Chapter Twenty-Three — Part Three: The Book of Acts

By: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

Publish date: 02/19/2023

Foundation Scriptures:
Acts 23:23-35

1. Departure from Jerusalem.
a. The Jews swore an oath and conspired together to ambush and kill Paul.
b. The commander realized that the Jews would not give up until Paul was dead.
c. So, to preserve Paul’s life and to maintain order, he planned to send him speedily and secretly out of Jerusalem.
d. Acts 23:23-24 AMPC — Then summoning two of the centurions, he said, Have two hundred footmen ready by the third hour of the night (about 9:00 p.m.) to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen. 24 Also provide beasts for mounts for Paul to ride, and bring him in safety to Felix the governor.
e. The commander went to a great deal of trouble to transport Paul safely away.
f. 472 men, some mounted and some on foot, conducted Paul to Caesarea to Governor Felix.
g. They left at 9:00 p.m. so that no one else would be able to leave the city in pursuit until 6:00 a.m. the next morning when the gates of the city were opened.
h. They would be well on the way before anyone realized that Paul had departed.

2. Felix.
a. The commander sent Paul to a higher authority, Felix, the governor of Caesarea.
b. Governor (Greek: hegemon) is the general term for a subordinate ruler.
c. Felix was a freedman of Antonia, the mother of Emperor Claudius, who appointed him to be Procurator of Judea around A.D. 52.
d. Felix means “happy” but he was a wicked man—mean, cruel, treasonous, utterly and shamelessly immoral.
e. Apparently, he had three wives, each of them a king’s daughter.
f. His third wife was Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Agrippa, formerly married to the king of Emesa, until Felix persuaded her to desert him.
g. According to Tacitus, he “governed with all the authority of a king and the baseness and insolence of a slave.”
h. He was an unrighteous ruler and his time in office was full of trouble and strife.
i. The only reason he was not brought to justice was that his brother, Pallas, was a favorite of both Claudius and Nero.

3. The Letter.
a. Acts 23:25 NKJV — He wrote a letter in the following manner:
b. The letter is written in the formal style of that day.
c. It appears that Luke reproduced a copy of the actual letter in his writing.
d. Acts 23:26 KJV — Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
e. Here, in the commander’s greeting to Felix, we find out his name, Claudius Lysias.
f. “Most excellent” is an official title, used in addressing men of prominent rank or office.
g. Greeting (Greek: chairō) — a greeting or salutation (on meeting or parting); farewell; be well; be glad; God speed; hail; rejoice; may (one) ever rejoice; a wish of health and prosperity.
h. Acts 23:27 NKJV — This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.
i. He omits the details, presenting only the essentials of what happened.
j. He leaves out the part where he arrested and almost flogged Paul—before he learned that he was a Roman citizen.
k. In his version, he only “rescued” Paul, which technically he did do as well.
l. Acts 23:28 NKJV — And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council.
m. He states that he did his due diligence to find out what Paul was being accused of.
n. Acts 23:29 NKJV — I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.
o. He also makes clear that he found nothing to indicate that Paul had broken any Roman laws or done anything deserving of punishment.
p. He was not in a position to decide matters of law and so he defers to the governor.
q. Acts 23:30 NKJV — 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.
r. The commander states the reason why he felt compelled to send Paul to Felix.
s. And he officially discharges himself from any further responsibility concerning Paul.
t. Farewell (Greek: rhonnumi) — be in good health.

4. Caesarea.
a. Acts 23:31 NKJV — Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
b. The city of Antipatris was situated halfway between Jerusalem and Caesarea, in a very fertile region, not far from the coast.
c. It was rebuilt by Herod the Great and named Antipatris in honor of his father.
d. Acts 23:32 NKJV — The next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks.
e. The 400 soldiers who accompanied them left Paul with the horsemen and returned to Jerusalem.
f. Acts 23:33 NKJV — When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
g. The party continued to Caesarea, and Paul and the letter were delivered to Felix.
h. Caesarea, a seaport city with easier access to Rome, was now the political capital and seat of the Roman governor, instead of Jerusalem.
i. It was home to a thriving Christian community until the seventh century.
j. Acts 23:34 NKJV — And when the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia,
k. Cilicia was in the province of Syria and under the jurisdiction of Felix.
l. Acts 23:34-35 NKJV — he said, “I will hear you when your accusers also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.
m. Felix promised Paul a speedy trial.
n. Praetorium (Greek: praitōrion) — judgment hall (in a palace built by Herod the Great for himself) with attached areas where prisoners could be confined.