Paul in Herod’s Praetorium. Acts 23:31-35
“31) So the soldiers, in accordance with their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32) But the next day, leaving the horsemen to go on with him, they returned to the barracks. 33) When these had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 34) When he had read it, he asked from what province he was, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35) he said, “I will give you a hearing after your accusers arrive also,” giving orders for him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.” Acts‬ ‭23‬:‭31‬-‭35‬
Paul’s journey took at least two days. During the first night, his large escort arrived in Antiatris. There the 200 foot soldiers took their leave and after a rest returned to Jerusalem. They were undoubtedly watching for the mob of more than forty who had joined the plot to kill Paul.
Meanwhile, the seventy horsemen continued on with Paul until they had arrived at Caesarea. This was located in the province of Cilicia, which was Paul’s birthplace. Upon arrival, they delivered him to the Governor along with the letter.
It appears that the governor spoke directly to Paul and promised him a hearing upon the arrival of his accusers. This took five more days. This marked a transition in Paul’s life. Thus began long days and months of waiting. His schedule radically changed, which afforded him time for writing.
The Governor ordered Paul to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium. This was the judgement hall built by Herod the Great. It consisted of smaller apartments for political prisoners, soldier’s quarters and common jail cells for the more notorious awaiting judgement.
There was a distinct contrast between the Praetorium back in Jerusalem and this facility in Caesarea. Jerusalem was markedly Jewish with many Jewish lawyers in attendance. Herod’s Praetorium was distinctly Roman and secular absent from the overwhelming influence of Judaism.
Here Paul was assured strong separation of church and state. This accommodation favored his Roman citizenship and not Jewish law or tradition. It sent a strong message to his Jewish adversaries that Paul was in the care and safety of Rome.
It is not known which accommodations housed the prisoner, but being a Roman citizen, Paul most likely occupied a secure apartment with soldiers in his attendance. He had no reason of fear for personal care or safety in his accommodations. Because he spoke Greek, Paul most likely conversed openly with the soldiers and enjoyed a degree of freedom afforded Roman citizens.
As to the destiny of the forty who made the foolish vow, they most likely resorted to Leviticus 27:1-13 and raised a valuation to free them of their difficult vow. The priests undoubtedly kept the price low because they were co-conspirators.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global