12 And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
13 Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.
14 They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, “We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.
15 Now you, therefore, together with the council, suggest to the commander that he be brought down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to make further inquiries concerning him; but we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
16 So when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their ambush, he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions to him and said, “Take this young man to the commander, for he has something to tell him.”
18 So he took him and brought him to the commander and said, “Paul the prisoner called me to him and asked me to bring this young man to you. He has something to say to you.”
19 Then the commander took him by the hand, went aside, and asked privately, “What is it that you have to tell me?”
20 And he said, “The Jews have agreed to ask that you bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though they were going to inquire more fully about him.
21 But do not yield to them, for more than forty of them lie in wait for him, men who have bound themselves by an oath that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him; and now they are ready, waiting for the promise from you.”
22 So the commander let the young man depart, and commanded him , “Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me.”
curse (v.12) — They declared themselves anathema. The pledged their own destruction if they failed to keep their vow.
chief priests and elders (v.14) — the Sadducees on the council (Acts 5:17)
This is the only mention of Paul’s sister or her son (v.16) — or anyone in Paul’s family — in Scripture. They may have lived there, or his nephew may have been in Jerusalem as a student or to attend the feast.
young man (v.17) = youth
agreed (v.20) — In the New Testament, the Greek word here translated “agreed” is only used in reference to agreements against Christ or Paul (Luke 22:5; John 9:22).
I wonder what happened to the 40+ Jews who pledged not to eat or drink until Paul was dead. Did they really die of thirst and hunger? I’m guessing they broke their vows, or their buddies in the council exempted them.
Earlier in Acts, when the kingdom gospel was in full force, Peter and Paul were both released from jail miraculously. But now, at the end of the transition period, God (who had told Paul the night before that he would witness in Rome) effected (or maybe even just foresaw) his release by the simple, non-miraculous method of having his nephew find out about the plot.