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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

 

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CLAUDIUS LYSIAS

klo'-di-us lis'-i-as Klaudios Lysias): A chief captain who intervened when the Jews sought to do violence to Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:31; 24:22). Lysias, who was probably a Greek by birth (compare Acts 21:37), and who had probably assumed the Roman forename Claudius (Acts 23:26) when he purchased the citizenship (Acts 22:28), was a military tribune or chiliarch (i.e. leader of 1,000 men) in command of the garrison stationed in the castle overlooking the temple at Jerusalem. Upon learning of the riot instigated by the Asiatic Jews, he hastened down with his soldiers, and succeeded in rescuing Paul from the hands of the mob. As Paul was the apparent malefactor, Lysias bound him with two chains, and demanded to know who he was, and what was the cause of the disturbance. Failing amid the general tumult to get any satisfactory reply, he conducted Paul to the castle, and there questioned him as to whether he was the "Egyptian," an postor that had lately been defeated by Felix (Josephus, BJ, II, xiii, 5; Ant, XX, viii, 6). Upon receiving the answer of Paul that he was a "Jew of Tarsus," he gave him permission to address the people from the stairs which connected the castle and the temple. As the speech of Paul had no pacifying effect, Lysias purposed examining him by scourging; but on learning that his prisoner was a Roman citizen, he desisted from the attempt and released him from his bonds. The meeting of the Sanhedrin which Lysias then summoned also ended in an uproar, and having rescued Paul with difficulty he conducted him back to the castle. The news of the plot against the life of one whom he now knew to be a Roman citizen decided for Lysias that he could not hope to cope alone with so grave a situation. He therefore dispatched Paul under the protection of a bodyguard to Felix at Caesarea, along with a letter explaining the circumstances (Acts 23:26-30. The genuineness of this letter has been questioned by some, but without sufficient reason.) In this letter he took care to safeguard his own conduct, and to shield his hastiness in binding Paul. There is evidence (compare Acts 24:22) that Lysias was also summoned to Caesarea at a later date to give his testimony, but no mention is made of his arrival there. It is probable, however, that he was among the chief captains who attended the trial of Paul before King Agrippa and Festus (compare Acts 25:22). For the reference to him in the speech of Tertullus (see Acts 24:7 the Revised Version, margin), see TERTULLUS.
C. M. Kerr

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'CLAUDIUS LYSIAS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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