Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’”
In these couple of verses Paul is highlighting yet another hypocritical element that seems to be a theme amongst the religious governing bodies. In verse 3 Paul is accusing Ananias of being a hypocrite. The whitewashed wall is referring to the high priest’s flawed character (he possessed this position through bribery and corruption). We see a similar reference in Matt. 23:7 when Jesus compared the Pharisees to whited sepulchers. This reference illustrate underneath the whitewashed surface, lays a mud-wall filled with trash and dirt. In addition, we also read in verse 4 that Paul’s claim of not knowing who Ananias was, is highly unlikely, since he spent 7 days prior to this incident in the temple. Scholars posit the reason why Paul justified his behavior was for the benefit of the weaker believers watching. Note that Paul wasn’t apologizing to Ananias, but to the brethren. During all this discrimination, Paul still placed the true believers’ salvation first (Con).
Thoughts for the day
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- What is one way you can apply this truth to your life today?
- Who can you encourage with this story/message?
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