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Acts 23:12-30

Context
The Plot to Kill Paul

23:12 When morning came, 1  the Jews formed 2  a conspiracy 3  and bound themselves with an oath 4  not to eat or drink anything 5  until they had killed Paul. 23:13 There were more than forty of them who formed this conspiracy. 6  23:14 They 7  went 8  to the chief priests 9  and the elders and said, “We have bound ourselves with a solemn oath 10  not to partake 11  of anything until we have killed Paul. 23:15 So now you and the council 12  request the commanding officer 13  to bring him down to you, as if you were going to determine 14  his case 15  by conducting a more thorough inquiry. 16  We are ready to kill him 17  before he comes near this place.” 18 

23:16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard about the ambush, 19  he came and entered 20  the barracks 21  and told Paul. 23:17 Paul called 22  one of the centurions 23  and said, “Take this young man to the commanding officer, 24  for he has something to report to him.” 23:18 So the centurion 25  took him and brought him to the commanding officer 26  and said, “The prisoner Paul called 27  me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.” 23:19 The commanding officer 28  took him by the hand, withdrew privately, and asked, “What is it that you want 29  to report to me?” 23:20 He replied, 30  “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council 31  tomorrow, as if they were going to inquire more thoroughly about him. 23:21 So do not let them persuade you to do this, 32  because more than forty of them 33  are lying in ambush 34  for him. They 35  have bound themselves with an oath 36  not to eat or drink anything 37  until they have killed him, and now they are ready, waiting for you to agree to their request.” 38  23:22 Then the commanding officer 39  sent the young man away, directing him, 40  “Tell no one that you have reported 41  these things to me.” 23:23 Then 42  he summoned 43  two of the centurions 44  and said, “Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea 45  along with seventy horsemen 46  and two hundred spearmen 47  by 48  nine o’clock tonight, 49  23:24 and provide mounts for Paul to ride 50  so that he may be brought safely to Felix 51  the governor.” 52  23:25 He wrote 53  a letter that went like this: 54 

23:26 Claudius Lysias to His Excellency Governor 55  Felix, 56  greetings. 23:27 This man was seized 57  by the Jews and they were about to kill him, 58  when I came up 59  with the detachment 60  and rescued him, because I had learned that he was 61  a Roman citizen. 62  23:28 Since I wanted to know 63  what charge they were accusing him of, 64  I brought him down to their council. 65  23:29 I found he 66  was accused with reference to controversial questions 67  about their law, but no charge against him deserved death or imprisonment. 68  23:30 When I was informed 69  there would be a plot 70  against this man, I sent him to you at once, also ordering his accusers to state their charges 71  against him before you.

1 tn Grk “when it was day.”

2 tn Grk “forming a conspiracy, bound.” The participle ποιήσαντες (poihsantes) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

3 tn L&N 30.72 has ‘some Jews formed a conspiracy’ Ac 23:12”; BDAG 979 s.v. συστροφή 1 has “Judeans came together in a mob 23:12. But in the last pass. the word may also mean – 2. the product of a clandestine gathering, plot, conspiracy” (see also Amos 7:10; Ps 63:3).

4 tn Or “bound themselves under a curse.” BDAG 63 s.v. ἀναθεματίζω 1 has “trans. put under a curse τινά someone…pleonastically ἀναθέματι ἀ. ἑαυτόν Ac 23:14. ἑαυτόν vss. 12, 21, 13 v.l.” On such oaths see m. Shevi’it 3:1-5. The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in English and has not been translated.

5 tn The word “anything” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

6 tn L&N 30.73 defines συνωμοσία (sunwmosia) as “a plan for taking secret action someone or some institution, with the implication of an oath binding the conspirators – ‘conspiracy, plot.’ …‘there were more than forty of them who formed this conspiracy’ Ac 23:13.”

7 tn Grk “who.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (“whom”) was translated by the third person plural pronoun (“them”) and a new sentence begun in the translation.

8 tn Grk “going.” The participle προσελθόντες (proselqonte") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

9 sn They went to the chief priests. The fact that the high priest knew of this plot and did nothing shows the Jewish leadership would even become accomplices to murder to stop Paul. They would not allow Roman justice to take its course. Paul’s charge in v. 3 of superficially following the law is thus shown to be true.

10 tn Or “bound ourselves under a curse.” BDAG 63 s.v. ἀναθεματίζω 1 has “trans. put under a curse τινά someone…pleonastically ἀναθέματι ἀ. ἑαυτόν Ac 23:14. ἑαυτόν vss. 12, 21, 13 v.l.” The pleonastic use ἀναθέματι ἀνεθεματίσαμεν (literally “we have cursed ourselves with a curse”) probably serves as an intensifier following Semitic usage, and is represented in the translation by the word “solemn.” On such oaths see m. Nedarim 3:1, 3.

11 tn This included both food and drink (γεύομαι [geuomai] is used of water turned to wine in John 2:9).

12 tn Grk “the Sanhedrin” (the Sanhedrin was the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

13 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 10.

14 tn Or “decide.” BDAG 227 s.v. διαγινώσκω has “ἀκριβέστερον τὰ περὶ αὐτοῦ to make a more thorough examination of his case Ac 23:15.”

15 tn Grk “determine the things about him.”

16 tn The expression “more thorough inquiry” reflects the comparative form of ἀκριβέστερον (akribesteron).

17 sn “We are ready to kill him.” Now those Jews involved in the conspiracy, along with the leaders as accomplices, are going to break one of the ten commandments.

18 tn The words “this place” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.

19 tn Or “plot” (BDAG 334 s.v. ἐνέδρα).

20 tn Grk “coming and entering…, he told.” The participles παραγενόμενος (paragenomeno") and εἰσελθών (eiselqwn) have been translated as finite verbs due to requirements of contemporary English style.

21 tn Or “the headquarters.” BDAG 775 s.v. παρεμβολή 2 has “barracks/headquarters of the Roman troops in Jerusalem Ac 21:34, 37; 22:24; 23:10, 16, 32.”

22 tn Grk “calling…Paul said.” The participle προσκαλεσάμενος (proskalesameno") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

23 sn See the note on the word centurion in 10:1.

24 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 10.

25 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the centurion) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 10.

27 tn Grk “calling.” The participle προσκαλεσάμενος (proskalesameno") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

28 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 10.

29 tn Grk “you have,” but the expression “have to report” in English could be understood to mean “must report” rather than “possess to report.” For this reason the nearly equivalent expression “want to report,” which is not subject to misunderstanding, was used in the translation.

30 tn Grk “He said.”

31 tn Grk “the Sanhedrin” (the Sanhedrin was the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

32 tn Grk “do not be persuaded by them.” The passive construction μὴ πεισθῇς αὐτοῖς (mh peisqh" autoi") has been converted to an active construction in the translation, and the phrase “to do this” supplied to indicate more clearly the object of their persuasion.

33 tn Grk “forty men of them.” In the expression ἐξ αὐτῶν ἄνδρες (ex autwn andre") “men” is somewhat redundant and has not been included in the English translation.

34 tn Grk “are lying in wait for him” (BDAG 334 s.v. ἐνεδρεύω); see also v. 16.

35 tn Grk “for him, who.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (“who”) was translated by the third person plural pronoun (“they”) and a new sentence begun in the translation.

36 tn Or “bound themselves under a curse.” BDAG 63 s.v. ἀναθεματίζω 1 has “trans. put under a curse τινά someone. ἑαυτόν vss. 12, 21, 13 v.l.”

37 tn The word “anything” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

38 tn Grk “waiting for your approval,” “waiting for your agreement.” Since it would be possible to misunderstand the literal translation “waiting for your approval” to mean that the Jews were waiting for the commander’s approval to carry out their plot or to kill Paul (as if he were to be an accomplice to their plot), the object of the commander’s approval (their request to bring Paul to the council) has been specified in the translation as “their request.”

39 tn Grk “the chiliarch” (an officer in command of a thousand soldiers). See note on the term “commanding officer” in v. 10.

40 tn BDAG 760 s.v. παραγγέλλω has “to make an announcement about someth. that must be done, give orders, command, instruct, direct of all kinds of persons in authority, worldly rulers, Jesus, the apostles…παραγγέλλειν w. an inf. and μή comes to mean forbid to do someth.: π. τινί w. aor. inf. Lk 5:14; 8:56; without the dat., which is easily supplied fr. the context Ac 23:22.” However, if the direct discourse which follows is to be retained in the translation, a different translation must be used since it is awkward to introduce direct discourse with the verb to forbid. Thus the alternative to direct was used.

41 tn On this verb, see BDAG 325-26 s.v. ἐμφανίζω 2. The term was frequently used of an official report to authorities. In modern terms, this was a police tip.

42 tn Grk “And.” Since this represents a response to the reported ambush, καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the logical sequence.

43 tn Grk “summoning…he said.” The participle προσκαλεσάμενος (proskalesameno") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

44 sn See the note on the word centurion in 10:1.

45 sn Caesarea was a city on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel (not Caesarea Philippi). See the note on Caesarea in Acts 10:1. This was a journey of about 65 mi (just over 100 km).

map For location see Map2 C1; Map4 B3; Map5 F2; Map7 A1; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

46 tn Or “cavalrymen.”

47 tn A military technical term of uncertain meaning. BDAG 217 s.v. δεξιολάβος states, “a word of uncertain mng., military t.t., acc. to Joannes Lydus…and Theophyl. Sim., Hist. 4, 1 a light-armed soldier, perh. bowman, slinger; acc. to a scholion in CMatthaei p. 342 body-guard….Spearman Goodspd., NRSV; ‘security officer’, GDKilpatrick, JTS 14, ’63, 393f.”

sn Two hundred soldiers…along with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen. The resulting force assembled to guard Paul was almost a full cohort. The Roman commander was taking no chances, but was sending the issue up the chain of command to the procurator to decide.

48 tn Grk “from.”

49 tn Grk “from the third hour of the night.”

50 tn Grk “provide mounts to put Paul on.”

sn Mounts for Paul to ride. The fact they were riding horses indicates they wanted everyone to move as quickly as possible.

51 sn Felix the governor was Antonius Felix, a freedman of Antonia, mother of the Emperor Claudius. He was the brother of Pallas and became procurator of Palestine in a.d. 52/53. His administration was notorious for its corruption, cynicism, and cruelty. According to the historian Tacitus (History 5.9) Felix “reveled in cruelty and lust, and wielded the power of a king with the mind of a slave.”

52 tn Grk “Felix the procurator.” The official Roman title has been translated as “governor” (BDAG 433 s.v. ἡγεμών 2).

53 tn Grk “writing.” Due to the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was begun here in the translation, supplying “he” (referring to the commanding officer, Claudius Lysias) as subject. The participle γράψας (grayas) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

54 tn Grk “having this form,” “having this content.” L&N 33.48 has “γράψσς ἐπιστολὴν ἔχουσαν τὸν τύπον τοῦτον ‘then he wrote a letter that went like this’ Ac 23:25. It is also possible to understand ἐπιστολή in Ac 23:25 not as a content or message, but as an object (see 6.63).”

55 tn Grk “Procurator.” The official Roman title has been translated as “governor” (BDAG 433 s.v. ἡγεμών 2).

56 sn Governor Felix. See the note on Felix in v. 24.

57 tn The participle συλλημφθέντα (sullhmfqenta) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. The remark reviews events of Acts 21:27-40.

58 tn Grk “and was about to be killed by them.” The passive construction has been converted to an active one in the translation for stylistic reasons.

59 tn Or “approached.”

60 tn Normally this term means “army,” but according to BDAG 947 s.v. στράτευμα, “Of a smaller detachment of soldiers, sing. Ac 23:10, 27.” In the plural it can be translated “troops,” but it is singular here.

61 tn In Greek this is a present tense retained in indirect discourse.

62 tn The word “citizen” is supplied here for emphasis and clarity.

sn The letter written by the Roman commander Claudius Lysias was somewhat self-serving. He made it sound as if the rescue of a Roman citizen had been a conscious act on his part. In fact, he had made the discovery of Paul’s Roman citizenship somewhat later. See Acts 21:37-39 and 22:24-29.

63 tn Or “determine.”

64 tn Grk “to know the charge on account of which they were accusing him.” This has been simplified to eliminate the prepositional phrase and relative pronoun δι᾿ ἣν (di}hn) similar to L&N 27.8 which has “‘I wanted to find out what they were accusing him of, so I took him down to their Council’ Ac 23:28.”

65 tn Grk “their Sanhedrin” (the Sanhedrin was the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

66 tn Grk “whom I found.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (“whom”) has been changed to a personal pronoun (“he”) and a new sentence begun in the translation at this point.

67 tn BDAG 428 s.v. ζήτημα states, “in our lit. only in Ac, w. the mng. it still has in Mod. Gk. (controversial) question, issue, argumentAc 15:2; 26:3. ζ. περί τινος questions about someth.…18:15; 25:19. – In 23:29, since περί had already been used, the subj. of the discussion is added in the gen. ζ. τοῦ νόμου αὐτῶν.”

sn With reference to controversial questions. Note how the “neutral” Roman authorities saw the issue. This was a religious rather than a civil dispute. See Acts 18:15.

68 tn Grk “but having no charge worthy of death or imprisonment.” BDAG 273-74 s.v. ἔγκλημα 1 has “legal t.t.…. ἄξιον θανάτου ἢ δεσμῶν a charge deserving death or imprisonment 23:29.”

sn Despite the official assessment that no charge against him deserved death or imprisonment, there was no effort to release Paul.

69 tn Grk “It being revealed to me.” The participle μηνυθείσης (mhnuqeish") has been taken temporally.

70 tn The term translated “plot” here is a different one than the one in Acts 23:16 (see BDAG 368 s.v. ἐπιβουλή).

71 tn Grk “the things against him.” This could be rendered as “accusations,” “grievances,” or “charges,” but since “ordered his accusers to state their accusations” sounds redundant in English, “charges” was used instead.



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