What does Acts 23:13 mean?
ESV: There were more than forty who made this conspiracy.
NIV: More than forty men were involved in this plot.
NASB: There were more than forty who formed this plot.
CSB: There were more than forty who had formed this plot.
NLT: There were more than forty of them in the conspiracy.
KJV: And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
NKJV: Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.
Verse Commentary:
Paul's life has been marked by violence ever since the murder of Stephen (Acts 7:54–60). At first, he was the perpetrator, hunting Jesus-followers everywhere from Jerusalem to Damascus (Acts 8:1–3; 9:1–2). Once he began his traveling ministry, walking through modern-day Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece to plant churches, he became the victim. In a letter Paul wrote shortly before these events in Acts, he says, "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure" (2 Corinthians 11:24–27).

Paul has returned to Jerusalem to deliver support for the church, but the violence follows him. Jews from the province of Asia in southwest modern-day Turkey saw him in the city with a Gentile they know from Ephesus. They later saw Paul in the temple and assumed he had brought Trophimus with him. In response, they incited a mob who tried to kill him (Acts 21:27–36).

The Roman guards rescued Paul by arresting him, but the tribune wanted to know what was really going on. He ordered the centurion to use the standard Roman way of extracting information: scourging. Paul barely escaped by mentioning he is a Roman citizen and they can't beat him if they haven't convicted him of a crime (Acts 22:23–29).

The tribune takes Paul to the Sanhedrin to see if they can explain. Paul's lack of tact led him to insult the high priest, after which the Pharisees and Sadducees set to fighting against each other. The tribune pulled Paul away before he was torn to pieces (Acts 23:1–10).

So, when forty Jews make a vow to kill Paul, neither he nor the tribune can be surprised. The assassins ask for the assistance of the Sanhedrin and lie in wait. Fortunately, Paul's nephew overhears their plans and tells the tribune. For the third time the tribune rescues Paul, this time by sending him to the governor in Caesarea Maritima (Acts 23:14–24).

We aren't told who Paul's attempted murderers are. They're possibly his initial accusers, the Jews from Asia (Acts 21:27). In Asia, Paul seems to only have spent significant time in Ephesus. There's no record of him having a major dispute with the Jews there, but the fallout of his ministry with the magicians and Artemis-worshipers may have made life very uncomfortable for the Jews (Acts 19:11–41).
Verse Context:
Acts 23:12–22 shows Paul just how unwelcoming Jerusalem can be. False accusations and old religious-political differences have conspired to keep him incarcerated in the Roman barracks. Forty men gain the approval of the Sanhedrin to murder Paul. But Paul's nephew hears of their plan and tells the Roman tribune. The tribune swears him to secrecy as he makes plans for Paul to go to the governor: a man with higher legal authority and a larger army.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 23 continues the tribune's attempt to discover why a mob of Jews suddenly turned violent and attacked Paul (Acts 21:27–33). He takes Paul to the Sanhedrin to see if they understand what his crime is. Paul barely begins his story when he is slapped for impudence. He disrespects the high priest and starts a fight between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The next day, a group of forty Jews invite the Sanhedrin to help them murder Paul. Paul's nephew reports the plot to the tribune who gives up and sends Paul to the governor. The governor awaits Paul's accusers for trial.
Chapter Context:
Jews from near Ephesus accused Paul of bringing a Gentile into the temple and incited a crowd to attack him. The tribune saved Paul but couldn't uncover the reason for the violence; most of the mob didn't know, and Paul was a Roman citizen, so the tribune couldn't beat the truth out of him (Acts 21—22). When the Sanhedrin would rather murder Paul than talk to him, the tribune sends Paul to the governor. The governor holds Paul without charges for so long he invokes his right to a trial before Caesar. The governor agrees, and Paul finally gets to Rome (Acts 24—28).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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