Acts 23:4
And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?
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23:1-5 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. Those who thus live before God, may, like Paul, have confidence both toward God and man. Though the answer of Paul contained a just rebuke and prediction, he seems to have been too angry at the treatment he received in uttering them. Great men may be told of their faults, and public complaints may be made in a proper manner; but the law of God requires respect for those in authority.Revilest thou ... - Dost thou reproach or abuse the high priest of God? is remarkable that they, who knew that he was not the high priest, should have offered this language. He was, however, in the place of the high priest, and they might have pretended that respect was due to the office. 3, 4. God shall smite thee—as indeed He did; for he was killed by an assassin during the Jewish war [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.17.9].

thou whited wall—that is, hypocrite (Mt 23:27). This epithet, however correctly describing the man, must not be defended as addressed to a judge, though the remonstrance which follows—"for sittest thou," &c.—ought to have put him to shame.

These partial parasites take no notice of the real injury done unto Paul by the high priest, and readily catch at the seeming calumny spoke by Paul against him.

And they that stood by,.... The members of the sanhedrim that were next to the apostle; or the servants of the high priest, since they are said to stand, whereas those of that court sat: said,

revilest thou God's high priest? which seems to confirm that the apostle's words were not a bare prediction, but an imprecation, since they are charged with reproaching, reviling, and speaking evil of him; and the aggravation of which was not only that the person reviled was a priest, an high priest, but an high priest of God; though this could not have been proved, for there was now no high priest of God but Jesus Christ; the priesthood was changed and abrogated, and there were no more high priests among men of God's appointing and approving.

And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?
Acts 23:4-5. Παρεστῶτες] as in Acts 23:2.

τὸν ἀρχιερ. τ. Θεοῦ] the holy man, who is God’s organ and minister.

οὐκ ᾔδειν κ.τ.λ.] I knew not that he is high priest. It is absolutely incredible that Paul was really ignorant of this, as Chrysostom,[144] Oecumenius, Lyra, Beza, Clarius, Cornelius a Lapide, Calovius, Deyling, Wolf, Michaelis, Sepp, and others (comp. also Ewald, Holtzmann, p. 684, Trip) assume under various modifications. For, although after so long an absence from Jerusalem he might not have known the person of the high priest (whose office at that time frequently changed its occupants) by sight, yet he was much too familiar with the arrangements of the Sanhedrim not to have known the high priest by his very activity in directing it, by his seat, by his official dress, etc. The contrary would only be credible in the event of Ananias not having been the real high priest, or of a vacancy in the office having at that time taken place (but see on Acts 23:2), or of such a vacancy having been erroneously assumed by the apostle,[145] or of the sitting having been an irregular one,—not at least superintended by the high priest, and perhaps not held in the usual council-chamber,—which, however, after Acts 22:30, is the less to be assumed, seeing that the assembly, expressly commanded by the tribune, and at which he himself was present (Acts 23:10), was certainly opened in proper form, and was only afterwards thrown into confusion by the further sagacious conduct of the apostle (Acts 23:6 ff.). Entirely in keeping, on the other hand, with the irritated frame of Paul, is the ironical mode of taking it (τινές already in Chrysostom, further, Calvin, Camerarius, Lorinus in Calovius, Marnixius in Wolf, Thiess, Heinrichs; comp. also Grotius), according to which he bitterly enough (and ἀδελφοί makes the irony only the more sharp) veils in these words the thought: “a man, who shows himself so unholy and vulgar, I could not at all regard as the high priest.” Comp. Erasmus.[146] What an appropriate and cutting defence against the reproach, Acts 23:4! It implies that he was obliged to regard an ἀρχιερεύς, who had acted so unworthily, as an οὐκ ἀρχιερεύς (2Ma 4:13). Others, against linguistic usage (comp. on Acts 7:18), have endeavoured to alter the meaning of οὐκ ᾔδειν, either: non agnosco (so, with various suggestions, Cyprian, Augustine, Beda, Piscator, Lightfoot, Keuchen, and others), or non reputabam (so Simon Episcopius, Limborch, Wetstein, Bengel, Morus, Stolz, Kuinoel, Olshausen, and others, also Neander), so that Paul would thus confess that his conduct was rash. This confession would be a foolish one, inconsistent with the strong and clear mind of the apostle in a critical situation, and simply compromising him. Baumgarten has the correct view, but will not admit the irony. But this must be admitted, as Paul does not say οὐκ ἔγνων, or the like; and there exists a holy irony. Lange, apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 314, imports ideas into the passage, and twists it thus: “Just because it is written, Thou shalt not curse the ruler of thy people, and YE have cursed the high priest of our people (Christ), for that reason I knew not that this is a high priest.” Zeller understands the words (left by de Wette without definite explanation) as an actual untruth, which, however, is only put into the mouth of the apostle by the narrator. But such a fiction, which, according to the naked meaning of the words, would have put a lie into the mouth of the holy apostle, is least of all to be imputed to a maker of history. The exceptionableness of the expression helps to warrant the certainty of its originality.

γέγραπται γάρ] gives the reason of οὐκ ᾔδειν. In consequence, namely, of the scriptural prohibition quoted, Paul would not have spoken κακῶς against the high priest, had not the case of the οὐκ ᾔδειν occurred (by the conduct of the man!). The passage itself is Exodus 22:28, closely after the LXX.: a ruler of thy people thou shalt (future, see on Matthew 1:21) not revile = κακολογεῖν, Acts 19:9. The opposite: εὖ εἰπεῖν, to praise, εὖ λέγειν, Hom. Od. i. 302; Xen. Mem. ii. 3. 8. The senarian metre in our passage is accidental (Winer, p. 595 [E. T. 798]).

[144] Rejecting the ironical view, Chrysostom says: καὶ σφόδρα πείθομαι, μὴ εἰδέναι αὐτὸν, ὅτι ἀρχιερεύς ἐστι· διὰ μακροῦ μὲν ἐπανελθόντα χρόνου, μὴ συγγινόμενον δὲ συνεχῶς Ἰουδαίοις, ὁρῶντα δὲ καὶ ἐκεῖνον ἐν τῷ μέσῳ μετὰ πολλῶν καὶ ἑτέρων.

[145] This hypothesis cannot be accepted, as Paul had already been for so many days in Jerusalem; therefore the interpretation of Beelen: “je ne savais pas, qu’il y eût un souverain Pontife,” is a very unfortunate expedient. ἀρχιερ. did not require the article any more than in John 18:13; John 11:49; John 11:51.

[146] Baur also, I. p. 237, ed. 2, recognises the admissibility of no other view than the ironical; but even thus he sees in it an element of the unworthiness of the (fictitious) story.

Acts 23:4. τὸν ἀρχ. τοῦ Θεοῦ: of God, emphatic, i.e., sitting on the judgment-seat as God’s representative, cf. Deuteronomy 17:8 ff., and also the name Elohim, by which the priestly and other judges were sometimes known, Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9, Psalm 81:1.

4. God’s high priest] So styled because he sat on the judgment-seat as God’s representative, cp. Deuteronomy 17:8-13. In the Old Test. the priestly, and even other, judges are sometimes called by God’s own name “Elohim.” (See Exodus 21:6; Exodus 22:8-9 and cp. Psalm 82:1.)

Acts 23:4. Τοῦ Θεοῦ, of God) They make the sanctity of the High Priest their plea.

Verse 4. - God's high priest. This seems to show that Ananias actually was high priest, though some think that he had thrust himself into the office after his return from Rome, without due authority, and that this was the reason why St. Paul excused himself by saying, in ver. 5, "I wist not that he was high priest." Acts 23:4Revilest (λοιδορεῖς)

The word signifies vehement abuse, scolding, berating.

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