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Acts Chapter Twenty-three


I. Content of the Chapter


Paul’s Witness before the Council and the Result:

I.  He defended before the council:

  A. He was struck by men under the commandment of the high priest the moment he began to speak (v.1-5).

  B. He purposely made the Pharisees and Sadducees argue for him (v.6-9).

  C. He was taken by soldiers among men (v.10).

II. The Lord appeared to him and encouraged him (v.11).

III. The Jews plotted to kill Paul and the purpose was not realized:

  A. The Jews banded together to kill Paul (v.12-15).

  B. Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush and reported it to the commander (v.16-21).

  C. The commander deployed forces to escort Paul to Caesarea that very night (v.22-33).

  D. The governor read the letter and kept Paul in the Praetorium (v.34-35).


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Acts. 23:1 “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’”

   YLT: “And Paul having earnestly beheld the sanhedrim, said, `Men, brethren, I in all good conscience have lived to God unto this day;'”

   Literal Meaning: I have lived in all good conscience before God” “Conscience” is created by God for men. It is a function that God puts in men’s spirit and it regulates men’s words and deeds in men. When men’s words and deeds are wrong, the conscience shall give men the sense of condemnation and uneasiness; when men are well-behaved, their conscience shall have the sense of peace. Unfortunately, after men’s fall, their spirits are dead (Gen. 2:17; Eph. 2:1) and the sense of conscience is quite weak (Eph. 4:18-19). However, believers’ spirits have been born from above (John. 3:6; Eph. 2:5) and our conscience has been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lord and the sound function of conscience has been recovered. And therefore we should walk according to our conscience and have a good conscience (1Tim. 1:19).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Concerning believers’ walking, they should not only take care before “men” but also pay attention to how to please God before “Him”.

2) Many people only pay attention to walking “before men” and do whatever they like “behind men”. They should know that “behind men” is still “before God”.

3) The one who lives “before God” at all times is able to defend boldly “before men” and feels blameless.

4) The world always boasts before men that they walk according to their conscience. But actually their conscience is bad, hypocritical and even lost.

5) Since the conscience of Christians has been cleansed by the precious blood of the Lord, their senses should be vigorous, fresh and acute. If we could live according to the senses of conscience in everything, we shall bear good witness to the Lord.

6) We should hold faith and a good conscience and should never reject the conscience, otherwise we shall have suffered shipwreck concerning the faith (1Tim. 1:19).


Acts. 23:2 “And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.

   YLT: “and the chief priest Ananias commanded those standing by him to smite him on the mouth,”

   The Background: according to the Jewish law, the rights of those who were tried were highly emphasized. It was against the law to strike the one who was tried on the mouth indiscriminately (See v.3). And according to the Law, it defended the glory of God to strike one on the mouth.

   Literal Meaning: the high priest Ananias” Ananias was the famous politician who was reckless and insatiably avaricious. He was the high priest from A.D. 47-58 and he was removed from office by the Roman Government from A.D. 51-52 and then he resumed his post.

  “Strike him on the mouth” in order to humiliate him and do not allow him to speak randomly. Please note that the Lord was struck by men’s hands when He was tried, however, He suffered more cruelly than Paul: 1) He was spite upon by men; 2) His face was covered; 3) He was buffeted; 4) He was asked to prophesy that who struck Him; 5) He was struck by the palms of men’s hands (Mark. 14:65; Matt. 26:67-68).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Believers should not only enter the veil and have communion with the Lord but also go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach (Heb. 13:13).

2) The one who walks in all good conscience before God (See v.1) may be misunderstood or despised by men.


Acts. 23:3 “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?’”

   YLT: “then Paul said unto him, `God is about to smite thee, thou whitewashed wall, and thou -- thou dost sit judging me according to the law, and, violating law, dost order me to be smitten!'”

   Literal Meaning: Then Paul said to him” Immediately Paul responded angrily to the injustice of the inquisitor, compared with the Lord Jesus who kept nothing when he was fully humiliated (See the note in v.2).

  “You whitewashed wall” It means that he was hypocritical (See Matt. 23:27-28) because apparently he tried Paul in order to maintain the law but actually he destroyed the law and went against the spirit of the Law.

  God will strike you” Ananias was assassinated A. D. 66 by the traitor of the Judaic nationalism and some people held that the word was fulfilled.

  “You sit to judge me according to the law” “Sit to judge” means sitting down and judging.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) What God abominates most is the hypocrisy of the clergy: they are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are inward full of dirtiness and uncleanness (See Matt. 23:27).

2) The law executor even break the law and it is the common phenomenon in the world, however, those who have authority in the church should never abuse their authority and should be the model of all the people.

3) They have a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away (2Tim. 3:5)!

4) Preachers are not respected by their status or position. They will naturally gain the respect of all as long as they give heed to walking according to the truth.

5) Those who serve the Lord are mighty and unyielding and they dare to point out the wrongness of others.


Acts. 23:4 “And those who stood by said, Do you revile God's high priest?’”

   YLT: “And those who stood by said, ‘The chief priest of God dost thou revile?'”

   Literal Meaning: Do you revile God's high priest?” According to the Jewish traditions, the one who reviled the high priest indeed committed the sin that he was impious to God. And therefore it is a very serious transgression to revile God’s high priest (See Exod. 22:28; John. 18:22).


Acts. 23:5 “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.’”

   YLT: “and Paul said, `I did not know, brethren, that he is chief priest: for it hath been written, Of the ruler of thy people thou shalt not speak evil;'”

   Literal Meaning: I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest” There were two explanations for Paul’s words: one is that 1) the eyes of Paul were sick and his eyesight was poor (Gal. 4:15; 6:11); 2) Paul always preached out of Jerusalem and he never met the present high priest; 3) the high priest did not wear the official robe; 4) the commander was present and the high priest did not sit according to the order. There were the above-mentioned and many other reasons and therefore Paul did not that he was the high priest and he may regard him as a leader of the council. The other is the ironic word which implies that the high priest never acted at his own will and was not unreasonable. From Paul’s following words that were quoted from the Bible, the latter was more reasonable. Here Paul mocked that his behavior made it difficult for others to recognize him the high priest. And therefore this sentence could be translated into, “I did not expect that such a man who commanded men to strike me on the mouth was the high priest”.

  You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people” is quoted from Exod. 22:28. It was quite interesting that Paul quoted this scripture in such occasion. On one hand it shows that he respected the Law and on the other it is manifested that the high priest was not worthy of the ruler of the people.

  Paul’s words in this verse actually showed his apology to the ministry of the high priest instead of the person.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Any spiritual man may make mistake in word. But what’s the most important is acknowledging the mistake immediately the moment he is aware of the mistake.

2) Today the greatest difficulty in the church is that believers do not respect the authority that God has appointed so that the words of God are blocked and the will of God is blurred.


Acts. 23:6 “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!’”

   YLT: “and Paul having known that the one part are Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, cried out in the sanhedrim, `Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee -- son of a Pharisee -- concerning hope and rising again of dead men I am judged.'”

   The Background: “Sadducees” was a Jewish party and most of its members were of the rich upper-class. And its name originated from Zadok the high priest in the time of Solomon (See 1Kings. 4:4). They opposed the Pharisees who only stressed on zealousness and ignored the morals and therefore they stressed on morals. However, they tent to become extreme, i.e. they only stressed on behaviors and ignored the faith. They did not believe resurrection and held that men perished after death and therefore there aren’t ghosts or angels. They only accepted the Pentateuch and neither esteemed the prophets nor received the traditions of the elders. They had high political positions and Ananias the high priest and Caiaphas were of the party of Sadducees at that time.

  “The Pharisees” Previously they were a group of people who loved the country and were pious to God. They were separated from the party of Maccabean because Simon the high priest was for himself instead of God. And therefore their enemies called them “the party of Pharisees” (it means “separation”). They tried their best to keep the Law and the traditions and made themselves superior to the common people. And therefore the noun “the Pharisees” became their religious purpose. They gradually intent to stress on the outward behaviors and ignored the inner parts because they stressed on keeping the Law. They prayed in the corners, enlarged the borders of their garments and looked up to heaven while walking, lest they saw women. They were strict to men. They kept the regulations obstinately and outwardly but their inward was still corruptible and therefore the later generations explain the noun “the Pharisees” as “the hypocritical”.

A Christian who was a Pharisee previously could still walk as a Pharisee (See Acts. 15:5). However, a Christian who was a Sadducee previously could not still walk as a Sadducee.

   Literal Meaning: But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees” “one part” Actually, the majority of the members of the council were the Pharisees at that time and the minority was Sadducees who had authorities.

  I am a Pharisee” Paul was taught according to the perfect manner of the law and became a member of the Pharisees (Acts. 22:3; Pill. 3:5).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord once taught the disciples that     when they are among unbelievers, as sheep in the midst of wolves and therefore they should be wise as serpents (Matt. 10:16). Under the dangerous circumstances, we believers should observe wisely and see the weak points in order to dissolve the danger.

2) The wisdom and words of dealing with dangerous situations are of the spirit of God (Matt. 10:19-20) and therefore we should usually walk in the spirit (Gal. 5:25) and be familiar with the senses of the Spirit.

3) When we bear witness to the Lord, it will be of greater effect if we are able to know the sphere that the listeners are familiar with and make use of it.

4) The faith of Christianity is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe that not only Christ Himself is risen from the dead but also all in Christ shall be made alive (1Cor. 15:20-22).

5) Christians are those who live in the hope of resurrection and what we pursue is the reward in the coming after resurrection instead of the enjoyment of this life (1Cor. 15:19).

6) We should neither enjoy the positions and enjoyment in this life as Sadducees nor have the rigid faith as the Pharisees. We indeed have the lively hope (1Pet. 1:3).


Acts. 23:7 “And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided.

   YLT: “And he having spoken this, there came a dissension of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees, and the crowd was divided,”

   Literal Meaning: some people held that Paul should not use the carnally expedient way to separate the multitudes, however, the Lord did not blame Paul for such way at all (See v.11). Paul said so probably because God gave him the words as the occasion required in order to keep his life.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) A word fitly spoken would make great effect. We should choose the fitful words when preaching the gospel.

2) The union of gains is always false and temporal and once their gains are in conflict with each other, they will kill each other so that the union will collapse.


Acts. 23:8 “For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection--and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.

   YLT: “for Sadducees, indeed, say there is no rising again, nor messenger, nor spirit, but Pharisees confess both.”

   The Background: The Pharisees and Sadducees opposed each other concerning faith. The Pharisees believed the details of the oral law and Sadducees only accepted the written law; the Pharisees believed predestination and Sadducees believed the will of freedom; the Pharisees believed angles and spirits and Sadducees did not believe them; the Pharisees believed resurrection and Sadducees did not believe it.

   Literal Meaning: For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection” The faith of Sadducees is based on the Pentateuch and Sadducees did not accept all the oral law and the explanations. The doctrine of resurrection was not obviously mentioned in the Pentateuch and therefore they did not believe that there was resurrection after death.

  “And no angel or spirit” Probably it indicates that they did not believe the Jewish common traditions that there were many kinds of angels and spirits.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Though the Pharisees have the right faith of the Old Testament, their faith is merely the knowledge of the letter and they lacked the true spiritual knowledge. And therefore they could not turn the faith of the Old Testament to the faith of the New Testament and they are unable to receive the salvation of Jesus Christ.

2) He also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2Cor. 3:6).


Acts. 23:9 “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.’”

   YLT: “And there came a great cry, and the scribes of the Pharisees' part having arisen, were striving, saying, `No evil do we find in this man; and if a spirit spake to him, or a messenger, we may not fight against God;'”

   Literal Meaning: but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him” Probably Paul mentioned that when defending to the multitudes: 1) he met the Lord when he came nigh to Damascus (Acts. 22:6-11); 2) he heard the Lord speak to him when he prayed in the temple (Acts. 22:17-21).

  “Let us not fight against God” It means that to them, the matter that Paul thought that the spirit or angel once spoke to him was not inappropriate. However, it does not mean that they agreed on Paul’s explanation to the resurrection of Jesus.


Acts. 23:10 “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.

   YLT: “and a great dissension having come, the chief captain having been afraid lest Paul may be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiery, having gone down, to take him by force out of the midst of them, and to bring [him] to the castle.”

   Literal Meaning: the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them” The condition at that time might be that the two groups seemed to become angry when they quarreled and one group wished that they should put him do death and the other tried their best to keep him. Paul was pushed and pulled by both groups and he was in danger.


Acts. 23:11 “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.’”

   YLT: “And on the following night, the Lord having stood by him, said, `Take courage, Paul, for as thou didst fully testify the things concerning me at Jerusalem, so it behoveth thee also at Rome to testify.'”

   Literal Meaning: “but the following night” according to the Jewish chronometry, the time after sunset is the second day.

  “As you have testified for Me in Jerusalem” “Testifying” refers to the witness of words and behaviors. Here the Lord indicated that what Paul said and did in Jerusalem had testified for the Lord.

  “So you must also bear witness at Rome” On one hand, this sentence is a promise of the Lord, showing that Paul would be brought to Rome safely as he had wished (See Acts. 19:21). On the other it is an implication of enlightenment which points out a way for Paul to depart from the difficult position: appealing to Caesar (Acts. 25:11).

  What we should notice is that the Lord did not blame Paul at all: He neither blamed him that he should not come to Jerusalem nor blamed him for his inappropriate words. And contrarily He praised him that he had testified him at Jerusalem faithfully. It shows that the many comments that some Bible exegetes had made on Paul’s words and deeds in Acts. 21-23 were inappropriate.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Today the Lord dwells in believers on one hand and on the other, He is omnipresent. If necessary, He will appear by the side of all those who rely on Him to help them in time of need.

2) The Lord will comfort us when we are in need; the Lord’s encouragement is the fountainhead of our strength in tribulations and it enables us to bear the sufferings (2Cor. 1:4-6).

3) Though Satan could bind the bodies of believers to hinder us from preaching the word, it could not bind the living witnesses of Christ and their living witness.

4) The Lord’s witnesses are all held fast on His right hand (Rev. 1:17, 20; 2:1) which is their protection when they are in tribulations and the management of all their deeds.

5) When testifying for the Lord, besides the witness of words, what’s more important is to be “a witness”, i.e. manifesting the living witness of Christ by our walkings.

6) The tribulations and danger that we experience are the important factors for our growth in faith on one hand and on the other they are the best subjects through which we testify our faith.

7) When dealing with men in our daily life, we should walk on the premise of “testifying for the Lord” instead of “defending ourselves” or “exalting ourselves”.


Acts. 23:12 “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.

   YLT: “And day having come, certain of the Jews having made a concourse, did anathematize themselves, saying neither to eat nor to drink till they may kill Paul;”

   The Background: under certain conditions, the Jews regard murder as reasonable. Especially when one is harmful to the traditions of their elders or the social order, men regard murder as legal. And those of noble aspirations discuss the assassination in secret and they band themselves under an oath saying that they would neither ear nor drink till they accomplish the task. And if they disobey the vow, they are willing to bear the punishment.

   Literal Meaning: some of the Jews banded together” “The Jews” may refer to the radical Judaizers. “Bound themselves under an oath” It means that they will do according to the oath and if they disobey the oath, they will be willing to suffer the curse.

  “Saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul” These zealous one who defended the traditions held that Paul rebelled against the orthodoxy and they had to kill him.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Every zealous religious man (including Christians) will be utilized by Satan so that he who kills men thinks that he does God service (John. 16:2).

2) Today among different religious believers, the extreme ones who defend the traditions teach believers that “they could do the terrible things in order to maintain the truth and they will be rewarded by god if they sacrifice their life for it” and it is the reason why there are terrorists everywhere in the world.


Acts. 23:13 “Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.

   YLT: “and they were more than forty who made this conspiracy by oath,”

   Literal Meaning: the Jewish historian Joseph held that these forty rioters who made an oath to kill Paul with one heart might be the people of the Cananaean who started an uprising in A.D. 66-70 and rebelled the Roman Government. They were the extreme terrorists.


Acts. 23:14 “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.

   YLT: “who having come near to the chief priests and to the elders said, `With an anathema we did anathematize ourselves -- to taste nothing till we have killed Paul;”

   Meaning of Words: “eat”: taste.

   Literal Meaning: They came to the chief priests and elders” Most of “the chief priests and elders” were Sadducees and the Pharisees who sympathized with Paul publicly in the council may not be included (See v.9).

  We have bound ourselves under a great oath” It means that we cannot disobey the oath.


Acts. 23:15 “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.’”

   YLT: “now, therefore, ye, signify ye to the chief captain, with the sanhedrim, that to-morrow he may bring him down unto you, as being about to know more exactly the things concerning him; and we, before his coming nigh, are ready to put him to death.'”

   Literal Meaning: as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him” “Making further inquiries” means “making a judgment after complete inquiry”.


Acts. 23:16 “So when Pauls sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

   YLT: “And the son of Paul's sister having heard of the lying in wait, having gone and entered into the castle, told Paul,”

   Literal Meaning: So when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush” Some Bible exegetes held that Paul’s sister’s husband may be a member in the family of the high priest and therefore his sister’s son had the chance to know the conspiracy to kill Paul.

  “He went and entered the barracks and told Paul” Paul had the privilege of receiving visitors in the prison because of his Roman citizenship (Acts. 22:27).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The life of believers is held in the mighty hand of God and none of the conspiracies will succeed without His permission.

2) The Lord’s promise (See v.11) will never fall to the ground. Men’s tricks cannot break His promise and contrarily prompt the accomplishment of the promise. And therefore let us have a heart in full assurance of faith, hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:22-23).


Acts. 23:17 “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.’”

   YLT: “and Paul having called near one of the centurions, said, `This young man lead unto the chief captain, for he hath something to tell him.'”

   Literal Meaning: for he has something to tell him” Please note that Paul did not tell the centurion what the matter was and this point was quite important (See the note in v.18).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Paul’s nephew was only “a young man” and he could have such sober and calm attitude in the moment of danger. He could be the example of many people.

2) When Paul heard such great news, he was neither struck with a panic nor began to make the countermeasure by himself and he merely committed his safety to “the commander”. It shows that he was “of good cheer” as the Lord had told him (See v.11).


Acts. 23:18 “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.’”

   YLT: “He indeed, then, having taken him, brought him unto the chief captain, and saith, `The prisoner Paul, having called me near, asked [me] this young man to bring unto thee, having something to say to thee.'”

   Literal Meaning: He has something to say to you.” It shows that Paul did not tell the centurion what had happened and it was Paul’s wisdom to deal with things, lest the condition be known by others.


Acts. 23:19 “Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, What is it that you have to tell me?’”

   YLT: “And the chief captain having taken him by the hand, and having withdrawn by themselves, inquired, `What is that which thou hast to tell me?'”

   Literal Meaning: Then the commander took him by the hand” It was an unusual behavior and probably he had realized that the situation was quite unusual.


Acts. 23:20 “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.

   YLT: “and he said -- `The Jews agreed to request thee, that to-morrow to the sanhedrim thou mayest bring down Paul, as being about to enquire something more exactly concerning him;”

   Literal Meaning: The Jews have agreed” The word “the Jews” does not refer to all the Jews but the Jewish leaders who had dealings and contact with the Roman Government in business.


Acts. 23:21 “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.’”

   YLT: “thou, therefore, mayest thou not yield to them, for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, who did anathematize themselves -- not to eat nor to drink till they kill him, and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from thee.'”

   Literal Meaning: But do not yield to them” It was the only suggestion that Paul’s nephew suggested when he reported the fact. The suggestion was the countermeasure to the point, showing that God gives the young man boldness and wisdom in such moment of danger.


Acts. 23:22 “So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.’”

   YLT: “The chief captain, then, indeed, let the young man go, having charged [him] to tell no one, `that these things thou didst shew unto me;'”

   Literal Meaning: Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.” One on hand it is for the safety of the young man and on the other it does not allow the group of conspiracy to hold back the plan that the commander escorted Paul to leave that very night (See v.23).


Acts. 23:23 “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;

   YLT: “and having called near a certain two of the centurions, he said, `Make ready soldiers two hundred, that they may go on unto Caesarea, and horsemen seventy, and spearmen two hundred, from the third hour of the night;”

         Literal Meaning: Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen” It was the great task force and most probably the power of murder was quite considerable.

“Two hundred soldiers” Their task was to escort Paul to Antipatris from Jerusalem (See v.31) because the road was of the hilly areas where men were easy to be attacked suddenly by troops in ambush. And therefore soldiers were deployed around the prisoner in order to protect him carefully.

“Seventy horsemen” were responsible for escorting Paul to Caesarea from Antipatris.

The meaning of “spearmen” in the original is ambiguous and it refers to “another kind of armed force” and sometimes it refers to “the added horses and pack horses”.

  “Go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night” “The third hour” refers to nine o’clock p.m. “Caesarea” was the place where the Roman governor was accredited. And it was ninety kilometers away from Jerusalem.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The commander deployed forces that very night and dealt with this matter decisively and rapidly and he was our example. As believers serve the Lord in the church, we should never observe the custom and delay when anything crops up so that we might miss the opportunity.

2) It must be pushed forward by the Lord of all that the commander deployed such great forces for an unimportant case. This matter proves the words of the Lord again that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)


Acts. 23:24 “and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.’”

   YLT: “beasts also provide, that, having set Paul on, they may bring him safe unto Felix the governor;'”

   The Background: the full name of Felix the governor was Antony Felix. He was a slave. Because his brother Brass was specially fond of by Nero the Roman Emperor, he not only became the free citizen but also was promoted to be the governor of a province. He was the governor of Judea from A.D. 52-60. It was A.D. 58 at that time and it was two years before he left office. Felix got married with three princesses one after another. At that time Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Antipas I was his third wife (Acts. 24:24).

   Literal Meaning: provide mounts to set Paul on” “Mounts” refers to horses or mules. The commander gave the preferential treatment to Paul because he was a Roman. If one makes any Roman citizen lose his life for his ignorance, he will bear the serious consequences.


Acts. 23:25 “He wrote a letter in the following manner:

   YLT: “he having written a letter after this description:”

   Literal Meaning: “a letter” refers to the official letter.


Acts. 23:26 “Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.

   YLT: “`Claudius Lysias, to the most noble governor Felix, hail:”

   Literal Meaning: at that time, the format of the common official letters was to list the names of the writer and the recipient and the greeting.

  Claudius Lysias” was the official full name of the commander.


Acts. 23:27 “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.

   YLT: “This man having been taken by the Jews, and being about to be killed by them -- having come with the soldiery, I rescued him, having learned that he is a Roman;”

   Literal Meaning: having learned that he was a Roman” The commander added this sentence fully in order to please the Roman authorities. Actually he knew it when he intended to torture Paul instead of the time before he came with troops to rescue Paul (Acts. 22:25-29).


Acts. 23:28 “And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council.

   YLT: “and, intending to know the cause for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their sanhedrim,”

   Literal Meaning: the narrative of this verse is in line with the fact.


Acts. 23:29 “I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.

   YLT: “whom I found accused concerning questions of their law, and having no accusation worthy of death or bonds;”

   Literal Meaning: but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains” It means that he did not offend the Roman law.

   Enlightenment in the Word: It is better, that Christians suffer for doing good and keeping truth than for doing evil (1Pet. 3:17). And therefore if we suffer for the Lord, let’s not be ashamed, but let’s glorify God in this matter (1Pet. 4:16).


Acts. 23:30 “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.

   YLT: “and a plot having been intimated to me against this man -- about to be of the Jews -- at once I sent unto thee, having given command also to the accusers to say the things against him before thee; be strong.'”

   Literal Meaning: and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him” At that time the commander had not made such commandment and he thought that he would have sent out this notice when the letter was sent to him.


Acts. 23:31 “Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.

   YLT: “Then, indeed, the soldiers according to that directed them, having taken up Paul, brought him through the night to Antipatris,”

   Literal Meaning: took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris” “Antipatris” was a military base established by Herod the Great. It was on the way from Jerusalem to Caesarea. They walked to the west about thirty-five kilometers and arrived in Lydda. Then they walked to the north and passed Antipatris and arrived in Caesarea. Antipatris was about fifteen kilometers away to the east of Lydda and about forty-five kilometers away to the north of Caesarea.


Acts. 23:32 “The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks.

   YLT: “and on the morrow, having suffered the horsemen to go on with him, they returned to the castle;”

   Literal Meaning: they left the horsemen to go on with him” It was the region of plain from Antipatris to Caesarea. And most of the residents were the Gentiles.


Acts. 23:33 “When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.

   YLT: “those having entered into Caesarea, and delivered the letter to the governor, did present also Paul to him.”

   Literal Meaning: When they came to Caesarea” “Caesarea” was the headquarters where the Roman Government controlled Caesarea and the land of Judea and it was about forty-five kilometers away from Antipartris.


Acts. 23:34 “And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,

  YLT: “And the governor having read [it], and inquired of what province he is, and understood that [he is] from Cilicia;”

   Literal Meaning: he asked what province he was from” It was to find out whether Paul was under his judicial rights. Because according to the Roman legal regulations at that time, the criminal was always tried in the province where he committed the sin, however, the criminal would also be tried in the province of his native place.

  And when he understood that he was from Cilicia” “Cilicia” was not an independent province and it was under the jurisdiction of the province of Syria which was controlled by Felix the governor. And therefore he was in charge of trying the case of Paul.


Acts. 23:35 “he said, I will hear you when your accusers also have come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's Praetorium.

   YLT: “`I will hear thee -- said he -- when thine accusers also may have come;' he also commanded him to be kept in the praetorium of Herod.”

   Meaning of Words: Praetorium”: the Justice Department.

   Literal Meaning: I will hear you” “hear” means trying carefully.

  And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's Praetorium” “Herod's Praetorium” was previously the palace that Herod the Great built in Caesarea for himself and it was used by the Roman Government as the official headquarters of the governor. Felix did not imprison Paul in the common prison but kept him in the official residence. By this Felix showed his lenience to Paul.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Features of Paul’s Walking (v.1)

I. Walk “before God”------do not to please men but to gain the heart of God.

II. Walk “in good conscience”------tally with the senses of the conscience and be not ashamed.

III. Have lived in “All” good conscience------there is no exception in all places and all things.

IV. Until this day------have lived in good conscience before God all the time.


The Comparison of Two Kinds of Men

I. Paul’s (Christians’) principle of walking:

  A. I have lived before God (v.1b).

  B. I have lived in all good conscience (v.1c).

  C. For it is written (v.5b).

  D. Walk by wisdom, be wise as serpents (v.6; Matt. 10:16).

  E. Have the hope of resurrection (v.6b).

  F. By the proof of the Lord’s presence (v.11a).

  G. Testify for the Lord everywhere (v.11).

  H. Be good at using the protection of public rights (v.17).

II. The ways of the world’s walking:

  A. The high priest------he apparently walked according to the law but actually he disobeyed the law (v.3).

  B. Sadducees------they only lived for this age and did not have the hope of the coming age (v.8a).

  C. The Pharisees------they kept the traditional regulations according to the dead letters (v.8b).

  D. The Jews who bound together------they utilized the horrible ways by the religious zealousness (v.12-14).

  E. The high priest and the elders who knew the fact------they used craftiness (v.14-15).

  F. The commander------he apparently kept the national law and protected the citizens and actually he fabricated the fact in order to protect himself (v.27).


The Meaning that the Lord Appeared to Paul and Spoke to him (v.11)

I. The following night the Lord stood by him------there is the Lord’s presence under the shroud of darkness.

II. Said-------the Lord’s words are believers’ comfort in tribulations.

III. Be of good cheer------where there is the Lord’s presence, there will be rest. 

IV. For as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem------the Lord proved and praised that his words and deeds in this place all testified for Him.

V. So you must also bear witness at Rome------the Lord promised that he shall be delivered from danger and testify Him in the higher and wider sphere.


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren