Acts 23:23 – 35
Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Govenor Felix.”
He wrote a letter as follows:
To His Excellency, Governor Felix:
This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sandedrin. I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that desevered death or imprisonment. When I was informed of a plot to be carried out against the man, I sent him to you at once. I also ordered his accusers to present to you their case against him.
So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul with them during the night and brought him as far as Antipatris. The next day they let the cavalry go on with him, while they returned to the barracks. When the cavalry arrived in Caesarea, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him. The governor read the letter and asked what province he was from. Learning that the was from Cilicia, he said, “I will hear your case when your accusers get here.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.
Following Paul’s encounter with Jesus, he begins his travels to Rome. First, the Roman military escorts him out of Jerusalem to Ceasarea. I count 470 soldiers accompanying him. Not a quiet parting, unless the people along the route were use to troops marching along the road and would not have noticed one additional non-soldier walking amoung them.
The prior scene with Jesus appearing to Paul may give us the image of scriptures being other-worldly. Metaphysics, magic, or miracles are the relms of spiritual activity. This scene is one set in a historical context. A specific number of Roman soldiers are listed. A specific departure time. A specific letter to Governor Felix is not only referenced, but recited. Historical context and data are as relevant to the story of Paul’s ministry as the intangible ideas that he lives among.