Acts 23:1

ESV And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.”
NIV Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, 'My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.'
NASB Now looking intently at the Council, Paul said, 'Brothers, I have lived my life with an entirely good conscience before God up to this day.'
CSB Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, "Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience to this day."
NLT Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: 'Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!'
KJV And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

What does Acts 23:1 mean?

To Paul, truth is always more important than politics. He is standing in front of the Sanhedrin—the Jewish council that regulates and enforces the Jewish religion. He's there because the tribune, a Roman army officer, wants to know why a mob attacked him in the temple (Acts 21:27–31). Paul isn't concerned about the tribune. He's much more interested in the fact that, perhaps for the first time since before he was saved, he can make his case before the ruling council of his people.

The last recorded time Paul met with members of the Sanhedrin was when he received permission to track down Jewish Christians outside Judea and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:1–2). These were once his people and so he calls them "brothers." He is a Pharisee, trained by the famous rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). It has been a while, but they know him.

That is, they used to know him. During that trip to arrest Jesus-followers, Paul met Jesus and dedicated his life to Him (Acts 9:1–19). Paul loves Jews and wants all Jews to accept Jesus as their Messiah (Romans 9:1–5). That's why whenever he enters a new city he goes to the synagogue first (Acts 9:20; 13:14 14:1; 17:1, 10; 18:4; 19:8). He will not waste this opportunity to speak to the Jewish leaders and, if possible, bring them to Christ.

First, he wants to affirm his integrity. Though he's been accused of bringing a Gentile into the temple and is in Roman custody (Acts 21:27–36), that doesn't mean he's broken the Jewish law. He will affirm his blamelessness both to Governors Felix (Acts 24:16) and Festus (Acts 25:8). He has already told the Corinthians, "For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me" (1 Corinthians 4:4).

That's not how the Sanhedrin sees things. The last time they saw Paul, he was zealously fighting the upstart sect that threatened the purity of their religion. Now, he's a major evangelist of that sect. They're offended that he claims to have a good conscience before God.

Paul's words end the meeting before it begins. The high priest has him struck. In response, Paul accidentally insults the high priest and then gets sarcastic with him. Realizing they're not going to listen to him and that he needs to get the attention off himself, Paul sets the Pharisees and Sadducees against each other (Acts 23:9).

The tribune takes him back to the barracks, no better informed than when they came (Acts 23:10).
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