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Before the Sanhedrin November 30, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Acts 22:30-23:11.

Summary: In this passage, Paul appeared before the Sanhedrin. He declared that he had a good conscience before God – sparking a dispute with the high priest, Ananias. That dispute led Paul to conclude that he would not receive a fair hearing before the Sanhedrin; thus, he fomented a kerfuffle between the Pharisees and the Sadducees by declaring his belief in the resurrection of the dead. The intensity of that kerfuffle led the commander of the Roman troops in Jerusalem to bring Paul back to the barracks. Later, the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision – declaring that he would eventually preach the Gospel message in Rome.

Thoughts: In verse 5 of chapter 23, we see that Paul feigned ignorance regarding the identity of the high priest. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

Should we obey a ruler even if he exercises tyranny? If someone who does his job badly is still to be respected, was Paul wrong to rob the high priest of his honor? But there is a difference between civil magistrates and church leaders. When worldly or civil rule is mismanaged, the Lord still wants people to remain subject to the rulers. But when spiritual government is degenerate, believers are set free from obeying…

Thankfully, I have never attended a church where the leadership could be characterized as “degenerate.” Sadly, scandal-ridden churches do exist, and their congregants often suffer due to the “degenerate” actions of their leaders. Now this raises the question as to what constitutes “degenerate” behavior on the part of a church leader. I believe that certain actions fit that description, including:

  • sexual immorality
  • drunkenness
  • gambling.

Other actions, though, are subject to debate in this regard, including:

  • advocating a church building project with significant financial risks
  • excluding certain parts of the Bible when selecting sermon topics.

In any event, we should continue to pray for our spiritual leaders – asking God to grant them wisdom and humility as they shepherd their respective flocks.

In verse 11 of chapter 23, we see that God appeared to Paul in a vision concerning his impending trip to Rome. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

The Lord did not promise to set him free; he did not even say that Paul would have a happy end. He only said that his troubles would continue for a long time. But from this we see how very important it is to be confident that the Lord is looking after us in our troubles, even if he does not immediately reach out to help us.

This is an important point, especially in light of the prosperity gospel and its impact on the American church. As believers, we must be mindful of the fact that God does not promise earthly comforts for His disciples. In fact, one can use Scripture to argue that the earthly existence of a believer necessarily involves some level of suffering. While this point can be rather discouraging, we would do well to ponder these questions:

  • What is our reward in heaven?
  • How does our knowledge of this heavenly reward equip us to live victoriously in a broken, suffering world?
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