Acts 23:12-25

Did those lying in wait die of hunger and thirst when Paul escaped!?!? No, because Jewish law allowed you to be released from a vow if it became impossible to complete:

[If] one’s fellow imposed a vow on him to eat with him, but he got sick, or his son got sick, or a river [overflowed and] stopped him—lo, these are vows [broken] under constraint.” (Mishnah, Nedarim 3.3)

The commander was serious about keeping Paul alive. The group he sent to protect Paul was probably about half of the force stationed in Jerusalem! We also see a foreshadowing of how the charges will be viewed by the Roman authorities. The letter the commander sent explained that the Jewish leadership was accusing Paul of violating “their law,” and that there was nothing that he had done to deserve death or imprisonment.

It’s interesting that the secular authorities are more sympathetic to Paul than the Jewish religious leadership. Once again the law protects Paul! This is actually supposed to be one of the functions of government, and it one of the reasons Paul says:

Romans 13:1-4 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation because it is God’s servant for your well-being. But be afraid if you do wrong because government does not bear the sword for nothing. It is God’s servant to administer punishment on the person who does wrong.

Paul’s words echo his experience. He had nothing to fear, because he wasn’t engaging in bad conduct. Others were! This is a general rule for us to follow too. Behave and be safe!

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