Acts 23:15
Now therefore you with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down to you to morrow, as though you would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Now therefore ye with the council . . .—The plot was necessary, either (1) because the Sanhedrin had lost, under Roman rule, its power to inflict capital punishment (see Notes on Acts 7:59; John 18:31); or (2) because, even if they possessed that power, the chiliarch was not likely to allow its exercise in the case of a Roman citizen; or (3) because the experience of the previous day had shown that the violent party were not likely to obtain a majority in the Council. The plot was, so far, skilfully laid. Even those who had said, “We find no evil in this man,” could hardly oppose a proposal for a further investigation.

We, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.—The first word stands in the Greek with a kind of ferocious emphasis “You may safely leave us to do our part.”

23:12-24 False religious principles, adopted by carnal men, urge on to such wickedness, as human nature would hardly be supposed capable of. Yet the Lord readily disappoints the best concerted schemes of iniquity. Paul knew that the Divine providence acts by reasonable and prudent means; and that, if he neglected to use the means in his power, he could not expect God's providence to work on his behalf. He who will not help himself according to his means and power, has neither reason nor revelation to assure him that he shall receive help from God. Believing in the Lord, we and ours shall be kept from every evil work, and kept to his kingdom. Heavenly Father, give us by thy Holy Spirit, for Christ's sake, this precious faith.Ye, with the council - With the concurrence or request of the Sanhedrin. It was only by such a request that they had any hope that the chief captain would remove Paul from the castle.

Signify to the chief captain - Send a message or request to him.

That he bring him down unto you - That he bring him from the castle to the usual place of the meeting of the Sanhedrin. As this was at some distance from the castle of Antonia, where Paul was, they supposed it would be easy to waylay him and take his life.

To-morrow - This is missing in the Syriac, Vulgate, and Ethiopic versions. It is, however, probably the correct reading of the text, as it would be necessary to convene the council, and make the request of the tribune, which might require the whole of one day.

As though ye would inquire ... - This request appeared so reasonable that they did not doubt that the tribune would grant it to the council. And though it was obviously a false and wicked pretence, yet these conspirators knew the character of the persons to whom they addressed themselves so well that they did not doubt that they would prevail on the council to make the request. Public justice must have been deeply fallen when it was known that such an iniquitous request could be made with the certain prospect of success.

Or ever he come near - Before he comes near to the Sanhedrin. The Great Council will thus not be suspected of being privy to the deed. We will waylay him, and murder him in the way. The plan was well laid; and nothing but the interposition of Providence could have prevented its execution.

15. Now … ye with the council signify to the chief captain … as though, &c.—That these high ecclesiastics fell in readily with this infamous plot is clear. What will not unscrupulous and hypocritical religionists do under the mask of religion? The narrative bears unmistakable internal marks of truth.

or ever he come near—Their plan was to assassinate him on his way down from the barracks to the council. The case was critical, but He who had pledged His word to him that he should testify for Him at Rome provided unexpected means of defeating this well-laid scheme.

Ye with the council; the chief priests are to join with the council in this desire to the chief captain; for they had no authority to command him.

As though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him: the plot against Paul’s life was laid very deep, and not easily to be discovered; it being usual to send for prisoners to re-examine them, especially when religion and the public peace are concerned, as they pretended that here they were.

Or ever he come near: the space between the castle and the place where the council met, being considerable, it gave the greater advantage to the conspirators. Now therefore ye with the council,.... The whole sanhedrim; their sense is, that they would have the sanhedrim convened by the chief priests and elders, and being met together, then to

signify to the chief captain; or let him know that they were assembled together, upon the affair of Paul, and that they here desirous he might be brought before them:

that he bring him down unto you tomorrow; from the castle of Antonia to the place where the sanhedrim met; the word "tomorrow" is not in the Alexandrian copy, nor in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions; and then it should seem that they desired him to be brought down forthwith, or otherwise they must propose to fast all that day, and so long on the morrow, till Paul was brought down; but that the common reading is right, appears from the chief captain's sending away Paul at the third hour of the night following, to prevent their designs on the morrow, Acts 23:23. The pretence formed for his being brought down is,

as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him; what he had done, which had occasioned this uproar, what it was he was charged with, and whether he was guilty or not:

and we, or ever he come near: where the sanhedrim sat;

are ready to kill him; lying in wait in some private place between the castle and the temple, from whence they intended to rush out at once upon him, and murder him; far enough both from the temple and the council, that both the one might not be defiled, though they did not greatly stick at that in those times, and that the other might not be charged with having any hand in his death.

Now therefore ye with the {g} council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.

(g) You and the senate ask that the same thing should be done, so that the tribune will not think that it was demanded of him because of an individual's private interests.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 23:15. Ὑμεῖς] answering to the subsequent ἡμεῖς δέ. Thus they arrange the parts which they were to play.

σὺν τῷ συνεδρίῳ] Non vos soli, sed una cum collegis vestris (of whom doubtless the Pharisees were not to be allowed to know the murderous plot), quo major significationi sit auctoritas, Grotius.

ὅπως αὐτὸν κ.τ.λ.] design of the ἐμφανίσατε τ. χιλ. From this also it follows what they were to notify, namely, that they wished the business of Paul to be more exactly taken cognisance of in the Sanhedrim than had already been done (comp. Acts 24:22).

τοῦ ἀνελ. αὐτ.] The design of ἕτοιμοί ἐσμεν; 2 Chronicles 6:2; Ezekiel 21:11; 1Ma 3:58; 1Ma 5:39; 1Ma 13:37. Comp. also Acts 23:20.

πρὸ τοῦ ἐγγίσαι αὐτ.] so that you shall have nothing at all to do with him.Acts 23:15. νῦν οὖν: only in Acts in N.T., where it occurs four times, frequent in LXX.—ἐμφανίσατε: “signify” in A. and R.V.; this rendering apparently conveys a wrong idea, for it implies that the Council had the authority, whereas this lay with the Roman officer, cf. Acts 24:1, Acts 25:2; Acts 25:15. In LXX, Esther 2:22, 2Ma 3:7; 2Ma 11:29.—σὺν τῷ συν.: with the whole Council, including both those who had previously inclined to favour Paul as well as his opponents; the former could not object to the pretext that further inquiries were to be made into Paul’s position, especially when the Sadducees urged such an inquiry.—ὅπως, Burton, p. 87.—ὡς μέλλοντας: this use of ὡς with the participle expressing the pretext alleged by another, often in Luke, cf. Luke 16:1; Luke 23:14, Acts 23:20; Acts 27:30, Viteau, Le Grec du N.T., p. 189 (1893), but we may also compare 1 Corinthians 4:18 (Burton).—διαγ.: “as though ye would judge of his case more exactly,” R.V., accurate cognoscere; the word need not be used here in the forensic sense as in Acts 24:22 (Acts 25:21), Grimm, Blass; the “inquiry” is expressed by the usual word in Acts 23:20. The verb is used in 2Ma 9:15.—πρὸ τοῦ ἐγγίσαι: so that the crime could not be imputed to the priests.—ἕτοιμοί ἐσμεν τοῦ: for genitive of the infinitive after a noun or an adjective, in Luke and Paul (1 Peter 4:17), (Viteau, u. s., p. 169, Burton, p. 158. In LXX, cf. Mich. Acts 6:8, Ezekiel 21:10-11 (Ezekiel 21:15-16), 1Ma 3:58; 1Ma 5:39; 1Ma 13:37.—ἀνελεῖν αὐτὸν, cf. Hackett’s note, which gives a formal justification from Philo for the assassination of apostates.15. Now therefore ye with the council, &c.] Rev. Ver. “do ye,” to mark more clearly the imperative. The chief priests and elders, of the Sadducees’ party, were to use their influence in the council, that a request might proceed from the whole body of the Sanhedrin, that Paul should be again brought before them by the chief captain. From what we read of the Sadducees, in the N. T. and Josephus, it is easy to believe that they would be in a majority.

that he bring him down] i.e. from the tower of Antonia to the place where the Sanhedrin held its meetings.

unto you to morrow] The oldest MSS. omit the last word. It is found in Acts 23:20 below, and may have been early inserted here to make that verbal accord of the desire for which the received text of the Acts of the Apostles furnishes so many illustrations.

as though ye would inquire something more perfectly concerning him] Rev. Ver. “as though ye would judge of his case more exactly,” which is more in accordance with the classical meaning of the verb.

we … are ready to kill him] So that the suspicion of complicity in the crime would not fall upon the chief priests and elders. Their intention would appear to have been to give St Paul a fair hearing, and the murder would seem to be the work of some fanatics unconnected with the Council.Acts 23:15. Ὑμεῖς, ye) With this word are connected the words, with the council. They join together treachery and violence.—ἐμφανίσατε) viz. ἑαυτοὺς, with which comp. Acts 23:22, ταῦτα ἐνεφάνισας πρὸς μέ.Verse 15. - Do ye for ye, A.V.; the R.T. omits tomorrow, in the A.V.; judge of his case more exactly for inquire something more perfectly concerning him, A.V.; slay for kill, A.V. With the council. Either the temporary feeling of the Pharisees had subsided, and their old hatred come to the front again, or the high priest and Sadducees, by some plausible excuse, persuaded the Pharisees of the council to join with them in asking that Paul might be brought before them again. Signify. The word ἐμφανίζειν only occurs here and at ver. 22, in this sense of "signifying" or "making known" something, which it has in Esther 2:22, LXX.. Codex Alexandrinus (as the rendering of אָמַר, to tell), and in 2 Macc. 3:7, and in Josephus, as also in classical Greek. Elsewhere in the New Testament it means "to manifest," or "show," as in John 14:21, 22; in the passive voice "to appear," as in Matthew 27:53; Hebrews 9:24; and in a technical legal sense "to give information" (Acts 24:1; Acts 25:2, 15). Judge of his case more exactly; διαγινώσκειν κ.τ.λ. The word only occurs here and in Acts 24:22. The classical use of the word in the sense of "deciding," "giving judgment," is in favor of the R.V.; διαγινώσκειν, like διάγνωσις, diagnosis (Acts 25:21), is a word of very frequent use in medical writers, as is the ἀκριβέστερον, which here is joined with it (Acts 24:22, note). Enquire (διαγινώσκειν)

Only here and Acts 24:22. Originally, to distinguish or discern; hence, to decide, as a suit. Rev., more correctly, therefore, judge.

More perfectly (ἀκριβέστερον)

Rev., better, more exactly. See on Luke 1:3; and Acts 18:25, Acts 18:26.

Concerning him (τὰ περὶ αὐτοῦ)

Lit., the things about him. Rev., better, his case.

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