Pharisees and Sadducees

The Pharisees and Sadducees sects

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Pharisees and Sadducees
ACTS 23 COMMENTARY
Acts 23:3-5 Whitewashed Wall

Acts 23:6-10 Pharisees and Sadducees

Acts 23:11-15 Be of Good Cheer
Acts 23:16-24 Paul's Nephew
ACTS 23:6-9  6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided.  8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection - and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. 9 Then there arose a loud outcry. And the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God."

Why did Paul suddenly shout that he was "a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6)?
He actually was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee. (Note that Christians could be Pharisees since Pharisees believe in resurrection, but Christians couldn't be Sadducees, "for Sadducees say that there is no resurrection" (Acts 23:8) including the resurrection of Jesus.) Also, the command to inflict harm on Paul's mouth, if still 'live,' had to be smothered so that his mouth could continue to be used to testify about Jesus. Seeing "that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees" (Acts 23:6), Paul decided to pit them against one another so that a "dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees" (Acts 23:7) and "the scribes of the Pharisees’ party arose and protested, saying, "We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God" (Acts 23:9).

For what "hope and resurrection of the dead" (Acts 23:6) was Paul being judged (by the Sadducees)?
The resurrection of Christ, which proved His deity and the fact that He died to save us from our sins as He claimed before His death: "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up - if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!" (1 Corinthians 15:13-17)

To what "spirit or an angel" (Acts 23:9) speaking to Paul were the Pharisees referring?
They were recounting in their own words Paul's testimony about meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (see Saul, Saul, Why are you persecuting Me?).

Shouldn't Paul first have given his personal testimony to the council?
The Pharisees' words above, as well as their intended audience indicate that they already had heard Paul's testimony the previous day or at least heard about it. And the remainder of Paul's stay in Judea would provide them plenty of time to go and ask him questions about his testimony if they wanted.

ACTS 23:10  10 Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.

Why did the Roman commander order his soldiers to retrieve Paul by force?
For a Roman commander to "fear..." (Acts 23:10) that Paul might be "pulled to pieces" (Acts 23:10), the "dissension" (Acts 23:10) between the Pharisees and Sadducees must have been indeed "great" (Acts 23:10).

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