July 4: “One Way to Deescalate an Emotionally Charged Argument”

4 Minute Read


2 Kings 23:31–25:30
Acts 22:17–23:10
Psalm 2:1-12
Proverbs 18:13


Acts 23:5 (CSB): “‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,’ replied Paul. ‘For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'”


In Acts 23, we read about a very volatile gathering. Paul was warned about going to Jerusalem but he went anyway. Once there, even though he tried to create terms of peace, the Jewish religious leaders would have none of it.

In this chapter, Paul was before the Council, the Sanhedrin. They were the Jewish Supreme Court. And Paul was standing and speaking boldly even though his life hung in the balance.

And then it got crazy. Paul said that he had lived with a clear conscience and the High Priest told someone close by to hit Paul on the mouth.

It would have hurt. But, Paul wasn’t backing down. His temper flared and he looked at the man who had ordered the punishment and brazenly rebuked him. 

Acts 23:3 (CSB): “Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and yet in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?'”

A punch had been thrown that landed on Paul’s mouth. With stinging lips, Paul retorted with his own verbal attack.

Then, as the conflict escalated, only compounded by the fact that everyone felt justified, the tension went up another notch as yet more people got involved.

Acts 23:4 (CSV): “Those standing nearby said, ‘Do you dare revile God’s high priest?'”

This conflict was escalating. Emotions were in control. And when emotions are in control, we often do or say things that we will regret later.

So, someone needed to deescalate this emotionally charged argument, and do it quickly.

Paul stepped up to the plate and became the one who took charge and calmed things down.

Acts 23:5 (CSB): “‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,’ replied Paul. ‘For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'”

Paul acknowledged his error. He knew that God’s Word forbid speaking evil about those in authority. He knew he had violated God’s Word.

So, he owned it.

As I read the biblical account, I suspect that tension was building in the room much like pressure in a crock pot. But, Paul was humble enough to own his error and I suspect that the tension quickly left the room.


Friend, disagreements are going to happen. It is super easy to help them escalate. Our sinful pride enables us to have the knee-jerk reactions that fill the room with tension.

But, if we ask the Lord for humility, He can use us to quickly calm things down. 

Remember this the next time you get into an argument.

Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash

Posted by

I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s