Acts 23:10
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
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(10) The chief captain, fearing . . .—We may well believe that the priest who had been rebuked as a “whited wall” would not willingly forego his revenge. He, and the Sadducees generally, would now be able to assume the position of being more devoted defenders of the Law and of the Temple than the Pharisees themselves. The fear of the chiliarch was naturally heightened by his knowledge that he was responsible for the life of a Roman citizen. In the barracks of the fortress, as before, probably in the self-same guardroom as that which had witnessed our Lord’s sufferings at the hands of Pilate’s soldiers, the prisoner would at least be in safety.

Acts 23:10-11. And when there arose a great dissension — Some of them urging that he ought to be set at liberty, while others eagerly insisted on his condemnation; the chief captain, fearing — On being informed of their disorderly proceedings; lest he should be pulled in pieces of them — Amidst the tumult; commanded a party of soldiers to go down — From the garrison; to take him by force from among them — Out of that apartment in the temple where he had ordered them to meet; and to bring him into the castle Antonia — “What must this heathen have thought of the worshippers of JEHOVAH, when he saw this assembly of chief priests, learned scribes, and rulers of Israel, forgetful of what became their rank, profession, and sacred character; and carried away by such unbridled rage, in their religious contests, as the Roman senators and magistrates, or principal persons, would have been ashamed of, even in their eager competition for authority and pre-eminence?” — Scott. And the night following the Lord stood by him — Appeared to him in a vision; And said, Be of good cheer, Paul — As he laboured under singular distresses and persecutions, so he was favoured with extraordinary assurances of the divine assistance. For as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem — And all the malice of the Jews has not prevented thee from faithfully discharging thy commission; so must thou bear witness also at Rome — Thus God now, in due time, confirms what Paul had before purposed in spirit, Acts 19:21. Another declaration to the same effect is made by an angel of God, Acts 27:23; particular promises being usually given when all things appear dark and desperate. For difficulties and dangers are nothing in the eyes of God; all hinderances only further his work; and a promise of what is afar off, implies all that necessarily lies between. Paul shall testify at Rome; therefore he shall come to Rome; therefore he shall escape the Jews, the sea, and the viper. He shall be brought safe through all intervening obstacles, dangers, and distresses, that he may bear testimony to the Romans. How would the defenders of Peter’s supremacy triumph, could they find but half as much ascribed to him!

23:6-11 The Pharisees were correct in the faith of the Jewish church. The Sadducees were no friends to the Scripture or Divine revelation; they denied a future state; they had neither hope of eternal happiness, nor dread of eternal misery. When called in question for his being a Christian, Paul might truly say he was called in question for the hope of the resurrection of the dead. It was justifiable in him, by this profession of his opinion on that disputed point, to draw off the Pharisees from persecuting him, and to lead them to protect him from this unlawful violence. How easily can God defend his own cause! Though the Jews seemed to be perfectly agreed in their conspiracy against religion, yet they were influenced by very different motives. There is no true friendship among the wicked, and in a moment, and with the utmost ease, God can turn their union into open enmity. Divine consolations stood Paul in the most stead; the chief captain rescued him out of the hands of cruel men, but the event he could not tell. Whoever is against us, we need not fear, if the Lord stand by us. It is the will of Christ, that his servants who are faithful, should be always cheerful. He might think he should never see Rome; but God tells him, even in that he should be gratified, since he desired to go there only for the honour of Christ, and to do good.A great dissension - A great tumult, excitement, or controversy.

Into the castle - See the notes on Acts 21:34.

10. the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled to pieces … commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force, &c.—This shows that the commandant was not himself present, and further, that instead of the Sanhedrim trying the cause, the proceedings quickly consisted in the one party attempting to seize the prisoner, and the other to protect him. A great dissension: feuds about pretended religion are usually among all men very sharp, because their opinions, being the issues of their own brains, are more beloved than their children, the fruit of their bodies.

Commanded the soldiers to go down; from the fort or castle, unto which there was an ascent or stair, to go up and down by.

And when there arose a great dissension,.... When that was come to a very great height, hot words were spoken, and they were ready to come to blows, and there was like to be a riot and tumult among them:

the chief captain fearing lest Paul should be pulled in pieces of them; either of the Sadducees, whom he had greatly offended and provoked, or of both Sadducees and Pharisees, the one laying hold on him to preserve him from the fury of the other, and the other endeavouring to pluck him out of their hands; and the fears of the chief captain were not so much out of affection to Paul, but lest there should be an uproar, which might issue in sedition, and rebellion against the Roman government, of which the Roman officers were always jealous; and because that Paul was a Roman, and should he suffer him to be destroyed in an illegal manner, he must be accountable for it: wherefore he

commanded the soldiers to go down: either from the castle of Antonia, or from a superior part of the temple, where he with his guards were, to hear this cause before the sanhedrim, to that part where it sat, and Paul was: and

take him by force from among them; if they refused to deliver him up, to make use of their arms:

and bring him into the castle; of Antonia, where he was before.

{9} And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.

(9) God will not forsake his own, even to the very end.

Acts 23:10. Μὴ διασπασθῇ] that he might be torn in pieces. Comp. Symm., 1 Samuel 15:33; Herod. iii. 13; Dem. 136. 15; Lucian, Asin. 32. The tribune saw the two parties so inflamed, that he feared lest they on both sides should seize on Paul—the one to maltreat him, and the other to take him into their protection against their opponents—and thus he might at length even be torn in pieces, as a sacrifice to their mutual fury!

ἐκέλ. τὸ στράτ. καταβ. κ.τ.λ.] he ordered the soldiery to come down (from the Antonia) and to draw him away from the midst of them. The reading καταβῆναι καί is a correct resolution of the participial construction. See Hermann, ad Viger. p. 774.

Acts 23:10. εὐλ., see critical note.—μὴ: after verbs of fear and danger in classical Greek, with subjunctive after primary tenses, with optative (more usually) after secondary tenses, but in N.T. only the subjunctive, Burton, p. 95, and Viteau, Le Grec du N.T., p. 83 (1893), Acts 27:17, 2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 12:20, Hebrews 4:1.—διασπασθῇ, cf. LXX, Hosea 13:8, for use in same sense as here, to tear like a wild beast tears its prey in pieces (elsewhere in N.T., Mark 5:4, cf. LXX, Jeremiah 2:20), cf. in classical Greek, Herod., iii., 13, Dem., 58, 8.—καταβὰν from Antonia.—ἁρπάσαι ἄγειν τε = ἁρπάσαι ἄγειν (Blass), see critical note.

10. the chief captain] He must have been in some position where he could watch all the proceedings, though we can hardly think that he was presiding in the Sanhedrin.

pulled in pieces of them] The Pharisees had constituted themselves protectors of the Apostle, and so the possession of his person had become the object of a struggle between them and their opponents.

commanded the soldiers] They were in the tower of Antonia, overlooking the Temple-precincts, and so were ready to interfere in the struggle as soon as they were bidden. They were in considerable numbers, for below (Acts 23:27) the A. V. renders this word by “army.” Jerusalem was at this time in such an excited state that the presence of a large Roman force was necessary.

Acts 23:10. Ὁ Χιλίαρχος, the tribune or chief captain) What may we suppose that the soldier thought of the quarrel of so great a college? He was afterwards about to hear of worse things: Acts 23:21.—ὑπʼ αὐτῶν, by them) Some were defending him, others rushing upon him.

Verse 10. - Be torn for have been pulled, A.V.; by for of, A.V.; take for to take, A.V.; bring for to bring, A.V. A great dissension; στάσεως, as in Acts 15:2. and above, ver. 7. The state of things here described is exactly what the pages of Josephus and of Tacitus disclose as to the combustible state of the Jewish mind generally just before the commencement of the Jewish war. The Roman power was the one element of quiet and order. The tower of Antonia was the one place of safety in Jerusalem. Acts 23:10
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