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

By: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

Publish date: 02/12/2023

Foundation Scriptures:
Acts 23:9-22

1. Uproar.
a. Acts 23:9 AMPC — Then a great uproar ensued, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and thoroughly fought the case, [contending fiercely] and declaring, We find nothing evil or wrong in this man. But if a spirit or an angel [really] spoke to him — ? Let us not fight against God!
b. The Sanhedrin—Pharisees and Sadducees—put Paul on trial, albeit unjustly.
c. But by declaring that he was being judged based on preaching resurrection, Paul managed to take advantage of the schisms that already existed between the two sides.
d. They turned their attention from him to each other and began to argue fiercely.
e. Surprisingly, some of the Pharisees, in their defense of the doctrine of resurrection and angels, found themselves also defending Paul.
f. They declared that if an angel really spoke to Paul, then they should leave him alone and not fight against God, just as Gamaliel had argued before.
g. Acts 23:10 AMPC — And when the strife became more and more tense and violent, the commandant, fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, ordered the troops to go down and take him forcibly from among them and conduct him back into the barracks.
h. The contention escalated to such a degree that the commander feared for Paul’s life and sent his troops in to save Paul from them.

2. Jesus.
a. Acts 23:11 AMPC — And [that same] following night the Lord stood beside Paul and said, Take courage, Paul, for as you have borne faithful witness concerning Me at Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.
b. The other disciples at Jerusalem were either not permitted or not inclined to visit him in prison, but Jesus did.
c. Jesus appeared to Paul that night and encouraged him to take courage—to be of good cheer.
d. Paul was a faithful witness concerning Jesus to the leadership in Jerusalem, and he was destined to be a witness and preach the Gospel to the leadership in Rome.

3. Plots and Oaths.
a. Acts 23:12 AMPC — Now when daylight came, the Jews formed a plot and bound themselves by an oath and under a curse neither to eat nor drink till they had done away with Paul.
b. Curse (Greek anathematize) — curse; bind under a curse; bind with an oath; bind under a great curse; to declare or vow under penalty of execration; to devote to destruction; to declare oneself liable to the severest divine penalties.
c. More than forty of these Jews wickedly conspired together and formed a plot to murder Paul—swearing, under the heaviest curse they knew, not to eat or drink, on pain of death—until it was done.
d. Acts 23:13 AMPC — There were more than forty [men of them], who formed this conspiracy [swearing together this oath and curse].
e. Conspiracy (Greek synōmosia) — a swearing together; a plot or conspiracy; a plan, formulated in secret by two or more persons, for an unlawful, harmful, or evil purpose.
f. This was not a covenant with God, but a pact with their father the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
g. Acts 23:14 AMPC — And they went to the chief priests and elders, saying, We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath and under a curse not to taste any food until we have slain Paul.
h. They bound themselves to an evil act, condemning their own souls in the process.
i. We know they did not manage to kill Paul, so they must have either died or broken their vow.
j. Acts 23:15 AMPC — So now you, along with the council (Sanhedrin), give notice to the commandant to bring [Paul] down to you, as if you were going to investigate his case more accurately. But we [ourselves] are ready to slay him before he comes near.
k. They drew the Sanhedrin into their scheme by asking them to pretend to bring Paul in again for questioning; planning to ambush him on the way; and the Sanhedrin shamefully agreed to it.
l. Those who employ or encourage others to commit murder on their behalf, are as guilty as those who commit it.

4. Advance Warning.
a. Acts 23:16 AMPC — But the son of Paul’s sister heard of their intended attack, and he went and got into the barracks and told Paul.
b. Lying in wait (Greek enedron) — an ambush; (figuratively) murderous design.
c. Once again, God saved Paul, when his nephew heard of the plot to murder him.
d. Acts 23:17-18 NKJV — 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.” 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.”
e. When the young man reported the plot to Paul, he sent him to the commander.
f. Acts 23:19-20 AMPC — The commandant took him by the hand, and going aside with him, asked privately, What is it that you have to report to me? 20 And he replied, The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council (Sanhedrin) tomorrow, as if [they were] intending to examine him more exactly.
g. Privately, and courteously, the commander inquired of the young man the details of the murderous scheme.
h. Perhaps he was making amends for his previous treatment of Paul.
i. Acts 23:21 NKJV — 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 from you.”
j. These forty Jews meant business and were prepared to die, either way.
k. If they ambushed Paul, no doubt they might kill a few Roman soldiers as well.
l. Acts 23:22 AMPC — So the commandant sent the youth away, charging him, Do not disclose to anyone that you have given me this information.