What does Acts 23:23 mean?Paul is in custody in the Roman barracks in Jerusalem. The tribune Lysias—the commanding officer—has spent three days trying to figure out why a mob of Jews attacked Paul in the temple and if Paul committed a crime (Acts 21:27–34). Now, Paul's nephew has warned the tribune that the Sanhedrin conspired with forty assassins to kill Paul (Acts 23:12–22). Lysias realizes that not only can he not uncover what happened, but he can't keep Paul safe without causing an incident. Knowing the governor would prefer to avoid Roman soldiers fighting Jewish civilians, Lysias sends Paul to the governor with a large enough escort to make sure he gets there.
"Tribune" is a title for different offices. Those in the military were generally responsible for logistics and administration and could be called to lead units in battle. Originally, tribunes protected the poor and those with no voting rights from the rich voters. By this time, tribunes were often 27–year-olds taking a year of military service to help them in their future positions in government.
Centurions were army officers in charge of about 100 legionaries. Centurions have a very good reputation in Scripture. Jesus praised the faith of the centurion who insisted He could heal his servant at a distance and didn't have to enter his house (Matthew 8:5–13). A centurion at the crucifixion declared that Jesus must be the Son of God—or son of a god (Matthew 27:54). The centurion Cornelius was a devout Gentile who opened the doorway for Gentiles to follow Jesus (Acts 10). One of Lysias' centurions protected Paul from torture when he realized Paul was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:24–29). And when Paul sails to Rome, the commanding centurion will prevent the soldiers from killing him and the other prisoners during a storm (Acts 27:42–44).
Paul and his escort leave Jerusalem at 9 p.m. and travel forty-two miles to Antipatris near modern-day Tel Aviv. The next day, the soldiers and spearmen will return to Jerusalem while the horsemen take Paul on (Acts 23:31–32). The high priest, a few elders, and a spokesman/lawyer will arrive five days later. Their opportunity to murder Paul is gone, but they will still try to convince the governor to convict him of rioting and profaning a religious structure (Acts 24:1–9).