Previously we have seen that Paul had come to Jerusalem, back from his ministry to the gentiles in Asia and Greece and Macedonia. His intention was to bring a monetary gift, collected by the gentile churches who had it in their hearts to help their impoverished Jewish brothers in Jerusalem. Paul went to Jerusalem against all human advice. Everyone, and Paul knew that he was going into the lion’s den (21:13). And so, just as it was said, it happened. Paul was recognized in the temple and falsely accused of teaching against the law of Moses, and also accused of having brought a gentile into the court of the Jews. An angry mob gathered around him, and he would have been killed then and there, had it not been for the intervention of the Roman garrison from the Antonia fortress adjoining the temple precincts.
The Roman soldiers (once they had established that he was not an Egyptian terrorist cf. 21:38) permitted Paul to defend himself, but his defense (21:40 – 22:22) resulted in a repeated call by the Jews to have him done away with (22:22). Again the Romans protect him. But they wanted to know the reason as to why the Jews hated Paul so much, and so in 22:30-23:10 we find that Paul is given an opportunity to address the Sanhedrin, the council of 70 Jewish leaders made up from the sect of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
That meeting does not go well right from the start, and it ends with the Sadducees and Pharisees disagreeing among themselves concerning the matter of the resurrection. And so, as chaos ensues among themselves, Paul is saved once again in the midst of it all.
The writer of the book of Acts, the Gospel author Luke, shows us that behind it all there is the divine hand of God, frustrating the schemes of human beings and ordering all things so that His purposes for the advance of the Gospel will prevail . And so Paul is taken back into custody again at the Antonia Fortress. A dramatic story now unfolds.
A Deadly Plot (23:12-15)
By now the Romans have rescued Paul twice from the Jews. (21:32-36; 23:10; see also 22:22-24). But the Jews are not giving up. They are fiercely determined to do away with Paul, and not just Paul. They want to do away with the Gospel of the Jesus whom they had crucified. Luke consistently highlights Israel's rejection of the gospel as it was preached by Paul.
And so it is that we read that more than forty men take an oath (anathema) - a curse oath- an imprecatory oath. They were prepared to die in order to see this oath carried out. According to this oath they swore that they would not eat nor drink until Paul was dead (23:12,14,21). In their minds, Paul was an offender against the holy law and against the holy temple. In their minds there was the thinking, that they needed to get rid of Paul because he had defiled law and temple. In their minds only Paul's death could atone for this, and so hey are prepared to take on themselves that curse, if God's offended holiness is not avenged. One commentator says that this vow is an extension of a commitment to remove the curse of God from a defiled temple by seeing to it that the perpetrator will experience death "at the hands of heaven" 
We need to stop here and think this one through, because this is precisely the reason why many religious groups justify their killings in the Name of God. I don’t know whether you remember the writer, Salman Rushdie (who calls himself a lapsed Muslim and now even a hard core atheist), who wrote the book , “Satanic Verses”. Many Muslims took offence at this book and they accused Rushdie of blasphemy and in 1989 the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa (a Muslim clergy ruling) ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie. Numerous killings, attempted killings, and bombings resulted from violent Muslims over this book. The motive is very similar. Muslims felt that the Qu’ran and the honour of Allah were at stake, and so in their minds Rushdie needed to die. Rushdie is no saint and no Paul, by the way, and he is not a faithful husband, having 4 failed marriages behind him.
But what is the common issue behind both these stories? It is this. Men are forever trying to defend the honour of God and His institutions upon the earth. They feel themselves to be His spokesmen and agents and executioners.
But here is the BIG question. If God is God, the living, all powerful, all seeing, all present sovereign God, intimately involved in the history of this world, then who needs to defend Him?
Indeed who can defend Him? Surely God can defend himself! And He will not need to defend Himself as one who is accused, for God in His very essence and being cannot be accused! He does not need human zealots and armies to defend Himself. God needs no defender. In fact, He is the Judge! The Bible teaches that He has appointed a day in which He will bring His own terrible wrath to bear upon all the enemies of the gospel, and upon all who have failed to embrace and kiss the Son (Psalm 2), who is the ONLY Saviour from the wrath of God.
So then, behind this story in Acts is a Jewish faith that is so far gone and so very far removed from God. This is no faith. It is a religious system which has God in a box. It has a small view of God. Their god must be defended.
How different is Paul’s view. He knows that God is sovereign . He knows that God's purpose will stand. He knows himself to be in the hands of the true truth of Almighty God (see 23:11)
So then, those who place themselves under a curse in order to remove a curse assume that they are in the will of God, but they are really revealing what is true of them. They know nothing of the One true God. They are enemies of the cross of Christ. They are brute beasts, ignorant fools, dead in their sins and therefore they are under God's condemnation and they will only increase their punishment by taking such action against Paul, a messenger of the gospel. He was once one of them. But his eyes had been opened (Acts 9).
And so they ask the chief priests and the elders to get Paul from the Antonia fortress to come to them yet again under the pretext that they wish to get more accurate information, but the real purpose will be to kill him.
Persecutors of the gospel have no interest in hearing the truth. All they know is that it conflicts with their views of the small god which they have created in their minds, and whom they need to defend in such violent ways.
What did Paul ever do to these men? He simply declared what the OT already had said about the Messiah. He simply preached that which the OT taught and showed implicitly: no one can be saved by the works of the Law, but by faith alone in the Messiah, Jesus Christ alone. That is what had offended the Jewish people, and the result was this violent reaction. The violence that the unconverted heart is capable of - there's something satanic about it.
Divine Providence (23:16-22)
Paul's nephew, a young man (yes! Paul had family- he had a sister and a nephew that we know of from this text), heard of this plot (literally "ambush"). He reports it to Paul, who then sends him with a message by by way of a centurion to the Tribune, the Roman commander. In a kindly (by the hand) and discreet way (he drew him aside), the commander interrogates the nephew. The commander takes the plot seriously, asking the young man not tell anyone about this. In all this we see the Hand of God as He rules and overrules fulfill His saving purposes. “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD.” (Prov. 21:30). All this does not mean that human beings do not play an essential role. They do! The nephew, the apostle, the centurion and the tribune all are essential to seeing that this evil plot is foiled. Paul must testify also in Rome!”(23:11)
Roman Precautions& Protection (23:23-35)
The commander calls two of his centurions and orders them to prepare for Paul's transfer to Caesarea. Two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen indicate that the Romans take this threat very seriously. They are to leave under the cover of darkness for Caesarea on the coast, the provincial capital for Judea. It is amazing to see this, isn’t it? God uses the Roman government to protect His prime witness to the Lord Jesus. It all shows us who is really in charge in this world.
The next step in Paul’s witness is that he needs to appear before Felix, the Roman governor of the province. The attached letter from Claudius Lycias, the commander of Fort Antonia in vv.25-30 provides the open door into the governor’s presence. This governor, Felix was once a slave, but he was freed by the emperor Claudius, probably because he was a very competent man and loyal servant of Rome. Felix's tenure as governor was marked by ongoing disturbances among the people, whether from Jewish terrorist groups against Roman outposts and sicarii, i.e. assassins with their "short daggers", or from messianic impostors and false prophets. He responded in brutal kind and this made him even more unpopular, and it stirred up more unrest.
Tacitus (c. 56 – c. 120 AD) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire and said that he "practiced every kind of cruelty and lust, wielding the power of king with all the instincts of a slave" .
The letter gives the essential introduction and details to Paul’s situation. His assessment, is accurate. The charges brought against Paul and the Christians by the Jews are theological, stemming from an internal religious disagreement (see also 18:15; 25:19). As far as Roman law is concerned, Paul is innocent.
By example and testimony the commander reminds us of three things concerning the interrelationship of the Christian and the state: (Source: footnote 1)
1. The state's proper role is to protect the rights of its citizens (Rom 13:4; 1 Tim 2:2-4). This the Christian may insist on.
2. The state is incompetent to make judgments on theological/religious matters. The things of Caesar belong to Caesar. The things of God belong to God (Lk. 20:25).
3. Christians must follow their Lord's example in guarding their innocence before the laws of the state ( see Acts 25:8, 10-11, 18-19; 26:31-32)
The 60 kilometre journey to Antipatris happens without incident. The topography and most suitable to Jewish ambush lie behind them now. Ahead lies a flat coastal plain inhabited predominantly by Gentiles. The infantry and spearmen can return home while the cavalry takes Paul the remaining 40 kilometres to Caesarea. There the officers delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. God has used the Roman empire to protect his gospel messenger.
We have learned two great lessons from this text:
1. Killing in the Name of God, such as it is displayed here and in many modern examples is based on a poor understanding of the one true God. The killing in the Name of God in the Old Testament is of a very different kind and origin. In those cases God Himself, after much warning , forbearing and patience with evil nations directed Moses and Joshua and David to exercise His judgement upon them. It was a unique time and commission in biblical history. All that is a foreshadowing of the great judgement to come at which time the sovereign God of the Universe will dispose of all His enemies. New Testament Christians have no such mandate, and they do not have to protect God. They do not have to kill God’s enemies. They do not have to go on Crusades to drive their enemies away from any holy land. The earth IS the Lord’s, and His judgement is coming.
2. God is able to vindicate His own cause and protect His Gospel witnesses. They are immortal until their work is done.
 Anaireo : Acts 23:15, 21; 25:3; compare Lk 22:2; Acts 21:36; 22:22.