Acts

Acts 22:30-23:9 Preaching The Resurrection.

As the previous verses showed, all the events surrounding Paul provided him with a pulpit, as it were, because the commander could not find any civil ground to punish him, so he wanted to learn more (21:37-22:29). God used this commander to set the stage for Paul’s defence before the council of his accusers (23:1). In other words, the religious government officials were given a seat before the civil magistrate as prosecutor. Simply with the declaration of a clear conscience, the high priest ordered that Paul be struck. Paul was right to rebuke the high priest for his sin, even though he did not know that he occupied that office. To have someone struck before one hears their case, was clearly contrary to the law (vv. 2-3 Cf. Lev. 19:35). It was his accusers who should have been beaten (Dt. 25:1-2). As Jesus himself said, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing” (Jn. 7:51)?

On the surface it might seem as though Paul was admitting a wrong for his rebuke, but it is more likely that Paul was seeking to appease his hearers so that there would be no obstacle to preaching the gospel (vv. 4-5 Cf. Ex. 22:28). Here we see that in order to further the opportunity to preach and spread the gospel message, Paul employed a strategy of letting the enemies of it fight each other. He chose to focus on the one issue for which the Sadducees no doubt wanted him to be punished for-the preaching of the resurrection, but of course the Pharisees were opposed (vv. 6-8 Cf. Mt. 22:23-32; Mk. 12:18ff.; Lk. 20:27ff.). It was enough for the Pharisees to declare Paul innocent and to reiterate the wisdom of Gamaliel saying that, “if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (v. 9 Cf. 5:39). Paul was thus able to further the message of the gospel of which the resurrection is an essential part.

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