“Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks” (Acts 23:10).
Fear and doubt are close, inseparable relatives. When you let one come in, quickly and surely the other appears. Satan knows that a Christian with fear and doubt does not represent Christ well. “While the soul is filled with fear and terror, the mind cannot see the tender compassion of Christ.»—Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, ch. 89, p. 804. Paul, however, did not manifest fear or doubt. Convinced that he was doing God’s will, he confronted the Council; he looked at them steadily, seriously, and he spoke respectfully but with firmness. When the high priest understood Paul’s message, he became furious and ordered someone to slap him. Paul reacted and cursed him, saying “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3). He was there to be judged; but to be slapped before he was listened to was against the law, and as a former member of the Sanhedrin, he knew the correct judicial procedures well.
When Paul learned that he had offended the high priest, he offered his apologies. Perhaps it was the problems he had with his sight that had kept him from recognizing him, or that he spoke ironically, because a leader in that position would know that it was contrary to the law to slap the defendant without hearing him out. Paul’s apology was sincere, and he quoted the Bible to show it (see Exodus 22:28). Acknowledge and respect church authorities.
The Council was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees who were in constant conflict because of their opposite beliefs about angels and the resurrection. Paul changed the subject of the debate, giving testimony of the resurrection of Jesus, which stirred up a conflict among Council members, and the judges were not able to dictate a fair sentence because of the disagreement among them. So, the frightened tribune sent soldiers to remove him from the mob and take him away forcibly.
When the time comes for you to be in a courtroom to defend your faith, God will speak for you. Be fearless and doubtless, because God will be there when you need Him most to give you comfort and say to you: “Be of good courage. Do not be afraid.” “To those who serve Hint, cleaving to Him as their heavenly Father, He gives the assurance that He will fulfill His promises. His joy will be in their hearts, and their joy will be full.”—This Day With God, p. 266, September 14.