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Acts  ◦   Chapter 23

1Paul, looking directly at the leaders of the Jewish High Court, said, "My fellow Israelites, all I have done I have done to honor God and have fulfilled my duties to him with a clear conscience."2Upon hearing this, the high priest Ananias ordered his aides to strike Paul on the mouth.3Paul blurted out, "I hope God strikes you down, you white-washed impediment to truth! You sit there pretending to follow the law in judgment of me, yet you command I be struckā€“in violation of the law!"

4Those standing near Paul gasped: "How dare you insult God's high priest like that!"

5Paul humbly said, "I'm sorry, brothers. I didn't know he was the high priest; for the Scripture says: 'Don't speak badly about the ruler of your people.'"

6Paul knew that some of them were Sadducees and others Pharisees, so he called out to the High Court, "Brothers, hear me: I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, and I am on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead."7Instantly, upon hearing this, an argument erupted between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the court was split.8(The Sadducees teach there is no resurrection, no angels, and no demons, but the Pharisees teach all are real.)

9They began arguing loudly at each other, then some of the theologians of the Pharisee school stood up, and shouting over the others, said, "We don't find anything wrong with this man. What if an angel has spoken to him?"10Their disagreement became so violent that the commander became afraid that Paul would be attacked and killed. He ordered his troops to remove Paul by force and secure him in the barracks.

11The next night, the Lord came to Paul and said, "Don't be afraid. Just as you have told the truth about me here in Jerusalem, you must now tell the truth about me in Rome."

12The next morning, some of the Jews formed an assassination team dedicated to killing Paul. They bound themselves together with an oath not to eat or drink until Paul was dead.13More than forty men took part in this plot.14They conspired with the chief priests and community leaders, instructing them, "We have committed with a solemn vow not to eat or drink until we have killed Paul.15So get the High Court to tell the commander that there are more questions that need answering, and request that he brings Paul before you. We will have an ambush set to kill him before he gets here."

16But when Paul's nephew (his sister's son) heard about this plot, he went to the barracks and told Paul.

17Paul immediately called one of the centurions and said, "Please take this young man to the commander; he has important information to tell him."18So he did. The centurion said to the commander, "The prisoner Paul asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something important to tell you."

19The commander led the young man aside and asked, "What is it you want to tell me?"

20He said, "The Jews have plotted to kill Paul. They are going to ask you to bring him before the High Court on the pretext of needing to answer more questions.21But don't do it, because more than forty men have set an ambush to kill him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until he is dead. They are all set, just waiting for you to agree to their request."

22The commander dismissed him with the warning, "Don't tell anyone you have told me about their plot."

23Then he ordered two centurions: "Prepare a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen, and march to Caesarea tonight at nine o'clock.24Give Paul a horse, and ensure he is taken safely to Governor Felix."

25He wrote this letter:

26"Claudius Lysias, to the Honorable Governor Felix: Greetings!

27This man Paul was mobbed by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but when I learned he was a Roman citizen, I ordered my troops to rescue him.28In order to discover why they were accosting him, I brought him before their High Court.29I found that their accusations were over their theology and religious rules and views, but there was no charge against him that warranted death or imprisonment.30When I learned that an assassination plot had been set against him, I immediately sent him to you. I also ordered his accusers to present their case against him."

31The soldiers, following their orders, took Paul out of the city during the night and made it as far as Antipatris.32The next day the cavalry went on with Paul, while the foot-soldiers returned to the barracks.33When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they handed Paul over to the governor, along with the letter.34The governor read the letter and then asked what province Paul was from. After being told he was from Cilicia,35he said, "When your accusers arrive, I will hear your case." Then he ordered Paul be secured under guard in Herod's palace.