Acts 22:30 — 23:1-11
Paul Before the Council
 But on the next day, desiring to know the real reason why he was being accused by the Jews, he unbound him and commanded the chief priests and all the council to meet, and he brought Paul down and set him before them. (ESV)
 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”  And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.  Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?”  Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”  And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”  And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.  For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.  Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?”  And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (ESV)
- Living in all good conscience
Paul narrowly escaped an unlawful beating, but he was far from being out of trouble. Wanting to know more about the accusations that were brought against Paul, the Roman tribune called together a meeting with the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Paul begins his address by declaring that he had lived his “life before God in all good conscience up to this day” (Acts 23:1). While Paul’s good conscience did not protect him from false accusations and brutal treatment, it did give him the confidence to trust that, whatever man may say about him, he was innocent before God.
- Paul’s apology
Like Jesus when he was unlawfully arrested, Paul was punched in the mouth. This act of aggression violated the law, and Paul called it out. Paul apparently did not know that the High Priest had ordered that punch. Speaking against the High Priest was a violation of the Law, and, when it was brought to Paul’s attention, he owned his mistake. This humble action powerfully demonstrated that Paul was not opposed to the Law of Moses, but deeply committed to it (Exodus 22:28)!
- A little diversion
The Pharisees and Sadducees both opposed Jesus, but for different reasons. The same was true about their view of Paul. But Paul knew that these groups disagreed vehemently over the issue of resurrection. The Pharisees believed in it, while the Sadducees did not. In what appears to be a stroke of brilliance, Paul ignites a heated debate between these two groups, making their disagreement the focus. As a result, Paul once again escapes.
- Dealing with false accusations can be devastating. However, a good, clean conscience before God is a blessing that can anchor us when we are falsely accused. How is your conscience before God? Are there any areas of unconfessed or unrepented sin in your life? What would need to happen for you to have a clean conscience?
- Apologizing to someone can be the most difficult and humiliating experience, especially when that person has hurt you, as was the case with Paul. Yet, being hurt or offended does not negate our responsibility to apologize when we have sinned against someone else. Are there any people in your life to whom you need to apologize?
- Jesus told us that, among wolves, we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Many people find this instruction to be confusing, but, in this text, Paul becomes an example of this for us. What can you learn from the way Paul evaded trouble in this text? How was he wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove?
Call to Worship
Save Me, O My God
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
 O LORD, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
 many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
 But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
 I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
 I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
 I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
 Arise, O LORD!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
your blessing be on your people! Selah (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Almighty God, who is rich in mercy to all those who call upon You; hear us as we come to You humbly confessing our sins and transgressions, and imploring Your mercy and forgiveness. We have broken Your holy laws by our deeds and by our words, and by the sinful affections of our hearts. Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life; through the merit of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Heavenly Father, the world that we live in has rejected your Son, and by proximity has rejected us also. Yet, in your kindness and grace, you are have been faithful to rescue and redeem sinners like us. We acknowledge that these times that we live in, we may receive more conflict for identifying Jesus as our Lord. We may be treated differently in school, at work, or in our community as we hold fast to your Word and proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus. Holy Spirit, continue to lead us as we take the good news of the Gospel with us where we go. May there be power in the testimony of Jesus Christ as Lord over all. May this be a unique time where your Spirit is active in opening eyes, ears, and hearts to hear and receive the Gospel. Bring salvation to the people in our community. We pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.