Biblical Burns
The Art of the Insult According to Scripture

Pick a Book:
New TestamentOld TestamentThe Gibes of JesusMatthewPauline Provocation1 Samuel2 KingsMark1 KingsActsGalatiansLuke2 Chronicles2 SamuelDanielHebrewsJeremiahJobJohnJudgesNehemiahPhilippiansProverbsPsalmsSong of Songs
Showing posts labelled Acts. View all.
11th April 2017
“Too much study has made you crazy!”
- Festus
Acts 26:24 (NLT)

“But Paul replied, ‘I’m not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I’m speaking words of truth and good judgment. … King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe.’

Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?’

‘I wish before God,’ replied Paul, ‘that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am—except for these chains.’”

Acts 26:24–29 (HCSB)

8th August 2015
“They’re full of new wine!”
- The Mockers
Acts 2:13 (HCSB)

The day of Pentecost was not your average day.

About a month after Jesus had died and come back to life, He ascended into heaven, promising to immersea the budding Christian movement in the Holy Spirit, so that, until He returns, they can be His “witnesses, telling people about [Him] everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

And a week-or-so later, He does.

The Holy Spirit is a very big and confusing topic, but when He comes (on the Jewish holiday known as Pentecost), the first demonstration of His power is that suddenly the disciples have the ability to speak languages they’ve never learnedbc.

When the crowd, containing people from “every nation under heaven”d, hears these Galilean Jews speaking about Jesus in their native languages, they are “astounded and perplexed”. Understandable.

But there are always detractors. Some in the crowd mock those who claim to be hearing these Christians talking in their native tongues.

“They’re full of new wine!” they claim.

At this point, Pete gets up and decides to give a rousing speech.

“Pay attention to my words,” he begins. “These people are not drunk, as you suppose.”

They seem to be listening.

“After all,” he adds with a smirk, “it’s only nine in the morning.”

Pete then takes the crowd on a oratorical tour of the Old Testament, and explains how Jesus fulfils it all. The sermon goes down well, and three thousand peoplee decide to become Christians—wait, what! Three thousand people!

a. Often translated as “baptise”, which kinda just means “dunk”.
b. In the larger story of the Bible, this symbolically reverses the damage done at Babel. It’s also handy, when you’ve just been told to tell people about Jesus “everywhere…to the ends of the earth”.
c. Also, dang I’d love to have this ability.
d. This is probably a good example of a hyperbolic statement, but nevertheless, they do list a large number of nationalities: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontics, Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans, and Arabs.
e. What a logistical nightmare this would be for the stodgy, institutionalised churches of today!

9th May 2015
“You white­washed wall!”
- Paul
Acts 23:3

Like Jesus, Paul was Jewish. He called himself “a Hebrew of Hebrews”[1]. He was even one of the Pharisees—a group of Jewish religious leaders that Jesus would regularly lambaste. So, understandably, he didn’t like Christians much—and by “didn’t like” I mean “heartily approved the murder of”.

But after a surprise visit from Jesus on the road to Damascus[2], he changed his tune a bit—and by “changed his tune” I mean “would not shut up about the good news of this Jesus guy, becoming the most influential evangelist in history, and writing a bunch of letters that now form a large chunk of the New Testament”.

It was this not-shutting-up that eventually got him dragged before the Sanhedrin—a kind of Jewish high court. When Paul begins to defend himself, claiming good conscience before God, the high priest has him struck on the mouth. Paul, never one to back down, retaliates:

“God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” (Whitewash was commonly used on mud-walls and tombs[3] to make them look nice—on the outside.)

The court is indignant: “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”

But now Paul is quick to apologise. You see, insulting the high priest was a big no-no for any Jew, even a Christian one.
   “Brothers,” Paul replies, “I did not realise that he was the high priest.”

Although, perhaps Paul’s apology contained more zing than his direct affront…

“There was nothing in the conduct of the man to betoken the dignity of his office. God’s High Priest must surely be fair and impartial. God’s High Priest would never counsel violence. The mistake, Paul would imply, was perfectly natural and excusable.”
- Marion D Shutter
A Side Note

The way that Paul gets out of the Sanhedrin trial is also genius. Read about it in Acts 23:5–11.

View all.