A Most Divisive Doctrine (Acts 23:1-10)

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By Jim Osman, Pastor | March 31, 2024 | Worship Service Description: Paul was on trial for his life before the Sanhedrin. He deftly turned their attention to the hope of Israel and the doctrine of bodily resurrection. That divided the council. The Resurrection of Christ is the central event of human history. An exposition of Acts 23:1-10. Now looking intently at the Council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life with an entirely good conscience before God up to this day.” But the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. 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?” But those present said, “Are you insulting God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I was not aware, brothers, that he is high priest; for it is written: ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” But Paul, perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, began crying out in the Council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” When he said this, a dissension occurred between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. And a great uproar occurred; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and started arguing heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And when a great dissension occurred, the commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, and he ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks. URL: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2023:1-10&version=NASB ____________________ Kootenai Community Church Channel Links: https://linktr.ee/kootenaichurch ____________________ You can find the latest book by Pastor Osman - God Doesn’t Whisper, along with his others, at: https://jimosman.com/ ____________________ Have questions? https://www.gotquestions.org Read your bible every day - No Bible? Check out these 3 online bible resources: Bible App - Free, ESV, Offline https://www.esv.org/resources/mobile-apps Bible Gateway- Free, You Choose Version, Online Only https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=NASB Daily Bible Reading App - Free, You choose Version, Offline http://youversion.com Solid Biblical Teaching: Kootenai Church Sermons https://kootenaichurch.org/kcc-audio-archive/john Grace to You Sermons https://www.gty.org/library/resources/sermons-library The Way of the Master https://biblicalevangelism.com The online School of Biblical Evangelism will teach you how to share your faith simply, effectively, and biblically…the way Jesus did.


Will you please turn your Bibles to the book of Acts chapter 23. Acts chapter 23.
I'll give you a moment to find your place there. We will pray to begin with and then we will look at our text.
Acts chapter 23. Let's bow our heads together. Our great
God, you are worthy of far more blessing and praise and honor than we are capable of giving you.
And even while we gather here, we are limited by our sinful flesh. We are limited by our fallenness.
We are limited by our creatureliness to sing and to praise you as you are worthy to be praised.
And we want to give you honor and glory. And we want to give you the praise that is due to your name, even from the sentiments of our hearts to the thoughts in our minds, our affections, our will, our obedience, everything should belong to you.
You have done all that is necessary to redeem a people for yourself and for your glory. We ask now that as we give our thoughts and attention to the subject of resurrection and the hope that it has for us, that we would be encouraged in your word and we would delight in it.
Keep our minds fixed upon these things we ask in Christ's name. All right, my nose is running for some reason.
I think it's allergies. All right, Acts chapter 23. And we'll begin reading actually in chapter 22 verse 30, and then we'll read to chapter 23 verse 10.
But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the council to assemble and brought
Paul down and set him before them. Paul, looking intently at the council said, brethren,
I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day. The high priest
Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him,
God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. You sit to try me according to the law and in violation of the law order me to be struck.
But the bystander said, do you revile God's high priest? 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. But perceiving that one group were
Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the council, brethren,
I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead.
As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees and the assembly was divided.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the
Pharisees acknowledge them all. And there occurred a great uproar and some of the scribes of the
Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly saying, we find nothing wrong with this man.
Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him and a great dissension was developing. The commander was afraid
Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
The doctrine of resurrection is a most divisive doctrine.
In fact, I would be willing to say it is the most divisive doctrine that Christians believe.
And by divisive, I do not mean that genuine believers are split over the nature of the doctrine of resurrection or who is raised or whether Christ was raised.
You cannot even be a believer unless you are willing to affirm that Jesus of Nazareth, three days after he was crucified, was raised bodily from the grave and was seen by eyewitnesses.
That is the core and center of the Christian faith. So when I say the doctrine of resurrection is the most divisive doctrine,
I do not mean that Christians are split on that because Christians are unanimous on that doctrine. And it doesn't matter if somebody stands behind a pulpit and wears priestly garments, investments, and robes and teaches people and calls themselves by some high -dollar name, some big -dollar name, if they deny the bodily resurrection of Christ, they are a heretic and not a
Christian in any sense of the word. So doctrine of resurrection does not divide
Christians from one another. The doctrine of resurrection divides really all men.
By divisive, I mean that it divides all of humanity. Either Jesus Christ rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death, three days after he died on a cross, or he didn't.
There are no third options. There's no other option. Either it happened, as Scripture testifies that it happened, as eyewitnesses say that it happened, or it didn't.
There's no other option. Either his body was raised in glorious triumph and later ascended to heaven to sit at the
Father's right hand, or his body decayed in the grave and was burned, or was burned, or was stolen, or was lost.
There is no third option. Prophecy was fulfilled in him, or it wasn't. He is the son of David who will keep all of the promises made to David regarding a son who would sit on his throne and reign and rule forever, or he wasn't.
Those who claimed to see him alive three days after his crucifixion were either lying or they weren't.
Scripture's record of these events is either true or false. It is either accurate or inaccurate. There is no third option.
Now, spoiler alert, it is true. It did happen. That's the spoiler alert.
Prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus rose from the dead just as he said he would, and those who had watched him suffer and die and were able to certify his death saw him alive again after three days.
Scripture's record of those events and those eyewitnesses is true. Now, you either believe that or you don't.
That is where this doctrine divides. You either believe that or you don't. You are either trusting in the crucified and risen
Christ for your forgiveness and your righteousness and eternal life, or you have refused to repent of your sins and place your faith in him.
You're in one of those two camps. Either you have entrusted your soul and your eternity to him or you haven't.
All of humanity is divided in relation to Christ along those lines. Either you believe in him and trust in him or you don't.
Either his resurrection is the guarantee and the surety of your eternal glory, or it is the guarantee and the surety of your eternal damnation.
One of those two things is true. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ divides all of humanity.
It is either your hope and your confidence and the surety of your own immortality, or it is the guarantee of your coming judgment.
He is your savior for whom you will gladly bow on the last day, or he is your judge before whom you will hesitatingly but ultimately bow on that last day.
He's one of those two things to you because of the resurrection. Now, our passage today demonstrates the reality of the divisiveness of the resurrection in a vivid way.
It is one of my favorite scenes from the book of Acts. It's one of my favorite events in the life of the apostle
Paul. We see in this passage two very important things. First, the centrality of the resurrection of Christ in all of Paul's preaching and his ministry, and therefore in the ministry and preaching and belief of the early church.
And then second, we see that the implications of the resurrection divide men, even men who might otherwise agree on a great number of things.
So our passage this morning is the first 10 verses of Acts 23. Appreciating this requires a little bit of understanding of the setting.
We'd actually jumped in and read our passage beginning at verse 30 in chapter 22. But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the
Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the council to assemble and brought Paul down and set him before them.
Now there's a lot of he's and him's and them's in that verse. And so we want to sort that out a little bit.
And to do this, we have to go back into actually chapter 21. So you're going to get lots of bang for your buck this morning, because we're going to go back into chapter 21, jump into chapter 22, 23, 24, 25, and even 26 today.
Now at this point in the life and ministry of the apostle Paul, he was a prisoner and in the custody of the commander of the
Roman forces in Jerusalem, whose name was Claudius Lysias. We don't find that out till chapter 23, verse 26, where he's finally named.
And him being in custody of Claudius Lysias was the result of a whirlwind of activity that takes us back into chapter 21.
So you are welcome to go back there. I'm going to set the backstory for this for you a little bit. Chapter 21, look at beginning in verse 20.
Now Paul's reputation has preceded him. This takes place after his third missionary journey. The apostle
Paul's landed back into Jerusalem and his friends came to him and said, look, the Jews are saying all kinds of horrible things about you.
This is the rumor that is circulating that you are speaking against the law and against the temple. Look at verse 20.
And when they had heard it, they began glorifying God. And they said to him, you see, brother, how many thousands there are among the
Jews of those who have believed, and they're all zealous for the law. And they have been told about you that you're teaching all the
Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, nor to walk according to the customs.
So here was their plan. They suggested that Paul take four men who were under a vow and had been participating in the ceremony of this vow, and that he was to go into the temple and then offer a sacrifice and help them fulfill their vows.
And that by doing so, he would demonstrate to the Jews that he was not opposed to the temple. He was not trying to overthrow
Moses. He was not trying to preach against the Jewish nation. He was no enemy to his own people. Verse 27, when the seven days were almost over, and now
Paul did this, by the way, in an attempt to smooth things over. And listen, by doing so, there's a lot I could say about this, but let's briefly say this.
By doing so, he wasn't in any way compromising his commitment to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, or to the new covenant.
He wasn't going back into Judaism and doing something for a show. He was simply going through a cultural custom to demonstrate he was not opposed to the
Jews. He was a Jew and he'd grown up among the Jews. Verse 27, when the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, men of Israel, come to our aid.
This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the law in this place.
That's the temple. And besides, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.
For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
Now, Paul had done none of the things that they had accused him of doing. They saw Paul in the city with Trophimus, who was a
Gentile, not a Jew. And then they saw Paul in the temple, and they made the assumption that Paul had taken
Trophimus from the city inside the temple where Gentiles could not go, and thus defiled the inner sanctuary of the temple.
They accused him of defiling the temple by bringing Trophimus into it. Now, really, if you read through the rest of the book of Acts, you will see that the
Jews' accusations against Paul were threefold. There were three things that they accused him of. They accused him of sedition, sectarianism, and sacrilege.
That's not just alliterated because it's easy to remember. It's alliterated because that's actually what they were accusing of.
Sedition. They accused him of sedition, saying, everywhere this guy preaches, there's a riot. Well, that was true.
But why was it true? Because he was trying to overthrow Rome? No, because everywhere he preached, he preached the resurrection.
And this is the most divisive doctrine among men. Everybody gets upset at him. And so, of course, there would be a riot because they didn't like what he was preaching.
And they accused him of sectarianism, saying that he was preaching an illicit religion. It wasn't Judaism, and it wasn't any kind of form of paganism.
It was some new religion. Of course, Paul and Luke's answer to that is that Christianity is not a new religion. It's Judaism fulfilled.
This is the fulfillment of Judaism. So, if Judaism is an illicit, illegal religion under Roman law, which it was, then the fulfillment of that, which is
Christ, the ultimate Jew who has fulfilled all the Judaistic promises of the old covenant, he has come and fulfilled all of that.
Therefore, what Paul was preaching was really the fulfillment of Old Testament Judaism, not a new religion at all. They said, you're starting this sect, this new sect called
Christianity. And, of course, that was false. And the third thing they accused him of was sacrilege, that he brought Trophimus into the temple, and Paul had done no such thing.
They assumed that because he had been in the city with Trophimus and then saw him in the temple with Trophimus, that he must have brought Trophimus, the
Gentile, into the temple, and Paul hadn't done that. Sedition, sectarianism, and sacrilege. Now, long story short, they seized
Paul in the temple and started beating him publicly. This was mob violence at its worst.
And the Romans were summoned, because during the feast time, they were on high alert for any kind of a
Jewish uprising. And there was a Roman station right there on the temple grounds, and they monitored this constantly.
And anytime they saw any kind of busyness going on or any kind of activity like that, they would jump in and try and squelch that before a full -blown riot could ensue.
And so they saw the crowd beating Paul, and the commander took some of the soldiers down there and dealt with it.
Acts 21, verse 32. At once, he took along some soldiers and centurions, that's Lysias, Claudius Lysias, and ran down to them.
And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came up and took hold of him and ordered him to be bound with two chains.
And he began asking who he was and what he had done. But among the crowd, some were shouting one thing and some another.
And when he could not find out the facts, because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. Paul later on asked to address the crowd that had just been beating him, and Lysias was glad to allow
Paul to do this, because this would give Lysias some idea of what it is, why it is that they were so upset at him. So in chapter 22,
Paul gives his speech, beginning at the first of chapter 22, and the crowd is listening to that.
They listened to him give his testimony and talk about how he had seen the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. And they listened to that all the way up to the point where Paul says that he was sent by their
Messiah to go to the Gentiles. And then, of course, that just exploded the whole thing. Then they got upset, and they said, this man shouldn't even be allowed to live.
They were willing to listen to all of that, voice from heaven, road to Damascus experience. But the suggestion that he would be sent to Gentiles to preach the good news to the
Gentiles, this is a man deserving of death, they said. That's chapter 22, verse 22.
Look at verse 23 of chapter 22. And as they were crying out and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air, my goodness, talk about the drama of that.
The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way.
Now, you got to feel for Lysias at this point. He's gone down there. He's gotten Paul out of the crowd where he's being beaten probably to death if Lysias hadn't shown up.
And he asked, what's going on? What's this all about? What's your issue with him? They start shouting. He can't even make out because of what the crowd is doing and all the drama queen's nonsense going on in the crowd.
So Paul says, can I address the crowd? Oh, this would be a great opportunity to find out why it is that they're so upset. So he lets him address the crowd.
The crowd, of course, burst into this thing and all the drama again of all of this. And so he brings them into the barracks thinking,
I've got to find out why these people are upset with him. So he suggests that they scourge Paul. Verse 24, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, stating that he should be examined by scourging so that he might find out the reason why they were shouting against him that way.
Just beat it out of him. He'll tell us the truth if we beat him enough. This sounded like a great idea until verse 25, when they stretched him out with thongs,
Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a
Roman and uncondemned? You don't have to be a history major to know the answer to that question is no.
That was not lawful. In fact, it was not lawful for them to even bind him with chains. Ulysses had no idea
Paul was a Roman citizen. Verse 29, therefore, those who were about to examine him immediately let go of him.
And the commander also was afraid for he found out that he was a Roman and because he had put him in chains. That's not how you treat
Roman citizens. That is not how Roman soldiers treated Roman citizens. You don't bind a man not even knowing what the accusations are against him.
And then you don't stretch him out across the bench to whip him and lash him when you don't even know what the accusations are against him.
That's not how you treat Roman citizens. He had a bound Roman citizen with no charges and no accusations.
He has no information and he is treating him like he is a subject and not a citizen. Lysias for everything that he has done so far could be reprimanded to the point where he would never be a commander of anything other than a dogsled team in the future.
And now he's in a pickle because he has to protect Paul. Paul is a Roman citizen. He has to protect him so he can't let him go because if he lets him go, he knows that the
Jews are going to kill him before he gets off the Temple Mount. So he can't let Paul go. He can't detain
Paul without any charges. If he's going to detain him, he has to have some reason to detain him.
He's put him in chains and so he better be able to justify that. And now Lysias truly has no idea why the people are so upset.
And you could presume that Paul would have told him, this is why they're upset because I go and this is what I preach and this is what
I teach and this is what has happened. But you can't trust the word of a presumed criminal or the guy who's been treated like a criminal.
So you can't take him at his word. He's got to find some way of figuring out why the people are upset with him.
Either he's worthy of these charges or he is not. I can't let him go and I can't hold him. What am
I going to do? It's a great idea. Let's take him before the Jewish council, which is the Sanhedrin with all of the ruling people of the
Jews and let him sort of stand trial there and at least hear what accusations they might bring to him against him in that setting.
So that's what he does in verse 30. But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why Paul had been accused by the
Jews, Lysias released him and ordered the chief priests and all the council to assemble and he brought Paul down and set him before them.
Now this is the Sanhedrin which you read about in scripture. It is the religious ruling council of the
Jews. They had authority under Roman law to try Paul to bring accusations against him and even to punish him to a certain point, though they could not execute him according to Roman law.
Now keep in mind that didn't keep them from executing Stephen back in chapter 7 and chapter 8 because they really sometimes would just do what they wanted.
But according to Roman law, they were not allowed to execute Paul, but they could at least try him, put him there, bring the accusations, and Lysias then would be able to hear what they say about Paul and what
Paul's response and defense to them would be. And then Lysias could discern, is there something here that I need to hold him for or is there nothing here and I can go ahead and release him and maybe give him safe passage out of the city and then hopefully everybody will forget about what
I did with this Roman citizen. And Paul will be glad that I let him go and it's just wanting an answer.
It's all Lysias wants. So he can get an answer here. What is their issue with him? What has he done? What is their proof?
Why do they hate him? So Paul is there with Lysias and probably a good number of soldiers who were tasked with his protection.
Now keep in mind Paul has a history with this council, the Sanhedrin. At one time he had been, history suggests, some people suggest, a member of the
Sanhedrin or at the very least he was very closely allied with the Sanhedrin because the people who ran the
Sanhedrin 25 years prior to this, they had given authority to go round up and kill people. So Paul was their bulldog at one point.
And Gamaliel who was Paul's mentor had been on this council at some point, whether he was now we don't know, but we know that Gamaliel was a member of the
Sanhedrin and Gamaliel was Paul's instructor. And we may even presume that there were people with whom Paul had gone to school under Gamaliel's guidance on this council as well.
He knows some of these people which is why he addresses them not as fathers and elders of the people but as brethren.
Look bro, I'm here, you know me, you know my history in Judaism, you know my past, you know what
I am about, you know that I've done nothing worthy of this. Some of these people are his intellectual and spiritual peers in the sense that they know him and they have a long history with him.
He is not standing before a bunch of strangers. He's standing before people who yes, hate him, but they know him.
Paul stood with this council at one time, falsely condemning Stephen of preaching against the law and against Moses.
And Paul probably had had some part in ginning up those fake charges. And then of course, he had stood by and held the robes while people stoned
Stephen for that and executed Stephen. And now Paul is on trial before the very same people for the very same accusations.
And now he is the defendant and not the prosecutor. Verses 1 -5 demonstrate that the apostle
Paul could not possibly get a fair trial. Verse 1, Paul looking intently at the council said, brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.
He is not suggesting that he's never done anything bad. He is suggesting that he has done his best to live a life in keeping with the word of God as he understood it all the way through his life.
When he was a Pharisee and he was persecuting Christians, he had a clean conscience. His lived faithfully in obedience to God.
And what the apostle Paul is saying at this point is, look, I'm innocent. I've done nothing that I know of that I have violated any law or standard of the
Jewish nation. I've lived before God with a perfectly clean conscience. That's a declaration of his innocence, which you would expect to hear from somebody who was being falsely accused and standing trial to declare their innocence and to say,
I plead innocence in this matter. And that's what he does. But Ananias would have nothing to do with that. Ananias was a wicked and violent and cruel and corrupt high priest.
And he was sympathetic to the Romans, which is maybe why Lysias let Ananias get away with this. But Ananias, the high priest, verse 2, commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth.
That word strike is the word that is used of the Roman soldiers striking Jesus in Matthew 27, 30 and Mark 15, 19.
And it suggests a violent, forceful, brutal strike. This is not a slap.
It's not backhanding him. It's not smacking him on the lips or anything like that. And it suggests that it was possibly more than one strike because they were beating him on the mouth.
That's the idea. Violently so. The rebuke that Paul gives them is deserved, but it was not respectful.
Verse 3, Paul said to him, God's going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. Do you sit and try me according to the law and violation of the law order me to be struck?
That rebuke is every bit of it deserved. Ananias was doing that very thing, allegedly trying him according to the standards of the
Jewish law while in violation of law, ordering Paul to be struck. No accusations have even been leveled at this point.
No proof has been presented at this point. No verdict has been issued at this point. And yet they are treating him as if he is guilty.
That was a violation of the law. And what Paul says when he calls him a whitewashed wall and suggests that God is going to judge him, every bit of that is true.
Ananias was eventually judged. He died a few years after this. And the idea of a whitewashed wall is something that on the outside looks good, but interior, it's rotting.
It's useless. It's worthless. It's about to fall over. And Paul is simply saying, for your violation of law, God is going to judge you.
Every word of this is true, but it wasn't respectful toward the high priest, which Paul didn't understand he was the high priest.
There's a lot of stuff behind this that would go into this. Paul's eyesight's not bad. It's not that Paul is ignorant of this.
There had been a high priestly change just prior to this. And it's likely that Paul didn't even know who the high priest was.
So when Ananias orders him to strike him, he has no idea it's coming from one who is now actually the high priest of the Sanhedrin.
And so when he is reproved in verse 4, the bystanders say, do you revile God's high priest? Paul says, you shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.
I was not aware he was the high priest. So again, the rebuke that the apostle gives is deserved, but it was not respectful coming toward Ananias.
The fix was in with this trial. And that was the point of verses 1 to 5. I want to jump into all the rest of the stuff that is there.
But when I preached through this passage years ago, this was three sermons, what I'm giving you. This one here, just understand that it becomes obvious at the end of verse 5 that the apostle
Paul understands he is not going to get a fair trial. There was nobody in the room that was on his side, not a single person.
There was nothing he could say that could purchase his release in that situation. They are content and intent on doing only one thing, and that is condemning him.
His only hope was to somehow get a mistrial. That was his only hope, to get a mistrial, to somehow do something that would upset this proceeding to the point where they could not go forward with their kangaroo court and judge him in that way.
So verse 6, but perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the council.
I'll stop there for a moment. Perceiving just simply means that Paul knew or he understood. It doesn't mean that he was somehow looking around the room and putting together the pieces.
It means that he understood and he knew that in this council, some of these men were Sadducees and some of them were
Pharisees. And these two sects within Judaism were violently and bitterly opposed to one another.
The Sadducees were more of a political sect. I'm going to give you a brief bio of each of these so you can understand the significance of verse 6.
The Sadducees were a political sect more than a religious one. They were sympathetic to the Romans and they had no real national
Jewish interests at all. They controlled the priesthood for they were the ruling class and they controlled the high priesthood off the office of the high priest, as well as a lot of the upper ranks of the priests.
The Pharisees really controlled the lower ranks of the priesthood, but the Sadducees ruled the upper ranks of the priesthood.
They viewed themselves as the champions of religious orthodoxy, but they were not. In fact, they were anything but orthodox.
They rejected all of the Old Testament except for the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch. They rejected all of the traditions that the
Pharisees so vehemently defended. They denied that there would be a literal Messiah. In fact, the
Sadducees believed that the Messianic age had began in 150 BC and they believed that the
Messiah was more of an idea or a principle, kind of an idea of progressing or becoming or evolving, a sort of a
Messianic ideal that we should all strive for. So they allegorized the whole concept of a
Messiah. Contrary to the apostles, of course, which explains the conflict between the apostles and the
Sadducees in the book of Acts. The apostles preached a Messianic age that was inaugurated at Pentecost and a literal second coming and a literal judgment and a
Messianic kingdom and a fulfillment of all the Old Testament, not just the Pentateuch. The Sadducees ran contrary to that.
They denied the doctrine of resurrection, not just denying the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, but they denied that there would be a resurrection at the end of the age.
They did not believe that there would be a future resurrection of all men. That's because they did not believe in eternal rewards or eternal punishments after death and they did not believe in the supernatural or miracles or angels or a spirit world or demons.
They denied that God is sovereign and believed that man has ultimate control over all of his decisions.
They were the theological liberals of the day. They promoted a religious perspective that was so banal and powerless that it was sure not to offend anyone, especially
Rome, with whom the Sadducees were very cozy. They liked being under Roman rule and they were opposed to any kind of change because they benefited from the status quo.
Then you have the Pharisees. Look down at verse 8 of chapter 23, by the way. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor a spirit, but the
Pharisees acknowledge them all. That's Luke's very brief way of explaining to all the Gentiles, who might not be familiar with the
Jewish sects of religion within Judaism, what the real issue here was. The Sadducees denied these things, resurrection, angels, and spirits, and all the other stuff that I've just listed to you, and the
Pharisees affirmed them all. Now, the Pharisees were the exact opposite. They accepted all the
Old Testament scriptures. They revered the traditions. They were opposed to Rome and they were very traditional and very nationalistic.
They were Pharisee nationalists. That was their political bent. And they were waiting for a Messiah who would come and deliver them from Rome, and they believed that the
Messiah would be a real person, that he would descend from David's line, and that he would take David's throne and establish a kingdom and fulfill
Old Testament prophecy. And the Pharisees believed in ultimately the resurrection of all men at the end of the age.
So they were not anti -supernaturalists. They believed in miracles and believed in the supernatural. They believed in the resurrection foretold in Daniel 12, verse 2.
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
That's the description of the resurrection of all men, some to everlasting righteousness and life and joy, and some to everlasting shame and disgrace and damnation.
All men, everybody who has ever lived, will spend eternity in bodies, some fit for eternal joy in the bliss of heaven, and some fit to be consumed by worms and the fire everlastingly in eternal damnation.
That's the doctrine taught in the Old Testament and the New Testament. So the Sadducees, and by the way, the
Pharisees believed in the supernatural and demons and angels and the spirit realm and heaven and hell and eternal wards and eternal punishment.
So the Sadducees had the reins of power, the high priests and the upper class. The Sadducees had the influence, though they were outnumbered on the
Sanhedrin by the Pharisees. The Pharisees were more of the working class priests. They were the experts in the law, the scribes and the elders, and they disagreed on all of these things, but one thing brought them together, and that was their hatred for Christianity and its chief spokesman,
Saul of Tarsus, now the apostle Paul. On that, they were unanimously united, absolutely in cahoots on that, in opposing
Paul and getting him killed. They disagreed on all of those other things, but they had joined forces to crucify
Christ. They had joined forces to execute Stephen, and now they had agreed to persecute the church and Paul, who once did their dirty work, and now they're agreeing that putting
Paul to death is a good and noble thing, because Paul preached the doctrine of resurrection, and everywhere he went, he proclaimed that Jesus is the
Messiah, and by virtue of that, his death and his resurrection offers eternal life to all men, and all who will repent of their sin and place their faith in that Messiah will also be raised on the last day, and all who do not and reject that offer of God's grace and clemency will be punished everlasting in the lake that burns with fire.
That was Paul's message, and of course, since this council of men had crucified that very Messiah that Paul was preaching, they didn't like his message.
They weren't a big fan of his preaching. They didn't listen to his podcast. They didn't go listen to him when he preached anywhere in Jerusalem.
They hated the man, and they wanted him dead, because they agreed on this one thing, that if they crucified
Christ, then they were guilty of what Paul says they were guilty of, and they had to destroy this man who reminded them always and constantly that there is a resurrection to come, and that Christ is risen from the dead.
So now you can understand the background for verse 6, but perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other
Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the council, Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees.
I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead. That is brilliant.
That is brilliant. That is the best thing Paul could have said at that moment. I am on trial for the hope and for the resurrection of the dead, and in that moment, the
Apostle Paul gained the favor of the majority of the people on the council. I am a
Pharisee and the son of Pharisees, and all the Pharisees said, oh, that's right. He's one of ours, and all the
Sadducees said, yeah, that's right. He's one of yours, and not only with that statement did he side with the majority, but he also made the issue a theological issue rather than a personal issue, and this is the key.
This is why everything that happens next happens next, because Paul made it not about him and his guilt, not about him and his preaching, not about him and his mission, not about the rest of Christians, but now it becomes a theological issue.
Is there a resurrection? And Paul says that's really what this trial is about. I am on trial today for the hope and the resurrection.
You could translate it the hope of resurrection. The NIV says, my hope in the resurrection of the dead.
Paul could talk about a hope which was a national hope, and the Jews did have a national hope that hinged upon resurrection.
You see, in order to fulfill the promises made to David for a king and a kingdom who will rule and reign forever in that kingdom, all of the promises made to David required a king who could live forever.
But if one is born of David's line, how can he live forever? Well, now with 2020 hindsight, we see, well, if he's born from David's line and he dies a death but rises again immortal never to die again, then of course he can rule and reign forever.
So that was the national hope, a king who will rule on David's throne forever. Not only that, but he will resurrect all men.
So they were looking for, whether they like to admit it or not, like to acknowledge or not, they were waiting for a Messiah who would die, who would rise again, take
David's throne, and raise all men to eternal life who trusted in that Messiah. That was the national hope.
And the national hope of Israel required bodily resurrection to fulfill that hope which had been promised to Abraham through all of the prophets and was preached by the apostles.
There had to be a resurrection. And so Paul says, you take all of this other stuff out of the way. What I'm really on trial for today is the doctrine of resurrection because I preach a risen
Christ. I am a Pharisee. I am a son of Pharisees, he says, and the reason I'm being tried really has to do with the doctrine of resurrection.
I believe that there is life after death. I believe that God raises the dead. I believe in miracles and the supernatural, and I affirm the messianic hope for Israel, which is promised in the prophets.
So now vote for me or vote against me. On which side of this theological issue are you?
And you might in one sense say that the Pharisees took the bait. That would be a good way of describing it because they certainly did.
Paul preached the resurrection, and it was the central issue for his ministry. And beginning here all the way through the book of Acts, every time
Paul stood trial before Felix, and Festus, and Agrippa, and I think eventually before Nero and Rome, every single trial
Paul came right back to this issue, the resurrection. You can turn there if you want to his statement before Felix in Acts 24 verse 13.
Paul says this, nor can they prove to you the charges which they now accuse me, but this I admit to you that according to the way which they call a sect, there's the sectarianism charge against,
I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the law, and that is written in the prophets, having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.
So with all the charges that they were bringing against him, he said, this is really it. I believe the same thing these men believe, that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the wicked.
Then before Festus in chapter 25, when Paul appealed to Caesar for a hearing, Festus mentioned
Paul to Agrippa, chapter 25, verse 18, when the accuser stood up, they began bringing charges against him, not of such crimes as I was expecting, this is
Festus to Agrippa, verse 19, but they simply had some points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a dead man,
Jesus, whom Paul asserted to be alive. That's the issue. Before King Agrippa, chapter 26, look at verse 8, and now
I'm standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, the promise to which our 12 tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve
God night and day, and for this hope, O King, I am being accused by the Jews. Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?
Notice the hope and the resurrection of the dead. Chapter 26, verse 22, so having obtained help from God, I stand this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the prophets and Moses said was going to take place, that the
Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead, He would be the first to proclaim light to both the
Jewish people and to the Gentiles. This was the issue, the doctrine of resurrection. According to Paul, Christ was raised, and that is what
He preached. So back to chapter 23, Paul sided with the majority, the
Pharisees. He has made this a theological issue, not a personal issue. Verse 7, as he said this, there occurred a dissension between the
Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the
Pharisees acknowledge them all. And there occurred a great uproar, and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, we find nothing wrong with this man, suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him.
And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them, and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
Now, do you get the sense that this thing blew up? Yeah, it blew up. Look at verse 7, occurred a great dissension, the assembly was divided.
Verse 9, occurred a great uproar. Verse 9, they argue heatedly. Verse 10, a great dissension.
You see a theme being developed there? This suddenly became almost, this was a theological, let me put it this way.
The council was a theological tinderbox, and the apostle Paul had just spread gasoline all over it, and threw a match right in the middle of it.
All they needed was a statement like this to just blow the whole thing apart. The only reason they had any agreement on this day was that they both hated the apostle
Paul, but once he makes it a theological issue and not a personal issue, and takes that off of the table, then the
Pharisees are in this interesting position, because now the Pharisees are thinking to themselves, look, if we join forces with the
Sadducees to put this man to death, then really in their eyes, it's our theology that is on trial.
And if we join forces with them to kill him, then really what we're saying is that people who believe in resurrection, and angels, and spirits, and heaven and hell, and the supernatural, that those people are heretics deserving of death.
We can't side with the Sadducees against him. This would set a bad precedent. The people who believe like we believe are worthy of death.
Now keep this in mind, the Pharisees are not repenting of their sin and trusting the Messiah. They're not acknowledging that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the grave.
They're not acknowledging that Jesus of Nazareth was that Messiah promised in the Old Testament. None of that. What they are acknowledging is that the person they're putting on trial believes about these general theological principles, something very similar to where they are at, and there is no way that they can give one inch of theological ground to the
Sadducees on this issue. And so then they say, you know, on second thought, we don't find anything wrong with this man.
We think this guy, I mean, we had no idea his theology was like that, but now that you put it that way, this guy's a smart cookie.
Maybe we shouldn't be putting him to death or putting him on trial at all. And then they say in verse 9, suppose a spirit or an angel spoken to him.
That was just another way of just sort of taking the theological knife and just twisting it in the Sadducees since they denied that.
The Pharisees didn't need to say that, but what do you think is behind the Pharisees saying that? In chapter 22, the previous day, many of these men had heard
Paul talk about hearing the voice from heaven and seeing the risen Christ who said this and said that to him.
And this is their way of explaining if the Sadducees were then to say, okay, look, you don't think he's that bad of a guy. What do you make out of the things that he says he heard from heaven?
Well, maybe a spirit or an angel spoke to him. It doesn't have to be the Messiah. We can agree that Jesus is not the Messiah, but we shouldn't put this guy to death over his doctrine of resurrection.
And so they're just twisting the knife a little bit more in the side of the Sadducees. The Sadducees wanted nothing more than to put this
Pharisee named Paul to death for his beliefs. But the Pharisees now see that the death of Paul would mean a theological victory for the
Sadducees. And they can't side with that. They can't possibly agree to that. They may deny that Christ is the
Messiah, but they held to a messianic hope, speaking of the Pharisees. They may have denied that Christ rose from the dead, but they can't deny the doctrine of bodily resurrection.
And they may even deny the miracles of Christ, but they could not deny that miracles take place.
It is their worldview that is now suddenly on trial. It is their theology and their worldview that is suddenly now being questioned.
And the Pharisees wanted Paul dead, but not at the expense of making that kind of a theological statement and not at the expense of setting that kind of a precedent.
The Pharisees hated Paul. They hated the Sadducees more. So now the old adage kicks in, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Right? Do you see how that's playing out? We can still put this guy to death, but not now and not over this issue and not in this venue.
Because to do so would be to set a horrible precedent. So Paul has to rescue,
Elisha has to rescue Paul once again. Verse 10, a great dissension was developing. The commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them in order for the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring them into the council.
You have to feel somewhat sorry for Lysias. He still has no idea what this is all about. Right? We've tried letting him speak.
We've tried asking the crowd. We've tried lashing him. We couldn't do that. And then we bring him into the council and Lysias is no closer to knowing whether Paul can be released than he was the previous day when he put him in chains.
He still has no idea what the issues are about. He still has no answer to his question. This doctrine upsets people.
The doctrine of resurrection. It upsets people because of the implications that flow from this are profound and eternal.
And the central issue is this, do the dead rise. If they don't, you have nothing to worry about.
Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die. Enjoy your sin. Enjoy your flesh.
Enjoy it all. Because once you die in this world, you have nothing else.
You're just meat in motion. You're just meat puppets and molecules in motion. You're just complex chemical reactions with no destiny, with nothing after this, nothing to lose, nothing to gain.
When it's all over, you're gone. You will be forgotten and there is nothing to come after this if the dead do not rise.
But if the dead do rise, then Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. And he most certainly has.
And he proves that the dead do rise. There shall certainly be a resurrection of the just and the unjust, the righteous and the unrighteous, the righteous to eternal life, the unrighteous to eternal damnation.
And so now the key question that you have to ask is, how do I know if I am righteous?
How do I become righteous? Because we are not born righteous and there is nobody in themselves that is righteous because we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
And in fact, we are unrighteous by virtue of all of our violations of the law and our sin. If you've ever stolen anything or told a lie or taken
God's name in vain or lusted or committed adultery or had a lustful thought, you are guilty of violating those commandments.
And if you have ever dishonored your parents or if you ever blasphemed God's name or dishonored God or failed to worship him with your every breath, you have violated those commandments and therefore you would stand guilty before God on judgment day.
So now the question is, what do I do with my guilt? How do I get rid of my guilt? I have a massive weight of sin that sits upon any and all who are not in Jesus Christ and the wrath of God hangs above you like the sword of Damocles threatening to drop upon you at any moment because you can die at any moment.
And then the wrath of God will be poured out on you for your sin forever. How do you become righteous and secure your place in the kingdom of righteousness and the resurrection of the just?
There's only one way that can happen and it's not because of anything that you can do or have done. It is because another came into this world, that is the second person of the
Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, was sent here by the Father and he came willingly to live a perfect life that you were required to live and then to die the death on the cross that you should have died for your sin, but you couldn't because you could never pay the debt of sin that you owe before a holy and righteous
God. So that eternal son came and took upon himself a human flesh, a human nature, and he died and he lived in our place and he died in our stead on that cross and then three days later on the third day he rose again and he was seen by witnesses and he presented himself alive with many infallible proofs.
He showed them the scars and he ate meals with them and he spoke with them and they handled him and they knew he was raised from the dead.
The same people who saw him die saw him alive three days later. The dead do rise.
Romans 1 verse 4 says he is declared to be the son of God with power by resurrection from the dead according to the spirit of holiness,
Jesus Christ our Lord. The implication of this is that there is coming a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous just as Jesus promised in John chapter 5 when he said that he would speak and all men will come forth from their graves, some to the resurrection of life and some to the resurrection of damnation.
Paul said in Acts chapter 17, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men everywhere to repent because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom he has appointed having furnished proof to all men by raising him from the dead.
He is the risen Christ who is the risen king and he will be the judge of all men and the eternal destiny of every person who has ever lived will be determined by what they do with this risen king.
Either bow the knee and believe upon him savingly turning from your sin and trusting in his sacrifice to pay the price for your sins or you will stand before him and he will be your judge and the books will be opened and he will judge you according to the things which are written in the books and every crime you have ever committed, every thoughtless thought, every immoral word, every immoral thought that has ever occurred to your head, every unrighteous deed that you have ever done and every violation of God's commandments will be brought out in that courtroom and you will be pronounced guilty because you are guilty and then you will be sentenced, you'll be condemned, and you will be judged everlastingly.
That is what God promises you, that is what Christ promised you, but the good news is that God in his love has made available to guilty sinners the righteousness of Christ who came in to seek and to save that which was lost.
Out of love he came to rescue the perishing, out of love he offered himself on a cross, and out of love he rose again the third day to justify any and all who will believe and trust in him.
And the one who comes to him he will not cast out, he will give you eternal life, and he will raise you up on the last day, that is his promise.
He promised he would die, he promised he would rise again, he has fulfilled both of those, he has promised to come again to judge the living and the dead, and he has promised that if you come to him he will not cast you out, he will raise you up on the last day, and herein is our confidence.
Romans 8 verse 11, if the spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised
Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you, that is the promise of resurrection to the righteous.
He who lived in Christ raised him up, he who lives in you will raise you up as well, and for that we who are in Christ and believe know that we will live again and we give praise to our risen king.
Let's bow our heads. Our father we rejoice in your goodness, your grace, and your love, and we thank you for so full a sacrifice and so full a salvation as we have in Jesus Christ, that one who is perfectly righteous died in the place of sinners, lived in their stead, and now offers us not just forgiveness but the righteousness which he has.
And only because of that righteousness will we ever stand in your presence faultless with exceeding joy on that final day.
For we know that your promise to us is that those who have believed upon Christ and hoped in him, repented of their sins, and trusted him will rise again on that final day and stand before you with unveiled face beholding your glory.
And we will rejoice and praise you forever for your great gift of salvation in your son. May you be honored and magnified today by encouraging the hearts of believers here concerning their hope and turning the hearts and the minds and the affections of those who are here who do not know
Christ to your son so that he may receive the full reward for his suffering and be glorified by them in life and in eternity.