While Paul was being held in protective custody by the Romans, a group of more than forty Jews bound themselves together by an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. They went to the chief priests and elders and suggested that they send for Paul to be brought before them under the pretense of further questioning. Their plan was to ambush the soldiers and kill him as they were bringing him to the council.
Paul’s Roman citizenship allowed him more privileges than just a Jew would have received. His nephew had heard of the scheme and had reported it to him in the barracks. A centurion was then called to escort the young man to the commander, “for he has something to tell him.”
Upon hearing the scheme of the Jews, the commander gave orders to two centurions. They were to prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to take Paul safely during the third hour of the night to Caesarea. There he would stand before Felix, the governor.
The commander, Claudius Lysias wrote the following letter to Felix: “This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.”
Paul and the letter were presented to Felix the next day. When he had read the letter, the governor asked him where he was from. After learning that he was from Cilicia, he ordered him to be kept in Herod’s headquarters until his accusers had come.