Book of Acts Chapter 23 - Christogenea Internet Radio 12-20-2013

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Book of Acts Chapter 23 - Christogenea Internet Radio 12-20-2013

In our presentation of Acts chapter 21, we illustrated just how politically volatile the Judaean population was at this time, which is 57 AD, and how prone they were to riot, especially in defense of their religious exclusivity. The Judaeans had been pressured by the Romans on several occasions over the decades from Tiberius to Nero, to add elements of Roman paganism and emperor-worship to their temple and religious life, and they had thus far avoided doing so, either by political means or by civil disobedience and threats of insurrection. From the pages of Josephus, we saw how not long before this very time of Paul's arrest in Jerusalem, ten thousand Judaeans were killed on a feast day in a tumult which was sparked by a single act of profanity on the part of one Roman soldier, an act which was seen by the masses as an insult to their nation and their religion. It is illustrative of the tensions which existed between the Judaeans and the Romans. Flavius Josephus later saw this as the signal event building up to the revolt against Rome and the beginning of the end for Jerusalem. Little did he know that it was long ago prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures that such a thing would happen, but for a different reason: it was truly the result of the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah of Israel. Yahweh God is indeed the author of history, although He uses means by which to accomplish His will that are not often perceived by men.

Presenting Acts chapter 22, along with the last paragraph of Acts 21, where Paul was first arrested it was seen that he was confused for a leader of the Sicarii, or Assassins, by the Roman commander. We also saw from the pages of Josephus that these Sicarii were bands of robbers who were raiding the crowds at the feasts, looting and often even killing their targets. The Sicarii were a threat from before this time and up until Festus came to the office of procurator of Judaea a couple of years afterwards. Festus first appears in Acts in chapter 24. From these events which are described by Josephus it is also quite clear that the circumstances existing in Judaea at this very time coincide very well with the events and the state of Judaea which Luke portrays here in the Book of Acts.

Concerning Acts 21:38, there is something in Josephus, written about an event which occurred around this same time, which very much explains the reason for that first question which this Roman commander had asked of Paul, where he said “Then you are not the Egyptian who was before these days making an upset and leading out into the desert four thousand men of the Assassins?” We did not present this in our last segment of Acts, so we shall do it here.

In Antiquities of the Judaeans, Book 20 chapter 8 (20:169-171 [20.8.6]), writing about a time towards the end of the procuratorship of Felix, which is where we are at here in Acts chapters 21 through 24, Josephus gives the following account, right after describing that Jerusalem was “filled with all sorts of impiety” on account of the deeds of Felix, saying that: “169 Moreover, there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem, one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay opposite the city, and at the distance of about a half a mile. 170 He said further, that he would show them from there how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they had fallen down. 171 Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen, from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive.” With this it is evident, that the arrest of Paul must have taken place as this particular Egyptian was known to Judaeans and Romans, but before the Egyptian and his cult of followers were actually destroyed. The history of Josephus is invaluable so far as helping us to understand the Judaea of the New Testament period and the important developments which formed the Roman province of Judaea leading up to that period, and it also fully corroborates many of the historic statements in the Scriptures.

Paul was arrested when some of the Judaeans who had known him from Asia spotted him in the temple and falsely accused him of defiling it by bringing uncircumcised men into it. Such an act would indeed be perceived as another affront to the Judaean religion, and therefore with those accusations causing a disturbance Paul's life certainly seems to have been saved upon the intervention of the Romans and his subsequent arrest. The Roman commander, learning that Paul was not one of the robbers, was at odds with himself over what Paul may have done, and permitted him to address the crowd. Luke portrays that address as having been abruptly terminated at the point where Paul mentions a proclamation of the Gospel to other nations, and with the crowd becoming disturbed once again, Paul's address to the people was interrupted at that point. With this account, Luke seems to portray the violation of their religious exclusivity as being that part of Paul's speech to which the Judaeans objected most vehemently.

We may want to evaluate this situation at greater depth: For the gifts and covenants of God are exclusively with the children of Israel. Therefore, from their own perspective, the Judaeans certainly had a right to protest the violation of their religious exclusivity. However not all of the Judaeans were of Israel, as Paul had by this time already explained in his epistle to the Romans, which was written several months beforehand. The gifts and covenants of God are not exclusive to Israel in the religious or civil senses, as the Judaeans had evidently presumed. Rather they are exclusive in the national racial sense, to the seed of the people of the ancient nation of Israel. Furthermore, the Judaeans clearly did not understand that the distant nations to which Paul referred were indeed the nations of anciently dispersed Israel, as even Paul calls that a mystery in several of his epistles, namely in those to the Ephesians and the Colossians. This is why Paul had also been teaching in his epistles, that the gifts of God were not to those of the law, but to those of the promise. The Judaeans presumed their righteousness by a keeping of the law. But the greater part of true Israel had long been dispersed and were pagan and had discarded the law, yet they were still the children of the inviolable promises and calling of Yahweh.

At this point in history there is a very unique situation. The society of Europe and the Near East consisted of many tribes descended from the other Genesis 10 nations. However they also consisted of many of the long-dispersed tribes of the children of Israel, tribes which had been migrating into Europe since the time of the Exodus, and even before that. At the same time, Judaea had been overrun by the Edomites and other Canaanites after the deportations of Israel, and those people were all forced into Judaism in the second century BC by the remnant which returned to Jerusalem, which had grown quite powerful by the time of the Maccabees. Therefore in Judaea, many of the perceived people of God were actually the eternal enemies of God. The majority of them were certainly not of the true remnant of Judah from which came Christ and the apostles.

The dispersed children of Israel, represented in part by Romans, Dorians, Germans, Phoenicians and Parthians, had indeed come to dominate the Adamic oikoumenê in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (described by Paul in Romans chapter 4), and they were the intended recipients of the Gospel message from the beginning, while the Edomites and Canaanites who comprised much of the population of Judaea and who had adopted what is now called Judaism were forever accursed. This is why Judaism in its true form in the Talmud is so absolutely antithetical to God and Christ. Yet Paul's hope, which he expressed in chapter 9 of his epistle to the Romans some months before he arrived in Judaea for this very Pentecost, was to be able to reach any true Israelite Judaeans who remained. We have already seen in these late chapters of Acts, that many of those had already accepted the Ebionite form of Christianity, which was actually somewhere between Judaism and Christianity. Paul's speech in Acts chapter 22 and his epistle to the Hebrews written shortly after the events that are recorded here represent his attempts to reach his true Hebrew kinsmen. One more public defense of Christianity by Paul in Judaea is recorded later in Acts, where he appears before Herod Agrippa II, over two years after his arrest and just before he is sent to Rome.

The Roman commander, who was probably uneducated in the religious disputes of the Judaeans, planned on beating the truth out of Paul to find out why he caused such a tumult. Yet he was hindered upon learning that Paul was a Roman citizen. He could not beat the truth out of him, so he had to find another way to sort the incident out. (In spite of what may be perceived today as barbarous tactics, the Roman commander actually must have been a caring and prudent man, as the events described in chapter 23 of Acts also reveal.) That is where we left off, at the end of Acts chapter 22, and here is the last verse of that chapter (which should have been included here with Acts chapter 23 where it belongs):

30 And on the next day [which was the day after his arrest], wishing to know with certainty why he [Paul] was accused by the Judaeans, he [the commander] released him and ordered the high priests and all the council to gather together, and bringing down Paul he stood before them.

The Majority Text interpolates the words “from the bonds”, or in the King James Version, “from his bands”, although Luke had already recorded that the commander feared on account of his having bound Paul, for it was unlawful to bind a Roman citizen who had not been convicted of a crime.

Notice that the reference to the high priests is plural, as it also often was in the Gospels and earlier in Acts. There may have been several former high priests here at this time, since Herod Agrippa II was given charge by the Romans over the affairs of the temple, and as his predecessors had done, he often changed the occupant of the office for political reasons. In the Gospels we see that there were current and former high priests, and that those who held the office formerly continued to bear the title. John, in a statement which seems to be rather sarcastic, even said of Caiaphas in chapter 11 of his Gospel that he was “high priest that same year”.

With this we shall commence with Acts chapter 23:

XXIII 1 And Paul staring at the council said “Men, brethren, I have lived as a free citizen with all good conscience before Yahweh unto this day.”

We should not imagine that Paul means to consider all of those present to be brethren, but rather his concern is with those who are his brethren. Paul had already explained in both his epistle to the Romans and in his second epistle to the Thessalonians that only some of the people in Judaea were truly his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:3). and that satanic men ruled over the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

2 And the high priest Hananias commanded those standing by him to strike his mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him “Yahweh is about to strike you, you whitened wall! That you sit judging me according to the law and transgressing the law you order me to be struck?”

The fulfillment of this warning Paul gives the high priest seems to be witnessed in the death of that Ananias which is recorded by Josephus, at Wars 2.17.9 (2:441-442), where Hananias (or Ananias), with his brother having hid from robbers in an aqueduct, is found and slain by them. This Hananias was the father of a high priest of the same name, sometimes referred to as Ananus, who slew the apostle James in 62 AD. This elder Hananias was slain while Florus was procurator, which was about 64 A.D. (Wars 2.14.1-2 and 2.17.1). As we have often explained, Paul’s captivity here began in 57 A.D., two years before the end of the procuratorship of Felix (Acts 24:7), which was in 59 A.D. Josephus discusses this Hananias (or Ananias) at length in his Antiquities, Book 20 (20:197-214 [20.9.1-5]), part of which we presented along with Acts chapter 4 in order to show that these Sadducees themselves functioned as crime lords in Judaea.

4 And they standing by said “Do you rebuke the high priest of God?” 5 And Paul said “I knew not, brethren, that he is high priest. For it is written that ‘You shall not speak badly of a ruler of the people.’”

There being so many men who held the office of high priest during this period, it is no wonder that Paul being absent from Judaea for most of his ministry did not recognize this man, even though he was quite illustrious, or infamous, in Jerusalem.

Here Paul quoted from Exodus 22:28, and the Greek of Acts agrees entirely with the Greek of the Septuagint, as do most of the Old Testament citations recorded by Luke. Yet the beginning of Exodus 22:28 in the King James Version reads “Thou shalt not revile the gods”, where the Hebrew word elohim, Strong’s Hebrew #430, would better be rendered as judges, and the Septuagint Greek has gods there also.

Even though this particular high priest is indeed wicked, Paul agrees with the letter of the law. This admonition in the law is ignored by most Christians today, and even those who profess to honor the Old Testament law often do so. It evidently stands no matter how vile the particular ruler happens to be.

Ecclesiastes 10: “20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”

1 Peter 2: “13 You must be obedient to every authority created by mankind on account of the Prince, whether to kings as if being superior, 14 or to governors as if being sent by Him for the punishment of evil-doers but for the praise of those doing good. 15 Because thusly is the will of Yahweh: doing good to muzzle the ignorance of foolish men, 16 as free men yet not as if having freedom for a cover for evil, but as servants of Yahweh.”

While as Christians we readily despise the ignoble men who have risen to rule over us, we too easily lose sight of the fact that evil rulers are appointed by God as a punishment for sinners, because Israel rejected Yahweh as their King, and still they suffer for that very reason.

6 Then Paul perceiving that the one part are of the Sadducees but the other of the Pharisees cried out in the council, “Men, brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees!

The Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text, and therefore the King James Version, have “...son of a Pharisee!” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (B), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).

Concerning hope and resurrection of the dead am I judged!” 7 And upon his saying this there came [B has fell] a discord among the Pharisees and Sadducees and the multitude was divided. 8 For indeed the Sadducees say that there is not to be a resurrection, nor are there messengers [or angels] nor a spirit, but Pharisees confess both things.

Sometimes the simplest statements in a person's language often tell us a lot, when we give them close enough attention. Here where “the resurrection” and “messengers nor a spirit” are considered to be “both things”, it is evident that messengers (or angels) and spirits were considered together to be on one part of these two ideas, and therefore messengers could indeed be spirits, even though it is clear that often in Scripture they could also simply be people. In Acts 12:15, where after Peter's having been arrested, the people who were at the home of Mark could not conceive that it could have been Peter himself who was at the door, they are recorded as having exclaimed “it is his angel”, perhaps imagining Peter to have been dead. Therefore we see two witnesses in Acts, that these early Christians associated angels with spirit beings.

9 And there came a great cry, and some of the scribes from the part of the Pharisees [A and E have only “and some of the Pharisees”; the MT has “and the scribes from the part of the Pharisees”; the text follows א and B, and C which varies slightly] arising contended saying “We find nothing evil in this man, even if a spirit or messenger spoke to him!”

The Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27) punctuates the last clause of verse 9 as a question, where the phrase εἰ δὲ would have to be rendered as “what if...?” rather than with the more literally correct exclamation “even if...!” The Majority Text has the clause to read “and if a spirit or messenger spoke to him, we should not fight against God!” The King James Version reflects that reading. The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), and Laudianus (E).

The Sadducees were moral relativists who denied everything spiritual, and also denied the hand of God in the world and in the lives of men. They stopped short of denying God Himself. According to Josephus, the Sadducees did not believe in any life at all beyond this physical world, where in Antiquities 18.1.4 (18:16) he states “But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies”. Josephus describes the beliefs, or rather the denials, of the Sadducees at length in that book and also in Book 2 (2:164-166 [2.8.14]) of his Wars of the Judaeans. He says of them there “164 But the Sadducees are those who compose the second order [after the Pharisees], and take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what is evil, 165 is at men's own choice, and that the one or the other belongs so to everyone, that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades. 166 Moreover, the Pharisees are friendly to one another, and are for the exercise of concord, and regard for the public; but the behaviour of the Sadducees one toward another is in some degree wild; and their conduct with those who are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them. And this is what I had to say concerning the philosophic sects among the Judaeans.”

10 Then upon there being a great discord, the commander being fearful lest Paul would be torn apart by them ordered the soldiers going down to snatch him from their midst and to bring him into the encampment.

Paul was, of course, well aware of the differences in the basic religious principles of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and cleverly used an appeal to those principles in order to create a division between them. The Pharisees, at least not compromising these certain tenets of their faith, which were long a source of irritation between themselves and the Sadducees, would therefore not agree with the Sadducees in this matter even though men from the party of the Sadducees had held the office of high priest throughout this entire period, from the time of Herod all the way through to the fall of Jerusalem.

When we presented Acts chapter 4 some months ago, we demonstrated that the Sadducees were basically the crime lords of Judaea. Holding the pretense of legitimate political appointments, they used their offices to persecute the true Levitical priests and to enrich themselves through their association with the temple and their rule over the people. Presenting Acts chapter 5, we discussed how Luke in his records presented the apostles as having distinguished their own race from that of the Sadducees, and that the Sadducees were almost assuredly of the stock of the Edomites.

In this chapter of Acts, with their treatment of Paul of Tarsus, the nature of the Sadducees and their ready willingness to use wanton violence in order to obtain their political objectives in spite of their pretense to abide by the rule of law is fully apparent. The later murder of the apostle James fits that same pattern, and that crime was committed by the Sadducees at an opportune moment, under a cloak of legality, when there was no Roman procurator present due to the sudden death of Festus. These Sadducees are the posterity of those same Sadducees who were the high priests at the crucifixion of Christ, as Josephus describes the families of Annas and Caiaphas and how so many of their descendants had held the office during these last decades in the history of Jerusalem.

The true spiritual antecedents of world Jewry are also these Sadducees, and they and their Edomite kinsmen are in great degree the genetic forefathers of the world's Jews as well. The offspring of these same Sadducees are among us today, and have brought us events such as the Bolshevik Revolution and the destruction of Christian Europe. Now they rule America and the world as both neocons and liberals, and as so-called English or American businessmen or bankers, among other things. In the first century they did not want it revealed that they were Edomites, and today they adopt a multitude of names so that it is not generally evident that they are Jews.

It is most telling, that throughout the Gospel accounts Christ is described as having dined with Pharisees, but He never had fellowship with the Sadducees, and He only addressed them when they accosted Him.

Earlier in our presentation of Acts, we discussed the writing of the epistles to the Thessalonians, that they were written while Paul was in Corinth during his sojourn there which is described in Acts chapter 18. Here is part of what Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, from the Christogenea New Testament:

3 You should not be deceived by anyone, in any way, because if apostasy had not come first, and the man of lawlessness been revealed; the son of destruction, 4 he who is opposing and exalting himself above everything said to be a god or an object of worship, and so he is seated in the temple of Yahweh, representing himself that he is a god.”

Most commentators take this as a prophecy of the future, however Paul is telling us that the apostasy had already come, that the “man of lawlessness” had already been revealed, the “son of destruction”, and that he was already sitting in the temple of Yahweh imagining for himself to be a god. Now while Paul wrote here in the singular person, he must have been referring to the children of Esau collectively, since the Edomites were in control of Judaea at this time, and since Paul had by this time also written his epistle to the Romans, where he discussed the true Israelites in Judaea, the “vessels of mercy”, as compared to the Edomites in Judaea, the “vessels of destruction”! The “son of destruction” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is Esau, and his offspring are the “vessels of destruction” of Romans chapter 9, whose ultimate obliteration is prophesied in Obadiah 1:18 and many other Scriptures.

For this same reason, writing in that same epistle to the Romans, Paul foreseeing the fulfillment of the destruction of Jerusalem which was prophesied in Daniel chapter 9, said to the Romans that Yahweh “will crush the Adversary (or Satan) under your feet shortly”, and they did just a few years later, from 65 to 70 AD. The “vessels of destruction” are, without a doubt, found today in world Jewry (as well as in the Arabs and many of the so-called Catholics of Southern Europe). Such is why Paul had feared going to Jerusalem, although he certainly knew that he had to go. He knew that he was going to have to face the eternal enemies of Yahweh God in the place where they are in control, a people who were congenitally evil and who could never be converted, although there were still some true Israelites yet among them.

11 And in the following night the Prince standing by him said “Take courage, [the MT interpolates “Paul”, which the KJV did not follow] for as you affirmed the things concerning Me in Jerusalem, thusly it is necessary also for you to affirm [or testify] in Rome.”

In Romans chapter 15, an epistle which Paul had written no more than a few months before this very event, we find this: “23 But now, no longer having a place in these regions [meaning Greece and Anatolia], and having a longing to come to you for many years, 24 perhaps as I journey into Spain; therefore I expect to be passing across to see you, and by you to be escorted there, if however of you first I am somewhat satisfied. 25 But now I travel to Jerusalem, in service to the saints.... 28 Now this being accomplished, and this profit having been assured to them, I will depart by you towards Spain.” Paul certainly had hoped to go to Rome, and then onto points farther west, after this visit to Jerusalem. Indeed, he made it to Rome as he had hoped, but he went as a prisoner, and not as a free man, something which he could not have expected. In spite of the erroneous assertions of the British-Israel adherents, Paul never made it to Spain.

12 And day coming, the Judaeans having made a gathering took a vow upon themselves saying neither [P48 has not] to eat nor to drink until when they would kill Paul.

The 3rd century papyrus P48 has the words “[...] assistance gathering some of the Judaeans.”, where apparently the words which precede the clause are illegible. All of the Codices employed in these notes agree on the reading of this passage as it stands.

Here we see that these Judaeans exhibited a complete disregard for the rule of law and whether Paul had actually committed an offense worthy of death or whether he should have a fair hearing. In stark contrast, Paul had written to the Romans in his epistle, commending them for living by the rule of law, where he says in chapter 2 that it is they “15 who exhibit the work of the law written in their hearts, bearing witness with their conscience, and between one another considering accusations or then defending the accused”, which he clearly presents as a fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Israel written aforetime in Jeremiah chapter 31.

13 And those making this conspiracy were more than forty,

The 3rd century papyrus P48 has “And those taking this vow upon themselves were more than forty”.

14 whom going to the high priests and the elders said “We have vowed a curse [or “we have vowed a vow” (ἀναθεματίζω, ἀνάθεμα)] upon ourselves [P48 interpolates “altogether”] to taste not any food until when we would kill Paul. 15 So now you exhibit to the commander with the council how he should bring him down to you as if being about to discern more precisely the things concerning him, but we before his approach [P48 interpolates “to you”] are ready to slay him.”

It is unlikely that any of these men who had taken this vow were Pharisees, as Luke has just described a number of their scribes as having proclaimed that “We find nothing evil in this man, even if a spirit or messenger spoke to him!” Therefore it is more than likely that all of these men were Sadducees, and going to the high priests, who were also of the sect of the Sadducees, the high priests complied with them in their conspiracy.

The 3rd century papyrus P48 has the beginning of verse 15 to read: “So now we exhort you to do this for us: The council gathering, you exhibit to the commander how he should bring him down to you...After the phrase “bring him down to you”, the Majority Text interpolates a word for “tomorrow”, which the King James Version reflects. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), and Laudianus (E).

Papyrus P48 also adds to the end of verse 15 the words “even if it should be necessary also to be killed”, thereby portraying these men as being willing to die themselves if perhaps they were also able to kill Paul, knowing that the Roman commander would obliged to defend him.

16 And a son of the sister of Paul hearing of the ambush, coming and entering into the encampment reported it to Paul.

The language describing this young man is very specific. Here, this man described as being young, we learn that Paul had both a sister and a nephew in Jerusalem at this time. They are only mentioned this one time here, and therefore it is not clear under what circumstances they are present. While reading the Bible we must bear in mind that there is very frequently a lot more going on in the periphery of the narrative, while the style of the Biblical writers was always to focus upon the central character and the important events.

In Genesis chapter 13 we see that “1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.” Yet we have no real idea of the extent of Abraham's wealth, until we read in chapter 14 that “when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen”, and we see that Abraham had a sizable household which was traveling along with him although only three people were mentioned in his company in Genesis chapters 12 and 13, which are those who were the central focus of the narrative.

17 And Paul summoning one of the centurions said “Bring this young man to the commander, for he has something to report to him.” 18 So then taking him he brought him to the commander and said “The prisoner Paul summoning me asked for this young man to be brought to you, having something to say to you.” 19 And the commander taking his hand and withdrawing asked privately “What is it which you have to report to me?” 20 And he said that “the Judaeans contrived for which to ask you, that tomorrow you may bring Paul down to the council as if going to inquire something more precise concerning him. 21 However you should not be persuaded by them. For more than forty men from among them set an ambush for him, who have taken a vow upon themselves neither to eat nor to drink until when they would kill him, and now they are ready, expecting a promise from you.”

Reading the pages of Flavius Josephus, who was a first-hand witness of many of the events in Judaea at this very time, one can fully understand the lawless nature of the people who would flagrantly disregard Roman law in order to achieve their own political objectives. We have seen members of this same race, the offspring of those Judaeans who rejected Christ and who are called Jews today, act in this same volatile manner all throughout history. Recent manifestations are the social uprisings and violent acts committed by Jewish thugs in the United States throughout the 1960's and 1970's, instigated or committed by groups such as the Weather Underground or the Chicago Seven, who were nearly all Jews. In ancient Judaea, just as in Europe two hundred years ago and in America today, those who perpetrated such violence prevailed, as a chastisement of the people of God. Jerusalem was destroyed because the people rejected Christ, and America faces that same fate. If we truly believed Christ, then we should reject the Jews as He did.

22 Therefore the commander released the young man, instructing him “to divulge to no one that these things have been made manifest to me.” 23 And summoning a certain two of the centurions he said “Prepare two hundred soldiers, that they may go as far as Caesareia, and seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen, by the third hour of the night, 24 and beasts at hand in order that Paul being mounted upon them arrives safely to Phelix the governor”,

The justness and the prudence of the commander are fully manifest in his actions as they are described here, where he both trusted the report of Paul's nephew and went to great lengths to preserve Paul from the wickedness of the Judaeans. The distance from Caesareia to Jerusalem was approximately 75 miles, and it was a march of several days on foot. Under forced marches, a distance of twenty-five miles in a day was the most that Roman legions were expected to cover. We shall see towards the end of the chapter that the foot-soldiers did not cover the entire journey, but only went part of the way, as the calvary alone escorted Paul most of the way to Caesareia. While Roman couriers on horseback covered as many as fifty miles in a day, a carriage on Roman roads seems to have normally covered 25 to 30 miles.

Phelix, or by his full Latin name Marcus Antonius Felix, was the Roman procurator of Judaea from apparently 52 AD until 59 AD, when he was recalled to Rome before the end of his last term over a dispute between the Judaeans and the Syrians of Caesareia in which he was accused of certain injustices. He succeeded Ventidius Cumanus, who was not mentioned in Acts, and he was succeeded by Porcius Festus, who appears in Acts chapters 24 through 26. All of these men are frequently mentioned by Flavius Josephus, and appear in other Roman records or on artifacts such as coins.

At this time Felix was married to a daughter of Herod Agrippa I, a woman named Drusilla who is mentioned in Acts 24:24. He is said to have divorced his first wife in order to marry this Edomite Jewess, and according to Josephus, she died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. In Book 20 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans, in chapters 7 and 8 [20:137-181], Josephus describes Felix as a greedy and ruthless man, given to committing murder, extortion, and also prone to bribery. Therefore Felix could not be expected to have been friendly to Paul.

As the names of men often have significance in the Old Testament, it seems that they also do here. For in Latin Felix means happy, and Festus means joyous. Such are the men who so corruptly ruled Judaea as it was about to be destroyed. From Psalm 37: “12 The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes upon him with his teeth. 13 Yahweh shall laugh at him: for he sees that his day is coming.” Yahweh our God must be laughing at the Jews even to this very day.

25 he [the commander] wrote a letter having this outline:

The 3rd century papyrus P48 has a lengthy interpolation here, having this verse to read: “For he feared lest seizing him the Judaeans should kill him and he meanwhile should be accused as if receiving money. And he wrote a letter to them in which was written:”

26 “Klaudios Lusias to the most noble governor Phelix, greeting. 27 This man having been seized by the Judaeans and being about to be killed by them, appearing with the soldiers I delivered him, learning that he is a Roman.

The 3rd century papyrus P48 ends this verse with the clause “appearing with the soldiers I rescued him, crying out and claiming to be a Roman.”

28 And wishing to discover the reason by which they accused him, I brought him down to their council, [B wants “I brought him down to their council”] 29 which I found accusing him concerning inquires of their law, and having not one accusation worthy of death or of bonds.

Unless Paul had broken some Roman law that made him liable of a capital offense, he could not be justly executed. Like Gallio in Corinth (Acts 18:12-17), Lusias here finds nothing wrong with Judaeans having disputes over their own peculiar philosophy, but rather he sought to protect Paul from wrongdoers.

30 Then that there would be a plot against the man having been disclosed to me, at once I sent him to you, also instructing the accusers to speak against him before you.”

At the beginning of the verse the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Laudianus (E) have “a plot from among them” and want the words “at once”; the Majority Text has “a plot by the Judaeans”. In the last part of the verse, the Codex Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text have “to speak the things against him before you”, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Alexandrinus (A) have “for them to speak before you.” The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text insert “Farewell” into the text of the letter at the end of this verse. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codex Vaticanus (B).

31 So then the soldiers, in accordance with that being appointed them, taking up Paul led him by night into Antipatris.

Antipatris was a town built by the first Herod and named for his father. At this time it was evidently used as a Roman military outpost. The town was destroyed in an earthquake in the fourth century. Antipatris is over half way to Caesareia from Jerusalem, near the southeast edge of the Plain of Sharon, and a distance of 45 miles away. Perhaps “led him by night to Antipatris” would have been a better translation, because it is not necessary from that statement to imagine that they had actually arrived in Antipatris by morning – which would have been an impossible task, and the Christogenea New Testament needs to be emended in this respect. The word may also have been rendered even better as towards rather than to or into. This being understood, Luke's Greek does not insist, as many commentators also imagine, that they arrived in Antipatris that same night. Roman soldiers on forced marches were expected to cover a distance of about 25 miles in a day. By no means could they ever have covered 45 miles overnight.

32 And upon morning permitting the horsemen to depart [the Majority Text has “go”] with him, they returned to the encampment,

However far they actually traveled on the road to Antipatris before the arrival of morning is immaterial: with daylight coming, as soon as the calvary could see any imminent danger, they were comfortable traveling without the aid of the foot soldiers., who then returned to the fortress in Jerusalem. Traveling at a normal pace, it would take the calvary a couple of days to reach Antipatris and then Caesareia.

33 who entering into Caesareia and giving forth the letter to the governor, presented Paul to him also. 34 And having read it and asking which province he is from, and learning that he is from Kilikia, 35 “I shall be your hearer,” he said, “when your accusers also arrive,” giving orders to keep him in the headquarters of Herodas.

Paul's being from Kilikia, Felix was assured that he had authority to hear his defense, and that Paul had a right to be heard by him. Herodas is a reference to Herod Agrippa II, who at this time had a kingdom consisting of Chalcis and parts of Galilee and Peraea to the north of Judaea, but who had interests in Judaea, such as an appointment over the temple at Jerusalem, and therefore he had offices in this city of Caesareia, which of course was Caesareia Maritima, which was the Roman provincial capital.

In later statements in Acts and in Paul's letters, it is evident that Paul may not have been arrested alone, but that Timothy and Aristarchus the Makedonian were most likely arrested along with him. We shall expound on these things while presenting a later chapter of Acts.

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