On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty why he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands…
I. THE SIMPLICITY AND SINCERITY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE.
1. This gives manly courage and confidence.
2. It acts as a touchstone upon his foes, exposing their injustice, bringing those passionate and unfair in spirit to light. Ananias's answer to Paul's dignified statement is a blow on the mouth.
3. At the same time, it imparts childlike humility. Great was the provocation to a high spirit like that of Paul. His first passionate answer contrasts with that of Jesus on the same occasion (John 8:23). But on the remonstrance of the bystanders, he apologizes for the exclamation. Either he did not recognize Ananias for the presiding high priest; or, recognizing, he meant to intimate that, while he had all respect for the office, he had none for the person who thus abused it. "If Paul," says Luther, "thus assails the priest who was ordained according to the Law of Moses, why should! dread to assail the painted bishops and ghosts who come from the pope, without any command from God and man?"
4. Self-possession and prudence, with sincerity (ver. 6). Paul is the sheep among the wolves (Matthew 10:16). There was both tact and truth in this confession. He was a Pharisee by birth and education, and also by present position, as he upheld the authority of the Divine Law in opposition to the frivolity of the Sadducees. That was the common ground on which he and the Pharisees Stood. Paul says what is simply true. It is only self-control, sincerity, and simplicity which can give tree firmness and consistency.
II. THE INCONSISTENCIES OF DISHONESTY. (Vers. 7, etc.) There was a split in the assembly, occasioned by Paul's confession. It is a picture of what is ever going on in the world. Sects and parties fall asunder, and make free space and passage for the truth of God. Party spirit drew the Pharisees over to Paul; yet God's wisdom reaches its end by this means. He makes the wrath of man to praise him. The Roman officer takes, as usual, the part of an indifferentist, and orders the removal of the prisoner. Thus the contending parties are silenced, and their objects are defeated by their own passion and violence, while the cause of right prevails.
III. THE VOICE FROM HEAVEN. Great need brings great comfort. God is content with the witness he has borne. Greater than the trials from foes are those which arise from the self-doubts of a sensitive conscience. Have we said and done our best? The disappointment of the result reflects itself in the trouble of the conscience. But the results are not of our command; the purpose is. We cannot command success; but we may deserve it, and enjoy the testimony of a good conscience. The "comfort wherewith I am comforted of God." It compensates for the unjust judgment of the world; for the insults to one's office; for the griefs of self-condemnation. Above all, it strengthens for the conflicts of the future. It is a laurel on the brow of the hero of God, the word: "Thou shalt bear witness again." Henceforward the apostolic history turns upon the witness which Paul is to fulfill at Rome. Lessons: The true Christian witness must have, first of all, the good conscience within his breast. The violence of the foes of truth will then be a certificate in his favor; he will enjoy the sympathy of the honest and unprejudiced on earth, and the assurance of the Divine Judge in heaven. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
WEB: But on the next day, desiring to know the truth about why he was accused by the Jews, he freed him from the bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together, and brought Paul down and set him before them.