Monday, February 21, 2011

So Sad, You See!

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. 3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? 4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? 5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. 6 But when Paul perceived that the 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: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. 7 And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. 9 And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. 10 And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. 11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

So sorry to use this old, worn out description of the Sadducees, but how miserable they must have been, not believing in the resurrection, angels or the spirit.

Tsadok was a heretical Israelite who earned a following with his teachings. His disciples were known as Sadducees.

Clarke has this insight, "It is strange, since these denied a future state, that they observed the ordinances of the law; for they also believed the five books of Moses to be a revelation from God: yet they had nothing in view but temporal good; and they understood the promises in the law as referring to these things alone. In order, therefore, to procure them, they watched, fasted, prayed, etc., and all this they did that they might obtain happiness in the present life."

Matthew Henry enjoins, "The Sadducees were deists - no friends to the scripture, or divine revelation. The books of Moses they admitted as containing a good history and a good law, but had little regard to the other books of the Old Testament."

Perhaps Paul was thinking of Sadducean-type Christianity when he declared in 1 Cor 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

How these Sadducees ever made it to power within Jewish leadership, I cannot imagine. The Pharisees were as narrow a group as we can imagine. They were strict interpreters of the Bible. It is hard to fathom how they would work side by side with these liberals of the 3rd order.

Imagine Shiites and Sunnis at the same table. Or, try to picture Independent Baptists and United Methodists in cooperation.

So you see how unlikely these two groups were as bedfellows. Paul was no dummy. He perceived this theological divide and pounced upon it as a tactical advantage to create a smokescreen so he could be whisked away from an untenable situation. As the literalists and the allegoricalists locked horns, the soldiers took Paul into the castle to testify another day in another place.

It worked!

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