Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Letting the Word Convict Us

Acts 23 has an interesting situation in it with Paul the Apostle.  First, read the text in Acts 23:1-5 (NASB):

Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” 2 The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

The wicked high priest, Ananias, who would be murdered by the Jews in AD 66, ordered Paul to be struck.  The Greek here implies that Paul was not merely slapped on the face but was beaten.  This roused the anger of Paul in verse 3.  This is in sharp contrast to the Lord Jesus (John 18:23; 1 Peter 2:21-23) and even the words of Paul that he wrote in Romans 12:19-21.  Yet here Paul acts as I would and perhaps as you would.  I admit that this act would have made me mad and I suppose that I too would have done what Paul did in verse 3 but I would, if allowed, done more.  I would have wanted to pound all those opposed to me in that room and especially Ananias.

What is interesting about this text is that Paul corrects himself because of the Word of God in verse 5.  I find that amazing.  That is what makes Paul unique.  While he was wrong to react as he did in verse 3 (though again I admit that I too would have said that and more!), Paul submitted to the authority of the Word of God in verse 5.  Despite Ananias’ wickedness, Paul submitted to Exodus 22:28 (which he quoted).  Not only had Paul hid the Word in his heart but he submitted fully to its truth.

I long for that type of obedience to the Word of God.  I want to know the Word and have it in my heart so that I can recite it and submit to it.  I want the Word to correct my thinking, my ways, my words, my actions.  I want to know the Word so strongly that I want to be corrected by the Word when I do sin.  Paul did this here. He quickly submitted himself to the Word of God and let the Word have its reign over his life and over his actions.

A couple of explanations are given for verse 5.  One is that Paul could not see that this was Ananias the high priest because he had a seeing problem (Galatians 4:15).  Other commentators say that Paul had not been to Jerusalem in some time and he simply did not know or recognize Ananias in person.  Either way, his actions were not like the actions of Jesus here.  Yet Paul submitted to the authority of the Word of God (and the Old Testament in this case!).

Help me Lord to be that way.  I need to be a man who submits to the Word.  I don’t want to just read the Word nor just study the Word but I want to submit to the Word and allow it to correct my ways (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/19/2014 at 9:37 PM

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