Acts 23

Devotional by Shauna Wallace

Read Acts 23

Acts 23

23 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.

11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

A Plot to Kill Paul

12 When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”

16 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the tribune, for he has something to tell him.” 18 So he took him and brought him to the tribune and said, “Paul the prisoner called me and asked me to bring this young man to you, as he has something to say to you.” 19 The tribune took him by the hand, and going aside asked him privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?” 20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire somewhat more closely about him. 21 But do not be persuaded by them, for more than forty of their men are lying in ambush for him, who have bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they have killed him. And now they are ready, waiting for your consent.” 22 So the tribune dismissed the young man, charging him, “Tell no one that you have informed me of these things.”

Paul Sent to Felix the Governor

23 Then he called two of the centurions and said, “Get ready two hundred soldiers, with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go as far as Caesarea at the third hour of the night. 24 Also provide mounts for Paul to ride and bring him safely to Felix the governor.” 25 And 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 when I came upon them with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen. 28 And desiring to know the charge for which they were accusing him, I brought him down to their council. 29 I found that he was being accused about questions of their law, but charged with nothing deserving death or imprisonment. 30 And when it was disclosed to me 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 by night to Antipatris. 32 And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. 33 When they had come 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 was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.


The truth about Jesus always has and always will enrage God’s enemies and divide people, just as Jesus warned when he dispersed his disciples as “sheep in the midst of wolves” (Mattew 10:16 ESV). He predicted persecution and hatred, like Paul faced in Acts 23, because he did “not come to bring peace, but a sword” (verse 34 ESV). This was not a sword of slaughter and destruction, but a “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).

When Jesus uses our witness and his Word to illuminate those “[who love] the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19 ESV), we may find ourselves on trial “with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6 ESV). In some countries, as in Paul’s day, followers of Jesus lost family, possessions, land, livelihood, and their very lives. Their testimonies and Paul’s experience when God supernaturally intervened to advance him toward his assigned destination humbles and inspires me to “take courage” (Acts 23:11 ESV)!

We are the light of the world. When we encounter dissention, division, conflict, and conspiracies to kill the gospel message and silence those who proclaim it, we can trust God to convert enemy schemes into open doors for the gospel to go further than ever before.

In what way(s) do you need to take courage today?

24 thoughts on “Day Twenty-Three | The Book of Acts

  1. Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

    I have learnt that we don’t have to panic or worry when we find ourselves in the midst of trials or storms. Severally we have seen that sometimes God will permit the devil to do his foolish things in order for HIM to show case HIS Glory in our lives. What the enemy meant for evil God has turned it around for our good. Jesus came to encourage Paul and that he will witness for HIM in Rome just like he did in Jerusalem. That means Paul is actually in the center of God’s will, even in chains. This tells me to be at peace when things are not going the way I want it to be but to trust that our FATHER knows about our pains and worries, and that it will all end in praise, provided we maintain our relationship with HIM and keep the good faith.

    I also learnt that we should not speak evil of our leaders or rulers. This includes our leaders in the church and in government. As Christians we are not allowed to speak evil of them or judge them, but our obligation as Christians is to pray for them.

    The Lord will help us to practice what we have learned today in Jesus Name…🙏

  2. I feel blessed that we live in a country that wea re not put to death for sharing the Gospel, yet sometimes I wonder if because we have it so easy, it is easy to not share the Gospel. The early church was willing to sacrifice everything for Christ. I pray that I may be as bold as those that have suffered for the Gospel. I pray that I never shy away from the opportunity to speak truth into the no es of others.

  3. Because of the flesh we live in, there will always be a temptation to cower when it comes to the gospel. Maybe not so much in what we say to others or how we interact with people, but how we combat the enemy of our souls attacking us internally. But I love this line is our devo today: “…we can trust God to convert enemy schemes into open doors for the gospel to go further than ever before.” The hope that we have in Christ and the power/courage that comes from trusting Him is what I choose to cling to no matter what the opposition may be.

  4. I had not thought of the sword in that verse by linking it to the other verse- very insightful and helpful!

  5. He will never leave me or forsake me. He is my ever-present help in time of need. He hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. I need to take courage in these truths today.

  6. Our God is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS with us!!!! He PROMISES to NEVER leave us!!!! Send us out Lord to speak Your TRUTH and shine Your LIGHT to those You put in our path and others we may not be aware of 🙏🏾❤️

  7. Thanks for the encouragement. “…we can trust God to convert enemy schemes into open doors for the gospel to go further…”

    The evil one does not want us to witness of the One who’s blood has saved us. Father, please “convert the enemy’s schemes into open doors for the gospel to go further…” Amen

  8. We don’t have a REAL clue of this type of persecution. This past Sunday, in our Life Group – Parent Trap, one of our class members from Nigeria shared his testimony of his whole family almost being killed by neighbors who were Muslim. His testimony included God’s miracle of saving his family. Our whole group was astonished, but also thankful of God’s hand in his life!
    Persecution still happens all over the world in lots of degrees. We, as Americans, need to remember to pray for our fellow Believers all over the world!

    1. We pray for those who are persecuted and martyred for their faith in Jesus. Thankful that your classmate’s family was spared.

  9. Help me take courage to trust you with your plans for my day, and not get anxious as I don’t accomplish my plans, because “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).

  10. As we know, Paul was God’s perfect choice for His work. His dedication and qualifications have been long reaching, extending from his time until the present. I want to have the same testimony!

  11. I love verse 11 where it says the Lord stood by him and said “take courage “. He is always with us, He never leaves us and He has a plan.

  12. I pray that I take courage this year in accomplishing my goals and not being scared of putting myself out there and meeting new people. I pray that God opens doors and let people in my life that mean me well. I pray to have the courage to speak my needs and my mind.

  13. David pointed out how blessed we are to live in a country where we do not have to fear death for sharing the Gospel. Karl said that we do not have a “REAL clue” concerning the persecution of Christians in other countries. Just this past Sunday, a church in Istanbul was attacked by extremists.
    Pastor Jarrett and other church leaders are constantly reminding us to PRAY. I’m pretty sure that our Lord and Savior Jesus who died for us wants and expects us to “Continue steadfastly in prayer ….” Colossians 4:2 for our brothers and sisters who put their lives on the line just to praise and give glory to God. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.

  14. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell of my experience as a fifteen year old in a new church experience. An evangelist preached and then made the altar call. He then stepped off the pulpit and came directly at me. He said, “Sister won’t you come to the altar and pray and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour?” I replied, “But I don’t know how to pray!” Just come and see how Christ died on the cross for your sins was his reply. I reluctantly went to the front. It was around 8:30 PM as I knelt down to pray with my eyes closed. I could envision Christ nailed on the cross, and there watching with the crowd, was me as well. I could hear myself asking for forgiveness and crying with all my heart. When I finished it was 1 AM and very few people remained. I, as did Paul, had a religious conversion from the experience I had. It was wonderful and I was amazed at the experience I had that night. It has not failed me. I have not wavered or ever doubted my Lord and Saviour. I read about Paul and his conversion, experience, and perils. He never once wavered but stood strong through the perils knowing that God will open the paths for him when facing adversity. I’m amazed at his tenacity and Perseverance. May we be more like Paul in winning souls for Christ, and always remember that experience of our conversion when we first accepted Christ so that others may live that as well. Remember too that nonbelievers may not know how to pray, but God will lead us to show them the way. By the way, I’m now 70 years old .

  15. A note from cfbc members imb missionaries Jennifier Davis: Due to Jarod’s “job” we were asked to move for “security reasons”. And though we would have never chosen to leave on our own, we trust that the Lord is good and sovereign and gracious to guide and lead us. Taiwan to now Indonesia. Remember like 10 years they had 24 hours to escape from China because JD was accused of being a spy.

  16. Can you imagine being a target for two hostile mobs for 2 days straight? Imagine how disheartened Paul must’ve felt. Ohhh but that following night the supernatural revelation would have been comforting to say the least. That encouragement to KEEP GOING. and that is what we all must do. Keep going. God is with us. The key is to not give up. This life isn’t easy but when God is with us, we can stand the test of time. I think we all need this kind of encouragement and as I continue my job search I ask for this as well. Thanks for the devotions. They’ve all been so timely.

  17. The words “before God in good conscience up to this day” caught my attention.

    On the timeline of Paul’s life there are two parts to Paul’s good conscience. The first being his old conscience by which he committed evil against God and his son Jesus Christ, the second, is his post conversion conscience by which he is able to endure all things for the progress of the gospel.

  18. The testimony of Paul is so strong even in today’s world. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ…Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    And in the words of David, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

    It doesn’t matter what the world or people come against us with. We represent the Creator of the Universe and the God that shed his blood for the sins of the World. We have nothing to fear. We are not trying to defeat enemies with force but bring them to repentance with the Gospel. There is nothing more powerful and beautiful than that. Lord, continue to be with each of us that even if we face persecution, it is not for us but for the sake of the gospel that we will continue testifying and sharing the gospel with others. You love us all even those whose eyes are currently darkened so that they may see and believe in your name.

  19. God prepared Paul ahead of time for his encounter with this group. He was allowed to speak the truth about resurrection that was a point of contention between the Sadducee’s and Pharisees. God is faithful to give us the right words to say at the right time!🙏🏾❤️

  20. What ways I need to take courage is to remember that God is King and that we should have courage in his word and his name.

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