As the people in the tumult, so also they very cheefe of the Iewes i their Councel shew
themselues obstinate, and wilful persecutours of the truth in S. Pauls person. Whose behauiour
towardes them is ful of constancie, modestie, and wisedom. 11. (Christ also be a vision encouraging
him & foretelling that he shal to Rome.) 12. Yea they conspire with 40 men to kil him traiterously.
16. But the matter being detected, the Romane Tribune conueigheth him strongly to Cæsarea.
1. AND Paul looking vpon the Councel, said: Men Brethren, I with al good conscience haue conuersed before God, vntil this present day.
2. And the high Priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him, to smite him on the mouth.
3. Then Paul said to him: He said not this through perturbation of mind, or of a passion, but by way of prophecie, that this figurative high priesthood then trimmed like a whited wal, was to be destroied; whereas now the true priesthood of Christ was come. Beda in hunc lo. God shal strike thee, thou whited wal. And thou sitting iudgest me according to the law, and contrarie to law doest thou command me to be smitten?
4. And they that stood by, said: Doest thou reuile the high Priest of God?
5. And Paul said: I knew not.
The honour of Priesthood.
*Our Lord (saith S. Cyprian) in the Ghospel, when it was said to him: Answerest thou the high Priest so? teaching that the honour of Priesthood must be kept said nothing to the high Priest, but only purging his innocencie, said: If I haue spoken euil, beare witnes of euil; but if wel, why smitest thou me? Also the Blessed Apostle when it was said to him: Doest thou assaile the high Priest so with il wordes? spake not any thing contumeliously against the Priest, whereas he might haue put forth himself stoutly against them which had both crucified our Lord, and which had now also lost their God and Christ, Temple and Priesthood. But though in false & spoiled Priests, yet considering the very bare shadow of the name of Priests, he said: I knew not, Brethren, that he was high Priest. By which wordes of the Apostle, either it may be thought he knew not indeed that he was in that function, because he had not been of long time in those partes; or els that he so said in respect of the abrogation of the high Priesthood of the Iewes, whereby he knew this man not to be truely any Priest: as also because at this time they came not orderly to it by succession of Aaron and Law of Moyses, but by the Roman Emperours fauour **as is said before: though (as it is lawful in such a case) the lesse to irritate them, he frameth his speach so as they might not take occasion of further accusation against him.
*Cypr. ep. 65. 69. nu. 2.
**See Annot. Io. c. 11,51. I knew not, Brethren, that he is the high Priest. For it is written: Exo. 22,28. The Prince of thy people thou shalt not mis-speake.
6. And Paul knowing that the one part was of Sadducees, and the other of Pharisees, Such prudent euasions from danger are lawful. Which S. Chrysostome calleth (specially in this Apostle) the wisdom of the serpent; as otherwise in his teaching and preaching & patience he vsed the simplicitie of a doue. he cried out in the Councel: Men Brethren, Phil. 3,5. I am a Pharisee, the sonne of Pharisees: of the hope and resurrection of the dead am I iudged.
7. And when he had said these things, there rose dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees; and the multitude was deuided.
8. For The Sadducees.
The Sadducees (as it semeeth) denied praier for the dead.
This was the worst Heresie among the Iewes, denying that there be any Angels, or spirits, the Resurrection also of the bodies: & consequently (as it may very wel be gathered by the booke of the Machabees) they denied praier for the dead. For to offer or pray for the dead, & to thinke rightly & religiously of the Resurrection, are made there sequels one of another. Of this sect of Sadducees was (as Eusebius writeth li. 2. c. 22. Ec. hist.) this Ananias the high Priest, that caused Paul to be smitten. For their Priesthood had now no more the protection of God to preserue it in truth and right iudgement, the Christian Priesthood being then established.
*Mac. li. 2. c. 12,43. the Sadducees say Mat. 22,23. there is not resurrection, nor Angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confesse both.
9. And there was made a great crie. And certaine of the Pharisees rising vp, stroue saying: We find no euil in this man. What is a spirit hath spoken to him, or an Angel?
10. And when there was risen great dissension, the Tribune fearing lest Paul should be torne in peeces by them, commanded the souldiars to goe downe, and to take him out of the middes of them, and to bring him into the castel.
11. And the night following our Lord standing by him, said: Be constant; for as thou testified of me in Hierusalem, so Though God who could not lie, had promised Paul that he should goe to Rome; yet the Apostle omitted not humane meanes to defend himself from his enemies & otherwise. Neither said he as the Heretikes called Predestinates, Let them doe what they wil, they can not hurt me, for I am predestinate to goe to Rome. See his doings and sayings to saue himself, in the chap. following. must thou testifie at Rome also.
12. And when day was come, certaine of the Iewes gathered themselues together, & Vowed themselues.
Vnlawful othes & vowes must not be kept.
Such vowes, othes, or execrations as this, bind no man before God, yea they must in no wise be obserued. It is a great offense either to vow voluntarily, or to take any such thing vpon a man, for feare or by commandement. For example, if thou haue rashly by promise, or othe, appointed to be reuenged vpon any man, thou bindest not thy self thereby, neither must thou keepe thy promise. If thou be put to an othe to accuse Catholikes for seruing God as they ought to doe, or to vtter any innocent man to God's enemies and his, thou oughtest first to refuse such vnlawful othes: but if thou haue not constancie and courage so to doe, yet know thou that such othes bind not at al in conscience & Law of God, but may and must be broken vnder paine of damnation. For to make or take such vowes or othes, is one sinne, and to keep them, is another farre greater: *as when Herode, to keep his othe, killed Iohn Baptist. And such vowes and othes to God as these, are vnlawful & must be broken: and not the vowes of Chastitie and Religion, as our new Ministers teach by their wordes and works.
*Mat. 14,9. vowed themselues, saying: that they would neither eate nor drinke til they killed Paul.
13. And they were more then fourtie men that had made this conspiracie:
14. who came to the cheefe Priests and the Ancients, and said: By execration we haue vowed our selues, that we wil eate nothing, til we kil Paul.
15. Now therfore giue you knowledge to the Tribune with the Councel, that he bring him forth to you, as if you meant to know some more certaine touching him. But we, before he come neere, are ready for to kil him.
16. Which when Paules sisters sonne had heard, of their lying in wait, he came and entred into the castel and told Paul.
17. And Paul calling to him one of the Centurions, said: Bring this yong man to the Tribune, for he hath some thing to tel him.
18. See the courtesie & equitie of Heathen officers toward their prisoners, to saue them from al iniurie & villanie. And he taking him, brought him to the Tribune, and said: The prisoner Paul desired me to bring this yong man vnto thee, hauing some thing to say to thee.
19. And the Tribune taking him by the hand, went aside with him apart, and asked him: What is it that thou hast to tel me?
20. And he said: The Iewes haue agreed to desire thee, that to morow thou bring forth Paul into the Councel, as though they meant to inquire some more certaintie touching him.
21. But doe not thou credit them; for there lie in wait for him more then fourtie men of them, which haue vowed neither to eate nor to drinke, til they kil him: and they are now ready, expecting thy promise.
22. The Tribune therfore dimissed the yong man, commanding that he should speake to no man that he had notified these things vnto him.
23. And calling two Centurions, he said to them: Make ready two hundred souldiars, to goe as farre as Cæsarea, and seuentie horsemen, and lances two hundred, from the third houre of the night:
24. and prepare beasts: that setting Paul on, they might bring him safe to Felix the President.
25. (For he feared lest perhaps the Iewes might take him away, and kil him, and himself afterward should sustaine reproch, as though he would haue taken money)
26. writing a letter conteining thus much: Claudius Lysias to the most excellent President Felix, greeting.
27. This man being apprehended of the Iewes, and ready to be killed of them, I comming in with the band deliuering him, vnderstanding that he is a Roman:
28. and meaning to know the cause that they obiected vnto him, I brought him downe into their Councel.
29. Whom I found to be accused concerning questions of their law: but hauing no crime worthie of death or of bands.
30. And when it was told me of ambushments that they had prepared against him, I sent him to thee, signifying also to the accusers, to speake before thee. Fare-wel.
31. And the souldiars according as it was commanded them, taking Paul, brought him by night to Antipatris.
32. And the next day sending away the horse-men to goe with him, they returned to the castel.
33. Who when they were come to Cæsarea, and had deliuered the letter to the President, they did set Paul also before him.
34. And when he had read, and had asked of what prouince he was: and vnderstanding that of Cilicia:
35. I wil heare the, said he, when thy accusers are come. And he commanded him to be keot in Herods palace.