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.”
40 Jews are determined to kill Paul. They feel so strongly about this that they place themselves under a curse, that is to say that they will not eat until they kill him. (Upon their failure, they would have to make some kind of offering or sacrifice to get out of their vow. I bet it wasn't cheap.) They go to the chief priests and leaders, obviously the Sadducees, and tell them of their plan. If they Sanhedrin would ask for Pauls presence again, they will abuse him on the way there and kill him.
Isn't it amazing how God can take care of you? Who happens to be walking by and overhears all of this? Pauls nephew. Nephew goes to Paul, Paul goes to Centurion, Centurion takes nephew to the Tribune. The tribune releases the boy after making him promise that he will tell anyone what he had heard.
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.
In his letter to the Governor, he explains how he got into this mess. His goal is that if Paul's accusers desire to take it to the next level, they can try. Otherwise, let's keep Jerusalem quite and separate the problem from the city. Wise move on the tribunes part.
They say overnight in Antipathies, then the next morning the calvary take Paul to Caesarea. The question about what province he was from has to do with a legal issue. Felix could only rule in this case if Paul came from a Roman province. He did, so Felix tells Paul that he will hold him over in Herod's praetorium until his accusers arrive.
What do you think that Paul is doing this whole time? Think about it. He is a man dedicated to leading Jews and Gentiles to a relationship with Jesus. Now he is detained by a whole host of Romans who are charged with his care. How many soldiers do you think he led to Christ while all of this is going on?
English Standard Version (ESV)