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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Acts 23

 

 

Verses 1-35

Acts 23:2. Smite him on the mouth. Ananias the highpriest commanded this, when he heard Paul profess a good conscience, and determined to persevere in preaching Christ. So Ahab commanded Micaiah to be smitten, and so Pashur smote Jeremiah.

Acts 23:5. I wist not, brethren, that he was the highpriest. Doubts are entertained whether αρχιερευς may not designate the sagan or second priest; if so, Josephus and St. Luke may be easily reconciled. Be that as it may, Paul had a long time been away from Jerusalem; and rulers on this hasty occasion did not sit in form and appear in the costume of office. However, what he said was prophetic. God smote this unworthy man first, and all the others by the Romans when Jerusalem was taken. Josephus reports, in his Antiquities of the jews, Acts 20:5, that Ananias the highpriest was sent in chains to Rome, to give an account to Cæsar for his maladministration. Perhaps Paul, when he called the highpriest a “whited wall,” had our Saviour’s words of painted sepulchres in his eye. Prophets and martyrs, full of the Holy Ghost, use awful words to the wicked. 2 Kings 21:17; 2 Kings 21:22. Acts 7:51-52. Perhaps he was the Ananias killed in the insurrection five years after by his own son.

Acts 23:7. There arose a dissension between the pharisees and the sadducees; the old dissension, of which we have before spoken. Deuteronomy 31:16. Matthew 22:23. This contest led to open outrage; and the commandant most humanely hurried away Paul, lest he should be torn to pieces.

Acts 23:8. The sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit. This sect claimed Sadoc for their founder, as also did the Baithusians; but it is doubted whether Sadoc himself went quite so far. Perhaps he only objected to serve God from motives of self-love, — the rewards of the life to come; or to serve him with the fears and terrors of a future world. How preposterous for this sect to receive the five books of Moses, and reject the prophets. Is not the Genesis built on the belief of a world of spirits? “Ye shall be as gods, or as angels in the likeness of God.”

Genesis 3:5; Genesis 5:1. Is not the whole history of Abraham, who looked for a better country, coincident with this belief? Is not the strong command of Joseph concerning his bones, and all other funeral honours founded on the hope of the resurrection? What else was the faith of Jacob, who ascribed his whole preservation to the good angel of the Lord that had redeemed him from all evil and mischief? What books could be stronger against them than the Pentateuch of Moses? Deuteronomy 31:16.

Acts 23:11. The night following the Lord stood by him, supporting and comforting him; for he must go as a state prisoner, and bear witness of him at Rome. Here the Lord Christ was with his servant in the fiery trial. The bar of Cæsar was his only retreat from foes so powerful; and Rome was the city which Paul had long desired to see.

Acts 23:14. They came to the chief priests and elders, to display their zeal, that the curse should rest upon them, (and that curse was death, as when Saul would have killed Jonathan for tasting honey) if they either ate or drank till they had killed Paul. The council at once approved, as though their zeal had been hallowed like the zeal of Phinehas, who slew Zimri the prince, and Cozbi his harlot. Numbers 25. Oh tempora: oh mores! Those more than forty assassins might next have tried their skill against the council; for every man who consents to blood, is guilty of blood. See on Acts 21:37.

Acts 23:15. And we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him; but they had not asked leave of God. In Daniel 6:24 it is said, the lions brake their bones, or ever they came to the bottom of the den. The French or, “now,” and desormais, “hereafter,” as the Latin hora, equally apply to time. We formerly said, ere ever, and before ever; all these phrases are now antiquated.

Acts 23:26. Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix. What honour in this Roman; what prudence in keeping peace in the city; what attestations of Paul’s innocence — he has done nothing worthy of bonds or of death. He sent him as a Roman subject, and a free man, to be judged at Cæsar’s bar. God can turn the heart of kings as the rivers of the south, for the salvation of his people.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Acts 23:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/acts-23.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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