Vs. 30, “The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut.” The fears of many came to fruition as Paul would indeed be in danger in Jerusalem (vs. 12). We read earlier in our chapter that Paul makes his journey by ship from Miletus (in Asia) across the Mediterranean Sea to Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea (vs. 1-9). Along the way, Paul takes the time to encourage the local churches. Paul runs into Philip (one of the original seven deacons chosen from Acts 6) and we read about his four prophesying daughters (vs. 8-9). Moving on to Tyre, the prophet Agabus, acting out his prophecy much like Ezekiel did and gave an ominous prophecy of trouble ahead for Paul (vs. 10-11). But Paul is resolute and will not allow this to sway his decision to bring the offerings to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. When Paul arrives to Jerusalem, he is warmly greeted by James (Jesus’ half-brother) and the rest of the disciples. But, their was already opposition (Jewish Christians) ready to criticize Paul for their misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching to the Gentiles. Question: Why the purification requirement (vs. 23-26)? Some have argued why didn’t James and the leaders at the Jerusalem church defend Paul more? Valid question and one I struggle with too. Perhaps they too were unsure how to go about and they thought having Paul go through the ritual would suffice. With Paul supporting the vows of these four men at the temple, they had hoped that the Jewish Christians would see this as a good gesture of support from Paul to the church. But, this was Pentecost time and Jews from all over the regions were there, including some Jews from Asia (probably Ephesus)…who had been insulted by Paul and stirred up the crowds at the Temple. Fortunately, the uproar and public beating of Paul caught the attention of the Roman soldiers (vs. 31-32). He was subsequently arrested but before he was taken, he prepares his defense which we will read in chapter 22.
Regarding application…Surrendering to God’s Will. Vs. 14, “When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” In Caesarea, the Christians there upon hearing Agabus’ prophecy of Paul’s demise…begged Paul not to go. We get a real sense of the struggle Paul must have had (vs. 13)…for it was breaking his heart to know and see the anguish in others and quite possibly his own fears. Yet, Paul and those in Caesarea finally realized that all they could do in the end is surrender it all to the Lord’s will. Author and pastor, A.W. Tozer, “Before God can use a man greatly, He must allow him to be hurt deeply.” Question: Isn’t that so true? Following God’s will hurts at times. We can live a pretty care-free life if we go down our own path…(the wide path – Matthew 7:13). That path has no obstacles and life is great. But the narrow path of God’s will is arduous and long. It is a road that many choose not to go down. Even for Paul, many tears flowed because he knew the sadness and toil that was to come. Brothers and sisters…are you surrendering to God’s will? If you are, life isn’t going to be easy. But, yet…we can still consider it joy for while we may lose our life, we are bringing the life and light to others! As Joshua and the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, God would exhort them to be “Be strong and courageous!” Let us do likewise.