Acts 23: 23 – 35 Paul transferred to Caesarea

Acts 23: 23 – 35 Paul transferred to Caesarea

Then he {the commander) called two of his centurions and ordered them, ‘Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide horses for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.’

He wrote a letter as follows:

Claudius Lysias,

To His Excellency, Governor Felix:

Greetings.

This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment. When I learned of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.

So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia, he said, ‘I will hear your case when your accusers get here.’ Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

*       *       *

Commander Claudius Lysias acted swiftly and decisively. He sent Paul with nearly 500 soldiers, including 70 cavalry, to the Governor of the province, Felix, who lived in Caesarea. This both protected Paul, and secured him under house arrest. It reduced the risk of further riots in Jerusalem, and – probably not least of Claudius Lysias’s considerations when making the decision – it removed his risk of being ambushed along with Paul, and got rid of a political ‘hot potato’.

To justify his actions, he wrote a letter to Governor Felix. Glossing over the lies and half-truths of this letter, we nevertheless find one very important point. Claudius Lysias writes: “I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment.”

In other words, in the opinion of the responsible officer in Jerusalem, Paul was innocent of any serious breach of Roman law. His house arrest is nothing to do with Roman law; it is a political matter. He has been involved in three riots, instigating two of them, and he is the subject of a very serious plot to kill him. His presence on the streets is a threat to good order.

Claudius Lysias, having determined Paul’s innocence under Roman law could have released him were it not for the political considerations. The man whose job it was to make such political decisions was the province’s governor Felix, and so it was to Felix that Claudius Lysias sent Paul.

What would have happened if Claudius Lysias had released Paul in Jerusalem?

The likelihood is that Paul would have continued to preach about Jesus until the Jews killed him. In a very real sense, therefore, Paul is a prisoner for the gospel – an innocent man imprisoned for the message he bears.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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