Like Jesus before him (John 18:22), Paul is struck on the face by his opponents. Also like Jesus, his words should not have warranted such a response.
Luke draws a contrast between the Roman authorities, who treat Paul fairly, and the Jewish authorities, who break their own laws. By striking Paul before he presents his case, the high priest has predetermined Paul’s guilt in violation of Jewish law, which presumes innocence until proven otherwise.
Realising that he will not get a fair hearing, Paul divides the jury by claiming that he is being opposed because he maintains the Pharisees’ position on the resurrection (v. 6). Once again, the meeting erupts into chaos—this time because of disagreement between the Pharisees and the rival Sadducees, who hold opposing convictions (v. 8).
Paul’s tactic works, but he is in danger of being torn to pieces and has to be rescued once again (v. 10).
Verse 11 contains a wonderfully kind reassurance from God—that no matter how dark things look, Paul will testify in Rome. After all, the Lord’s word to Ananias is yet to be fulfilled—that Paul will carry Christ’s name before the Gentile kings (Acts 9:15).
Even after God’s assurance, Paul’s troubles continue to escalate Forty men plot to kill him (vv.12–15). Learning about the plot, the commander assembles an extraordinary detachment of soldiers to guard Paul and transport him safely from Jerusalem to Caesarea that very night (v. 23). Jewish opposition is not underestimated, and Paul’s case is treated with the utmost urgency by the Roman authorities. The irony is that the Roman pagans become deliverers of God’s apostle from the hands of God’s ancient people.
The Word of God is authoritative and will be fulfilled. As such, Paul is neither fearful nor uncertain. Paul’s perseverance is fed by his trust in God to see His purposes fulfilled. The word “must” in verse 11 is translated from a little Greek word, dei, which means “it must happen”. It is one of the most common words used in Acts and it appears over 40 times in Luke and Acts. God’s word will not return empty-handed.
Again, the gospel and its messenger prevail in the face of insurmountable odds.
Acts 23:11 records a direct message from God to Paul. Others like this are recorded in Acts 8:26; 9:6 and 15; 10:19–20; 13:2; 16:9; 18:9–10; 20:22; and 27:24. What do these records tell you about the nature of God and His purposes?