Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 23

Paul's defence before the Council of the Jews. (1-5) Paul's
defence. He receives a Divine Assurance that he shall go to
Rome. (6-11) The Jews conspire to kill Paul, Lysias sends him to
Caesarea. (12-24) Lysias's Letter to Felix. (25-35)

1-5 See here the character of an honest Man. He sets God before
him, and lives as in his sight. He makes Conscience of what he
says and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, he
keeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. He is
conscientious in all his words and conduct. Those who thus live
before God, may, like Paul, have confidence both toward God and
Man. Though the answer of Paul contained a just rebuke and
prediction, he seems to have been too angry at the treatment he
received in uttering them. Great men may be told of their
faults, and public complaints may be made in a proper manner;
but the Law of God requires respect for those in authority.

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.

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.

25-35 God has instruments for every work. The natural abilities
and moral virtues of the heathens often have been employed to
protect his persecuted servants. Even the men of the world can
discern between the conscientious conduct of upright believers,
and the zeal of false professors, though they disregard or
understand not their doctrinal principles. All hearts are in
God's Hand, and those are blessed who Put their trust in him,
and commit their ways unto him.