The Book of Acts: Chapter 23 (pt 1 of 13)

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“Because the commanding officer still needed to conduct an investigation to uncover the Jews accusations against Paul. The next day he removed the ties on Paul and called a meeting with the chief priests and council of elders. He brought Paul in and had him stand before the group”  —Acts 22:30

As you may have noticed I began with verse 30 from the previous chapter, and this was deliberate. As you are hopefully aware of, all the the “chapter/verse” notations are random and created by the translators. They were not in the original text. In this particular case, the chapter division is misplaced. As you can see, this is a continuation of the last chapter. And we should also notice that this is not the first time Luke has taken us into the hallowed halls of the Jewish Council—the Sanhedrin. Now the obvious question is how we were able to hear about all these events in those hallowed halls. Well, Church tradition explains that some of the Sanhedrine did become disciples of the Messiah, and they may have been the sources for the details. Other than that, we do not know. Yes, it could have been “Divinely” disclosed, but I have my doubts. I have had Words from the Lord, but none as descriptive as these.

Anyway, we should remember that back in the 4th chapter ofActs, the Council attempted to intimidate Peter and John, and silence them from proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. Then again in chapter 5, Pete and John were in front of the Sanhedrin (and if you remember the story, they refused to be silenced. Hooray!). That time, Gamaliel, a highly respected Pharisee (and Paul’s teacher), came to their defense.

In these first two encounters with the Sanhedrin, Peter and John escaped with their lives, but then Stephen is hauled before the Council in Acts 6:

“Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. But some men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, as well as some from Cilicia and the province of Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. Yet they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, ‘We have heard this man speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ They incited the people, the elders, and the experts in the law; then they approached Stephen, seized him, and brought him before the council. They brought forward false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not stop saying things against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us’” —Acts 6:8-14

This time the Sanhedrin seemed to have its way, though it was obviously not legal, either by Jewish law or Roman law:

“When they heard these things, they became furious and ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look!’ he said. ‘I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!’ But they covered their ears, shouting out with a loud voice, and rushed at him with one intent. When they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. They continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then he fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ When he had said this, he died” —Acts 7:54-60

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts

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