Gazing intently at the high council, Paul began: “Brothers, I have always lived before God with a clear conscience!”
Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth.
But Paul said to him, “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?”
Those standing near Paul said to him, “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?”
“I’m sorry, brothers. I didn’t realize he was the high priest,” Paul replied, “for the Scriptures say, ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.’ ”
Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!”
This divided the council—the Pharisees against the Sadducees—
for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these.
So there was a great uproar. Some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees jumped up and began to argue forcefully. “We see nothing wrong with him,” they shouted. “Perhaps a spirit or an angel spoke to him.”
As the conflict grew more violent, the commander was afraid they would tear Paul apart. So he ordered his soldiers to go and rescue him by force and take him back to the fortress.
That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.”