We are starting a new chapter, and before we get too far, I would like to review how Paul got to this point in the story. If you remember, it was against the urging of his friends that Paul was determined to press on to Jerusalem; even the Holy Spirit had made it abundantly clear that imprisonment and persecutions awaited him there. In Jerusalem, Paul met with James and the elders of the church. While they praised God for the Gentiles who had come to faith in Jesus through Paul’s ministry, they also had their concerns. The rumor was circulating that Paul taught Jews living abroad, among the Gentiles, not to observe their Jewish culture and customs. In order to disprove this rumor, the Jerusalem church leaders urged Paul to publicly worship in the temple and to do this with four Jewish men who were undergoing a Nazarite vow, he could pay their expenses. This way it would be obvious to everyone that Paul still worshiped as a Jew and that he encouraged other Jews to do the same.
Anyway, that was the plan, but it didn’t turn out as the Jerusalem elders had hoped. Some Asian Jews were trying to find fault with Paul, and they jumped to the false conclusion that Paul had taken Gentiles into the temple, thereby defiling it. (It doesn’t matter that these “Gentiles” were actually the four Jewish men whose expenses he had paid; and it doesn’t matter that Trophimus, who wasn’t there in the temple, but was one of the Gentile believers who had come with a generous donation for the needy Jews in Jerusalem). Which proves that when you have a predetermine animosity toward someone, the facts mean nothing. So, these Asian Jews incited a riot in the temple. The Roman commander, Claudius Lysias, came on the scene just in time to rescue Paul from the hands of the Jews, who were about to kill him. Paul persuaded the commander to allow him to address the crowd, which he did in Aramaic, but it exploded into another riot when Paul conveyed the message God had given him in a vision: He was to flee from Jerusalem and go to the Gentiles because the Jewish people had rejected the gospel.
Not speaking Aramaic, the commander still had no explanation for the violent reaction of the crowd to Paul, and so he prepared to get the truth “the old fashioned way”—by beating it out of him. But when Paul told them he was a Roman citizen, this put a quick stop to that. So the commander tried another approach—let the Jews get to the bottom of all this. So, Claudius Lysias summoned a meeting of the Sanhedrin. But Paul quickly antagonized Ananias, the high priest. Knowing he had no chance of a fair hearing, Paul shouted out that he was a Pharisee and that he believed in the resurrection of the dead. The Sanhedrin exploded into another riot, with the Pharisees declaring Paul innocent and the Sadducees wanting to kill him. The Roman commander once again had to suppress a riot.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts