Acts 23:1-11 Video Devotional

“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.” (Acts 23:1-11)

It almost appears here in this passage that Paul may have been playing sides a bit. He was certainly strategic in his wording as he faced off against the high priest. While the nature of Jesus’ resurrection was certainly a point of contention with the Jews, Paul played that up (as opposed to the bringing near of the Gentiles) in this context so that he could get the crowd arguing against itself. It can look like Paul manipulated the crowd, but what he said was true about the resurrection and we don’t know what else he may have mentioned (and not recorded) or what he didn’t get the chance to say. The Jews in the high court were more than happy to get violent on that one point alone.

Remember, this is happening under the supervision of the Roman tribune, meaning that Rome was watching. Paul’s goal was to get to Rome, and as this passage makes clear, that was also God’s plan. Psalm 37:4 says that when we “delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.” This doesn’t mean if we seek God, we will get what we want, it means that when we are in tune with God, our wants become His wants. This is the case with Paul. Paul was so focused on God that his mind was in tune to what God was doing and his goals became the same as God’s goals.

This, just like Paul, is an opportunity for each one of us. Our ability to participate and even see His plan unfold is open to us if we are fully focused on Him. Set your eyes on nothing or no one else and you will begin to see things from God’s perspective a bit (at least as much as He is willing to show you). What would it take for you to put your mind that much on God? You interested in some great adventures?