Acts 23:16
And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Paul’s sister’s son.—The passage is note worthy as being the only reference to any of St. Paul’s relations in the Acts. The fact that St. Paul lodged with Mnason, as far as it goes, suggests the probability that neither the sister nor the nephew resided permanently in Jerusalem. We do not even know whether they were members of the Christian society, though this may, perhaps, be inferred from the eagerness of the son to save his uncle from the danger which he know to be imminent. We find that St. Paul had kinsmen at Rome (Romans 16:7; Romans 16:11). Was this nephew one of them who had come to Jerusalem to keep the feast, and heard the plot talked of (it is difficult to keep a secret in which forty men are sharers) in the caravanserai where he and other pilgrims lodged? We see, from the fact thus stated, that St. Paul, though in custody, was allowed to hold free communication with his friends. This, perhaps, accounts for the fulness with which the whole history is given. The writer of the Acts had come up with the Apostle, and was not likely to desert his friend if he could possibly gain access to him.

Acts 23:16-22. When Paul’s sister’s son heard, &c. — How privately soever this business was contrived, the providence of God so ordered it, that, for the deliverance of his faithful servant from this inhuman and bloody conspiracy, it came to the ears of Paul’s nephew; who went and entered into the castle — Where, as has been before observed, Paul now lay confined; and told him the whole matter. Then Paul called one of the centurions — Who commanded part of the cohort under the tribune; and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain — Thus we see that Paul, though he had an express promise of it from Christ, did not neglect any proper means of safety. The chief captain took him by the hand — In a mild, condescending way; and went aside privately — Where none could overhear them speaking; and asked what he had to tell him — Lysias seems to have conducted this whole affair with great integrity, humanity, and prudence. So the chief captain — Having received the information which the young man had to give; let him depart, charging him to tell no man what things they were that he had communicated.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.Paul's sister's son - This is all that we know of the family of Paul. Nor do we know for what purpose he was at Jerusalem. It is possible that Paul might have a sister residing there; though, as Paul himself had been sent there formerly for his education, it seems more probable that this young man was sent there for the same purpose.

Entered into the castle - Paul had the privileges of a Roman citizen, and as no well-founded charge had been laid against him, it is probable that he was not very closely confined, and that his friends might have free access to him.

16-22. Paul's sister's son—(See on [2100]Ac 9:30). If he was at this time residing at Jerusalem for his education, like Paul himself, he may have got at the schools those hints of the conspiracy on which he so promptly acted. Paul’s sister’s son, who is thought to have been one of Paul’s company: but the hatred against Paul by the Jews being so general, because of his (supposed) profaning of the temple, they were not so curious who they spake to of this confederacy and design. Or rather, there is no counsel against God: the very birds of the air, if need were, shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter, Ecclesiastes 10:20. For he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision, Psalm 2:4. And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait,.... Paul might have a sister living in Jerusalem; or this her son might be there on account of his studies; he might be a pupil to one of the doctors, by which means he might come at this secret, that such a number of men were in ambush, in order to take away his uncle's life: wherefore having got intelligence of it,

he went and entered into the castle; the Alexandrian copy reads, "the synagogue"; but Paul was not there, but in the castle of Antonia; the Ethiopic version renders it, "the prison"; though it is plain that he was not very closely confined, it was easy to have access to him; the reason might be, not only because he was a Roman, but because he was uncondemned, nor was any charge proved against him:

and told Paul; what he had heard, that such a number of men had entered into a conspiracy to take away his life, and lay in wait for him; and this was an instance both of duty and affection to his uncle, and worthy of imitation, whether it proceeded from natural relation, or from religion, or both.

And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 23:16-20. Whether the nephew of Paul was resident in Jerusalem; whether, possibly, the whole family may have already, in the youth of the apostle, been transferred to Jerusalem (as Ewald conjectures),—cannot be determined.

παραγεν.] belongs to the vivid minuteness with which the whole history is set forth.

Acts 23:18. The centurion on military duty, without taking further part in the matter, simply fulfils what Paul has asked.

ὁ δέσμιος Παῦλος] he is now, as a Roman citizen, to be conceived in custodia militaris (comp. on Acts 22:30). See on Acts 24:27.

Acts 23:19. ἐπιλαβ. δὲ τῆς χειρ.] “ut fiduciam adolescentis confirmaret,” Bengel.

ἀναχωρ. κατʼ ἰδίαν] in order to hold a private conversation with him, he withdrew (with him) without the addition of a third person, perhaps to a special audience-chamber. Comp. Luke 9:10.

Acts 23:20. ὅτι] recitative.

συνέθεντο] have made an agreement to request thee. Comp. on John 9:22.

ὡς μέλλ.] i.e. under the pretext, as if they would. See Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 1152. It is otherwise in Acts 23:15 : in the opinion, as, etc.Acts 23:16. ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀδελφῆς: whether he and his mother lived in Jerusalem, as Ewald conjectured, we are not told. Probably not, as the mother is not otherwise mentioned. Paul’s nephew may have been a student in Jerusalem, as the Apostle had been in his earlier days. Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 227, gives an interesting account of the way in which the young man as a member of the Pharisaic “Chabura,” or guild, might have gained his knowledge of the conspiracy. At the same time nothing is told us in the text, and we cannot wonder at the comment “quis is fuerit, unde rescierit, ignoratur” (Blass).—παραγεν.: “having come in upon them,” R.V. margin, “and he entered into the castle,” etc. παραγεν. is thoroughly Lucan, and often gives a graphic touch to the narrative, but it is doubtful whether we can press it as above, although the rendering is tempting.—ἀπήγγειλε τῷ Π.: evidently Paul’s friends were allowed access to him, and amongst them we may well suppose that St. Luke himself would have been included. On the different kinds of Roman custody see below, Acts 24:23, note.16. And when Paul’s sister’s son, &c.] The Rev. Ver. keeps to the Greek construction, “But Paul’s sister’s son heard … and he came, &c.”

We have no other mention of the family of St Paul anywhere in the history. It seems improbable that the sister and her son were settled inhabitants of Jerusalem, or we should have been likely to hear of them on Paul’s previous visits. His imprisonment at this time was only to keep him from being killed, and so any relative or friend was permitted to come to him.

he went and entered into the castle] The margin of the Rev. Ver. gives the rendering of the text with a different punctuation: “he heard of their lying in wait, having come in upon them and he entered, &c.”Acts 23:16. Ἀκούσας, having heard) They managed the business with too little secrecy, not supposing that there would be any one who would communicate the fact to Paul or to the chief captain.Verse 16. - But for and when, A.V.: and he came for he went, A.V. Lying in wait; ἐνέδρα, only here and in Acts 25:3 in the New Testament; but common in the Books of Joshua and Judges in the LXX., and also in classical Greek.
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