Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?”
The Law refers to the Law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.
And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.’”
I was not aware… that he was high priest. The high priest was appointed by Rome and changed from year to year (see John 18:13). Several high priests are named in the New Testament including Annas, Caiaphas, and Ananias.
Much is made of Paul’s ignorance of the high priest, but Paul had been out of the loop. Having been away from Judea for so long, how was he to know who had come and gone from the office of high priest? Since there was no need for the high priest to wear his ceremonial robes in Council meetings, the current incumbent was not obvious out until he gave the order to strike Paul (Acts 23:2).
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