Friday, June 22, 2012

Acts 21

Paul is repeatedly warned by the Holy Spirit that trouble is waiting for him in Jerusalem. In Ptolemais (7) he is warned by a prophet named Agabus that Paul will leave Jerusalem bound and in chains. The Disciples attempt to talk Paul out of going up to Jerusalem but Paul proclaims “I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus (13).” Paul, in his letters, repeatedly tells his churches that he does not need to survive. What he must do, and must always do, is to faithfully follow the leading of his Lord Jesus.

Paul visits James and is warned of the hornet’s nest that Jerusalem has become. The Jewish nationalist party and the ultra conservative religious groups are coalescing into a dangerous mix. When religious fundamentalism and political fundamentalism join hands there is serious danger on the way. This political/religious fermentation ultimately leads to a violent outbreak and a revolution in Judea and Jerusalem – an event that is probably 15 years away from the story in Acts 21. In AD67, nationalists overthrow the Roman governor and take control of Jerusalem and the surrounding country side from Jerusalem to Masada on the Dead Sea. In AD 70 Rome sends General Titus of Rome to quell the rebellion and he does so in the most thorough and brutal way possible.

At this stage of the story Paul becomes the focus of this pent up anger and frustration. He is accused, wrongly, of taking a Greek into the Temple (a man named Trophimus (29)) and is, once again the center of a mob. The Mob is seeking to kill him when the Roman tribune arrested him and had him taken to the Praetorium (yes the same Praetorium from which Pontus Pilate ordered Jesus’ crucifixion). Paul stops on the steps of the prison and addresses the crowd in Hebrew . . . .

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