When we read this passage from the safe distance of nearly two thousands years and a few thousand miles, we can absorb what we are reading and continue on through the book of Acts, but when we stop and think, what is revealed is a vastly different world to ours. The Roman Empire ruled over many countries with an iron fist. It came down heavily on any signs of insurrection and riot. It appears utterly amazing that more than forty Jews should conspire to kill Paul, when he was a Roman citizen and in the charge of Roman soldiers! Imagine if Paul's nephew had not overheard them speaking! There would still have been an escort of soldiers with Paul and there would have been carnage! Jews regarded murder as justifiable if there was a danger to public morals and to life, so these men felt able to murder Paul and keep their consciences clean. Whenever I read this passage I do wonder what became of these reckless and murderous men. How did they get out of their vows or did they all perish? Did they still try to kill Paul, even when he was surrounded by a small army? Once again God's chosen people compare very badly in their treatment of God's servants with the impartial justice of the Roman army. It teaches us that we can feel that we are doing something for God when actually we are acting recklessly not only with our life but also the life of others.
The centre of Roman government was in Caesarea, in the palace built by Herod the Great. It was forty miles from Jerusalem to Antipatris and that area was dangerous and inhabited by Jews. Between Antipatris and Caesarea was twenty five miles of open and flat land and so it was felt that the cavalry-of seventy!-was sufficient. Felix was the Governor and he was the first slave to ever attain to such heights. He was known for his intelligent and princely decisions, but also his complete unscrupulousness.