Paul’s Defense before the Sanhedrin: Acts 23:1-11.
Paul began his defense by stating that he had always lived before God with a clear conscience. He knew that it is important to have a clear conscience to serve God and man. And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood near him to strike Paul. Then Paul said to the high priest “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?” People said to him “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest? Paul was facing threat and his life was literally at stake. Realizing the situation, Paul replied that he did not know that he was the high priest. Then Paul changed his tactic of defense and said “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead”. Sanhedrin was composed of both Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees believed in resurrections and angels. Sadducees denied resurrection and angels. Their difference was intense and there was a split in the council. So Paul was removed from there by the Roman commander. Pharisees agreed with Paul. Paul was returned to the barracks. That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said “Take courage Paul, just as you have been witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must testify me in Rome also” (23:11). Despite the challenges we face, the Lord would give us opportunities and strength to serve Him. Pray that we may adopt Paul’s attitude for the advancement of the gospel (20:24).
The Jewish Plan to Kill Paul: Acts 23:12-35.
The Jewish hostility towards Paul continued to grow but the Lord stood by him and encouraged him to continue the ministry. Paul had often desire to go to Rome but did not know when he would be able to do that. The Lord knew all along the timing and used his arrest in Jerusalem as an opportunity to get him there. God can overrule the most difficult circumstances in life to accomplish His purposes. There was a unified plot among Jews to kill Paul. Paul’s nephew learned of their ambush and warned Paul about it. This is the only reference in the New Testament of Paul’s family. The Roman officials were informed about Jew’s plot to kill Paul. So the Roman commander quickly transferred Paul to Caesarea under the protection of 470 soldiers. He also wrote a letter to Governor Felix, explaining why Paul was transferred to his authority. The next day they arrived in Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor. When he learned that Paul was from Cilicia and a citizen of Rome, the governor agreed to hear him. He ordered Paul to be guarded in Herod’s headquarter. Paul’s persecution unintentionally helped to spread the gospel throughout Rome. God works all things according to His eternal council (Ephesians 1:11). He is a present help in times of need. All attempts to stop the spread of the gospel will ultimately prove useless.