THE LORD APPEARS TO PAUL (ACTS 23:11). The following night Paul received another visit from the Master. Christ knew that Paul could bear no more without definite help. He knew the worst was yet to come for Paul, and so prepared him in advance with words of encouragement: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” At Jerusalem, his testimony had borne little fruit except a harvest of trouble. What has Rome in store for Him?
The Lord’s promise was intended to provide the strength and hope Paul needed over the next two years. Neither the Gospel nor its chief messenger would be hindered by Jew or Gentile. Although men and Satan would attempt to stop him, the apostle would have a ministry in Rome. Paul’s life had been saved twice by the Roman soldiers, a third time would be necessary.
THE PLOT TO KILL PAUL (ACTS 23:12-22). The riot had failed, the Sanhedrin had failed, Lysias was perplexed. A plot was the only sure thing; a plot had worked against the Christ this man preached. The conspirators knew how morally rotten their leaders were, or they would not have suggested such a scheme to them. The council agreed to a murderous conspiracy to slay Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot and they took a solemn oath not to eat or drink anything until they killed Paul. If they kept their oath, they died of dehydration before they starved to death!
Augustine said, “Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.” God often works in strange and mysterious ways; and sometimes in very simple and straightforward ways. Not by coincidence but providence, the apostle’s nephew, his sister’s boy, heard of the plot, went to the barracks, and told Paul.
At Paul’s request, the centurion took the nephew to the commander and the boy recounted the plot for him. The centurion only saw “Paul the Prisoner.” Little did he know that he was dealing with the greatest man alive at that time, one of the greatest of all time!
Here we see two things: (1) the lengths to which the Jews would go to eliminate Paul; and (2) the lengths to which the Roman government would go to administer impartial justice. Ironically, the opposite should have been the case. Yahweh called Israel to be a holy nation, but Rome appeared more righteous and just.