Year 2 Day 89
Read - Acts 22v30-23v11
Message - Scott Woodburn
The tribune may have been nervous after his ill judged treatment of Paul but at the same time he still wanted to know how one man could stir up so much trouble in Jerusalem (v30). Paul was brought before the chief priests and council to give account and he began by stating they he had a good conscience before God (v1) which caused the high priest Ananias to order someone to strike Paul in the mouth.
Paul responded fiercely calling Ananias a whitewashed wall, basically declaring that Ananias looked good on the outside but was actually unclean and insecure. Furthermore Paul warned that the Lord would strike Ananias, for the high priest was breaking the law of God (Leviticus 19v15) by allowing such injustice in the court.
The high priest deserved respect and so there were those who believed Paul had gone too far (v4). Paul had not recognised the high priest and immediately submits himself to God’s law which states “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” (Exodus 22v28) Soon Paul realised that his audience were a mixed bunch. Some were Pharisees and some were Sadducees (v6) and so calling on his Pharisee roots he declared “It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” (v6)
Immediately this caused much discussion among the two camps. The Pharisees agreed with Paul on the resurrection, angels and the spirit while the Sadducees did not (v8). Suddenly when the Pharisees declared that Paul had done nothing wrong (v9) the dissension became violent and the tribune was afraid that the crowd would tear Paul to pieces (v10).
We can only imagine the stress that such an event would have had on Paul. As we read the Scriptures we sometimes believe that individuals like the Apostle were superhuman and didn’t know fear, anguish or worry. It is simply untrue as Paul would later explain to the Corinthians he was under daily pressure and filled with anxiety for the church (2 Corinthians 11v28). Yet the Lord drew near to Paul and urged him to take courage. Paul had been faithful in his testimony in Jerusalem and so the Lord would take him to testify in Rome (v11).
Brothers and sisters, the anger of the crowd should not surprise us. No one is neutral to the things of God and while some might shrug, others might throw punches both physical and verbal. Yet it is no excuse for us to meet fire with fire. Paul with wisdom pulled back from his challenge to Ananias and spoke to the gathered audience in a manner that they could understand. Paul wasn’t aggressive. He didn’t mock or scorn and soon he found that even the Pharisees took his part.
As we heard on Tuesday we are always to be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3v15), yet we do not give that reason with hand grenades and barbs. The Lord is sovereign and He is the One who gives us an audience in Rome, in Jerusalem and wherever He pleases. When that audience comes, we put aside cunning, craftiness and deceitful schemes and for Christ’s sake, we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4v15).
Q93 Which are the Sacraments of the New Testament? The Sacraments of the New Testament are Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.