August 31, 2021 - Acts 22:30-23:10
How do you respond when your integrity as a person is challenged? I can remember standing at attention and a sergeant telling the entire squad how pathetic and useless we were at that point in our military career! His intent was to wear us down and then build us back up as soldiers ready to serve our country. We were ignorant of his intentions and he enjoyed the process.
Paul was a prisoner and the Roman commander was determined to find out what the accusations were that had caused the riot and created the incident in the temple. He brought Paul out of the jail and called for the High Priest and all his council to come before him that he might understand what crime should be charged against Paul.
Paul was prepared to give a defense of his rights and lifestyle as a Jew and a believer. As he began to speak, the High Priest ordered his servant to strike Paul on the mouth to silence him. This consequently broke the Jewish law in the process of how to treat a prisoner. Paul is incensed by the act and speaks bluntly to the High priest, not knowing who he is in his anger. It appears that Paul is either unable to see or does not recognize the official clothing the high priest wore. Regardless of Paul’s condition, when it was revealed to whom he spoke to, he retracted his statement and showed respect for leadership even if it was not deserved.
When Paul recognized who made up the council that was investigating him, he shouted out a statement of fact that divided the council in half. His statement was a core doctrinal truth that kept the two parties (Sadducees and Pharisees) distinct and at odds. This statement had to do with the element of the supernatural which the Sadducees did not agree with and the Pharisees held strongly. His statement of being a Pharisee and believing in the ‘hope and resurrection of the dead…” (v.6), created such a stir that the Roman commander grew fearful that Paul would be killed so he had Paul removed.
There are times when knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent can be beneficial. Paul’s understanding of the key elements that would divide the council and allow him to speak another day was invaluable. As a result, Paul was protected in the Roman dungeon from the Jewish people.
Standing up for our rights or presenting a viewpoint contrary to popular opinion will create controversy. When standing on biblical truth, we can trust God is in control regardless of the immediate outcome. Paul states in I Corinthians 16:13, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” We are assured of Christ’s power through any unsettled time.
With an Expectant Hope,