So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him during the night to Antipatris. The next day they let the horsemen go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. Acts 23:31-33
Lysias of Jerusalem feels he has to move Paul away from danger. He calls for two centurions and tells them to take Paul to Caesarea tonight, leave by nine o’clock, and take two hundred soldiers/ seventy horsemen/ two hundred spearmen. This is one of the few times, and perhaps the only time, Paul will ride a horse to his destination. They are taking Paul to Felix the governor.
Lysias also writes a Lenient letter to Felix to indicate Paul is a Roman citizen threatened with death and a plot is in process in Jerusalem. Lysias gets Paul out quickly and safely. That night the soldiers travel thirty miles northwest to Antipatris, rebuilt and named in honor of Herod the Great’s father Antipater. Jerusalem to Caesarea is seventy miles.
In Caesarea the soldiers deliver the letter written by Lysias to Felix. Felix finds that Paul is from Cilicia province and says, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” v.34 Paul is then housed in a tower area of Herod the Great’s palace where state persons under duress or in need are given sanctuary.
These two statesmen, Lysias and Felix, take action because Paul is a Roman citizen. Lysias, in sending Paul to Caesarea, takes Paul’s protection up a notch. In pursuit of Paul, the high priest and the council will have to travel seventy miles and present their case before Felix the governor. Inconvenient for the council yet this is their intent.
All the while Spirit is speaking to Paul as he gives praise to our Lord for quick actions by Lysias, prayers for his Church start-ups and thanks for disciples protection, and blessings on his sister’s son who brought the news to Lysias regarding the Jerusalem Forty plot. For Paul, seventy miles on a horse is physically challenging and Spirit gives care to him. Paul holds Jesus’ promise of speaking in Rome within his heart and he is boldly intent on this.
One wonders that so many miles on a horse with others riding beside Paul if he does not witness for Jesus to them, perhaps first asking about their lives and sharing his own and his faith. That so many soldiers were sent to accompany one man must have perked their attentions to what he was about and who he was. God’s Divine Hand is in where Paul is located and so much so to bless the Word as it goes out from Paul to the multitudes.
23 Then he summoned two of the centurions and said, “Get ready to leave by nine o’clock tonight for Caesarea with two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 He wrote a letter to this effect:
26 “Claudius Lysias to his Excellency the governor Felix, greetings. 27 This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them, but when I had learned that he was a Roman citizen, I came with the guard and rescued him. 28 Since I wanted to know the charge for which they accused him, I had him brought to their council. 29 I found that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but was charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30 When I was informed that there would be a plot against the man, I sent him to you at once, ordering his accusers also to state before you what they have against him.”
31 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him during the night to Antipatris. 32 The next day they let the horsemen go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. 33 When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he belonged to, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” Then he ordered that he be kept under guard in Herod’s headquarters. Acts 23:23-35