Acts 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;
24 And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
25 And he wrote a letter after this manner:
26 Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
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.
28 And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
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.
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.
31 Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
32 On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle:
33 Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.
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;
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.
I just read this week in the news that the Newfoundland government spent over $90,000.00 to transfer 1 criminal from Calgary to Newfoundland. They claim they had to charter a plane to get this criminal into their province by a certain day to not jeopardize their case. This was to transport one criminal.
We see in our text that the chief captain enlisted 200 soldiers and 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen to transport Paul safely to Caesarea in the cover of night. It was a 70 mile journey that they were taking. Verse 24 tells us that Paul rode on a beast as well. We are not told what that beast was, but it would need to be able to move along at the same speed that the rest of the troop was moving at.
It is amazing how God changed the minds of the chief captain and the soldiers to go from wanting to whip Paul to try to squeeze a confession out of him, to now enlisting this massive force to protect him from the ungodly Judaizers. The Romans wanted peace. They had assumed the way to have peace was to cater to the Judaizers. They discovered in this event, that the Judaizers were corrupt and not to be trusted. Not a good testimony for those who want to claim to be speaking on God’s behalf.
It is important to notice as well that all of this was done without the help of a lawyer on Paul’s behalf. He spoke for himself. He was directed by God. There is no better protection for the true child of God than God Himself. He will guide His child to speak the right words. His Words are powerful and they are effective.
The chief captain also provided a letter to be taken to Felix the governor. Notice the formality involved in this letter. This letter also explained the situation in detail. The Jews intended to kill Paul. The chief captain changed the story to make himself look like a hero. He did eventually take the right action, but he certainly did not begin with the right action. God intervened and turned things around. As a lost man and as a proud man, he would never want to admit to being directed by God.
The chief captain also mentioned that Paul was a Roman. The chief captain had desired to give the Jews opportunity to bring their case before him but they had removed all opportunity for that with their plot to kill him.
The chief captain also understood that Paul was not guilty of breaking any laws against Rome. He understood that the issue was one of differences in the law that the Judaizers had been promoting. The chief captain did not care to know the truth, but he understood this was not an issue he wanted to delve into.
The world does not understand the importance of God’s Word. The world assumes that we would all be better off if we would just forget about religion and live in a secular society. We are seeing the results of that attitude with the violence and drug abuse taking place, among other abuses. Man cannot dismiss the fact that he has been created in God’s image. Man has a desire to worship. God designed man to worship Him. The devil has distorted that and turned the focus of most to the worship of self and of the devil.
We read in verse 31 that this entourage made it to Antipatris by daybreak. That was about 40 miles from Jerusalem. There the 70 horsemen would continue on with Paul to Caesarea and the 400 foot men would return back to Jerusalem. The imminent danger was now passed. The Jews were not aware of what was taking place and they had no ambush set up yet and Paul was now far enough from Jerusalem, that the Jews would not be able to catch up to them in time.
In verse 33 we see that they made it safely to Caesarea and delivered the epistle (the letter) into the hand of the governor and they also delivered Paul before him. They had accomplished their task successfully.
In verse 34 we read that the governor took the matter in hand, read the letter and found out where Paul was from. The governor had the account of the chief captain in hand, but he did not hear from the Jews, who had caused the problem in the first place.
In verse 35 we see that the Roman system of government was also patterned after the Old Testament law in part. Felix would wait for the Jews to arrive and be able to give their account of the events that took place and what all the fuss was about. It is important that there be a fair trial. Both sides needed to be heard. The facts would come from the apostle Paul. Felix would not know that, but God did. The Jews would have their opportunity to spread their lies. The chief captain had already given his version of the story. We see again here that God’s way is far more effective than man’s scheming. Limiting spiritual matters to humanistic reasoning is never the right way of doing things. Felix needed to be confronted with the truth as did the soldiers as did the Jews.
In our world the same holds true. Most judges and police officers would never enter a true church. However, in a court room they have to be there to deal with the cases. If a true servant of God is called to testify on some case, he would have the opportunity to remind these people of God’s truth. It may not be accepted, but it would at least be given. That is what is important. As Paul requested on several occasions, we need to pray for boldness. We need to be willing to open our mouths and speak the truth in every venue God gives us. He is faithful and He will accomplish His will. Let us submit to His will and serve Him faithfully. Let us identify with Him and exalt Him in His rightful place.