Acts 23:34

ESV On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia,
NIV The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that he was from Cilicia,
NASB Now when he had read it, he also asked from what province Paul was, and when he learned that he was from Cilicia,
CSB After he read it, he asked what province he was from. When he learned he was from Cilicia,
NLT He read it and then asked Paul what province he was from. 'Cilicia,' Paul answered.
KJV And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;

What does Acts 23:34 mean?

Jerusalem's tribune, Lysias, sent Paul to the governor in Caesarea Maritima. Lysias was unable to figure out what crime Paul committed that would justify a mob beating and an assassination attempt (Acts 21:27–31; 23:12–15). The governor's first order of business is to determine if he has the authority to hold Paul's trial.

An accused Roman citizen could be tried in the province of his crime or his home province. If Paul comes from a client kingdom, he can demand the trial be held in his home. Felix is governor over Jerusalem—where the "crime" happened—and Caesarea, where they are now, and Felix's boss is governor over Syria, of which Cilicia is part. So, Felix feels confident to hold the trial in Caesarea. Felix feels so confident, in fact, that when the trial brings no evidence that Paul has committed a crime, Felix decides to hold him under house arrest as a favor to the Jewish leaders. Paul stays in Caesarea for two years until Felix is replaced by Festus and, in his frustration, Paul demands a trial before Caesar (Acts 24:27; 25:11).

Caesarea Maritima is a port on the coast of Samaria, northwest of Jerusalem. Cilicia is a long, thin province along the southeast coast of modern-day Turkey. Felix is known for being cruel—and part of the reason he holds Paul is to elicit a bribe—but while he holds Paul with no charges, he does allow him the freedom to see his friends (Acts 24:23, 26).
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