Paul’s mistake

Good morning everyone. The new memory verse this week is Hebrews 13: 7. Our lesson this morning is found in Acts 23:1-5. Paul is under arrest in Jerusalem and has been allowed by the chief captain of the Roman army to face his accusers. The council assembled before him and Paul began his defense. The first thing he said was that he had done everything as he believed God wanted him to do it (good conscience). This statement offended the high priest who commanded Paul to be smitten. It is in Paul’s response that we again have reinforcement of the importance of respecting authority.

Paul responded to the unjust command by rebuking the man who made it. He called him a hypocrite when he called him “a whited wall.” To have Paul arrested, supposedly because he broke the Mosaic law and then to have him smitten contrary to the law before he even had formal charges brought against him was hypocritical. Upon hearing the man was the high priest (obviously not in his robes) Paul immediately realizes his wrong. Let’s learn a couple of lessons.

  • Even when acting unjustly, those in authority are to be treated with respect. As we have said before, it is not about their worthiness. It is about their God ordained position. Both secular and religious authority has been ordained by God for us to be under.
  • When those in authority break the law or act unworthy of their position, it does not justify another to disregard or demean their authority. Two wrongs cannot make a right.
  • The proper spirit of God’s children is to immediately repent upon violation of the respect of authority. Paul did this. David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee” (Ps. 119:11). Here is a great example of Paul having done that. God’s word was the first thing that came to his mind by which he compared his action.
  • Perhaps one of the most important lessons is found in the reason Paul repented. Paul’s total and unreserved respect for God gave him unreserved respect for the word of God. He did not try to justify himself because he was unfairly treated or because his circumstances were difficult. He did not try to minimize that portion of God’s law as being less important than others. No one who ignores God’s law on any matter, from baptism to proper worship to everyday actions and attitudes, can honestly lay claim to loving God and His word or to respecting either. God is the standard by which all of our actions and thoughts are to be judged. Anything short of that is disrespectful.

Mike Glenn