Acts 23:6-11

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.

11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

cried out (v.6) = lit. “continued crying out” — Paul later seems to have regretted this (Acts 24:20-21).

a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee (v.6) — In Philippians 3:4-8, Paul calls these things “dung.”

The next utterance of the apostle is still more strange. Once again he addresses the council as men and brethren. Then he cried “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” This is the third claim he makes and it shows how far he had drifted. He had claimed being a Jew, then had pleaded his Roman citizenship, and now before the council, he reminds them that he is a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. Later from his Roman prison he wrote to the Philippians that he counted this all as dung. He had done so before. Here no doubt is a relapse. — Gaebelein, page 382.

scribes (v9) — expounders and teachers of Jewish law, mostly belonging to the Pharisees’ party. They were concerned with the letter of the law as well as rituals and traditions.

a spirit or an angel (v.9) — They wouldn’t admit that Paul saw the risen Christ.

The circumcision apostles and the multitudes of Jewish believers at Jerusalem had for years believed and proclaimed the resurrection of Christ, yet the unbelieving Jews, even now, tolerated them. Why this great outcry against Paul. It was because he had, by revelation, preached the resurrection of “the Seed of David” in a new light as the basis for a proclamation of freedom from the law and salvation by grace to Jew and Gentile alike (see 2 Timothy 2:7-9; Romans 4:22-25; 10:9, etc.). This was what they so bitterly opposed. — Stam, page 71.

I can’t help wondering if Paul was totally discouraged with himself. He’d been told not to go to Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit, but he’d gone anyway because of his zeal for reaching the Jews. He’d been talked, by James, into participating in a law ceremony which was contrary to everything he’d written in Galatians, but he’d done it because of his zeal for the Jews. And now he was beaten and imprisoned and hated; his ministry was in serious danger; his desire to go to Rome evidently thwarted. His discouragement and frustration had caused him to speak out against the high priest and to appeal to his former position as a Pharisee, both of which he had to feel were mistakes.

But Paul served a God of grace. In the darkness of his cell, the Lord appeared and told him to cheer up. The Lord was with him and would allow him to continue his ministry. It wasn’t as a prisoner that Paul expected to go to Rome, but as a prisoner, he would be a witness for the Lord.

This is not the only crisis in which Paul was given supernatural encouragement. He had been thus sustained in the dangerous days at Corinth (Acts 18:9-10) and would be again in the fearful storm on the way to Rome (Acts 27:22-24) and at his first appearance before Caesar (2 Timothy 4:16-17). — Stam, page 73.

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