Respect is Always Appropriate

It has been told that when John Huss was burned at the stake as a heretic, a poor widow brought a small piece of wood to the officiating priest with the request it be put on the pile, right close to the stake. John Huss said to her, “Woman, what have I done to you that make … More

Respect

Chapter 23 opens with Paul standing before the Sanhedrin presenting his case. Gazing earnestly at the council (Sanhedrin), he told them he had lived before God, doing his duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day, as a citizen, a true and loyal Jew (v. 1). He had already done this before the common people, and now he was appearing before the religious leaders. It is hard to imagine this but Ananias, who was an unscrupulous high priest, issued an order that Paul be slapped across the mouth to forcibly silence him (v. 2). Paul’s temper flared and he protested with a sharp retort, as he turned to the high priest and said, “You whitewashed wall! God will hit you. You sit there to judge me by the Law of Moses. But you order men to break the Law by hitting me” (v. 3).

However he retracted his statement when he was informed that it was the high priest against whom he had spoken (v. 4). In fact, he quoted Exodus 22:28 as his reason for doing so. It is not known for sure why Paul did not recognize him, but perhaps it was because of his poor eyesight. It is also possible that Ananias, who was extremely wealthy and very influential, was not at this specially called meeting dressed in his official robes. Paul paid his respects to the position, if not to the person. His example could be noted by people today who in our society, think nothing of slandering people in office because they happen to disagree with their policies. We need to remember that God always holds government officials with respect, and we should do the same (v. 5).

See here the character of an honest man. He sets God before him, and lives as in his sight. He makes conscience of what he says and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, he keeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. He is conscientious in all his words and conduct.

Application

This points out to me how important it is for Christians to respect God’s law? It also points out how important it is for me to obey the laws of our land and to respect government officials.

Acts 23:1-5 (English Standard Version)

And looking intently at the council, Paul said, "Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day." And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?" Those who stood by said, "Would you revile God's high priest?" And Paul said, "I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'"

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