30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
23 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
Living God’s Word: Paul was struck illegally—without accusation, trial, or verdict. He didn’t care who had ordered the blow—he spoke out firmly and forcefully. How do you respond to wrong when you see it? Do you turn a blind eye or deaf ear to it? Do you follow the crowd? Or do you stand up and stand against sin? There are times when it may be appropriate to be silent before our accusers, but if we never speak out, we cannot be salt and light in a decaying and dark society.
Words to Live By: Paul boldly speaks of Christ’s resurrection before the Council, and in so doing, he cleverly divides the Council. At times, you may be in situations where you are afraid to share openly your Christian beliefs. The crucified and risen Christ forgives you for any past failures to confess Him before others, yet He also promises to always be at your side and support your testimony (Mt 28:20).
Prayer: Dear Jesus, You are the resurrection and the life. Make me bold, like Paul, so that I am never ashamed to speak Your truth. Amen.
Living and Sharing the Word of God… because it matters!
Pastor Rod Lindemann
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The Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Words to Live by and Prayer: Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (2002). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Purchase a copy of The Lutheran Study Bible at www.cph.org or contact Rod Lindemann.
Living God’s Word: Adapted from Life Application, Barton, B. B. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.