Paul Stirs Up the Sanhedrin
Book of Acts Chapter 23
What is the Sanhedrin Council?
Moses originally created the Sanhedrin Court, in obedience to God.
Num 11:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
The Sanhedrin was conceived mainly as a court of justice but this had changed because of corruption.
Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
This same council was used against the Lord Jesus:
Mat 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
Mat 26:60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
The members of this council were called councilors.
Mar 15:43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
The Sanhedrin was abolished after the destruction of Jerusalem and no longer exists.
The existing High Priest was always the Head of this council.
In the time of Jesus Christ this Sanhedrin served only in Judea and had no authority over the Lord while He lived in Galilee.
After the time of Christ its orders were deemed binding to all orthodox Jews.
Remember these were the Jews that followed that all religious opinion of men should be the standard and not necessarily the exact Word of God.
Jesus Christ was charged with blasphemy by this court.
In the days of Rome, the Sanhedrin contained a mixture of Pharisee and Sadducees and Paul used this to his advantage.
When Paul was brought before this council by the Chief Captain of the Roman soldiers in Jerusalem, it was not for him to be judged by them, but this Roman Captain wanted to know what Paul was charged with.
Any ruling of the Sanhedrin had no bearing on Roman law!
The Apostle Paul was not only a Jew, but he was also a citizen of Rome by birth.
Act 22:29 Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.
Act 22:30 On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
The Chief Captain had thoughts of scourging Paul trying to gain the truth from Paul by torture, but since Paul was a citizen of Rome it was illegal to scourge him.
So, Paul addressed the Sanhedrin council knowing the High Priest was his true enemy.
*Act 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
Act 23:2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Act 23:3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
Act 23:4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
Act 23:5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
Act 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
Paul stared down at this council for it no longer represented the truth of God and therefore they were unable to serve justice.
Paul told this council that his life was now pleasing to God because he had excepted the Gospel truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, unlike them who rejected the truth.
Because Paul accepted the “authority of the Scriptures” Paul was labeled a blasphemer and the High Priests had Paul slapped.
None of us like to be slapped, but to a Jew it was truly demeaning.
For a Jew to strike another Jew was also a violation of Jewish Law.
Paul realized that he had rebuked the High Priest and he immediately repented, and apologized, because this also was against the Mosaic Law.
As for this council, Paul offered nothing but stares, as he was condemned by those who were hypocrites and reprobates.
Tit 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
We must not forget the promise of the Lord, so the Holy Spirit was guiding Paul every step of the way.
Mat 10:18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Mat 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Mat 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
The Holy Spirit also reminded Paul of just what type of men were on this council, Pharisee, and Sadducee.
The Pharisees believed in the Spiritual world and the resurrection.
The Sadducee did not believe in the Spiritual world, nor did they believe in the resurrection.
Paul conceived a plan with the Holy Spirit to pit them against each other.
Paul said the reason he had been arrested was because he believed the same as these Pharisees on these issues.
*Act 23:7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
Act 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
Act 23:9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
We see that the hatred of these two groups for one another overcame any issues they had with the Apostle Paul.
We see that the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ had held true as always, and these two parties began clamoring and arguing amongst themselves.
Paul said in his speech from the stairs that Jesus, whom they knew to be dead, was alive, and that this same Jesus had spoken to him from Heaven and also in a vision.
There is a truth that we sometimes ignore.
1) When a sinner accepts the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is an immediate elevation of the moral sense. We become new creatures!
2) When the Lord Jesus Christ comes near to the mind of anyone and He is rejected then, the last state of the rejecter is worse than the first. Those who reject the truth of Christ Jesus and quench Holy Ghost convictions, sink lower than those who never heard the name of Jesus Christ.
The Sadducees were religious but also liberal politicians of in the days of Jesus Christ.
They were wealthy, aristocratic, and the governing class of leaders in Israel. Not much different from those who govern our own nation today.
The Chief Priest of the Sanhedrin was normally a Sadducee during this time period.
The Sadducee ruled Israel on behalf of the Roman Government!
Act 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
Act 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Act 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
Act 5:18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
The Sadducees were secular and worldly minded.
They were independent thinkers.
They were heavily entrenched in the priesthood in the days of Jesus Christ.
They regularly collaborated with the Roman government in order to protect their positions, in power and in wealth.
They denied the supernatural.
They denied the resurrection of the saints.
They denied miracles.
They denied life after death.
They denied angels and also evil spirits.
To them, there was no Heaven and no Hell.
To them, there was no existence other than life on this earth.
To them, when someone died, they just cease to exist.
To them, there was no such thing as rewards or punishment in the afterlife.
To them, there was no such thing as eternal life! (Matthew 22:23-33)
We can see the world if full of modern day Sadducees.
It is no wonder that they were “sad you see”.
The Pharisee on the other hand were strict religionists.
These men dedicated themselves to practicing Jewish law in the strictest sense.
They felt that if they kept every little detail of the Mosaic laws and customs and taught others to do the same, they could save the Jewish religion and keep it from dying out.
They were the orthodox of their day.
They were strict literalists. They expanded the Jewish Law into thousands of little rules and regulations which we know of as the oral laws.
They were extremely zealous in these beliefs.
There were never many Pharisees because their strictness and their demands were too hard for common people.
They were earnest, dedicated, zealous, self-denying, and moral.
They were self-righteous and hypocritical. They lacked any sense of sin.
They were bitterly opposed to the Sadducees, hating, and despising them. They felt that the Sadducees were traitors to their own nation, and they were.
They were the main opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ and denounced Him. Their attacks on the Lord Jesus Christ were savage.
1) Because Jesus did not attend any of their rabbinical schools nor a member of their sect.
2) Because Jesus attacked their rules and regulations which had been added to God’s law.
Paul had been a Pharisee before he met Jesus Christ and was saved by the “Grace” of God.
These two groups of men allowed their hatred of each other get out of hand so, the Chief Captain had to put an end to this judgment of Paul.
*Act 23:10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
Act 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
The dungeon of Antonio Fortress became the one place of safety in Jerusalem for the Apostle Paul, led there by the Holy Spirit.
The Sanhedrin council had no authority over this case of the Apostle Paul and the Chief Captain had not submitted this case to them.
This case was in the hands of the Roman authorities, and it would remain that way.
We can certainly believe that Paul would have had no hope for justice had this case been given to the Sanhedrin and this Roman Captain knew this was true.
The command of the High Priest made sure this was true from the beginning.
In truth, this Sanhedrin Council was more guilty of blaspheming God that Paul was.
The fact that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and Paul’s defense was the fact that the Lord Jesus had certainly raised from that death, was proof that some of the beliefs of the Pharisees were true but not much more.
This doctrine of the Resurrection was the foundation of Paul’s arguments for the truth of Christianity.
It is the “Gospel” this “Good News” of Jesus Christ that forms the truth of Christianity.
1Co 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1Co 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The Lord Jesus informed Paul:
1) The Lord said to Paul “be of good courage”.
2) The Lord assured Paul that his witness in Jerusalem was of God by the Holy Spirit.
3) The Lord assured Paul that he would bear witness of Him in Rome.
The Lord will always stand by our side if we stand by His side!
The Lord will always encourage us and see us through these things.
The Holy Spirit will always give us the things to say in these situations!
Isa 50:9 Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up.
Isa 50:10 Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.
There are always those who are not satisfied with the way things are going.
*Act 23:12 And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
Act 23:13 And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
In America today there are many groups such as Antifa, the BLM, and other Soros backed groups, who are devoted to the destruction of our way of life in any means possible, causing harm to individuals and property.
We could say they conspire together to accomplish these things.
This group of Jews conspired to murder the Apostle Paul, and they actually made a vow to see that it was done and there were more than forty who made this vow.
We already know that Paul was going to Rome according to the Lord Jesus Christ and nothing, not even the best made plan, could stop what God had said would take place!
We should understand about Jewish vows.
There was always possible for a way to escape if they failed to keep a vow.
The Talmud, the Oral Law, which did not always truly explain the written law of Moses, allowed for an escape of such vows.
One passage from the Talmud reads: “He that hath made a vow not to eat anything, woe to him if he eats, and woe to him if he do not eat. If he eat, he sinneth against his vow; if he does not eat he sinneth against his life. What must such a man do in this case? Let him go to the wise men, and they will lose his vow”.
We should note that God does not release us from vows we make unto Him even though He will forgive our sin.
We should understand that since that day on the Damascus Road, the Apostle Paul had been under the providence of God and led by the Holy Spirit.
Paul was safe in the arms of God!
Paul would certainly bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ in Rome, and nothing in this world could stop this!
God set in motion many human events to take Paul to Rome and in doing so, we as believers can see the hand of God in Paul’s life and it awakens us to the fact that same hand of God participates in each of our lives if we cling to the Lord Jesus Christ.
These men deceived themselves if they thought they could change the things that God had put in place.
We see this same type of foolishness in our world today in the many conspiracies that confront us today.
If our climate is changing, then it is because God is allowing it to change.
Matthew 24 describes to us the many things of our changing world and those are the things we need to be keeping up with.
Paul had appeared before the Sanhedrin court and these men could not stay focused because of the hatred they had for each other.
This was the Jew’s opportunity to paint Paul worthy of death, and they had failed miserably.
Paul would remain in the custody of Rome.
Any attempt to kill Paul would fail because Paul was really in the custody of Jehovah God.
It amazes me how people can deceive themselves in their sinful and wicked deeds, thinking they can overrule what God has said will take place.
If the world does not like the message of God and do not want to hear it, then it is in their best interest to leave the Church alone.
These forty or more men bound themselves under a curse before God.
The Jewish elders might relieve them of the curse, but God would not.
They had devoted themselves to God under false belief to not eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
They thought that this would be pleasing to God.
No where in the Scriptures does it read that these types of things are pleasing to God!
Paul was God’s chosen vessel!
Paul was not evil, but preached the truth of God!
We should understand that no sin is pleasing to God no matter the reason we conjure up in our minds!
Those who think this way are living in deception!
Many in the Church have gone against the truth of God’s Word and a preacher who preached the whole council of God, thinking they are right, simply because they listen to the world and ignore the Word of God.
Even modern-day science does not overrule the truth of the Word of God!
These types of people have stifled many a church and brought many of them to destruction.
Tit 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
We are not to judge another church, but when these things take place, it is the Word of God that judges them!
These forty or so men conspired which means, they dragged other innocent men into their destruction.
Mat 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Mat 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
They then went to the elders and got them involved and many of those elders were ready to get on board with them in their evilness.
We live in a world today where many a church leader have been deceived into joining in the wickedness of abortion, and the gay lifestyle, along with the transgender movement we see today.
They need to actually read that Bible they say that guides them!
We must get the world out of the Church!
The Church cannot fail, but many a lost person will fail to meet the glory of God because of these things.
This wicked and evil plan would be found out before it could take place.
*Act 23:14 And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
Act 23:15 Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
Act 23:16 And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
The enemies of the Apostle Paul would not be satisfied until the Apostle was no longer upon this earth.
The law said “thou shall not kill” but these Jews had intended to kill Paul.
They were like wild beasts as they thirsted for blood.
Reminds us of all those shootings going on in our nation as these shooters thirst for the blood of the innocent.
They bound themselves under a curse upon themselves.
There were more than forty of these who would murder an innocent man who only spoke the Word of God.
They were cunning, they knew they could not reach Paul without the help of the Sanhedrin.
This should tell us just how immoral the elders and the rulers of Israel were at this time.
They never gave a thought to the providence of God!
They had forgotten the advice of the teacher Gamaliel.
Act 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Act 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
How does God react to these things?
1) God keeps it simple!
We do not know much of Paul’s family. We know a little about Paul’s mother and his grandmother.
Here we see that he also had a sister, and she had a son who cared enough for Paul to come to visit with him.
God does not ever need to use mighty things to accomplish great things!
2) The way God works is always unexpected!
Little did these conspirators expect their plan to be defeated by an obscure young man.
3) It was natural.
It was natural for this young man to give this information to his uncle.
It was natural for Paul to send his nephew to the Chief Captain.
It was natural for this Chief Captain being a man of honor, to act as he did.
God does not have to exhort to big mighty things to do the things He does so well!
Paul would have a safe journey to Caesarea.
God would raise five hundred soldiers to protect him from forty murderers.
Paul would go before a Roman judge, being innocent of all charges of these Jews.
Psa 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
God uses simple methods to expose the works of darkness!
As the children of God we should take great comfort knowing that our Lord God will never forsake us, and He will walk with us every step of the way until we finally reach our true home in Heaven.