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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 1

 

CHAPTER 23

Verse 1. And Paul, earnestly beholding. atenisav. Fixing his eyes intently on the council. The word denotes a fixed and earnest gazing; a close observation. See Lu 4:20. See Barnes "Ac 3:4".

Paul would naturally look with a keen and attentive observation on the council. He was arraigned before them, and he would naturally observe the appearance, and endeavour to ascertain the character of his judges. Besides, it was by this council that he had been formerly commissioned to persecute the Christians, Ac 9:1,2. He had not seen them since that commission was given, he would naturally, therefore, regard them with an attentive eye. The result shows, also, that Paul looked at them to see what was the character of the men there assembled, and what was the proportion of Pharisees and Sadducees, Ac 23:6.

The council. Greek, The sanhedrim, Ac 22:30. It was the great council composed of seventy elders, to whom was entrusted the affairs of the nation. See Barnes "Mt 2:4".

 

Men and brethren. Greek, "Men, brethren;" the usual form of beginning an address among the Jews. See Ac 2:29. Hie addressed them still as his brethren.

I have lived in all good conscience. I have conducted myself so as to maintain a good conscience. I have done what I believed to be right. This was a bold declaration, after the tumult, and charges, and accusations of the previous day, Ac 22; and yet it was strictly true. His persecutions of the Christians had been conducted conscientiously. Ac 26:9, "I verily thought with myself," says he, "that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Of his conscientiousness and fidelity in their service, they could bear witness. Of his conscientiousness since, he could make a similar declaration. And he, doubtless, meant to say, that as he had been conscientious in persecution, so he had been in his conversion, and in his subsequent course. And as they knew that his former life had been with a good conscience, they ought to presume that he had maintained the same character still. This was a remarkably bold appeal to be made by an accused man, and it shows the strong consciousness which Paul had of his innocence. What would have been the drift of Paul's discourse in proving this, we can only conjecture. He was interrupted, Ac 23:2; but there can be no doubt that he would have pursued such a course of argument as should tend to establish his innocence.

Before God. Greek, To God. tw yew. He had lived to God, or with reference to his commands, so as to keep a conscience pure in his sight. The same principle of conduct he states more at length in Ac 4:16: "And herein do I excuse myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men."

Until this day. Including the time before his conversion to Christianity, and after. In both conditions he was conscientious; in one, conscientious in persecution and error, though he deemed it to be right; in the other, conscientious in the truth. The mere fact that a man is conscientious does not prove that he is right, or innocent. See Barnes "Joh 16:2".

 

{c} "I have lived" Ac 24:16; 2 Co 1:12; Heb 13:18

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