As Paul stood before the council, he stated that he lived his life before God in good conscience up to this day. The high priest Ananias ordered his fellow Jews to strike Paul. Paul talked back, which offended many the Jews. Paul then perceived his audience had both Sadducees and Pharisees, and proclaimed his identity as a Pharisee.
This caused a divide since the Sadducees don't believe in resurrection whereas the Pharisees acknowledged it. As things got more heated, the tribune took Paul back to the barracks.
After these events, about 40 Jews swore they would not eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. They asked the council to ask the tribune for another session with Paul, intending to kill Paul at that time.
Paul's sister's son heard of this and told Paul. Paul arranged for a centurion to escort his nephew to inform the tribune of this. The tribune then commanded 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen to escort Paul to Caesarea. He also wrote a letter to governor Felix about Paul's circumstance.
When Paul arrived at Caesarea, governor Felix told Paul that he would be given a hearing once his accusers arrive.
What A Drama
This chapter reads very much like a drama! I can imagine a whole TV series made on this.
Paul Persecuted By His Own People
Paul's background is almost flawless. He is a Jew, a Pharisee, and a Roman citizen. He's the role model that every Jew wants to be.
- Pharisees were teachers of the law and were given the utmost respect in the Jewish community.
- As we learned from the last few chapters, Roman citizenship is hard to come by (the tribune himself spent a fortune to obtain it) and also comes with rights that ordinary people don't get (such as being beaten before given trial).
Yet the moment Paul proclaims Jesus, the Jews turn their back on him as if he were a criminal.
Now, of course, upon finding out that Paul is a Pharisee, the Pharisees find nothing wrong with him.
Though, the Sadducees, who strictly don't believe in resurrection, don't feel the same way.
40 men took an oath to neither eat nor drink until they kill Paul. That's how much they hated Paul.
I may hate squirrels for picking off the persimmon tree in my backyard, but I wouldn't starve myself until I kill them.
This is pretty serious.
Paul Saved By The Roman Military
The tribune, who's name we learn is Claudius Lysias, wasn't exactly welcoming to Paul at first either. He first thought that Paul was some Egyptian revolutionary.
Upon realizing that Paul speaks Greek, he dismissed the Egyptian revolutionary theory, but because the Jews were causing a commotion, he thought that Paul might be a criminal in the eyes of the Jews.
With the people still in chaos and not able to learn about Paul's religious crimes, he was about to flog (severely beat) Paul. Then, he learned that Paul is a Roman citizen, and cannot be beaten without fair trial.
Only after learning all these things did the tribune start to treat Paul humanely. Status matters in society, and the tribune is no different.
It just so happens that from the perspective of Roman law, Roman citizens need to be treated properly or there will be retaliation.
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