In the Acts22:30 – 23:11 reading it’s all getting pretty chaotic. On the TV news if you’ve ever seen middle eastern street demonstrations or even public funerals they seem to be on the verge of getting out of control – to our Anglo eyes at least! Middle Eastern people seem to be more passionately expressive in the opinions they hold!
The Roman commander isn’t quite sure what the crowd have against Paul and what he’s done wrong. He releases Paul (who he has held and now is alarmed he has done so). Paul has previously spoken to the crowd and told them of his conversion experience and the hope hes now has in Christ.
Paul faces the Jewish crowd exclaiming “My brothers I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day”. I’m sure I could not say this about myself……..well not honestly at least!
Paul receives a smack in the mouth for what the chief priest considers insolence. There is debate about what Paul says in saying that he didn’t recognise it was the high priest. Some commentators say Paul’s eyesight was poor and so didn’t recognise him…….others say Paul was being something of a smart mouth………in that no true high priest would have given such a command. The latter explanation appeals to me more 🙂
Then Paul seems to purposely stoke up the crowd to cause division between the Pharisees and Sadducees with the exclamations about his hope of resurrection. Now he’s got the Pharisees on his side who also hold this view strongly. They declare now him to be innocent of any wrong doing – how fickle they are. The argument gets so violent the commander rescues Paul and puts him in his own barracks. What a sight.
I love verse 11 in that the Lord stood near Paul telling him ” Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify in Rome”
How we yearn for the Lord to also stand near us in time of difficulty and trial. Lets ask Him and trust Him to do so.