Acts 23:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 23:7, NIV: "When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided."

Acts 23:7, ESV: "And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided."

Acts 23:7, KJV: "And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided."

Acts 23:7, NASB: "When he said this, a dissension occurred between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided."

Acts 23:7, NLT: "This divided the council--the Pharisees against the Sadducees--"

Acts 23:7, CSB: "When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided."

What does Acts 23:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Sanhedrin was the council which regulated the practice of Judaism. It was comprised of priests, elders, and scribes: religious leaders, respected community leaders, and experts in the Mosaic law. Most of the members, and almost all the priests, belonged to the sect of the Sadducees. They followed the Mosaic law only—the first five books of Scripture with no additional regulations—and they learned to use the Roman occupation to their advantage. The Pharisees also followed the Oral Law, which their scribes claimed came from Moses, in addition to the written Law in the Pentateuch. Their validation comes from the people who saw them as great religious leaders. Both Jesus and John the Baptist criticized both sects (Matthew 3:7; 16:6–12).

The theological beliefs of the two sides directly influence their lifestyles. Sadducees, who tended to be wealthy and got along with the Romans, believed there is no resurrection from the dead. To their thinking, any blessings God gives will come in this lifetime, so a person needs to get their benefits now. Pharisees believed in the resurrection from the dead. They liked power and money, but they didn't want to risk their chance for more power and riches in the afterlife, so they followed extra-biblical rules and disapproved of the Romans.

When Paul winds up defending himself in front of the Sanhedrin and then accidentally insulting the high priest, he uses the distinctions between the Pharisees and Sadducees to draw attention away from himself. He announces that he is a Pharisee and the message his accusers find hard to handle is the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:1–6).

Paul's plan works. The Pharisees declare there's nothing wrong with Paul. The Sadducees disagree. As the two sides come to blows, Paul is still caught in the middle and the tribune must rescue him again (Acts 23:8–10).