Acts 23:1:And looking earnestly on the sanhedrin, Paul said, Men, brothers, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. Acts 23:2:And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Acts 23:3:Then Paul said to him, God shall strike you, whitened wall! For do you sit judging me according to the Law, and against law command me to be stricken? Acts 23:4:And they who stood by him said, Do you revile God's high priest? Acts 23:5:Then Paul said, I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest; for it is written, "You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people." It is important to remember that the High Priest was Ciaphas when Jesus was hung on the cross. It is easy to forget and then to wonder why Paul would not have known that Ananias was the High Priest. This is all happening, just at the end of Paul's last journey for the Christ as a free man. Let's be careful to keep this in context also because this is only happening because the Chiliarch had been warned that Paul was a Roman and he could not examine him to closely for answers. Acts 23:6:But when Paul saw that the one part were Sadducees and the other part Pharisees, he cried out in the sanhedrin, Men! Brothers! I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee! I am being judged because of the hope and resurrection of the dead. Acts 23:7:And when he had said this, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the multitude was divided. Acts 23:8:For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. Acts 23:9:And there arose a great cry. And the scribes who were on the Pharisees' side arose and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God. Acts 23:10:And dissension arising, the chiliarch, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and to take him from among them by force, and to bring him into the fortress. Acts 23:11:And the following night the Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified of Me in Jerusalem, so you also must bear witness at Rome. It would appear that Paul is giving the Chiliarch minor heart attacks. The truth, I believe is that Paul, knowing how to work his audience, is doing just that. Paul, eager to be about the business of his LORD, and knowing that the house was divided and that the Chiliarch was nervous set everyone on edge, that he might be on his way to Rome. Unlike people then and now, Paul is not found resisting the will of God but rather sets the example all of us should be found following, Paul was obedient! Acts 23:12:And when it became day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. Acts 23:13:And they who made this conspiracy were more than forty. Acts 23:14:And they came to the chief priests and elders and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. Acts 23:15:Now therefore you, with the sanhedrin, inform the chiliarch that he bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you would inquire something more perfectly regarding him. And we are ready to put him to death before he comes near. As was the nature of men, a group of religious men made a vow that could, if kept, mean death by starvation. Old Testament, New Testament, it matters not, we are called not to be fools. A good lesson from this is to remember to pray, consult God, and to meditate before we act the fool. Acts 23:16:And hearing of the ambush, Paul's sister's son, having come near, and entering into the fortress, he reported to Paul. Acts 23:17:And calling one of the centurions, Paul said, Bring this young man to the chiliarch, for he has a certain thing to tell him. Acts 23:18:So he took him and brought him to the chiliarch and said, Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, who has something to say to you. Acts 23:19:And laying hold of his hand, and drawing aside privately, the chiliarch asked him, What is it that you have to tell me? Acts 23:20:And he said, The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the sanhedrin tomorrow, as though they would inquire something more exactly about him. Acts 23:21:But do not yield to them, for there are more than forty men of them lying in wait for him, who have bound themselves with an oath that they will neither eat nor drink until they have killed him. And now they are ready, looking for a promise from you. Today, there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the matter of God's sovereignty. The truth of the matter is that God is sovereign and that is the end of the matter. We do not know the spiritual condition of Paul's nephew but it does not matter, he isw used of and by God to accomplish His will. Be careful here when instructing others because without enough Bible study it is easy to err and believe that God creates evil and that is not true. If we go back to Genesis we see God has a close relationship with Adam, love. What I see is that God loved Adam and desired that Adam love and worship Him. God could have created men and angels that never disobeyed Him but then they could not have loved Him. To love there must be the ability to be evil and to hate. So it is that we find that God has two facets in His will. They are His perfect will, i.e. that all should be saved, 2Pet. 3:9, and his permissive will, best illustrated in my opinion in the release of Satan to try and to prove Job. Acts 23:22:So the chiliarch sent away the young man commanding, Tell no one that you have shown these things to me. Acts 23:23:And he called two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen, at the third hour of the night. Acts 23:24:And provide animals, so that they may set Paul on them and bring him to Felix the governor. Acts 23:25:And he wrote a letter in this way: Acts 23:26:Claudius Lysias, to the most excellent governor Felix, greetings. Acts 23:27:as taken by the Jews and would have been killed by them. Then I came with an army and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. Acts 23:28:And being minded to know the charge for which they accused him, I brought him down to their sanhedrin; Acts 23:29:whom I found be accused of questions of their law, and having no charge worthy of death or of bonds. Acts 23:30:And it being revealed to me that a plot against the man was about to be executed by the Jews, I immediately sent him to you, commanding his accusers also to say before you what they had against him. Farewell. In this we see the reaction of the average person. The Chiliach, under pressure to react, passes the buck. I would, if I could, tell you that this is true of the Lost Man but, sadly, it is true of most people naming Christ for their own, also. God, in the Great Commission has not called on us to squat on our haunches and to pass the buck, we are called to action! Acts 23:31:Then, indeed, taking up Paul, as it was commanded them, the soldiers brought him by night to Antipatris. Acts 23:32:And on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him and returned to the fortress. Acts 23:33:And when they had come to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul before him also. Acts 23:34:And when the governor had read the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from Cilicia, Acts 23:35:he said, I will hear you when your accusers have also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's Praetorium. And so, we find that Paul is setting an example for all of God's Children to follow, that God is busy exercising His Sovereign Will, that men are not to be trusted, they will disappoint you and that obedience to the will of God will bring persecution. As God's servants we must teach new converts that this isw not all roses but that the trials are passable and cause growth. Members of the ministry must not tickle ears.