I’m still working on playing catch up on my series on Acts. This has been such a great time of learning for me to focus on the book of Acts. To catch up a little I’m going to combine bigger sections of Acts for my post this week as well. In case you missed my first What I’m Learning in the Bible post I am sharing what I am learning as our church studies through the book of Acts together over the next few months.
As a reminder, I am using this ESV Acts Study journal. Basically it has scripture on one page and then a blank lined page next to it for taking notes. Now that I’m a couple of months into this I can say that I highly recommend this journal.
In Acts 21 Paul is now headed for Jerusalem. On the way there he prophet Agabus warns Paul that the Holy Spirit has told him that the Jews in Jerusalem are going to arrest Paul and hand him over to the Gentiles. Everyone is upset and urges him not to go, but Paul is ready.
What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.Acts 21:13
Paul returns to Jerusalem and James and the others advise him that the Jews have been upset because people are saying that he’s teaching against the law and Moses. So they come up with this plan to have him go to the temple and purify himself so that people will see that he lives in observance of the law. Paul does this.
Having seen Paul with Trophimus in the city there are Jews who supposed Paul had brought him into the temple and so they stir everyone up to arrest him. The interesting thing here to me is that word “supposed” in verse 29. They made an assumption. We just saw in the previous section of the chapter how Paul was respectful and went to the temple to purify himself upon arrival in Jerusalem.
The tribune allows Paul to speak to the people. So Paul addresses them in Hebrew. This made them quiet down and listen. And then he tells them his story, of how he went from persecuting those of the Way to being a part of the Way, those devoted to telling the others the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
They listen to Paul’s story all the way up until the point that he mentions Jesus telling him that He would send him to the Gentiles. Then they called for Paul to die. In verse 23 it mentions that they throwing off their cloaks, ready to stone him. This just feels so reminiscent of when they laid their cloaks at Paul’s feet for the stoning of Stephen (as he himself mentioned in verse 20). It must have been such a heavy thing for Paul to remember Stephen and all those he persecuted.
The tribune wants Paul to come before the council to understand the real reason why he was being accused. Paul tells him that he has lived his life before God in all good conscience up until that day. And the high priest Ananias commands someone to hit him on the mouth. Paul points out that the high priest is judging him according to the law and yet at the same time he’s breaking the law by having Paul hit.
Nobody says that what Paul says is incorrect, they simply get upset and yell at him for being disrespectful. Paul then uses his knowledge of the Sadducees and Pharisees to get them to argue amongst themselves and the tribune pulls Paul out of there so that nothing happens to them.
I love how the Lord visits Paul that night and encourages him.
The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”Acts 23:11
Paul’s ready to go, he knows what lies before him. And I love how we see God speaking comfort and courage to him along the way.
Have any thoughts to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!