Acts 23: Safety in Caesarea

What must one do to live with a clean conscience toward God?

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Acts 23:1 Looking straight at the council, Paul said, “Men and fellow Jews, I have always lived with a clean conscience before God.”
King James
Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Why do you think the high priest ordered men to slap Paul on the mouth?

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Acts 23:2 When Ananias, the high priest, ordered men nearby to slap his mouth,
23:3 Paul said, “God will surely slap your mouth, you whitewashed wall. Hypocrite. You sit to judge me according to the Law, yet you order me smitten in violation of the Law.”
King James
Acts 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
23:3 Then 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?

Why was it a violation of the Law to have Paul smitten?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:2 When Ananias, the high priest, ordered men nearby to slap his mouth,
23:3 Paul said, “God will surely slap your mouth, you whitewashed wall. Hypocrite. You sit to judge me according to the Law, yet you order me smitten in violation of the Law.”
King James
Acts 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
23:3 Then 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?

Under what circumstances should we refrain from speaking what we know to be true?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:4 The men standing near Paul said to him, “How dare you insult God’s high priest.”
23:5 “I am sorry,” Paul said. “If I had known he was the high priest, I would have held my peace, for Scripture says, You must never say God is evil or speak against the ruler of his people.
King James
Acts 23:4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
23:5 Then 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.

Why would Paul benefit from expressing his belief in the resurrection?

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Acts 23:6 When Paul realized that some of the council were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he shouted, “Men and fellow Jews, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I am being judged because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
23:7 These words divided the council, the Pharisees favoring Paul, the Sadducees arguing against him
23:8 because they didn’t believe in spirits, angels, or the resurrection. The Pharisees believed in all of these.
King James
Acts 23:6 But 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.
23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.7
23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.

The Pharisees got into a heated argument with the Sadducees, apparently because of Paul’s story that a spirit or angel had appeared to him. Do you think this encouraged some to consider the truth about the resurrected Christ? Why or why not?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:9 The argument became heated, with the teachers of the Law who were Pharisees saying, “If a spirit or an angel has spoken to this man, we cannot go against God. We find him blameless of any wrongdoing.”
King James
Acts 23:9 And 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.

Why was Paul caught in the middle of the argument and had to be taken back to the fortress for safety?

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Acts 23:10 The contention became so great that the captain feared that Paul would be ripped apart between the two factions. So he commanded the soldiers to seize him from their midst and take him back to the fortress.
King James
Acts 23:10 And 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.

How much of his Damascus experience do you think Paul would have told the Sanhedrin?

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Acts 23:11 That night, Jesus appeared, standing before Paul. “Don’t worry,” he said. “As you have told your story about me in Jerusalem, you will also testify in Rome.”
King James
Acts 23:11 And 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.

In what ways might the Holy Spirit have helped Paul tell his story?

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Luke 12:11 When you are arrested and stand before synagogue authorities, governors, and kings, do not worry about what to say.
12:12 At the time you must speak, you will be given the right words to say.
King James
Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

What kinds of feelings might Paul have had when the Lord told him he would take his message to Rome?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:11 That night, Jesus appeared, standing before Paul. “Don’t worry,” he said. “As you have told your story about me in Jerusalem, you will also testify in Rome.”
King James
Acts 23:11 And 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.

From what sect would the Jews have been who conspired to kill Paul?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Acts 23:6 When Paul realized that some of the council were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he shouted, “Men and fellow Jews, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I am being judged because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.”
23:7 These words divided the council, the Pharisees favoring Paul, the Sadducees arguing against him
23:8 because they didn’t believe in spirits, angels, or the resurrection. The Pharisees believed in all of these.
23:9 The argument became heated, with the teachers of the Law who were Pharisees saying, “If a spirit or an angel has spoken to this man, we cannot go against God. We find him blameless of any wrongdoing.”
23:12 The next morning, the Jews conspired against Paul, swearing that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him—
23:13 a band of more than forty men.
King James
Acts 23:6 But 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.
23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
23:9 And 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.
23:12 And 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.
23:13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.

Why might Temple leaders have supported the plot, even though it meant going against Roman authority?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:14 They went to the high priests and leaders, saying, “We have bound ourselves by a solemn oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.
23:15 So you of the Sanhedrin ask for the captain to bring Paul before you tomorrow—as if you want to hear his story and ask questions concerning him. We will set an ambush to kill him on the way.”
King James
Acts 23:14 And 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.
23:15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

What do you think the circumstances might have been in which Paul’s nephew heard about the plan?

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Acts 23:16 Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, heard about the plan for an ambush, so he went to the fortress and told Paul.
King James
Acts 23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

How would his nephew be able to reach Paul while imprisoned?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:16 Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, heard about the plan for an ambush, so he went to the fortress and told Paul.
King James
Acts 23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.

Why would a Roman officer choose to take Paul’s advice and take the nephew to see the captain?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:16 Paul’s nephew, his sister’s son, heard about the plan for an ambush, so he went to the fortress and told Paul,
23:17 who called a Roman officer. “Take this young man to the captain,” Paul said. “He has an important message for him.”
King James
Acts 23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
23:17 Then 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.

Why wasn’t the Roman officer made aware of the nephew’s message, either by Paul or the captain?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:18 So the officer took him to the captain and said, “The prisoner Paul asked me to bring this young man because he has an important message for you.”
23:19 The captain took the man aside to hear him privately. “What message do you have for me?”
King James
Acts 23:18 So 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.
23:19 Then 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?

How much detail about the plot would the nephew have given the captain? In what ways might his description have differed from what he told Paul?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:20 “The Jews have planned to ask you to take Paul to appear before the Sanhedrin tomorrow, as if they want to hear his story and ask questions concerning him.
23:21 But don’t let them deceive you. More than forty of them have sworn not to eat or drink until after they have killed him. Already they are assembled for an ambush, just waiting for you to give the order.”
King James
Acts 23:20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
23:21 But 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.

Why might the captain not want others to know that he knew about the plot?

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Acts 23:22 The captain dismissed the young man, saying, “Don’t let anyone know that you have told me these things.”
King James
Acts 23:22 So 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.

What would be the effect of a military force of 270 foot soldiers and horsemen leaving Jerusalem at night?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:23 He then called two of his officers. “Prepare two hundred soldiers and seventy horsemen for the journey to Caesarea. Be ready to leave at nine o’clock tonight.
23:24 Take horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix.”
King James
Acts 23:23 And 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;
23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

Why would Paul have been given a horse and not forced to walk among the 200 soldiers?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:23 He then called two of his officers. “Prepare two hundred soldiers and seventy horsemen for the journey to Caesarea. Be ready to leave at nine o’clock tonight.
23:24 Take horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix.”
King James
Acts 23:23 And 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;
23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

Would spectators have known the mission of the soldiers? Why or why not?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:23 He then called two of his officers. “Prepare two hundred soldiers and seventy horsemen for the journey to Caesarea. Be ready to leave at nine o’clock tonight.
23:24 Take horses for Paul to ride, and get him safely to Governor Felix.”
King James
Acts 23:23 And 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;
23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.

Who would have carried the captain’s letter addressed to Governor Felix?

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Acts 23:25 The captain wrote a letter, saying,
23:26 From Claudius Lysias, to the most noble Governor Felix, greetings.
23:27 This man had been seized by the Jews and was about to be killed when I arrived with my soldiers and rescued him, for he is a Roman citizen.
23:28 I brought him before their council to learn the nature of their accusations.
23:29 Their charge had something to do with their religious customs—certainly nothing that called for imprisonment or death.
23:30 When I heard that the Jews were plotting to kill him, I immediately made arrangements to bring him safely to you. I have told his accusers they must appear before you to present their case against him. Stay well.
King James
Acts 23:25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:
23:26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
23:27 This 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.
23:28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
23:29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
23:30 And 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.

When do you think the captain informed Temple leaders of Paul’s transfer to Caesarea, where they could present their case in a Roman court?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 23:30 When I heard that the Jews were plotting to kill him, I immediately made arrangements to bring him safely to you. I have told his accusers they must appear before you to present their case against him. Stay well.
King James
Acts 23:30 And 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.

Where in Antipatris might the military force have spent the remainder of the night?

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Acts 23:31 The soldiers did as they were commanded, reaching Antipatris while it was still night.
King James
Acts 23:31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

Why did the foot soldiers return to Jerusalem instead of continuing the journey to Caesarea with the horsemen?

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Acts 23:32 The next day, the soldiers on horseback continued the journey with Paul while the foot soldiers returned to the fortress.
King James
Acts 23:32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle.

How might the captain’s letter have affected the governor’s view of Paul?

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Acts 23:33 At Caesarea, the soldiers presented Paul and the captain’s letter to the governor.
King James
Acts 23:33 Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.

Why would the governor have asked what province Paul was from?

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Acts 23:34 After reading the letter, the governor asked what province Paul was from: Cicilia.
23:35 “I will hear your case,” the governor said, “as soon as your accusers arrive.” He ordered Paul guarded at Herod’s headquarters.
King James
Acts 23:34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;
23:35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.

Since Herod was dead, who would be commanding Herod’s headquarters?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 12:23 Herod accepted their praise and gave no glory to God, so the angel of the Lord immediately struck him with disease. He was eaten up with worms and died.
23:35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.
King James
Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
23:35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.