Acts Chapter 23

July 14, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on the Book of Acts. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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Acts Chapter 23 from Preaching In Shorts on Vimeo.

Acts 23:1-35 (NIV)
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.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 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!” 4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “You dare to insult God’s high priest?” 5 Paul replied, “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.'” 6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) 9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 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. 11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” 12 The next morning the 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 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.” 16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him to the commander. The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.” 19 The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?” 20 He said: “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. 21 Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.” 22 The commander dismissed the young man and cautioned him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.” 23 Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. 24 Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.” 25 He wrote a letter as follows: 26 Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28 I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29 I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him. 31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. 34 The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

Acts 23:1-2

The trial before the Sanhedrin doesn’t last very long. Paul gives a quick defense and the high priest orders those standing nearby to smack Paul in the mouth.

Acts 23:3-5

Paul makes a pretty harsh statement in response to the high priests illegal demand:

Acts 23:3 (NIV)
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 it is pointed out to Paul that he had insulted the high priest, Paul says he didn’t realize it was the high priest. This could be irony, how could the high priest order something that was against the law, or perhaps the high priest was not in his priestly garments and Paul had not recognized him. Ultimately, Paul quotes from Exodus and recognizes the respect due the office of the high priest, even if he doesn’t respect the high priest himself.

Acts 23:6-9

Paul, sensing that things were getting out of hand, and says that the real problem is that he believes in the resurrection of the dead. This causes an uproar between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and actually causes the Pharisees to take Paul’s side.

Acts 23:10

The commander take Paul away to protect him from the chaos.

Acts 23:11

The following night the Lord comes and stands near Paul and tells him:

Acts 23:11 (NIV)
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

These words were not only comforting, but they were confirmation of Paul’s plans to go to Rome.

Acts 23:12-24

Paul’s nephew, hears of a plot by the Jews to kill Paul, and tells Paul and the commander. The commander decides to get Paul out of town and let Governor Felix in Caesarea deal with the situation. The commander puts together a force of 470 soldiers that take Paul out of town at night.

Acts 23:25-30

The commander sends a long a letter to the governor apprising him of the situation with Paul. It is interesting that he leaves out the part of almost having Paul, a Roman citizen, flogged.

Acts 23:31-35

Paul arrives safely and there is a preliminary meeting with Felix, the governor. Felix decides to hear the case and when the accusers arrive to tell their side of the story, the case will be heard.

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