Verse 1 – Then Paul looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”
Verse 2 – And the high priest Ananias, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
Verse 3 – Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”
Paul had said that he had a clear conscience before God, and the high priest thought that was blasphemy against God. But Paul basically told him that he had been “whitewashed” on the outside, while still corrupt on the inside.
How we, as Christians, treat someone with a “checkered” past that becomes a believer, will say a lot about the accuser’s character. If God forgives and forgets our past sin, why is it so hard for us to do the same towards others? We don’t want others to constantly bring up our past actions, so we shouldn’t do that to others when you see they are a changed person.
Verse 4 – And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”
Verse 5 – Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.’ ”
Paul didn’t recognize Ananias as high priest because Ananias was breaking the very law he was to uphold – accusing a Jew without a trial.
Verse 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!”
Notice how wise Paul is: First, he uses his Roman citizenship to stop the centurion from beating him, and now he sees the council is made up of Sadducees, which don’t believe in the resurrection, and Pharisees, that do believe in the resurrection. He knew they wouldn’t be able to agree that Paul had done anything wrong.
Verse 7 – And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the assembly was divided.
Verse 8 – For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection – and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.
Look at what Jesus said in Luke 12:11, 12 – “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. (Verse 12) “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” By what Paul said, he got the Pharisees to take his side!
Verse 9 – Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes who were of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested saying, “We find no evil to this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”
Verse 10 – And 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.
Verse 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.”
This verse did not say, “An angel of the Lord.” It says, “The Lord, stood by him” Paul was right on target for the will of God. Being led by the Holy Spirit will always keep you in the will of God, even when it doesn’t look like it to the naked eye!
Jews Plan to Kill Paul
Verse 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.
Verse 13 – Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.
Verse 14 – They came to the chief priest and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.
Verse 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.”
Verse 16 – And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.
Verse 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.”
This was not a coincidence that Paul’s nephew was standing within hearing distance of these forty men when they plotted to kill Paul. God can strategically place people where He wants them, to do His will.
Verse 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.”
Verse 19 – Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside and asked him in private, “What is it that you have to tell me?”
Verse 20 – And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to counsel tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.
Verse 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 form you.”
Verse 22 – So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”
Verse 23 – And he called two centurions, saying, “Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at the third hour of the night;
Verse 24 – “and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.”
Caesarea was the headquarters of the Roman government under Felix. When God gets ready to deliver you, don’t be surprised if He uses your enemies to do it. His ways are like no other. These soldiers were going to take Paul out of Jerusalem at around nine o’ clock at night, when no one would be expecting such a huge battalion of soldiers moving through the streets. Caesarea was about 60 miles from Jerusalem.
Verse 25 – He wrote a letter in the following manner:
Verse 26 – Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix; Greetings.
Verse 27 – This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.
Verse 28 – And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before the council.
Verse 29 – I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him worthy of death or chains.
Verse 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.
Verse 31 – Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Verse 32 – The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks. (The soldiers on foot returned to Jerusalem.)
Verse 33 – When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
Paul Is Tried Before Felix
Verse 34 – And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,
Verse 35 – he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.
Paul was kept in Herod’s palace. No doubt, by now, the Jews had heard that Paul had been secretly taken out by the soldiers, and were on their way to Caesarea to stand before Felix, and accuse Paul.
God says in His word that you are either for Him or against Him. There are no grey areas. When someone comes against a believer, they are actually against God. And that’s a dangerous position to take.