Read the text here: Acts 23:12-35.

At this point a careful reader might wonder where all Paul’s friends and traveling companions have gone. Has Paul no friends left in Jerusalem? It’s up to a previously unmentioned and nameless nephew of Paul’s who somehow uncovers a plot by a renegade Jewish group to ambush Paul and kill him.

This episode in Paul’s captivity serves to underscore to us readers just how important a role Paul plays. He is a prisoner, and yet he gives instructions to his Roman guard. His unnamed nephew, with no apparent claim to any great social status, is able to have a private conference with the Roman tribune in order to convey information about the threat on Paul’s life.

Paul’s influence continues to be strong, as the tribune sends the young man away with a command of secrecy and springs into action. At this point a most improbable show of Roman force is gathered to offer Paul protection and escort. Two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred more spearman will accompany Paul by night to Antipatris on the way to Caesarea. For the journey, Paul (still a prisoner, mind you) will get his own mount, while the 400 Roman soldiers are on foot. This incredible show of force may be nearly half of the soldiers available under the tribune’s command. Rest assured, Paul will make it safely to Felix the governor in Caesarea.

There is quite a bit of irony in Paul’s situation. Paul’s Roman citizenship gives him much more status even as a prisoner than his identity as a practicing Jew. The Romans follow the prescriptions of their legal system, while the the religious folks in Acts neglect the teachings of biblical law. Paul joins four others in a seven-day ritual of purification to signify his pious observance of the Law. The group of 40 would-be assassins join together in fasting not to be broken until they have killed Paul.

Paul has been sent by the Holy Spirit to Rome, and ultimately nothing will stand in his way.