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Bible Commentaries
Acts 23

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Paul looked straight at the council. He speaks to them, not as judges, but as fellow countrymen. He probably knew some of those who formed the Council. My conscience is perfectly clear. His whole life had been lived to please God. He deeply regretted the time he spent opposing Christ, but he had been sincere in doing it (even though wrong).

Verses 2-5


To strike him on the mouth. This is not the Annas of Acts 4:7, but the son of Nebedaeus, whom Herod had appointed to be high priest. He served from 47 – 59 A.D. He flares up in anger when Paul claims to have a clear conscience about all that’ he had done. God will certainly strike you. Paul is indignant at this mockery of justice. “Whitewashed wall” means hypocrite (compare note on Matthew 23:27). What Paul says is a prediction, and this man Ananias was dragged from a sewer where he had hidden himself and killed by armed terrorists [Zealots] in 66 A.D. I did not know. Since the high priest would only wear his distinctive robes in the temple service, nothing would here identify him. Paul may never have seen this high priest before.

Verses 6-10


When Paul saw. The Council [Sanhedrin] was made up of both parties. The teachers of the Law were Pharisees, and the chief priests were usually Sadducees. It was the teaching about the raising from death that made the Sadducees so angry against the Gospel (see Acts 4:2). Alford (Greek Testament) says: “All prospect for a fair trial was hopeless. Paul well knew from experience that personal odium [hatred] would bias his judges, and violence prevail over justice. He therefore uses in the cause of truth the maxim [principle of action] so often perverted to the use of falsehood, Divide and conquer. “ “I am on trial here because I hope that the dead will rise to life!” And the group was divided. This puts the Pharisees on Paul’s side against the Sadducees. We cannot find a thing wrong with this man! They find they have more in common with Paul, than with the Sadducees. Perhaps a spirit or an angel. This is a “slap” at the Sadducees, who believed in neither (Acts 23:8). The argument became so violent. They had argued this question many times, and there was no way one side could agree with the other. To protect Paul, he is taken into the Castle of Antonia (which was a fort).

Verse 11


The following night. We would say that same night. The Lord Jesus stood beside Paul and spoke words to give him courage. This was supernormal help. Paul needed it; he was a prisoner; even the Jerusalem church suspected him; his own race wanted to kill him; twice, in two days’ time, he had narrowly escaped death. In Rome also. This said that Paul would survive, and that he would be allowed to go to Rome.

Verses 12-24


They took a vow. These Jews may have been some of his bitter enemies from Ephesus who had grabbed him in the temple. They may have been “armed terrorists” [Zealots – Assassins], who later played such an important part in the Jewish wars against Rome. [A vow was cancelled, if it was impossible to perform it.] Acts 23:15 shows what their plot was. But the son of Paul’s sister. This is the only mention in Acts of Paul’s kin. The young man might be studying in Jerusalem, as Paul had done in his youth. We do not know whether he was a Christian, but he told Paul of the plot. He would have no trouble getting in to Paul, since both of them were Roman citizens. Compare Acts 28:30, Paul immediately sent his nephew to the commander with the story. The commander took him by the hand. To show how carefully he was listening to what he said. Acts 23:20-21. give the story of the plot. Called two of his officers. They are told to get 470 soldiers to guard Paul. This shows his estimate of the danger. To Governor Felix. Once Paul is there, the commander is rid of his problem.

Verses 25-30


Then the commander wrote a letter. Roman law said that when a prisoner was sent up the chain of command, a letter had to go along giving the charges against him. Claudius Lysias is the Roman commander’s name. I learned that he is a Roman citizen. He didn’t find this out until after he had rescued Paul, but he wants to make himself look good. I found out. He had done nothing against Roman law. I decided to send him to you. If he had released Paul in Jerusalem, he would have been murdered. I told his accusers. He had not done this when he wrote the letter, but intended to do so when Paul was safely away from the city.

Verses 31-35


As far as Antipatris. They went at night to keep the Jews from finding out about it until the next day. Antipatris was about thirty-eight miles from Jerusalem, toward Caesarea. After daylight came, the foot soldiers went back to Jerusalem, and the seventy horsemen went on with Paul to Caesarea. The immediate danger was over. Asked Paul what province he was from. If he had been from another province, he would have been sent to that governor (compare Luke 23:6-7). Cilicia was a distant part of the Roman Province of Syria. Felix agrees to hear the case, and keeps Paul under guard.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 23". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/acts-23.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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