Acts 23

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Acts 23 is the twenty-third chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the period of Paul's imprisonment in Jerusalem then in Caesarea. The book containing this chapter is anonymous but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.[1]

Acts 23
P048-Act-23 11-17-III.jpg
Acts 23:11–17 in Papyrus 48, written about AD 250.
BookActs of the Apostles
CategoryChurch history
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part5


The original text was written in Koine Greek and is divided into 35 verses.

Textual witnessesEdit

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:


Three locations of Paul's detainment

The events in this chapter took place in Jerusalem, Antipatris and Caesarea.

Paul before the Sanhedrin (23:1–10)Edit

This part continues the record of Paul's trial before the Sanhedrin from previous chapter. The tribune ordered the Sanhedrin to meet (22:30) in an advisory capacity to help him 'determine whether or not Paul had a case to answer in Jewish law'.[2]

Verse 2Edit

And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.[3]
  • "The high priest Ananias" (verse 2; cf. 24:1): is Ananias son of Nebedaeus, who was appointed by Herod of Chalcis in 47 CE, and replaced in 59 (Josephus. Antiquities. 20.103, 131, 179, 2O5).[2]

Verse 6Edit

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!"[4]

Plots and counterplots (23:11–22)Edit

After the trial, Paul received 'private reassurance' that things happening to him 'are part of God's plan' (verse 11) and the first indication that "his 'witness' in Rome will not be as missionary but as prisoner".[2] When 'the Jews' (the term used by Luke for 'those who are opposed to Paul') decide to assassinate Paul (verses 12–15), and Paul's nephew (verse 16) relays this information to Paul (and Luke), Paul receives 'a high-quality escort' to Caesarea (verses 23–24).[2]

Verse 11Edit

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."[5]

For years Paul has the ambition to preach the gospel in Rome, the great capital of the empire (Romans 1:13; Romans 15:23),[6] and the comforting word of Jesus ("Be of good cheer") reflects what Jesus had 'promised and foretold' in John 16:33 ("In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace").[7]

Paul sent to Caesarea (23:23–30)Edit

The necessity and extent of the military escort for Paul's transfer from Jerusalem to Caesarea (verses 23–24) indicate the danger on the roads at this period, which is corroborated by the historian Flavius Josephus (Josephus. Antiquities. 20.160-6, 185–8; Jewish War. 2.253-65).[2] The tribune, Claudius Lysias, 'wrote a letter' (verse 25), telling 'the story in a way more flattering to himself' (verse 27), but 'otherwise repeats for the governor's benefit' what the readers had known.[2]

Verses 23–24Edit

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."
  • "Felix the governor" is mentioned for the first time in the book.[2] According to historical records, Felix was 'a freedman, brother to the imperial secretary Pallas' (Josephus. Jewish War. 2.247, Antiquities. 20.137), was appointed by Claudius to be the procurator of Judea around 52 CE until 60 and generally regarded as cruel and corrupt (cf. Tacitus. Hist. 5.9), even was indicted by the Jews of Caesarea after his retirement from office (Josephus. Antiquities. 20.182)[2] He was replaced by Festus (Josephus. Jewish War. 2.271; Antiquities. 182).[2]

The journey to Caesarea (23:31–35)Edit

Caesarea is located about 110 kilometer from Jerusalem by road, and Antipatris (verse 31) is about half-way, 'at the point where the hill-country road intersects with the road running north from Lydda along the coastal plain'.[8] Paul was then detained in Herod's praetorium (verse 35), where some scholars have suggested is the place the Epistle to the Philippians could have been written (cf. Philippians 1:13), as an alternative opinions to Rome as the traditional origin.[8]

Verse 31Edit

Then the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.[9]

Verse 33Edit

When they came to Caesarea and had delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.[11]
  • "Presented": from Greek: πάρεστησαν, parestēsan,[12] is a word 'particularly used of setting any one before a judge' (cf. Romans 14:10, and the subscription of 2 Timothy).[13]

See alsoEdit

  • Related Bible parts: Acts 21, Acts 22, Acts 29
  • ReferencesEdit

    1. ^ Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
    2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Alexander 2007, p. 1056.
    3. ^ Acts 23:2 KJV
    4. ^ Acts 23:6 NKJV
    5. ^ Acts 23:11 NKJV
    6. ^ Ellicott, C. J. (Ed.) Ellicott's Bible Commentary for English Readers. Acts 23. London : Cassell and Company, Limited, [1905-1906] Online version: (OCoLC) 929526708. Accessed 28 April 2019.
    7. ^ Poole, Matthew, A Commentary on the Holy Bible. "Acts 23". Accessed 22 February 2019.
    8. ^ a b Alexander 2007, p. 1057.
    9. ^ Acts 23:31 NKJV
    10. ^ Meyer's NT Commentary on Acts 23. Accessed 24 April 2019.
    11. ^ Acts 23:33 NKJV
    12. ^ Greek Text Analysis: Acts 23:33. Biblehub
    13. ^ Exell, Joseph S.; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice (Editors). On "Acts 23". In: The Pulpit Commentary. 23 volumes. First publication: 1890. Accessed 24 April 2019.


    • Alexander, Loveday (2007). "62. Acts". In Barton, John; Muddiman, John (eds.). The Oxford Bible Commentary (first (paperback) ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 1028–1061. ISBN 978-0199277186. Retrieved February 6, 2019.

    External linksEdit