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Thou Whited Wall

Updated on January 13, 2020
OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile image

Studying the bible is always good. For years, I have been studying the bible and I found it wonderful

Introduction

Apostle Paul after seeing the brethren in Ephesus and other parts of Asia continent where he has ministered before, encouraging them to keep the faith, telling some new people, gentiles and Jews that Christ is the messiah and that they should give their lives to him, he purported in his heart to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost there, because the day of Pentecost draws near.

For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. (Act 20:16)

Pentecost before was known as the apex of the festival of the weeks which the Jews celebrate. And to celebrate this festival the Jews usually moved from wherever they were in diaspora to the Jerusalem where the temple is to celebrate it with their kith and kin. This was what was in the mind of Apostle Paul to do to as he leaves the brethren in those places visited heading back to Jerusalem.

Pentecost day
Pentecost day

Pentecost in Brief

Pentecost in Greek is “πεντηκοστή”, Romanized form is pentēkostē (phonetic spelling is pen-tay-kos-tay') which means fiftieth, being implied from passover. This Greek word has the same origin from “πεντήκοντα”, Romanized form pentēkonta (pronounced as pen-tay'-kon-tah) which means fifty. You will also recall in Mathematics and Chemistry that when talking about “pent” it means five.

Pentecost is Christian Holy day celebrated after the feast of the weeks, because that was when Holy Ghost descended on the apostles. (Act 2:1-31) This date is being celebrated by Eastern Christianity and some churches globally. However, when the celebration started couldn’t be ascertained.

In German, Pentecost is called Pfingsten, established through contracting the Greek term pen[te]k[os]te, this time in Germany coincides with scholastic holidays, and the beginning of many outdoor and springtime activities. The Monday after Pentecost is a legal holiday in many European nations.

Online Wikipedia says, in Judaism, the festival of the weeks (Hebrew שבועות Shavuot) is harvest festival which is celebrated seven weeks and one day after the first Sabbath of the feast of the unleavened bread (Deu 16:9) or seven weeks and one day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:16)

It should be known that Festival of weeks is also called the feast of Harvest (Exo 23:16) and the day of first fruits (Num 28:26). In the book of Exodus, it is called the firstfruits of the wheat harvest (Exo 34:22).

The date for the for the “feast of week” originally came the day after the seven full weeks following the first harvest of grain. In Jewish tradition, the fiftieth day was known as the festival of weeks. (Lev 23:16)

Before the establishment of the Israel nation and the given of the laws, called the Hellenistic period, the ancient harvest festival was a day of renewing the Noahic covenant (Gen 9:8-17) which is established by God and all flesh that is upon the earth.

When Pentecost happened, there were Jews living in diaspora, thus, they came from where they were living to celebrate the feast of festivals (Act 2:5-11) and those people were considered visitors from Rome to Jerusalem. Those people include converts to Judaism; thus they were referred to as proselytes because they were non-Jews but fully adhered to Mosaic Laws, including circumcision.

However, after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD offerings couldn’t be brought to the temple again, the focus thence shifted from agriculture to giving of the laws on Sinai. They will father to read the book of Ruth and Exodus 19-20. The term Pentecost appears in the Septuagint as one of the names of the festival of weeks.

Britannica Encyclopedia says Pentecost was primarily a thanksgiving for the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, but it was later connected with a remembrance of the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Church’s transformation of the Jewish feast to a Christian festival was thus related to the belief that the gift of Holy spirit to followers of Jesus was the firstfruits of a new dispensation that fulfilled and succeeded the old dispensation of the Law as it manifested that day.

Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle

Apostle Paul’s Journey Continues

After encouraging brethren in the cities, towns and villages that he passed across on his way to Jerusalem, the long journey that he has embarked upon was getting close and closer. Not long afterwards, he got to Jerusalem where the capital of the first church was and he was well received by the Apostles and brethren there.

And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. (Act 21:17)

When he got to Jerusalem, he gave the brethren the report of what has happened at all the places he had gone to for ministration. After they have praised the Lord for his wonderful deeds through his son and servant, they counseled him that he needs to erase the notion of the Jews from their hearts by doing what they would suggest unto him.

And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: (Act 21:19-20)

He did listen to them, reasoned with them and accept to do what they have said, showing the Jews that he was not anti-Mosaic laws, if the proselytes could obey and be ardent followers of the Mosaic laws how would he.

And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. (Act 21:21-24)

The Jews misconstrued what Apostle Paul had done and raised false alarm that he would be arrested. He was arrested and during the process of doing jungle justice on him, the soldiers arrived and delivered him from their hands and took him to the high priest.

And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. (Act 21:31-33)

When he got to the high priest and he was defending himself, the high priest asks that he be smitten on the mouth and he replied that God will smite the high priest.

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? (Act 23:3)

It is the phrase thou whited wall that this great apostle used to qualify this high priest, Ananias, that I want to talk about here.

Ananias in the New Testament Bible

There are three Ananias in the New Testament. While we have about thirteen people bearing the name in the Old Testament. The name Ananias derived its origin from the Hebrew word which is Hananiah. The name means Jah has favored.

In Greek it is written as “Ἀνανίας”, Romanized form is Ananias, pronounced as an-an-ee'-as, while in Hebrew it is written as “חנניהוּ חנניה”, Romanized form is chănanyâh chănanyâhû (phonetic spelling is khan-an-yaw', khan-an-yaw'-hoo).

Ananias fell
Ananias fell

(i) Wealthy Couple in The Church

The first Ananias mentioned in the New Testament was a member of the early church. He must have gotten converted from the apostles’ sermons. He and his wife unarguably were one of the wealthy couples who got converted and joined the early church.

As the church was growing, they started making provisions for the indigent people within their midst,

Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Act 4:34-35)

Poll 1: Response

Are you responding to the indigent ones in our midst?

See results

Poll 3: If Non-Responding

Why are you not responding to the indigent ones in our camps?

See results

Poll 2: Response Level

What is your response level to the indigent people in our midst?

See results

This wealthy couple Ananias and his wife, Saphira, also sold a portion of their land and brought part of the money to the disciples.

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Act 5:1-2)

They wanted to do what others were doing but they were not sincere because they connive together to lie and this was discovered and revealed to Apostle Peter who after asking them if they had been sincere with what they brought fell down and died on different occasions and were buried by the Youths in the church.

This incident happened to serve as warning to all in the church that God does not allow lies. It is equally a warning to us all today to steer clear of all forms of lies (Act 5:1-11)

Ananias praying for Saul
Ananias praying for Saul

(ii) Genuine Disciple of Christ in Damascus

The second Ananias mentioned in the New Testament was a genuine disciple who played a prominent role in the salvation Saul (later known as Paul the Apostle) and the establishment of his feet in the gospel. (Acts 9:15-16) Paul also made mention of what he did when he was defending himself before the jurists. (Acts 22:12)

And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. (Act 9:10)

Disciple is a Greek word written as “μαθητής”, Romanized form is mathētēs (pronounced as math-ay-tes') a learner, pupil.

This man was a learner of Jesus Christ’s principles and doctrines, that was why he could be talked to directly without interference neither seeking for a middle man like many of us are doing today, seeking for middle men to help us discern and know the mind of God for our lives and movements.

High Priest
High Priest

(iii) High Priest

The third Ananias mentioned is the high priest in Jerusalem. He was appointed by Herod Agrippa II around AD 48. Online Wikipedia says, he was the son of Nebedeus (or Nedebeus). He was cruel, harsh and a corrupted man which make many hate him.

When Paul appeared before Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem, he was on sit and asked that Paul be struck for what he was saying which makes Paul to call him a whited wall who would be struck by God for not judging right.

Paul later apologized for this when he knew that he was the high priest.

The issue of resurrection which was not agreed upon by Sadducees and Pharisees eventually led to the case being transferred to Rome. It is suggested that this Ananias may be part of those who wanted to kill Paul, their plan was upturned by God, when their secret leaked, and Paul was transported under heavy guard to Caesarea. (Acts 23:12-15)

About five days after this incident, Ananias went to Caesarea to pursue the case against Paul for he was seen as a ring leader of trouble making Nazarene sect that was stirring up riots among the Jews.

Ananias was hated by many Jews because of his ruthlessness and corruption, but he was protected by tome even after being deposed as the high priest. In AD 66 at the start of the first great Jewish revolt, Ananias was assassinated by angry mob of anti-roman revolutionaries.

Apostle Paul smitten
Apostle Paul smitten

1. The Phrase as a Proverbial Expression

Barnes in his notes on the Bible says, thou whited wall as used by this great apostle is a proverbial expression which means hypocrite. He sits to execute judgment, but he was doing what was contrary to the law, because he has premonition of what he wants to do before, this is what he means by the word hypocrite here. A whited enclosure is covered with lime or gypsum which appears to be different from what it really is, little wonder Jesus also says this about the character of the pharisees in the bible.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. (Mat 23:27)

Apostle Paul before Ananias
Apostle Paul before Ananias

2. The Phrase as a Prophecy

Matthew Poole’s in his commentary about the bible says, thou whited wall shows the judge’s heart to be a wicked person doing things for his own profit alone without seeking for means to do the will of God. What has its outside painted, may contain things that are not good inside of it, and the decoration or the painting outside is a means of covering up what is inside. Viewing this word from other side we shall see that the apostle was neither cursing nor insulting the high priest but being a man that has in him the spirit of the prophecy is by the spirit saying to the high priest what cannot but happen to him in the future.

The Apostle in one of his epistles says, bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. (Rom 12:14), he cannot say this and yet go against his sayings, because the person who will be justified is the doer of the word not the speaker neither the hearer.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.(Jas 1:22)

e-sword commentary says God indeed smite the man for after this development, his house was destroyed in a tumult raised by his own son, arrested, and killed.

3. Poverty Status of His Character was Revealed

Viewing this from the experience had in the developing country one cannot but say this great apostle was revealing the poverty status of the character of the man.

Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? (Act 23:3)

The Greek word for whited here is “κονιάω”, the Romanized form is koniaō, (pronounced as kon-ee-ah'-o) which means whitewash, dust.

It would interest you to know that before painting a house some steps need to be taken if the painter really wants the house to express what was in his mind and in the mind of the person who has assigned him to paint the house for him and those things include: pressure-washing the walls, repairing damaged surfaces, removing loose paints etc.

If these are not done before the house is painted it would not be gorgeous in look. We have several houses like that in developing part of the world that are not well plastered before being painted and on looking at it from any angle you will discover that the building has not reflected what it ought to reflect which essentially shows the poverty status of the owner of the house.

On another note consider a car that ought to be painted, the car wouldn’t be painted when the body has not been smoothened out, for doing so would make the body of the car to look somehow, unattractive.

Apostle Paul here in by saying “thou whited wall” is talking about the poverty nature of the man’s character. Individual characters are expressed outside, and this the man has expressed by saying what he ought nay to say when he says the man should be smitten even contrary to the law on which he wants to base his judgment upon, contrary to the law which ensures that he sits in that position.

He though was wealthy and influential by his position in the society, but he was poor character wise. Note, he is not poor in the spirit, but he is poor in ways and means of interacting with people and in judging people, and therefore his life is not attracting to people, because he has only been white washed, not properly painted.

What he possesses is akin to what Nabal possessed when David sent people to him to assist them, because he lacks understanding and he is evil he couldn’t do that.

Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb. (1 Sa 25:3)

The poverty nature of a person’s character would always be revealed in how he handled situations, interact with people, and this could be seen from afar off by all and sundry.

To wrap this up,

People will know the kind of person you are by how you react to issues, they would know your real person by your characters, work on this and you will be a real child of God.

© 2020 OLUSEGUN

Comments

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    • OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile imageAUTHOR

      OLUSEGUN 

      4 months ago from NIGERIA

      @Tamarajo Thanks. Neither did I until I dig into it.

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      4 months ago

      I didn't know that the Feast of Weeks was once an observance of the Noahic covenant. I think some similarities could be found in both.

      A very interesting article! I learned much.

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