Acts 23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
18 So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
19 Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
20 And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
21 But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
22 So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.
We noted the last two days that God intervened in the plot of the wicked and spared Paul’s life. He was given further opportunity to expose the false teachers and also to preach the truth. We see in today’s text that wicked people have no defence against the truth and they resort to all kinds of different tactics to try to silence the truth. That is true in our country today as well. The words “mis-information” and “dis-information” are more politically correct ways of accusing someone of lying. The wicked are not yet bold enough to call others out as liars, and so they have invented new terms to try to shut down those who do not agree with their evil ways.
In our text there were more than 40 Jews who banded together in a plot to kill Paul. They were quite serious about their plot. They bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. They were quite sure, in their minds, that they could carry out their evil deed. They had not yet learned that God is greater than all their evil tactics. God had already turned things against them. Paul had gained favour with the Roman soldiers.
We see in verse 14 that false religious leaders are not really leaders. They are all pawns together under the devil’s evil designs. False teachers have no interest in truth. They want to keep their followers in bondage. They do not want people to know the truth. It is important to note how misery loves company. Rather than know the peace of God, lost people so often fight against that peace and try to manufacture a pseudo peace.
In verse 15 we see further details of this plot that they had developed. They would use deception to try to get the chief captain to bring Paul to them the next day. They would lie in wait and ambush the soldiers and kill Paul.
In verse 16 we see again that God knows how to protect His own. One of Paul’s nephews heard of this plot. We are not told how he heard it, but he did. That is what mattered. This young man entered the castle where Paul was and told him of the evil plot.
Verse 17 shows us that Paul had already gained some respect among the Roman soldiers. It was not that long ago that they wanted to whip him to try to get him to confess to what he was up to. They were sure he must have done something wrong. Now Paul was able to speak with one of them and ask him to bring his nephew to the chief captain. This soldier could have ignored all this, but he did not. God was at work as He always is. He uses many different ways to accomplish His will. His will is for people to be saved. Paul was saved and he was trained and called to preach the Word to Gentile people in many parts of Asia and even into the city of Rome. He also had a great impact on the Jews. God’s plans always work out the way He wants them to. It is foolish to try to fight against Him.
In verses 18-19 we see that Paul’s nephew was a young person. Yet he had the respect of even the chief captain. The chief captain took him by the hand and led him aside to tell him what was on his mind.
Verses 20-21 lay out the plan of the evil Jews before the chief captain. In verse 21 we see that this young lad is giving counsel to the chief captain. He did not need to listen to this lad, but he did. God has a way of preparing even lost people for His glory.
In verse 22 we see that the chief captain took this young lad’s word seriously. He sent the young man away but told him not to tell anyone what he had just told the chief captain. It was important to keep this information secret in order to protect the apostle Paul from the plot. This information was handled differently than many officials do today. Reports are made and put on the shelf and nothing further is done with them. There was enough information before the shooter in Texas killed all those children and teachers, and yet the person in charge did not even allow the officers to enter the room while that man was shooting and killing people.
The Roman empire was a wicked place in the time of the apostle Paul, but it was not beyond God’s influence. We can see just how dark things are in our time in that God is withdrawing His hand and allowing the devil to have much greater influence over the affairs of man. It is a tragedy when man pushes God aside so long that He backs away and allows man to live by his foolish ways. Paul was directed to warn us that in the time of the Tribulation, God will withdraw His hand in an even greater way than He is now. The lost will believe a lie because they chose to reject God’s truth during the days of grace we are living in now.
God was working behind the scenes here and making sure that His servant would be protected. God is good. It is important to know Him and trust Him. It does not matter how many people are on the wrong side. God is victorious all by Himself. Those who walk with Him are more than conquerors through Him. At times the devil is allowed to kill a saint. Stephen was stoned to death and Saul (Paul) was consenting to his death. Paul would later be killed at the command of Nero. God has His time for each of His children. It is important to know Him and to walk with Him.
We do not read of Paul fretting about what was happening. He knew he was in God’s hand. He knew that God had a plan and he already knew that God planned on sending him to Rome. Thus God would make sure this evil plot would come to not.
As we will see, those 40 plus men who had made that wicked plan either starved to death, or they walked away sheepishly, at least for the moment, because they could not fulfil their evil plans. It is far better to know the Lord and to trust Him, than to serve the devil and waste your life in that way.