23 Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 And he wrote a letter to this effect:
26 “Claudius Lysias, to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment.
The Roman Tribune realized that if 40 Jewish Ninja Assassins were going to attack Paul, he’d probably lose some of his soldiers too. He also has some sense of justice and doesn’t quite feel like Paul is a criminal deserving death.
I love this whole scene because it puts those 40 oath-makers in a real spot. Can you imagine if any of them were there to see Paul leave prison at 9:00 at night? They were going to try to kill him, but here come 200foot soldiers, 200 spearmen (with Roman-built spears. They ain’t playing.), and seventy horsemen. Remember horses are like tanks at this time. Pure war machines.
All of that, and Paul is riding out on one of the horses.
Who is in charge here?
Who has had victory already and who has lost?
Remember that vision Paul had when Jesus told him that he’d be a witness in Rome? I bet Paul never expected it to go like this!
Claudius sees this as rescuing a Roman citizen from the crazy religious people in Jerusalem. “Questions of their law, but nothing deserving death or imprisonment.”
I think people outside the church feel the same way about some of our inter-church fights.
“Yeah, they used to go to that church down the road, but they didn’t like something so now they go to that other one over by the Dollar General.”
“I tried out that one church but Claudius and Felix quit going there because they don’t like the pastor or the drummer.”
Notice that Claudius Lysias doesn’t seem drawn or motivated to look into that beautiful law that the Jewish leaders are using to kill Paul. He wanted to know the charge, but as soon as he found out it was about questions in their law, he blew it off.
Don’t hear me saying that we should let false teaching, villainy, and malice reign in the church, but maybe we could get a little better at disagreeing about the “questions of [our] law,” as Claudius says. Maybe some of the disagreements don’t deserve death, and in talking about them, we could make the Roman outsiders genuinely interested in seeking the truth.
After all, look who got put on the high horse in Acts 23.
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