Paul is now standing before the chief priest and the entire council of the Jews. The chief priest, Ananias, orders Paul to be struck and Paul basically curses him out. When he finds out that it was the chief priest that he cursed out, he apologizes. It is a weird sequence but it follows with what we are going to be seeing in Romans 13:1 which is a verse with which I have often struggled. Being a strong believer in civil disobedience when it is required, that verse has often given me pause. But it fits that it would be Paul who requires this of the Roman believers when they are in a context where they are being persecuted tremendously. Paul, at least, is someone who can speak from experience. He knew what it meant to be persecuted, beaten to the point of death, so it is not as if he is telling people to put up with persecution never having experienced it himself. No, he knew it firsthand so he is speaking from the vantage point of someone who understood.
I hope you realize what happens starting in vs.6. he self-identifies as a Pharisee, well, because he was. But he knew very clearly that there were both Pharisees and Sadducees in the midst of that assembly. He knew if he brought up the resurrection that they would go at it. Remember in the past we talked about the differences where the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and the Pharisees, of which Paul was one, did believe in it. He knew perfectly well that the reason why they were examining him had nothing to do with the resurrection, but rather because he was a convert of Jesus the Messiah. On the other hand, the belief that Jesus rose from the dead is central to Paul’s theology. So let’s not just pass over too quickly his statement as one of convenience, but rather recognize, as Paul states in I Corinthians 15:14, that no matter what we preach, if the resurrection is not part of our Gospel message, then it is vain. Well, as you can imagine, this caused quite a stir among those assembled. So much so that the Roman tribune had to intervene, once again.
Vs. 16 gives us some insight into Paul’s family. We know that he had a sister and that he had a nephew. We know for sure that this nephew loved him and thought the world of him. He sacrifices his life by bringing Paul this message that there is a band of 40 people who were determined to see Paul’s life end suddenly and imminently. Paul knows exactly what to do and the message is sent to the right person and once again Paul’s death is averted under the protection of the Roman government. Paul is a master at taking advantage of the situation and finding what can work to his advantage.