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Claudius Lysias is a figure mentioned in the New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles. According to Acts 21:31-24:9, Lysias was a Roman Tribune and the commander (chiliarch) of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.

He rescued Paul of Tarsus from a hostile mob, but arrested him, suspecting him of being "The Egyptian," a seditious Messianic pretender. Paul was able to persuade Lysias that he was not an agitator, and won permission to address the crowd - which then went from being united against Paul to being divided. Lysias was unsure of Paul, and had him brought to the soldiers' quarters to be examined under scourging (whipping. See Acts 22:24). On receiving report that Paul was a Roman citizen and then making personal inquiry, Claudius became afraid of having violated the rights of a Roman by having him bound. Claudius still desired to arrive at the truth concerning accusations against Paul, by commanding the Sanhedrin to assemble. Dissension among the Sanhedrin towards Paul caused Claudius to order his men to snatch Paul away from their midst.

Upon learning of a plot to kill Paul, Claudius Lysias summoned two of his army officers and commanded them to get ready 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spearmen to leave for Caesarea Maritima. In compliance with Roman law, he also sent a statement of the case to the procurator Antonius Felix. This letter, however, was not altogether factual. It is an interesting specimen of Roman military correspondence (Acts 23:26-30). Although acknowledging Paul's innocence, Claudius Lysias gave the impression that he had rescued Paul because of having learned that the apostle was a Roman, whereas in reality he had violated Paul's citizenship rights by having him bound and even ordering that he be examined under scourgings. As to the disciple Luke's knowledge of the letter's contents, it may be that the letter itself was read at the time Paul's case was heard.

He obtained his Roman citizenship by purchase, and was therefore probably a Greek. (Acts 22:28).

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.


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the chief captain (chiliarch) who commanded the Roman troops in Jerusalem, and sent Paul under guard to the procurator Felix at Caesarea (Acts 21:31-38; 22:24-30). His letter to his superior officer is an interesting specimen of Roman military correspondence (23:26-30). He obtained his Roman citizenship by purchase, and was therefore probably a Greek. (See CLAUDIUS.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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