The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 23:1-11, Paul and the Sanhedrin are assembled together, at the request of the Roman commander who is holding Paul in protective custody. There’s apparently a good bit of discussion which is not recorded by Luke. Something apparently made the division within the Sanhedrin clear. We do not know how Paul noticed that some were Pharisees and some were Sadducees. Yet Paul capitalized on their doctrinal differences. This created a dispute in which Paul was able to force the Pharisees to come to his defense.
By the end of the day, it would seem Paul is tired and possibly discouraged. In verse 11, the Lord came to him in a vision. Paul was told to take courage. He was not abandoned.
There are a couple of lessons I think we can stand to learn from this. First, Paul was very well informed not only about his Christian point of view, but about the views of those who would argue with him. He knew what they were thinking. He knew what evidence would be acceptable to them. He knew what would provoke them to argue with one another. When we don’t bother to learn about Christianity enough to be specific about the tenets of the faith, we mistreat our opponents. We assume that they have not thought through their opnions either. That’s simply insulting. We do much better to take claims seriously and learn to discuss them meaningfully.
A second lesson we learn is that God is sovereignly able to care for his people. The victory Paul gained over the Sadducees was not his, but the Lord’s. The danger Paul was facing was not his to face alone, but God’s to face with Paul. There is no need to fear when the Lord Jesus, God of the resurrection, is on the scene. Rather, we trust in God and continue living out our faith as long as we have breath.
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