[After stopping the mob that was trying to beat Paul to death, the Roman] commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. Some shouted one thing and some another. Since he couldn't find out the truth in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered that Paul be taken to the fortress. As Paul reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. And the crowd followed behind, shouting, "Kill him, kill him!"
— Acts 21:33-36 NLT
Paul had been trained to be a rabbi by one of the greatest rabbis in the world, Gamaliel. As a faithful Jew, he had given the first three decades, or more, of his life to knowing and honoring the ways and the will of God as he understood them at the time.* The Temple, and keeping the Temple holy, would have been of utmost importance to him as a faithful rabbi. Stephen, in his defense after being falsely accused of speaking against the Temple, said some things that most Jewish leaders considered to be anti-Temple and that so roused Paul — then called Saul — and his fellow rabbis, that they stoned Stephen to death.** Paul was the center of that hatred and violence, as shown by those who stoned Stephen placing their coats at Paul's feet. Now, the circumstances had come full circle, and as was the case for Stephen, Paul was unbent in his purpose to share Jesus and honor God even in the face of life-threatening opposition. That inner commitment was Paul's strength to proclaim Jesus no matter whether he faced opposition and death or was welcomed and accepted. I hope you take courage, along with me, in seeing Paul's courage in the face of what had to be emotionally challenging and discouraging.
O Father, as the old hymn^ says it so beautifully, please hear these words as my own:
Inspired by the example of Paul, I pray this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.