1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”
2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”
4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”
5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.'”
6 But when Paul perceived that 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; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided.
8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.
9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”
10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.
14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.
15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
16 So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.”
18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.”
19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”
20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.
21 But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.”
22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”
23 And he called for two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night;
24 and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”
25 He wrote a letter in the following manner:
26 Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.
27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.
28 And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council.
29 I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.
30 And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him. Farewell.
31 Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
32 The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks.
33 When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
34 And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,
35 he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.
I think it’s interesting that we again see the scenario where the people wanted death for Paul just like they had with Jesus, and when the leaders of the government wouldn’t give it to them, they decided to make their own way or push harder to get what they want it. The mobs in both situations swayed what was going on in society by their numbers and by their voices that were raised. In Jesus’ situation obviously they screamed for Barabbas to be released, instead of Jesus and for Jesus to be crucified. And with Paul they didn’t like that they weren’t gonna try Paul, so they decided to make a pact that they would not eat or drink until they killed him. Then they had the leaders call for Paul at which point they would intersect his journey to the leaders and kill him.
Today we see a lot of this. People wanting what they want, regardless if it’s right, justified or in line with what God says. But the ones who rise up and make the most noise are the ones who are swaying society and rulers and leaders. We, all the more so, need to raise our voices for what’s right. To stand for what God says, his ways, and his truth, and not be ashamed to declare it or push back when things are not in line with Him.
Although Paul’s intentions were not to provoke and stir up a bunch of animosity, several chapters are given to violent responses to his teaching along his path to a powerful destiny. How revealing this is of the relationship with his Master that drove his purpose and kept him pressing in to the face of certain persecution. Any deference to how things seemed to be might have led him to lose faith in the legitimacy of his proclamations, but because he was living in obedience to the revealed will of his Master from the inward voice of the Spirit instead of personally trying to discern the times, his convictions held strong as did his destination. Though others of the disciples were certainly being led in a similar manner, Paul’s movements were of note because of how they would bring the gospel into prominence before the Roman authorities and ultimately into written documents that would formulate the standards for all the church to come. In his simple adherence to the direction he’d been given on the road, there was a purpose of priceless worth brought to countless hearts, although it was not without overwhelming struggles for him to endure.
There is a promise of blessing and reward that is ours in identifying with Christ. To follow Him, though, is to take up a cross that means losing all sense of entitlement or personal discernment of circumstances for a purpose that is quite beyond self-gratification. Revelation of the truth and transformation of eternal life are waiting our simple obedience to a directive received in a personal encounter with the Master. Our story, unique to who we are, our triumphs and failures, and the testimony of the blood, are to be taken to a realm that is ours only to occupy and affect. The resistance and possible violent responses encountered in adherence to His direction will bring no discouragement or sway to those who keep focused on Him and the kingdom reward above any worldly disillusionments.
23:16 God speaks through angels, dreams, and visions. At other times he uses people and very ordinary situations. What at first may appear to be every day circumstances are actually God‘s providences.
Paul’s nephew overheard a danger and warned Paul of his future demise. I believe he was used by God to deliver him.
Sometimes these every day uses of people or situations seem to be too simple, but God uses people even today to speak to us and help us through situations. It is easy to dismiss and make light of it and not recognize God‘s hand in it or his voice in it because there is not a “thus sayeth the Lord,” before it. Let’s step back and embrace the fact that God is using people all around us, circumstances to bring strength and situations in life to build our faith and encourage us-He is always guiding us if we look for Him to.