Acts 23:1-11 Paul declared to the council that he lived a life with a good conscience before God, which earned a sharp blow to the face, ordered by the high priest, Ananias. Paul condemned the strike as against Jewish Law, but withdrew his accusation when he learned it was ordered by the high priest, for it is written that you shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people. Knowing that he would not get a fair trial, and knowing that the Pharisees and Sadducees were divided in their belief of the resurrection, Paul used it to divide the assembly. Paul, a Pharisee himself, hoped he could get the attention of Pharisees who believed in the supernatural. Some of the Pharisees then defended Paul saying it was possible that a spirit or angel could have spoken to Paul. The division between the Pharisees and Sadducees became violent, so the tribune ordered Paul back to the barracks. Later that night, Jesus appeared to Paul and told him to have courage, for He would send him to Rome to testify about Him there also.
Notes: Pharisees believed in the resurrection and afterlife. Their beliefs were thus closer to Christianity than those of the Sadducees. Significantly, the Scripture records the conversion of Pharisees, but not of Sadducees.
Acts 23:12-25 More than forty Jews in Jerusalem plotted to kill Paul. They told the chief priests to convince the council to go along with their plan to ambush Paul by convincing the tribune to bring Paul back for questioning where they would lie in wait to ambush him. Paul’s nephew heard of the conspiracy and went to Paul in the barracks to warn him. Paul sent his nephew to tell the tribune what he had heard. The tribune decided to protect Paul and charged Paul’s nephew to say nothing of their conversation. The tribune rounded up two hundred soldiers and seventy horsemen with two hundred spearmen to take Paul to Felix the governor in Caesarea around 9:00 PM.
Acts 23:26-35 The tribune wrote Felix a letter explaining that the Jews were about to kill Paul, but learning he was a Roman citizen, and that there was a plot against his life (of which he could find no violation worthy of death or imprisonment), decided to send him to Felix for trial in Caesarea. He wrote that he would inform the chief priests and the council that they must go to Caesarea to present their case against Paul there. The soldiers carried out the tribune’s plan, and after safely arriving in Caesarea, presented Paul and the letter to Felix. When Felix determined that Paul was from Tarsus, the province of Cilicia, he ordered Paul to be held and guarded in Herod’s praetorium until the chief priests arrived for the trial.
Notes: In the tribune’s letter to Felix, his failure to mention any crimes against Roman law was tantamount to declaring Paul innocent.