Evening Bible Study
On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit
filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began
By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution.
Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the
persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus
to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light
and he met Jesus. Saul is more well known by his Roman
By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a
Roman Centurion named Cornelius.
In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the
ministry of Paul.
Play Missionary Journeys map clip
Paul’s first missionary journey took him from Antioch of Syria, through the
area of Galatia.
Paul’s second missionary journey took him past Galatia, into Greece, then
back through Jerusalem and on to Antioch.
We are now on Paul’s third missionary journey, very similar to the second,
except he’s now in Jerusalem.
While Paul was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a riot breaks out in
the Temple, and the Jews try to seize Paul and put him to death.
The issue that is causing the riot has to do with the Gentiles.
Some of the Jewish Christians had heard rumors that Paul had been teaching
the Jews who lived around the world that they no longer needed to keep the Law
of Moses, that they could live like Gentiles.
He had not.
Some of the unbelieving Jews thought that Paul had even brought a Gentile
into the Temple because they had seen him walking around town with a Gentile.
He had not.
The Romans stepped in to take Paul away from the crowd, but Paul was
allowed first to speak to the crowd.
Paul spoke in Hebrew, and the Romans didn’t understand what he was
Paul told the crowd how he came to believe in Jesus as the Christ, but when
Paul started to tell them that Jesus had sent him to preach to the Gentiles,
the crowd went crazy again.
Then the Romans take Paul into the Antonio Fortress. They are about to beat him to make him tell
what made the crowd so angry when Paul lets them know that he is a Roman
The Romans realize they can’t legally beat Paul, but they can’t let him go
either or else the crowd might revolt.
They call for the Jewish Sanhedrin to come the next day and tell them why
Paul should be arrested.
23:1-10 Paul before the Sanhedrin
:1 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council,
said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God
until this day.”
:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who
stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
This is not the same as the “Annas” who was one
of the high priests during the trial of Jesus.
was high priest from AD 48 to AD
In AD 52 (about five years earlier to Acts 23) he was called to Rome to
answer charges of cruelty by the Samaritans, though he was later acquitted. He was known as a brutal man who cared more for
Rome’s favor than for Israel’s welfare.
In AD 66, when the war will begin to break out between the Jews and Rome,
Ananias got worried because of how close he had been to Rome. He hides, but Jewish guerillas find him
hiding in an aqueduct in Herod’s palace and put him to death.
:3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you
whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command
me to be struck contrary to the law?”
:3 you whitewashed wall
This is a wall that is made pretty on the outside with a white coat of
paint. Paul is calling him a hypocrite.
:4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile
God’s high priest?”
:5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that
he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a
ruler of your people.’ ”
:5 I did not know … he was the high
Some suggest that Paul’s bad eyesight kept him from recognizing the high
It could be he simply didn’t know who was the high
priest at the time.
It could also be that Paul is being a bit sarcastic – like, “He sure
doesn’t act like a high priest…”
Paul is quoting
NKJV) “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
Pay attention though – Paul is apologizing.
Some might say that Paul isn’t doing anything wrong here. But Paul thought he did, he’s going to
A carpet layer had just finished installing carpet for a lady. He stepped
out for a smoke, only to realize he’d lost his cigarettes. In the middle of the
room, under the carpet, was a bump. “No
sense pulling up the entire floor for one pack of smokes,” he said to himself.
He proceeded to get out his hammer and flattened the hump. As he was cleaning up, the lady came in. “Here,” she said, handing him his pack of
cigarettes. “I found them in the hallway.” “Now,” she said, “if only I could
find my parakeet.”
Jesus had a similar situation when He stood on trial before the other “Annas” and was questioned by him.
NKJV) —22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by
struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest
like that?” 23
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the
evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
Jesus handled the situation much better. He didn’t mock the high priest, but He simply
pointed out the truth. But then, He is
Paul blows it.
Personally, I find it a little comforting to see that even Paul still blew
it after having walked with Jesus for twenty years.
The Christian Life is a life of growing.
It’s a life of becoming more and more and more like Jesus. But we don’t ever “arrive” until we see Him
face to face.
NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good
work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
God will keep working on us until the day that we are with
But until then, we are still growing.
:6 But when Paul perceived that 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; concerning the hope and
resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”
:7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose
between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided.
:8 For Sadducees say that there is no
resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.
:6 concerning the hope and resurrection
The actual reason the crowd had tried to kill Paul was because they thought
he had brought a Gentile into the Temple.
But when Paul sees that he has a group of both
Pharisees and Sadducees before him, he decides to bring up an issue that actually
underlies everything (the resurrection of Jesus), an issue that will provoke
some sympathy among the Pharisees, but will also upset the Sadducees.
The Pharisees were the more theologically conservative of the two groups.
They believed in the authority of the entire Old Testament Scriptures.
They believed in the miraculous, including the resurrection.
The Sadducees were the more theologically liberal of the two.
They only believed the first five books of the Bible were authoritative.
They did not believe in miracles, or the resurrection.
The priests (and high priests) tended to be Sadducees.
:9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes
of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this
man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against
:10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest
Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and
take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
– stasis – a
standing, station, state; an insurrection; strife, insurrection
:10 there arose a great dissension
Paul had struck a nerve.
The arguing got so fierce that the commander (who wouldn’t have understood
their arguing in Hebrew) thought they would end up tearing Paul to pieces.
Since Paul was a Roman, the commander had a responsibility to protect Paul.
23:11-22 Plot against Paul
:11 But the following night the Lord stood by him
and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem,
so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
:11 Be of good cheer, Paul
You have to be careful as you read this to not think that Paul was some
sort of cocky fellow who wasn’t afraid of nobody.
The only reason I can think of that Jesus would appear to Paul and say
these things is because Paul must have been terrified.
You are not alone
Paul had a similar experience when he was in Corinth and began to
experience some trouble.
NKJV) —9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be
afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will
attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.”
Paul was afraid, and Jesus encouraged him.
Paul will have this experience again on the way to Rome when his ship is
caught in a horrible storm and has been adrift “many days”. Paul spoke to the other passengers:
NKJV) —23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I
belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar;
and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
You will see a hint of this toward the end of his life when he writes to
(2 Timothy 4:16–17
NKJV) —16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May
it not be charged against them. 17 But the
Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached
fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was
delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
There are times in life when it seems that we are all alone and life is
heading for a tragic ending.
Sometimes that simply isn’t true.
Sometimes there are people that care very much about us, but we get so
caught up in our distress and depression that we just don’t see the help around
There may be times when we are indeed alone. Yet even then, God is with us.
David knew times like this.
(1 Samuel 30:6
NKJV) Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning
him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and
his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
(Psalm 27:10 NKJV)
When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.
SurelyYour walls are continually before Me.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were thrown
into the fiery furnace, they were not alone.
(Daniel 3:25 NKJV)
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of
the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of
When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, he wasn’t alone. He said,
(Daniel 6:22 NKJV)
My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have
not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have
done no wrong before you.”
(Isaiah 43:2 NKJV)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through
the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the
flame scorch you.
You are not alone beloved. You just
:11 you must also bear witness at Rome
Paul’s life isn’t over just yet.
Jesus still has things for him to do.
We get a glimpse into …
Paul had written to the Romans just a few months earlier when he had been
NKJV) —13 Now I do not want you to be unaware,
brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now),
that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a
debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to
unwise. 15 So, as
much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome
Toward the end of his letter, he reiterated his desire to visit Rome:
NKJV) —23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great
desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see
you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may
enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it
pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the
poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they
are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of
their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material
Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this
fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of
the blessing of the gospel of Christ. 30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through
the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for
me, 31 that I may
be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for
Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by
the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the
God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Paul had longed for a day when he could go to Rome and preach the gospel.
It would appear that the “longing” came from God.
37:4 NKJV) Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He
shall give you the desires of your heart.
Jesus now confirms to Paul that he will indeed go to Rome.
It just might not be the way he had planned on going to Rome, but he’ll
make it there.
But he won’t be using his normal
travel agent, he’ll be a prisoner of Rome.
It also won’t be in the timing that Paul had expected.
He will be spending quite a bit of time in prison first in
Caesarea before being transferred to Rome.
:12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded
together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat
nor drink till they had killed Paul.
:13 Now there were more than forty who had formed
:14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and
said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing
until we have killed Paul.
:15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander
that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make
further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes
:12 neither eat nor drink till they had
These forty men are going to enter into a “fast” where they will not eat
any food until Paul is dead.
Fasting is something people do when they want to get serious with God about
When David’s young infant became sick
Samuel 12:16 NKJV) David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted
and went in and lay all night on the ground.
When Jehoshaphat was faced with a huge invading army…
Chronicles 20:3–4 NKJV) —3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord,
and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help
from the Lord; and from all the
cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
Jesus hinted that fasting was something that could enhance the power of a
person’s prayers, such as when He cast a demon out of a child…
NKJV) However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
I believe the power behind fasting is that we are learning
to deny our fleshly appetites and learn to focus our hearts on God. Not an easy thing to do.
Yet sometimes the concept of “fasting” is abused or misused.
When Saul was chasing the Philistines…
Samuel 14:24 NKJV) …for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is
the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance
on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.
Saul’s son Jonathan saw this “fast” for what it was:
Samuel 14:29 NKJV) But Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land…”
Saul’s “fast” looked religious, but it only made his
warriors too weak to fight.
When Jezebel plotted to steal Naboth’s
Kings 21:9–10 NKJV) —9 She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people; 10 and seat
two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, You have
blasphemed God and the king. Then take him out, and stone him, that he
Making the people “fast” would make them think that God
was behind what was happening.
In Acts, these men have taken an oath to not eat until they have killed
They think they are actually doing God’s will. Jesus had said,
16:2 NKJV) They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming
that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.
Sometimes we can make the mistake of thinking that “intensity” means
“right”. We can think that because
someone is “intense” in what they believe that it must be right. They can simply be “intensely wrong”.
:16 So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their
ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.
We find out that Paul has a sister and a nephew.
:17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him
and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell
: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.”
:19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went
aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”
I find it endearing that the commander takes nephew by the hand. I wonder how old the nephew was.
:20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to
the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about
:21 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.”
:22 So the commander let the young man depart, and
commanded him, “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”
The commander doesn’t want word to get out that they know about the plot.
23:23-35 Sent to Caesarea
:23 And he called for two centurions, saying,
“Prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to go
to Caesarea at the third hour of the night;
:24 and provide mounts to set Paul on, and bring him
safely to Felix the governor.”
:23 Prepare two hundred soldiers …
The commander is going to send Paul with quite an armed escort.
40 Jewish commandos aren’t going to risk taking on a force this size.
:23 at the third hour of the night
Around 9:00 pm.
:24 provide mounts to set Paul on
Paul is going to get to ride a horse as well.
:25 He wrote a letter in the following manner:
The commander is going to send a letter along with Paul explaining why Paul
is being sent to him.
:26 Claudius Lysias, To the most excellent
governor Felix: Greetings.
:26 Claudius Lysias
This is the name of the commander that has been working with Paul.
:26 governor Felix
This is not Felix the cat, but Felix the governor.
He was the Roman procurator of Judea (A.D. 52 to probably 58) with
headquarters in Caesarea.
:27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about
to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that
he was a Roman.
:27 having learned that he was a Roman
The commander is stretching the truth a bit.
He “rescued” Paul to keep a riot from happening, but he didn’t learn that
Paul was a Roman until AFTER he had put Paul in chains and was about to have
It looks better if the governor just thinks that Paul had been rescued
because he was a Roman citizen.
:28 And when I wanted to know the reason they
accused him, I brought him before their council.
:29 I found out that he was accused concerning
questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death
:30 And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent
him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the
charges against him. Farewell.
:29 nothing …deserving of death or
The commander could have simply set Paul free, but there is still the issue
of the accusations from the highest Jewish leaders, and he dare not offend them
It’s now being placed in Felix’s hands.
:31 Then the soldiers, as they were commanded,
took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Play Jerusalem to Caesarea map clip
Antipatris was a military outpost, forty miles down the hill from
It wouldn’t be as bad for Paul and the horsemen, but the four hundred
soldiers and spearmen are on foot, marching to Antipatris.
It will be another 30 miles across the coastal plain to Caesarea from
:32 The next day they left the horsemen to go on
with him, and returned to the barracks.
:33 When they came to Caesarea and had delivered
the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
We never hear from the hungry guys who want to kill Paul. Perhaps they all starved themselves to death.
:34 And when the governor had read it, he
asked what province he was from. And when he understood that he was from
:35 he said, “I will hear you when your accusers
also have come.” And he commanded him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.
:34 he asked what province he was from
Roman law required that this question be asked at the opening of a hearing,
as part of the interrogation to make sure that the governor has jurisdiction
over the matter. Apparently there could
have been a choice as to where the case was tried. It could have been tried in Tarsus or at
Caesarea. Felix apparently doesn’t want
to offend the Jews by making them travel to Tarsus to try the case.
:35 Herod’s Praetorium
This would have been the palace in Caesarea built by Herod the Great.
It would have had cells in it for prisoners.
The palace in Caesarea was built out over the water.
The archaeologists have found a tile floor dating back to Paul’s time
indicating that one particular room was used by the soldiers for interrogating
If time, play “Herod’s Palace Caesarea” clip.