Then Paul, fixing a steady gaze on the Sanhedrin, said, 'Brethren, it is with a perfectly clear conscience that I have discharged my duties before God up to this day.'
On hearing this the High Priest Ananias ordered those who were standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.
'Before long,' exclaimed Paul, 'God will strike you, you white-washed wall! Are you sitting there to judge me in accordance with the Law, and do you yourself actually break the Law by ordering me to be struck?'
'Do you rail at God's High Priest?' cried the men who stood by him.
'I did not know, brethren,' replied Paul, 'that he was the High Priest; for it is written, 'Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of Thy people.''
Noticing, however, that the Sanhedrin consisted partly of Sadducees and partly of Pharisees, he called out loudly among them, 'Brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees. It is because of my hope of a resurrection of the dead that I am on my trial.'
These words of his caused an angry dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly took different sides.
For the Sadducees maintain that there is no resurrection, and neither angel nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge the existence of both.
So there arose a great uproar; and some of the Scribes belonging to the sect of the Pharisees sprang to their feet and fiercely contended, saying, 'We find no harm in the man. What if a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel----!'
But when the struggle was becoming violent, the Tribune, fearing that Paul would be torn to pieces by the people, ordered the troops to go down and take him from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
The following night the Lord came and stood at Paul's side, and said, 'Be of good courage, for as you have borne faithful witness about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.'
Now, when daylight came, the Jews formed a conspiracy and solemnly swore not to eat or drink till they had killed Paul.
There were more than forty of them who bound themselves by this oath.
They went to the High Priests and Elders and said to them, 'We have bound ourselves under a heavy curse to take no food till we have killed Paul.
Now therefore you and the Sanhedrin should make representations to the Tribune for him to bring him down to you, under the impression that you intend to inquire more minutely about him; and we are prepared to assassinate him before he comes near the place.'
But Paul's sister's son heard of the intended attack upon him. So he came and went into the barracks and told Paul about it;
and Paul called one of the Captains and said, 'Take this young man to the Tribune, for he has information to give him.'
So he took him and brought him to the Tribune, and said, 'Paul, the prisoner, called me to him and begged me to bring this youth to you, because he has something to say to you.'
Then the Tribune, taking him by the arm, withdrew out of the hearing of others and asked him, 'What have you to tell me?'
'The Jews,' he replied, 'have agreed to request you to bring Paul down to the Sanhedrin to-morrow for the purpose of making yourself more accurately acquainted with the case.
I beg you not to comply; for more than forty men among them are lying in wait for him, who have solemnly vowed that they will neither eat nor drink till they have assassinated him; and even now they are ready, in anticipation of receiving that promise of you.'
So the Tribune sent the youth home, cautioning him. 'Do not let any one know that you have given me this information,' he said.
Then, calling to him two of the Captains, he gave his orders. 'Get ready two hundred men,' he said, 'to march to Caesarea, with seventy cavalry and two hundred light infantry, starting at nine o'clock to-night.'
He further told them to provide horses to mount Paul on, so as to bring him safely to Felix the Governor.
He also wrote a letter of which these were the contents:
'Claudius Lysias to his Excellency, Felix the Governor: all good wishes.
This man Paul had been seized by the Jews, and they were on the point of killing him, when I came upon them with the troops and rescued him, for I had been informed that he was a Roman citizen.
And, wishing to know with certainty the offense of which they were accusing him, I brought him down into their Sanhedrin,
and I discovered that the charge had to do with questions of their Law, but that he was accused of nothing for which he deserves death or imprisonment.
But now that I have received information of an intended attack upon him, I immediately send him to you, directing his accusers also to state before you the case they have against him.'
So, in obedience to their orders, the soldiers took Paul and brought him by night as far as Antipatris.
The next day the infantry returned to the barracks, leaving the cavalry to proceed with him;
and, the cavalry having reached Caesarea and delivered the letter to the Governor, they brought Paul also to him.
Felix, after reading the letter, inquired from what province he was; and being told 'from Cilicia,'
he said, 'I will hear all you have to say, when your accusers also have come.' And he ordered him to be detained in custody in Herod's Palace.