The Book of Acts: Chapter 21 (pt 5 of 15)

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When Paul finally reached Jerusalem and after meeting with James and the elders of the church, Paul acted on their advice, taking four Jewish men with him to undergo the rites of purification in the temple.

As amazing as it may seem to us, some of the Hellenistic Jews leaped to the false conclusion that these four men were Gentiles and as a result, Paul defiled the temple by bringing these men with him. That resulted in a riot, where Paul was nearly torn limb-from-limb. The Jews would have succeeded in killing Paul if Claudius Lysias (the Roman commander in Jerusalem) had not taken custody of Paul and brought the crowd under control. Now look at that from the commander’s point of view. As he sees it, one guy riled up a crowd and he wanted to know why. I am sure the commander didn’t understand these “Jews,” he was from Rome, these “Jews” were just subjects he needed to control, not understand.

So when he was arrested, Paul asked permission to speak to this angry crowd, and Paul shared his testimony. Not a bad idea, and speaking to them in Aramaic rather than in Greek, also helped. The crowd was amazingly silent and attentive until Paul told them about a vision he had received years earlier in Jerusalem. The essence of his vision was that he was to get out of Jerusalem immediately because the Jews would not receive the gospel, but instead, would try to kill him. Because of this Jewish unbelief, this resurrected Savior told him to take the gospel to the Gentiles—the heathen (at least in the eyes of the Jews).

When Paul reported the message he received in this vision, the crowd went wild, which forced the commander to suppress another riot–saving Paul’s life a second time. Claudius Lysias, the commander, was now frustrated to the point where he was preparing to “examine” (aka, “torture”) Paul to find out what he had said to them to get them all riled up again. When Paul claimed his rights as a Roman citizen, it ended any thought of this form of interrogation. The commander then called the Sanhedrin to assemble, so he could hear the formal charges against Paul. This way the commander would finally know what offenses Paul had committed, at least in the minds of his Jewish adversaries.

This ended in another riot. Now when you first look at this story, it seems there is something about Paul that simply ticks people off. Some people are like that. They walk into a room and everyone hates them. Now remember, you are not being paranoid when people really do hate you. lol. But maybe the problem was Paul, in the sense that “Paul” was the issue. Get rid of Paul and the problem is gone! But as you and I know, it was his message that angered everyone.

When a believer—as disciple of Yeshua—stands strong and confident, it affects people. Those whose hearts are softened, will listen to the message and receive Life. Those whose hearts are hard and resistant to the Truth, get angry—at times violent. Maybe it is the result of conviction . . . or the fear of judgment, but when you offer them the means of Salvation, they resist it. That is what happened with these people.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts


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