Select Page
Read Introduction to Acts

 

2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul told 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.’ ”

23:2

And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.

Ananias, the high priest, ordered Paul to be struck on the mouth after the apostle’s opening remarks, which was illegal. The historian Josephus described Ananias as hot-tempered, profane, and greedy. His reign began in AD 47 and lasted for a dozen years. He was murdered in AD 66 by revolutionaries who hated Rome, which he supported.

23:3

Then Paul said, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!

Paul called the high priest a “whitewashed wall, a hypocrite (Mt 23:27). His response was not a subjective response of imprecation but a warning to the person who represented the nation Israel.

For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?”

The high priest hypocritically violated the law by ordering someone to strike him on the mouth. In the name of judging Paul by the law, he broke the law (Lev 19:15). Jewish law presumed a person innocent until proven guilty. God would judge the people who judged Paul.

23:4

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

Some in the council objected to Paul’s insulting the high priest. The issue became the role of the high priest rather than his person.

23:5

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.’ ”

Paul affirmed that he did not know that he had spoken to the high priest, or he would not have dishonored his role because the law forbids doing so (Ex 22:28).

PRINCIPLE:

It is essential to respect the office when one does not respect the person.

APPLICATION:

The Bible commands Christians not to revile others (1 Pe 3:9) and describes it as an activity of Satan (1 Tim 5:14). Paul acknowledged his error of reviling the high priest’s office. He carefully distinguished the office from the person by quoting Exodus 22:28.

 

Share