A plot to kill Paul had just been revealed to the tribune in our last encounter. Paul’s nephew had somehow overheard the plans between a determined group of Jews and the counsel. The tribune decides to act quickly.
I’m not certain if the tribune is acting to save Paul’s life because Paul is a Roman citizen, because he truly believes he is innocent, because he felt guilty for arresting Paul in the first place, or because he believes he is in over his head. Is Paul’s case “above his pay grade?”
Whatever his reason he is making SURE Paul is safe in this transfer. In the middle of the night 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen to protect 1 man. The tribune knew that size of the opposition and he more than quadrupled their number in his contingent.
The tribune even wrote a personal note to his superior for this prison transfer. And that is exactly what it was; a prion transfer. Paul was not snuck out of the city to freedom. He was not protected by the guards against the approaching hoards while remaining in the tribune’s custody. He was placed in the middle of a well-armed troop and taken to another fortress of safety.
In the letter, the tribune presents his findings. I think it is interesting how he starts out with a CYA move. “This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them when I came upon them with soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman citizen” (verse 27). From this account one would not know that Paul was bound and about to be flogged BEFORE his revelation of his citizenship. The tribune made it sound like he swooped in to save Paul from the crowd because he was a Roman citizen instead of just trying to stop a riot and get to the bottom of it all.
The tribune even goes so far as to state that, after hearing the facts of the charges he doesn’t even think Paul deserves to be in prison. BUT he doesn’t set Paul free. As we saw earlier, the tribune simply arranges a prison transfer and entrusts Felix to make the final ruling.
The soldiers are successful, as expected, in their task. I wonder if they ran into those waiting in ambush at all. The plot called for the ambush early the next morning but were they in place earlier? I wonder when those waiting in ambush figured out that their plan failed. Was it that night or was it when Felix sent word for them to come present their case before him?
Paul did not attempt to escape or argue for his freedom in all this. He knew he was right where God wanted him to be. He made the most of every opportunity afforded him in his imprisonment. Paul knew that God could use even the unjust to serve His purposes. Paul got to sit back and watch God at work!
Father God, thank You that nothing surprises You. You knew about that plot LONG before it was even hatched. In fact You used it to get Paul further along Your path. Who knows how long the tribune would have held him if not for the plot. He might have been released and never made it to Rome as a witness for You. You knew exactly what needed to happen to bring Paul to that great stage.
You know all the ins and outs in my life too. You sometimes use the most unlikely or even unpleasant resources to complete Your plans for my life. Thank You that I can trust You to have all the pieces in place for me to end up right where You want me to be.