Online Bible Commentary
Be of Good Cheer
Acts 23:11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome." 12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy. 14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul 15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near." 16 So when Paul's sister's son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, "Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him." 18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, "Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you." 19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside and asked privately, "What is it that you have to tell me? 20 And he said, "The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him. 21 But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you. 22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me." (NKJV)
The time is 57 A.D. Paul has just completed his third and final missionary journey and has returned to Jerusalem.
The Jews in Jerusalem are in an uproar over Paul’s Christian ministry and have accused him of bringing a Gentile into the temple. The Jewish mob was beating Paul with the intention of taking his life when Roman soldiers intervened.
Paul was taken into protective custody by the Romans, but was released when they learned he was a Roman citizen. However, the Roman commander turned Paul over to the Jewish religious body, the Sanhedrin, to be judged.
The Sanhedrin also could not reach agreement regarding Paul’s fate. The Sadducees wanted him prosecuted but the Pharisees did not and Paul was caught in the middle of a physical altercation. The Roman commander again saved Paul and brought him back to Roman headquarters for his safety.
Now, in this passage, Paul is back in the Roman barracks while he awaits the next move by the Roman commander. The “next night” after Paul’s Sanhedrin experience the Lord came to and said "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome” (v. 11).
The next day over forty Jews plotted to kill Paul and took a vow not to eat or drink until they had done so (vv. 12-13). They informed “the chief priests and elders” of their plot and asked that they request the commander to send Paul back to the Sanhedrin for another trial (v. 15a). The forty Jews would then ambush and kill Paul while he was on his way from the Roman headquarters, located on the temple mount, to the temple itself (v. 15b).
Meanwhile, Paul’s nephew heard of the plot and told Paul of it (v. 16). The Greek text refers to the nephew as a youth meaning that he was likely in his mid to late teens. Paul immediately called a centurion and told him that his nephew had a message for the commander (v. 17).
The centurion took Paul’s nephew to the commander and the commander drew the youth aside by taking his hand in an effort to impart confidence to the nervous youth (vv. 18-19). The youth then told the commander of the Jews’ plot (vv. 20-21). The commander listened to the youth and commanded him to "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me" (v. 22).
Since Paul’s return to Jerusalem he has endured one hardship after another. How encouraging it must have been for Jesus to come to him and cheer him up by telling him in so many words “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” The Lord had plans for Paul to take the gospel to Rome, so Paul knew that he would be rescued from this situation.
The Lord also has plans for us Christians. His plans are to bless us and not to harm us (Jer. 29:11). He does not want us to worry about anything (Mt. 6:25). He sees our problems and says “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” He wants us to be of good cheer.