Paul Is Arrested
27When the period of seven days for the ceremony was almost over, some of the Jewish people from Asia saw Paul in the temple. They got a large crowd together and started attacking him. 28They were shouting, “Friends, help us! This man goes around everywhere, saying bad things about our nation and about the Law of Moses and about this temple. He has even brought shame to this holy temple by bringing in Gentiles.” 29 Some of them thought that Paul had brought Trophimus from Ephesus into the temple, because they had seen them together in the city.
30The whole city was in an uproar, and the people turned into a mob. They grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Then suddenly the doors were shut. 31The people were about to kill Paul when the Roman army commander heard that all Jerusalem was starting to riot. 32So he quickly took some soldiers and officers and ran to where the crowd had gathered.
As soon as the mob saw the commander and soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33The army commander went over and arrested him and had him bound with two chains. Then he tried to find out who Paul was and what he had done. 34Part of the crowd shouted one thing, and part of them shouted something else. But they were making so much noise that the commander could not find out a thing. Then he ordered Paul to be taken into the fortress. 35As they reached the steps, the crowd became so wild that the soldiers had to lift Paul up and carry him. 36The crowd followed and kept shouting, “Kill him! Kill him!”
Two days ago we read about Agabus, the prophet who made it known to Paul that he would be delivered over to the Gentiles once he was in Jerusalem. It all happened exactly as Agabus had said.
Some Jews who had come from Asia and were hostile toward Paul recognized him in the temple. They saw that this would be the perfect occasion to rid themselves of him once and for all. So they fabricated an accusation against him without any proof whatsoever. Their plan succeeded in galvanizing the Jews’ anger against him.
This crowd was manipulated by religious fanatics who were determined to take the law into their own hands and exercise their own brand of justice to gain their own ends.
What would be my reaction if I were caught in a similar scenario? How would I respond to people around me who were being flagrantly and unjustly accused over religious matters? How I might lessen the animosity and volatility if I were to find myself in such a predicament!?
Thanks to the intervention of the Roman military, Paul was saved “in extremis” from summary execution. He was, nevertheless, bound by two chains, just as Agabus had foretold. The Holy Spirit had not only warned Paul of the trial that awaited him in Jerusalem but had graciously prepared him for the event.
How comforting it is to know that God controls every situation and can use it to further his plan, just as he did for Paul, using it to bring him to Rome as we will see later. So what may appear at face value as a dismal failure can turn into victory!
God of my salvation, when I face a situation of conflict, please help me to show love to those people who accuse me or hurt me in some way. Help me to trust you in my life because I know that your plan for me in Jesus Christ will be accomplished. In Jesus’ name, Amen.