 165, B.D. 2 , Hastings’ B.D. (Conder). On the Greek article in notices of stations on journeys, peculiar to Acts, see Blass, Gram. , p. 149, cf. Acts 17:1 , Acts 20:13 , Acts 21:1 ; Acts 21:3 (but Acts 20:14 no article).

Verse 32

Acts 23:32 . τῇ δὲ ἐπ .: not necessarily the morrow after they left Jerusalem, but the morrow after they arrived at Antipatris. In this interpretation διὰ νυκτὸς might be taken to mean by night in distinction to by day , so that they may have occupied two nights on the road, see Hackett’s note, in loco . ἐάσαντες , Lucan, see Acts 27:32 ; Acts 27:40 ; Acts 28:4 . εἰς τὴν παρεμβολήν , here “to the castle” A. and R.V., the barracks in Antonia. ὑπέστρεψαν , Lucan (Friedrich, p. 8), cf. Acts 1:12 .

Verse 33

Acts 23:33 . οἵτινες : “and they when they …” R.V., sc. ἱππεῖς . ἀναδόντες : not elsewhere in N.T., or in LXX in this sense, of delivering a letter. Zahn, following Hobart, sees in the phrase ἀναδ . τὴν ἐπιστολήν a phrase characteristic of a medical man, since Hippocrates, Epis. , 1275, uses the verb instead of διδόναι or ἀποδιδόναι of a messenger delivering a letter, and thus shows a leaning common to the Greek medical writers of employing a verb already familiar to them in a professional way; but it must be remembered that both Polybius and Plutarch use the verb in a similar sense.

Verse 34

Acts 23:34 . ἀναγνοὺς , see reading in [376] text. ποίας : of what kind of province, imperial or senatorial, as the governor desired to complete the report, cf. Acts 23:27 . Blass takes it as simply = τίνος , as in Acts 4:7 . It appears that during the first century, although perhaps with variations from time to time, Cilicia formed part of the great Roman province Syria-Cilicia-Phœnice, cf. “Cilicia” (Ramsay), Hastings’ B.D. A procurator of Judæa like Felix was only subordinate to the governor of Syria inasmuch as the latter could bring his supreme power to bear in cases of necessity. The military command and the independent jurisdiction of the procurator gave him practically sole power in all ordinary transactions, but the governor could take the superior command if he had reason to fear revolutionary or other serious difficulties. Schürer, Jewish People , div. i., vol. ii., p. 44 ff., E.T. ἐπαρχίας : the word is used to describe either a larger province, or an appendage to a larger province, as Judæa was to that of Syria, see Schürer, u. s. , and Grimm-Thayer, sub v.

[376] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

Verse 35

Acts 23:35 . διακούσομαί σου : “I will hear thy cause,” R.V., the word implies a judicial hearing ( cf. LXX, Deuteronomy 1:16 (Job 9:33 )), and so in classical Greek of hearing thoroughly. The word is used of a judicial hearing, Dio Cassius, xxxvi., 53 (36), and Deissmann, Neue Bibelstudien , p. 57, gives examples of similar usages on Egyptian papyri, 2nd to 3rd century A.D. πραιτωρίῳ : “palace,” R.V., Herod’s palace at Cæsarea, where the procurator resided; it was not only a palace but also a fortress, and would contain a guard-room in which Paul would be confined. The word “palace” might well express its meaning in all the passages in which it occurs in the Gospels and Acts (but on Philippians 1:13 see Lightfoot, in loco ). The Romans thus appropriated palaces already existing, and formerly dwelt in by kings or princes, cf. Cicero, Verr. , ii., 5, 12, 30, Grimm-Thayer, sub v. , and Lightfoot, On a Fresh Revision of N.T. , p. 49. It seems from the context that the place could not have been far from the quarters occupied by Felix, since Paul could be easily sent for. φυλάσσεσθαι : the kind of custodia depended on the procurator, and no doubt the elogium had its effect; custodia satis levis (Blass).

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 23". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/acts-23.html. 1897-1910.
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