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                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

             Paul's Defense Before The Council (23:1-10)


1. Previously, we studied Paul's defense before the mob...
   a. Permitted by the Roman commander seeking the truth about Paul
   b. Which ended with an outburst by the mob against Paul

2. We now have the opportunity to consider Paul's defense before the
   a. Arranged by the Roman commander still trying to find out why Paul
      was so hated
   b. Which quickly ended with dissension among the council members

[While Paul's defense before the council did not help the Roman
commander much, several things are mentioned that are helpful to us as
Christians today.  Let's first review the text (Ac 23:1-10)...]


      1. Paul claimed a clear conscience - Ac 23:1
      2. This angered Ananias the High Priest, who had Paul struck - Ac
      3. Paul responded, not knowing that Ananias was the High Priest 
         - Ac 23:3
         a. "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!"
         b. "For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you
            command me to be struck contrary to the law?"
      4. When informed that Ananias was High Priest, Paul was 
         conciliatory - Ac 23:4-5
         a. "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest..."
         b. "...for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler
            of your people.'"

      1. Seeing Sadducees and Pharisees, Paul identified himself as a
         Pharisee - Ac 23:6; Php 3:5
         a. "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee"
         b. "Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being
      2. A dispute then arose between the Sadducees and the Pharisees
         - Ac 23:7-9
         a. Because they disagreed about such things as the resurrection,
            angels, and spirits
         b. The Pharisees sided with Paul, defending Him

[The dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees became great, and
once again the Roman commander feared for Paul's life, sending soldiers
to take Paul back into the barracks (Ac 23:10).  At this point, allow
me to make...]


      1. Paul had a clear conscience about his past - Ac 23:1
         a. Something he strove to do - Ac 24:16; 2Ti 1:3
         b. Even though he had persecuted Christians - Ac 26:9-11
      2. This illustrates that following your conscience is not always a
         sure guide
         a. For your conscience is like a clock:  it is correct only if
            properly set
         b. If misinformed, your conscience could mislead you time and
      3. It is imperative that we properly inform our conscience
         b. Not with opinions and doctrines of others (including self)
            - Pr 14:12; 28:26; Jer 10:23
         b. But with the truth of God's Word - Ps 119:104-105

      1. When commanded to be struck on the mouth, Paul rebuked the high
         priest - Ac 23:2-3
         a. "God will strike you, you white-washed wall!" (i.e., a
            hypocrite) - cf. Mt 23:37
         b. "For you to sit to judge me according to the law, and do you
            command me to be struck contrary to the law?" - cf. Lev 19:15
      2. While Paul did not know (or recognize) it was the high priest, 
         his words were prophetic
         a. Josephus depicted Ananias as one of the very worst of the
            high priests, known for his pro-Roman sentiments, his extreme
            cruelty, and his greed - John B. Polhill (NAC)
         b. Less than ten years later, Ananias came to an untimely end at
            the hand of Jewish freedom fighters - ibid.
      3. Informed of Ananias' identity as High Priest, Paul quickly
         apologized - Ac 23:4-5
         a. The Law taught that one should not speak evil of a ruler
            - Exo 22:28; Ec 10:20
         b. The New Testament teaches likewise - cf. 2Pe 2:10; Jude 8-10
      4. Paul's outburst is difficult to justify, but consider two
         a. He simply lost his temper (as most would do), but quickly
            brought it under control
         b. He was moved by the Spirit with righteous indignation to
            pronounce judgment on the hypocritical Ananias
      5. In any case, we should look to his teaching rather than his
         example - cf. 2Ti 2:24-26
      1. Paul spoke of the hope and resurrection of the dead - Ac 23:8
      2. He often connected the resurrection of the dead to our hope - Ac
         24:15; 26:6-8
      3. He wrote of the redemption of our body as the hope for which we
         are saved - Ro 8:23-25
      4. He wrote the resurrection of the dead is a crucial element of 
         our faith - 1Co 15:12-19,50-54
      5. Thus the resurrection of the body is a crucial element of the 
         "one hope" - cf. Ep 4:4


1. From Paul's defense before the council, we can learn important things
   a. The importance, yet limitation as a guide, of having a good
      conscience before God
   b. The sin of speaking evil about those who rule over us
   c. The connection between our hope in Christ and the bodily 
      resurrection from the dead

2. How then do we compare with the apostle Paul...?
   a. Do we strive for a good conscience, making sure that it is in 
      harmony with God's will?
   b. Are we careful not to speak evil about those in positions of
   c. Is the resurrection of our bodies a strong element of our hope
      that we have in Christ?

One day we will have to give a defense, not before a council of men,
but before the judgment seat of Christ (2Co 5:10).  

Are we giving serious thought as to how we will be judged at that
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