Acts + Letters Lesson 25 Day 4

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Acts 22:30–23:11

9. a. Paul goes before the Sanhedrin.

Paul now spoke before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish congress or parliament,1 the group where he was once a voting member. (Acts 26:10 clearly says that Paul had a vote — usually, that would be used as a member of the Sanhedrin.)

When Paul said he had a clear conscience, “the high priest, Ananias, commanded those who stood near him to strike him on the mouth.” Paul didn’t mean he was perfect and never felt convicted. He meant he cleared his conscience by setting things right when necessary.1

This caused Paul to respond with a prophecy that God would strike Ananias. This came to pass a few years later in A.D. 67 when Ananias was murdered as a result of a tumult caused by his own son (The Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 17, Sections 2 and 9).2

When they told Paul that Ananias was the high priest, he spoke to him with more respect but didn’t withdraw the rebuke.

Paul took advantage of a doctrinal difference between the Saducees and Pharisees by saying, “Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead, I am being judged!”

This started an argument among them because the Saducees didn’t believe in resurrection, angels, or spirits but Pharisees did.

b. Behavior during disputes

People with strong beliefs about their religious traditions may turn violent, breaking their own rules, when offended. Perhaps some of these same men handed Jesus over to be murdered by the Romans they all hated.

Paul didn’t shy away from an opportunity to share the gospel with his former peers. When he saw this wasn’t going well, he cleverly diverted their focus from Christianity to bodily resurrection.

Usually the Sadducees and the Pharisees were bitter enemies, but they were able to unite in opposition against Jesus (Matthew 16:1, John 11:47-53) and Paul. It’s strange how people with nothing in common will come together as friends to oppose God or His work.

“A great uproar ensued and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party jumped to their feet and protested violently.” (Acts 23:7-9 Phillips)

These Pharisees, who had been so violently opposed to Paul just minutes before, now found no evil in him (Acts 23:9). This reveals their hypocrisy and once again illustrates that persecution is really motivated by pride.2

 Paul’s rescue

The commanding officer sent soldiers to rescue Paul, so they wouldn’t “tear him to pieces.”

10. a. Jesus shows up.

I can imagine that night in the barracks, Paul rehearsed his encounter with the Sanhedrin, second-guessing every word. “Why did I lose my temper? Especially with the high priest!”

Perhaps he thought his outburst ruined any opportunity he had to reach them.

Sometime “The following night, the Lord having stood by him, said, `Take courage*, Paul, for as thou didst fully testify the things concerning me at Jerusalem, so it behoveth thee also at Rome to testify.'” (Acts 23:11 YLT, emphasis added)

*In the Aramaic, “Cheer up” is “Receive miracle power.”

So even though to Paul it looked like his trip to Jerusalem was a failure, the Lord himself called Paul’s words “fully testifying”! I so love that!

Paul was capable of eloquence, but these men still would have rejected the message.

b. Personal experiences

I’m guilty of second guessing every failed attempt to reach out to someone. At least three times, I received a rude response. It hurts, and I felt like, “I’m just too awkward.” and “I should have said . . . or I shouldn’t have said . . .”

11. Paul preaches in Jerusalem. Next stop, Rome.

Paul preached the gospel in Jerusalem, and the Sanhedrin rejected it.

The Roman soldiers and the commanding officer rescued, protected, and escorted Paul out of Jerusalem.

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AWM Living Commentary

(Acts 23:9

Unless noted, all Scripture from public domain WEB translation.
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