What does Acts 23:2 mean?
ESV: And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
NIV: At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.
NASB: But the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth.
CSB: The high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth.
NLT: Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth.
KJV: And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
NKJV: And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
Verse Commentary:
The Roman tribune has brought Paul before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, to ask them why a mob attacked Paul in the temple. Unfortunately, the tribune loses control of the situation the moment Paul opens his mouth.

Paul will welcome any opportunity to tell fellow Jews about Jesus; and he's going to take advantage of this meeting with the rulers of his people. He starts by insisting on his innocence before God (Acts 23:1). The Sanhedrin knows who he is: a devout Jew with great zeal for the Law who converted to Christianity (Acts 9:1–2). So, the high priest has Paul struck for his impudence.

Paul responds by calling the man who gave the order a "whitewashed wall." Either because he doesn't know who is currently serving as high priest, or because his vision is poor, Paul doesn't realize the man behind the attack is the high priest (Acts 23:3–4). When he finds out, he sarcastically apologizes, saying, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people" (Acts 23:5).

It's possible Paul is being sarcastic because of Ananias' reputation as a particularly corrupt high priest. He steals tithes meant for lower-ranking priests and uses violence, including assassinations, to get what he wants. Here, as yet another example, he has Paul struck before convicting him of a crime.

The priest Ananias, who served from AD 47 to 58, is the son of Nedebaeus. He is not the husband of Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11) nor the disciple in Damascus who brought Paul to Christ (Acts 9:10–19).
Verse Context:
Acts 23:1–11 records a Roman military tribune's last effort to uncover why a mob attacked Paul. The crowd dragged him out of the temple and beat him mercilessly (Acts 21:27–33). The tribune asks the Sanhedrin for help, but there are too many divisions. The Sanhedrin can't abide Christians. Paul can't fathom their rejection of Jesus. The Sadducees and Pharisees quickly fall into an old fight about the resurrection of the dead. The tribune takes Paul back to the barracks where, that night, Jesus tells Paul he's on his way to Rome.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 23 continues the tribune's attempt to discover why a mob of Jews suddenly turned violent and attacked Paul (Acts 21:27–33). He takes Paul to the Sanhedrin to see if they understand what his crime is. Paul barely begins his story when he is slapped for impudence. He disrespects the high priest and starts a fight between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The next day, a group of forty Jews invite the Sanhedrin to help them murder Paul. Paul's nephew reports the plot to the tribune who gives up and sends Paul to the governor. The governor awaits Paul's accusers for trial.
Chapter Context:
Jews from near Ephesus accused Paul of bringing a Gentile into the temple and incited a crowd to attack him. The tribune saved Paul but couldn't uncover the reason for the violence; most of the mob didn't know, and Paul was a Roman citizen, so the tribune couldn't beat the truth out of him (Acts 21—22). When the Sanhedrin would rather murder Paul than talk to him, the tribune sends Paul to the governor. The governor holds Paul without charges for so long he invokes his right to a trial before Caesar. The governor agrees, and Paul finally gets to Rome (Acts 24—28).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/24/2024 10:34:51 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.