Exposing the Evil Plot: Acts 23:16-22
“16) But the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, and he came and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17) Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Lead this young man to the commander, for he has something to report to him.” 18) So he took him and led him to the commander and *said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to lead this young man to you since he has something to tell you.” 19) The commander took him by the hand and stepping aside, began to inquire of him privately, “What is it that you have to report to me?” 20) And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down tomorrow to the Council, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more thoroughly about him. 21) So do not listen to them, for more than forty of them are lying in wait for him who have bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they slay him; and now they are ready and waiting for the promise from you.” 22) So the commander let the young man go, instructing him, “Tell no one that you have notified me of these things.”” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭23‬:‭16‬-‭22‬ ‭
God has a way of exposing the plans of the wicked. Paul’s nephew caught wind of the conspiracy and brought warning to him. This is the only time in the Bible mention is made of Paul’s immediate family. This text mentions both his sister and a nephew. By this gesture, his immediate family seemed supportive of him and his cause in the gospel. This illustrates the principle that when others fail, family often comes through.
Paul’s growing favor with the commander and the soldiers guarding him is here noted. He was quickly able to secure the hearing of the commander.
With this disclosure, the wicked and devious nature of Paul’s opposition was disclosed. Had they succeeded in their plot to kill Paul, the very reputation and life of the commander was vulnerable. He would have to account for his failure to guard a Roman citizen entrusted to his care. He had dealt respectfully with the Sanhedrin, now they were secretly plotting against his authority, reputation and life.
Sometimes God uses secular authority as His secret agents. Such was now the case with this commander. He gave orders for an armed escort to accompany Paul to Caesarea. By doing so, he not only frustrated the plot of the forty under the foolish vow, he also displayed to the Sanhedrin that he was privy to their devious ways.
This is an illustration of Romans 13:1-7. Paul recognized that those in civil authority are to be respected as ministers of God. Time and again God used civil authority to protect Paul and advance the cause of the gospel.
Paul spent the next few years in the constant care and company of Roman soldiers. He gained first hand knowledge of the armor and weapons used by these elite soldiers and their unparalleled devotion to their calling.
One wonders if this experience served as the backdrop for his analogy of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:14-20 and his keen respect for the devotion of a Roman soldier as mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:3-4. He used them as an illustration of Christian loyalty and devotion to Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global