In Acts 20:22-23 the Ephesus disciples warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem; in Acts 21:4 the disciples in Tyre warned him not to go to Jerusalem, and he was warned again in v.11 in Caesarea. Yet, Paul continued to Jerusalem because he believed the Holy Spirit had compelled him to go there on the way to Rome. He believed his work was done in the eastern part of the Roman Empire [Acts 19:21, Romans 15:23-24].
When Paul arrived in Jerusalem he met with James [the half brother of Jesus] and the other elders and described his work among the Gentiles. They glorified the Lord. But, immediately they were concerned about the thousands of Jews in Jerusalem who believed in Jesus and remain zealous of the law.
Therefore they ask Paul to go through a Jewish ritual with 4 other Jewish believers and pay their expenses. They said we do not believe or require Gentiles to do any such thing. So Paul agreed and proceeded with the four men. With almost 7 days over, some Jews stirred up the crowd in the Temple and claimed Paul had brought a Gentile into the temple. This was not true, but all the city was stirred up and they took Paul out of the Temple. He was saved from being beaten by Roman soldiers. Paul told the captain, I am a Roman citizen and ask permission to speak to the crowd. He was granted permission.
As I have meditated on this chapter I have wondered if it was problem for James and the elders to try to appease the Jewish believers. However as events worked out it provided Paul with an opportunity to share his testimony and the gospel in chapter 22. Paul seized the opportunity.
We should “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” [1 Peter 3:15]
Henry Luke 2/14/2018
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