Act 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men [and] brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. COMMENT: The council of the Sanhedrin or seventy rulers over the religion of Israel were gathered outside of the castle where Saint Paul addressed them.

Act 23:2 And the High Priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to strike him on the mouth. COMMENT: But before Paul can testify, the High Priest orders him struck on the mouth; a sure sign they have ears to hear, but cannot hear; for their minds are made up against Jesus Christ.

Act 23:3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall strike you, [you] white (painted) wall: for you sit to judge me after the law, and command me to be struck contrary to the law? COMMENT: Paul's rebuke is sharp like a two edged sword, but the council cannot be corrected.

Act 23:4 And they that stood by said, "Do you revile God's High Priest?"

Act 23:5 Then said Paul, "I knew not, brethren, that he was the High Priest: for it is written, You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people." COMMENT: So Paul condescends to the law rather than attempt to force his point, that the High Priest is in violation of the law.

Act 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." COMMENT: Paul's wisdom is apparent. He easily divides them.

Act 23:7/8 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no Resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. COMMENT: The Pharisees and Sadducees were the two major religious sects in power among the Israelites. There was a third much more spiritual than the Pharisees called the Essesenes. The Pharisees represented the orthodox Jews. The Sadducees represented the materialistic unbelievers who needed religion to hide behind to be acceptable in Jewish society. But the Essesenes were communal ascetics who attempted to practice things of the Spirit.

Act 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 has spoken to him, let us not fight against God." COMMENT: This group of Pharisees is following Gamaliel's advice to not war against believers in Jesus Christ lest they be found to be fighting against God.

Act 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. COMMENT: The Chief Captain who was observing the proceedings saw it was turning into another riot, so he sent his soldiers to take Paul away from the council by force.

Act 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so must you bear witness also at Rome." COMMENT: The Lord visited Paul in the midst of this conflict to encourage him that he should also bear witness of him in Rome; so that in the long wait to go to Rome Paul would always know he would go there no matter how long it would take, and this gave a certain dignity to his handling of future matters.

Act 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 til they had killed Paul. COMMENT: The hatred of Jesus Christ was very strong in those days. The Lord was crucified about the year A.D. 33 and Saint Paul was taken captive in Jerusalem about the year A.D. 57.

Act 23:13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. COMMENT: If these were Israelites who were obedient to the law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT KILL" would have been in effect and they could not have conspired to kill Paul no matter how much they misunderstood him. But Israel had degenerated into the hands of a wicked people who were concerned with maintaining things the way they were even though they were not happy bearing the Roman yoke.

Act 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." COMMENT: The Sanhedrin should have nullified their vows and sent them home in peace. Instead the council of the Sanhedrin conspired with them.

Act 23:15 Now therefore you with the council signify to the Chief Captain that he bring him down unto you tomorrow, as though you would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

Act 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. COMMENT: Paul's nephew heard of the conspiracy and sent into the castle where he told Uncle Paul.

Act 23:17 Then Paul called one of the Centurions unto [him], and said, "Bring this young man unto the Chief Captain: for he has a certain thing to tell him." COMMENT: Paul did not tell the Centurion of the conspiracy, but had him take his nephew to the Chief Captain, the higher authority who could do something about it.

Act 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 you, who has something to say unto you." COMMENT: This the Centurion did without hesitation, for it was no problem for him to believe Paul. By this time the Roman officers knew he was innocent.

Act 23:19 Then the Chief Captain took him by the hand, and went [with him] aside privately, and asked [him], "What is that you have to tell me?" COMMENT: This was wise on the part of the Chief Captain, to trust the report from the young man into no other man's ears.

Act 23:20/21 And he said, "The Jews have agreed to desire you that you would bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. But do not 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 til they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from you." COMMENT: Paul's nephew did a fine job of reporting the conspiracy to the Commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, for he knew the ways of the Jews in those days; and would soon be able to confirm the report were it necessary.

Act 23:22 So the Chief Captain [then] let the young man depart, and charged [to] tell no man that you have showed these things to me. COMMENT: The Commander of the Romans ordered Paul's nephew to keep the report of the conspiracy a secret and had he no confidence in the young man he would have kept him in custody until Paul was led safely out of Jerusalem.

Act 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; COMMENT: Two Centurions with their bands of one hundred soldiers, plus seventy calvary and two hundred spearmen were assigned to escort Paul safely in the night away from Jerusalem. That was a total of four hundred and seventy soldiers escorting Paul to safety.

Act 23:24 And provide beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring [him] safe unto Felix the governor. COMMENT: Paul was to be transported riding on an animal possibly a horse or a donkey. The Romans were not known to have used camels and a donkey or mule would not be able to outrun the Roman horsemen.

Act 23:25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:

Act 23:26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix [sends] greeting(s). COMMENT: Now we know the name of the Chief Captain of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, is: Claudius Lysias.

Act 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.

Act 23:28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:

Act 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. COMMENT: Here the Chief Captain either was listening to the proceedings in Hebrew or with a Hebrew interpreter; and he judged Paul to be innocent.

Act 23:30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent right away to you, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before you what [they had] against him. Farewell. COMMENT: So ends the Chief Captain's letter. He has carefully removed the problem was his jurisdiction to that of Felix the governor.

Act 23:31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought [him] by night to Antipatris. COMMENT: Antipatris was a small community perhaps twenty to forty miles Northwest of Jerusalem on the way to Caesarea.

Act 23:32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: COMMENT: The seventy horsemen were left to accompany Paul from Antipatris to Caesarea.

Act 23:33 Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. COMMENT: An epistle is a letter, however in the case of the New Testament epistles which are divinely inspired; we have rightly come to consider them to be more than a letter and have included them as books in the Bible.

Paul was brought before the governor right away along with the letter.

Act 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; COMMENT: A province is like a county in modern day America.

Act 23:35 I will hear you, said he, when your accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall. COMMENT: Caesarea was a modernized city built to honour Caesar and in it King Herod had built a judgment hall which would have been a fine building in those days. There Paul waited for his accusers to come before Felix to make their case.