Tuesday, October 10, 2023
The seven days [for vow-related trips to the Temple for Paul and the other four men] were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, yelling, "Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple — and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles." (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)
Paul's visits to Ephesus had been tumultuous, at times.* In the process, some became disciples of Jesus, but many Gentiles and Jews had grown to despise the apostle sent to reach the Gentiles. We shouldn't be surprised that this group from the province of Asia, possibly even from Ephesus, caused Paul problems in Jerusalem. However, their accusations were wrong. Paul had been fastidious in joining in the purification ceremony for the four men who had completed their vow (Acts 21:23-24) as well as careful to honor Jewish laws and traditions.
Gentiles were allowed in the Court of the Gentiles, a portion of the outer court of the Temple. They were not allowed in the Court of Women or the Inner Court.** While Paul had acted honorably in trying to bless the believers in Jerusalem with a gift from Gentile churches*** and in cooperating with James and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem, anger and violence erupted against him. However, God worked through the mess of Paul's legal wranglings, trials, hardships, imprisonments, and shipwreck to influence others for Jesus. Our journey through the remainder of Acts will show that God got Paul to Rome in spite of all the problems he had. The call of God and the power of the Holy Spirit made Paul's efforts and his message of Jesus unstoppable (Acts 1:8, 9:15-16).
* See the first set of Related Scripture Readings.
** See this article for information on the Temple.
*** See the second set of Related Scripture Readings.
Father, please grant me patient endurance as I seek to fulfill your will for my life. Paul's hardships and challenges, along with his powerful life-changing influence on others concerning Jesus, inspire me to persevere and trust that my life's efforts are not in vain and that you work through difficult times to accomplish your purposes in your children. In Jesus' name, I thank and praise you. Amen.
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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