Paul addresses the Sanhedrin [a continuation of the Seventy Elders which God gave to help Moses].
Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Paul rebukes the High Priest for breaking the law.
23:3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 23:4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? 23:5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
Paul then divided the court by appealing to the Pharisees concerning the resurrection which the Sadducee’s [priests] rejected.
23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
The idea that the Sadducee’s rejected angels and spirits is due to a misunderstanding of what Paul meant, since angels and spirits are mentioned throughout the scriptures.
The proper meaning is that the Sadducee’s did not believe in a resurrection or change of people into angels or spirits. They believed that people were already spirits [immortal souls] trapped in a physical body and when the physical body died the spirit – which was considered the real person – was released to go to God or to punishment. This same belief exists today in Kabbalah Judaism and among some calling themselves Christian.
23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither [no change or resurrection of men into angels or spirits, since men were already spirits [immortal souls] trapped in a physical body] angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 23:9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
The guard then took Paul into Roman custody lest he be injured in the melee.
23:10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
Then in the night Jesus himself came to comfort Paul and inform him of what he must do.
23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
Forty men pledge themselves to kill Paul.
23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 23:13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. 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 slain Paul. 23:15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
Paul is informed and tells the commander of the castle.
23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
23:17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him. 23:18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
23:19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? 23:20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
23:21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
Paul is sent secretly with a large military escort to Felix the governor.
23:22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23:23 And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; 23:24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
The commander sends a letter to governor Felix concerning Paul.
23:25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:
23:26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. 23:27 This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. 23:28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: 23:29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
23:30 And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.
23:31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
23:32 On the morrow they [the spear-men] left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: 23:33 Who, when they came to Caesarea and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.
The governor sends for Paul’s accusers so that a full hearing could be held.
23:34 And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 23:35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s judgment hall.
The High Priest and the accusers of Paul arrive.
Acts 24:1 And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul.
Tertullus begins by hearing the accusations.
24:2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, 24:3 We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. 24:4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.
24:5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 24:6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
24:7 But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, 24:8 Commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. 24:9 And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.
Paul gives his defense.
24:10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: 24:11 Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.
24:12 And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: 24:13 Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men. 24:17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
Paul asserts that there are no witnesses against him present
24:18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. 24:19 Who ought to have been here before thee, and object [witness against me], if they had ought against me.
Paul asks if his accusers, present before Felix; witnessed any wrongdoing; and says that it is for his teachings about the resurrection that he is accused by the Sadducees [priests] before Felix. Paul testifies that it is for a religious issue that he is being accused and not for any legal matter.
24:20 Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, 24:21 Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
Felix then summoned the commander to appear before him and testify about these things.
24:22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
Paul was kept in the lightest custody possible.
24:23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
While waiting for the commander from Caesarea, Felix asks Paul about his beliefs, inquiring into the matter before him.
24:24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
Felix being a magistrate is impressed by the Gospel of sincere repentance and zealous learning and keeping of the law and whole Word of God.
24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Still Felix was unrepentant and sought a bribe.
24:26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
After witnessing to Felix and being imprisoned for two years; Paul appeals to Porcius Festus who replaced Felix as governor, but he left Paul in custody to please the Sadducees [the priesthood].
24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.