May 04, 2020 – Monday
Acts 23:12-15 NIV
12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
13 More than forty men were involved in this plot.
14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul.
15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.”
How did Paul get into this much trouble that forty men would take an oath to kill him? Well, the day before didn’t start out so well when he addressed the Sanhedrin. It began when 1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” This made the high priest very unhappy as he wanted some statement of guilt, so 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Paul did not know it was the high priest who had ordered him to be struck thus 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
When Paul was informed he had insulted the high priest and made an apology of sorts by replying
5 Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’ Then recognizing there were many Pharisees and Sadducees present he made the following statement sure to bring them into conflict 6 “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” The cause of the conflict was a great difference in belief for 8 The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things. The conflict continued until 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks where he was kept overnight.
Then we come to our verses of the day where men wanted to kill Paul with no reason given other than perhaps what he had said to the Sanhedrin My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead. Of course his hope was based on the resurrected Christ. But somehow the son of Paul’s sister found out about the plot and reported it to Paul and the commander of the barracks.
Then a miracle occurred, although it is not called a miracle. The commander got two of his centurions directed them to get two hundred soldiers (!), seventy horsemen (!), and two hundred spearmen (!) to take Paul on horseback to Caesarea at nine that night to see Governor Felix. Four Hundred Seventy Two Roman soldiers to protect Paul from forty sworn to kill him. Persecuted by Jews, Paul was now protected by Romans. This was indeed a miracle of God. One has to wonder what the Roman barracks saw in Paul that those in the Sanhedrin could not see.
Paul’s persecution did not end when he got to Caesarea and went before Felix the Governor, but that will be for tomorrow. It is enough to think on how God arranged for such a large military contingent to protect Paul so that eventually he could continue with his outreach to the Gentiles.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton