January 28, 2021 – Thursday
Acts 23:6-8 NIV
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”
7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.
8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
We ended yesterday’s comments with Paul in the Roman barracks where he was given permission to address those attacking him. All went well until they heard (22:21), Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles’ when once again the crowd sought Paul’s death. The barracks’ commander wanted to understand why the Jews wanted Paul dead. So, the next day he had Paul address the chief priests and all of the Sanhedrin to assemble.
This brings us to our verses for today where Paul seeks to defend himself once again, hopefully to those who might be more inclined to listen to reason. When Paul made the statement, I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead he may have been purposely creating a dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. There can be no doubt Paul would have know of the deep division between the two groups on life after death or as verse eight put it, The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.
We might think they would agree to disagree and be civil about it. But they did not and were not civil about their differences. Instead, it was more like our politics of today, only worse for (v9-10), There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. Thus, for Paul’s protection He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
Just like today, our focus might be on the uproar and the differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and if so we would miss the point. God made sure we would get the point for in v11, The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” Jesus stood near Paul and let him and us know the point was that Paul’s testified about Him. The rest was a sideshow.
It is little different today. All too often we focus on everything that is going on around us and neglect to testify about Jesus and what knowing Him as Lord and Savior has done in our lives. I do not mean to belittle the hard or even horrible and painful things in our lives, but Jesus tells Paul under terrible circumstances, Take courage! We should listen to Jesus and do the same.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Give me the strength and fortitude to Take courage! and stand firm on Your word and in my faith. – In Jesus name. Amen.