“But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them.”
“Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, ”Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.“ The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ”God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?“ But the bystanders said, ”Do you revile God’s high priest?“ And Paul said, ”I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ “”
So Paul is released, sort of. He isn’t chained up and about to be flogged anymore. But he is now living, in jail, under the protection of the Roman police, and being taken to the Jewish leaders for questioning.
At least he is getting questioned during the daytime. Jesus was taken at night and a lot of His trial was done in secret because it was against Levitical law.
And even in this conflict, Paul tries to maintain the order and respect of the Law of Moses. The oral commentary on the law, brought together in the Mishnah said that you should not strike any Israelite, because if you do, you are striking the glory of God. Paul calls them out on that when he gets hit.
This is the same Paul that was ready to march in to a riot in Ephesus with about 20,000 angry people and preach to them. He’s pretty good at being bold.
“God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!”
That doesn’t sound too harsh, but think it through. A wall blocks things — stops things. A wall can also be whitewashed and look really clean, but the clean look will wear off.
When Paul finds out he said this to the High Priest, he apologizes and quotes to all of them more of the Law.
Even in his persecution and slander, Paul is out-Jewishing the Jewish leaders.
He is taking the ultimate high ground, showing them all what true righteousness looks like. He is living out faithfulness and fearless trust in God, while they manipulate the law to serve themselves and to gain their own advantage.
Who is the righteous and religious here?
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