|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-5 See here the character of an honest man. He sets God before him, and lives as in his sight. He makes conscience of what he says and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, he keeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. He is conscientious in all his words and conduct. Those who thus live before God, may, like Paul, have confidence both toward God and man. Though the answer of Paul contained a just rebuke and prediction, he seems to have been too angry at the treatment he received in uttering them. Great men may be told of their faults, and public complaints may be made in a proper manner; but the law of God requires respect for those in authority.
Verse 2. - Ananias, the son of Nebedaeus, successor of Joseph the son of Camel, or Camydus ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 1:3; 5:2), appears to have been actually high priest at this time. He was a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man, and vet looked up to by the Jews ("tres considere," Renan). He had probably lately returned from Rome, having been confirmed, as it seems, in his office by Claudius, to whom Quadratus, the predecessor of Felix, has sent him as a prisoner, to answer certain charges of sedition against him. He seems to have been high priest for the unusually long period of over ten years - from A.D. to A.D. (see Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 20. 5:2; 6:2, 3; 8:8). But, on the other hand, Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:5) speaks of a certain Jonathan being high priest during the government of Felix, and being murdered by the Sicarii at his instigation; which looks as if Ananias's high priesthood had been interrupt el. It would appear, too, from 20. 8:8, that Ismael the son of Fabi succeeded to Jonathan, net to Ananias, as is usually supposed. But the question is involved in great obscurity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the high priest Ananias,.... This could not be the same with Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, but rather Ananus his son; though this is more generally thought to be Ananias the son of Nebedaeus, whom Josephus (m) speaks of. There is one R. Ananias, the sagan of the priests, often spoken of in the Jewish writings (n), who lived about these times, and was killed at the destruction of Jerusalem; and in the times of King Agrippa, there was one Chanina, or Ananias the priest, who was a Sadducee (o); and from the number of Sadducees in this sanhedrim, who very likely were the creatures of the high priest, one would be tempted to think he might be the same with this: who
commanded them that stood by him: that is, by Paul, who were nearest to him, some of the members of the sanhedrim; unless they should be thought to be some of the high priest's officers, or servants, as in John 18:22 though if they were, one would think they would be so called: these he ordered
to smite him on the mouth: or give him a slap on the face, by way of contempt, and as if he had spoken what ought not to be said, and in order to silence him; the reason of which might be, either because Paul did not directly address him, and give him such flattering titles as he expected, or because he set out with such declarations of his innocence, and spotless behaviour, and with so much courage and boldness.
(m) Antiqu. l. 18. c. 2. sect. 1. & l. 20. c. 8. sect. 1.((n) Misna Shekalim, c. 4. sect. 4. & 6. 1. & Pesachim, c. 1. sect. 6. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 8. 1. & 21. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 24. 2.((o) Juchasin, fol. 142. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. the high priest … commanded … to smite him on the mouth—a method of silencing a speaker common in the East to this day [Hacket]. But for a judge thus to treat a prisoner on his "trial," for merely prefacing his defense by a protestation of his integrity, was infamous.
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