Acts Chapter Twenty-Three (NIV)
Acts Chapter Twenty-Three (NASB)
Verses 1-11: Paul addresses the Jewish Council.
Verses 12-22: Forty men vow to kill Paul.
Verses 23-35: Lysias sends Paul to Governor Felix.
II. KEY PASSAGES
Acts 23:3-5--"Then Paul said to him, 'God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?' Those who stood by said, 'Would you revile God's high priest?' And Paul said, 'I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.”'" Paul was before the court as a supposed law breaker, yet the high priest was breaking the law. After realizing that it was the high priest who ordered the assault, Paul stops his rebuke, on the ground that the law doesn't allow him to "speak evil" of the high priest. So Paul, who was accused of violating the law, was actually more dedicated to following the law than the high priest!
Acts 23:6--"Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, 'Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.'” Though the Jewish population as a whole had far more in common with the Pharisees, the Sadducees formed the majority of the Jewish Council. As a former devout Pharisee, Paul certainly would have retained his distaste for the position of the Sadducees. Here he draws attention to his biggest objection against the Sadducees, and a dispute erupts.
Acts 23:12--"When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul." Though they never got to carry out their plot, they wouldn't have starved to death. Jewish law allowed the cancellation of oaths if fulfillment became impossible.
Acts 23:23-24--"Then he called two of the centurions and said, 'Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.'" Four hundred and seventy Roman soldiers would have been around half of the Roman force in Jerusalem. This passage shows how dedicated the Roman military was to protecting Roman citizens from unjust treatment.