The Nephew’s News
“But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.”
Acts 23:16 (NIV UK)
The backdrop to the New Testament is often full of drama and intrigue, with heroes and villains entering and exiting the story.
In Acts 23 we come across a hero with no name. All we know is that he was Paul’s nephew. We don’t know anything about him save that he somehow found out about a plot to kill his uncle Paul. “More than forty men were involved in this plot”, and they had taken an oath not to eat anything until Paul was dead (23:14). They had a fanatical zeal, and were determined not to let anything stand in the way of their success. The plan was to get the Sanhedrin to request that the Roman authorities deliver Paul to them for further questioning and to assassinate him en route.
Paul’s nephew put his own life at stake by informing Paul who, as a Roman citizen, had been held under military protection in the Roman barracks. Paul asked his nephew to go with one of the centurions to inform the camp commander of the conspiracy. When the commander heard the news, he dismissed the young man and cautioned him not to tell anyone of the plot. He then arranged for Paul to be escorted safely out of Jerusalem by “a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen” at nine o’clock that night (23:23).
We don’t know what happened to Paul’s nephew or to the conspirators. Did the plotters find out that someone had informed on them? Did they discover later that it was Paul’s nephew?
What we do know is that the courageous actions of Paul’s nephew changed the course of early church history, enabling Paul to witness in Rome and to go on to write many of his epistles that form part of the canon of the New Testament.
Father, thank you, for recording the stories of the early church so that we can be inspired and encouraged by people like Paul’s nephew. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author: James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. This weekend James is speaking at our Bristol congregation. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.