The Sanhedrin Divided

23 Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

4 And those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

5 Then Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!”

7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. 8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks. — Acts 23:1-10.

As Paul tells the council that he has lived in good conscience before God, he is struck by Ananias, the high priest. Paul calls him a ‘whitewashed wall’. He is corrected by those around, and admits that he did not know that this man is God’s high priest. [Is this because of Paul’s absence from Jerusalem, or because of his failing eyesight, or for some other reason?]

Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, angels or spirits. Paul sees that Sadducees are present in the council with Pharisees, and divides the council by proclaiming that this whole issue is a question of believing in the resurrection of the dead.

The dissension is so great that the commander feels that Paul will be physically harmed, and orders the soldiers to take him to safe custody in the barracks. [Source: The Bible Panorama.]

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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