Summary: Paul saw many things others did not see, and his powers of observation are noted by Dr. Luke. In chapter 27 he saw a dangerous storm in the atmosphere when the captain of the ship was blind to it. He saw solutions to problems that nobody else saw.
Paul and Socrates had so many things in common. Both were trying to enrich their own people.
Paul was trying to enrich the Jews, and Socrates was trying to enrich the Greeks. But both were
brought to trial before the Supreme Court of their cultures on charges of corrupting the people. Both
were hated because of jealously and competition. They were both considered trouble- makers
because of their opposition to tradition. Both were kept in prison, but they were granted freedom to
visit with their friends. Paul wrote letters to the churches, and Socrates wrote poetry and put Aesop's
Fables into verse. They both eventually died in captivity at the hands of the state, and both looked
forward to a better life in the world to come.
On one point, however, they were radically different. Socrates refused all plans of escape from
his enemies, but Paul looked for every possible escape. The result was that Socrates survived one
month, and Paul survived for years. His aggressive and clever maneuvers got him out of one jam
after another and gave him extra years to accomplish the plan of God for his life. Acts 23 is a record
of some of Paul's close calls and clever escapes. It begins with Paul standing before the Sanhedrin,
which was the Supreme Court of Israel. There were 71 judges on this court, which was led by the
The first we see take place in this court takes place in the defendant's eyes. Dr. Luke is
obviously there, for he writes this account as an eyewitness. He is an eyewitness to the eyes of the
key witness, for he observing Paul's eyes. These eyes, which had been blinded by the light of Christ's
presence on the road to Damascus, and 3 days later were opened by a miraculous healing. Paul's
eyes had been through a lot because of Jesus, and now they were in court with the rest of His accused
body. Ever since those eyes had seen Jesus they saw everything else in a new light. Paul saw in the
Old Testament what he never saw before, and all of life looked different to him. He, no doubt, would
have agreed with Helen Keller who said, "I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human
being were stricken blind for a few days at sometime during his early adult life. Darkness would
make him more appreciative of sight."
It certainly worked for Paul, and he became a much more careful observer after his blindness and
restoration to sight. His observation became a key to his survival time and time again, as it does in
this chapter. It begins with Paul looking at the situation intently because he knows that if he is going
to get out of this mess he had to see something that would show him the way out. Paul's life
illustrates the link, not only between listening and salvation, as we saw in chapter 22, but between
seeing and salvation, which is part of his conversion account, and the clever escapes of this chapter.
We cannot go into this in depth, but we need to make it clear that the eye gate is one of the
primary ways that God gets into our life to guide us. The New Testament story begins with salvation
by seeing. The wise men came saying, "We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship
Him." Had the wise men never seen that star, they never would have seen the Messiah. Their eyes
brought them to Jesus, and so it has been with millions. People not only hear the Gospel, the see it in
the lives of other people, and in the love of those who have been changed by Christ. Jesus said, "If I
be lifted up I will draw all men to me." Through the centuries millions have looked up to the Christ
on the cross and have been compelled to repent when they saw the love of such a Savior.
Some, like Paul, have had very special visions of Christ. Placidus was a Roman nobleman who
was out hunting and suddenly confronted by a deer with its proud head uplifted and between its
antlers a gleaming cross. He was so struck by the sight that he fell from his horse to his knees. He
repented and became a believer on the spot. History is full of stories of those who were saved by
what they had seen. Many have given testimony as to how their eyes have been opened after seeing
Christ, and how they then began to see all His handiwork in a new light. George Robinson wrote in
his hymn, "Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green, something lives in every hue