Acts 23:6-10
Acts 23:6 (KJB)
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
Paul being the wise man that he was saw that two factions were represented on the Sanhedrin, both Sadducees and Pharisees. Paul then plays a theological issue card knowing it would probably divide the body. He then states that he is a Pharisee and also the son of a Pharisee which means he was now identifying with about one half of the assembly. He then goes on to state that he is being called into question because he believes in the resurrection of the dead and has that great hope within him. The Sadducees were made up of mostly aristocratic, powerful priestly families and emphasized the Pentateuch and ignored the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Pharisees had come into being in the second century B.C. and were a minority party. They believed temple worship was not enough and the law was to be fulfilled. Paul took advantage of this situation immediately.
Acts 23:7 (KJB)
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
Dissension - Strife
Paul now took a theological issue and used it to divide the assembly. As they continued to speak about this issue, the discord and division grew. That issue was as volatile as an issue today like free will versus election. There may have been those bystanders who were watching these events who had gotten caught up in the same debate as the Scripture states that the multitude was divided.
Acts 23:8 (KJB)
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
The two schools of thought which existed on the council were the Sadducees who disbelieved in the eternality of the soul. They, like the Greek philosophers, believed that man was body, soul, and spirit in unity and it was impossible for a person to live unless all three were present. In other words, a person could not live as a spirit because he needed to have the soul and body to make the complete unit. Jesus had told the Sadducees that God is the God of the living and not the dead, He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob placing that statement in the present tense, meaning that they are still alive but in their spirit essence. They also deny the existence of angels along with the resurrection. (Psa 17:15 KJV) As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Verses like Psalm 17:15 speak of the resurrection but the problem is that the Sadducees rejected anything outside of the first five books of Moses. The Pharisees believed in both angels and spirits and Paul used this divisive belief to cause them to fight amongst themselves.
Acts 23:9 (KJB)
And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
Cry - Uproar, Clamor, or shout
It does not take long for a discussion to get out of hand and this one started turning into an uproar. The scribes, those who were experts in the Mosaic law, that sided with the Pharisees had begun to shout that there was no evil in this man. They believed in spirits and angels so they shouted that if an angel or spirit has spoken to him, then they should be careful they are not fighting against God, which was the same advice Gamaliel gave the Sanhedrin about 25 years prior to this. They had the sense to realize that God was still speaking at that time and if Paul was a prophet, they would be guilty of what their ancestors had done, killing the prophets.
Acts 23:10 (KJB)
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
The mention of angels and spirits had caused the Sadducees to erupt into a great uproar. Even though Jesus had explained to them how wrong they were in this belief, it did not change them as they clung heartily on to their beliefs, no matter how much in error they were. Once again Lysias comes to Paulís rescue and to prevent Paul from becoming a victim of the mob had commanded soldiers to take Paul by force and bring him back to the castle. Since the Sadducees believed this way, it would be hard for them to become Christians because they would have to reject all the false teachings they received in the past, although it could be done. In the earlier sections of Acts, we find many priests had become believers and no doubt some of them would have been Sadducees. (Acts 6:7 KJV) And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.