23 Then Paul, looking intently at the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), said, “Kinsmen, I have lived my life before God with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.” 2 [At this] the high priest [a]Ananias ordered those who stood beside him to strike Paul on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you [b]whitewashed wall! Do you actually sit to judge me according to the Law, and yet in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But those who stood near Paul said, “Are you insulting the high priest of God?” 5 Paul said, “I was not aware, brothers, that he was [c]high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
Acts 23:2Ananias served as high priest from a.d. 47-59. He was a violent man who had close ties to Rome and was assassinated by his own people about a.d. 66.
Acts 23:3Paul probably is referring to the outside wall of a tomb, which was considered ritually unclean and polluted. Tombs were usually whitewashed on the outside so that passers-by could see them more clearly and avoid contact with them.
Acts 23:5Under Roman domination, high priests did not serve for life but were replaced from time to time. Paul had not been updated on the current status of the office.
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