Reaching Jerusalem Where Paul is Warned of Jewish Opposition
When we arrived, the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem welcomed us warmly. The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. After greeting them, Paul gave a detailed account of the things God had accomplished among the Gentiles through his ministry. After hearing this, they praised God. And then they said, “You know, dear brother, how many thousands of Jews have also believed, and they all follow the law of Moses very seriously. But the Jewish believers here in Jerusalem have been told that you are teaching all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn their backs on the laws of Moses. They’ve heard that you teach them not to circumcise their children or follow other Jewish customs. What should we do? They will certainly hear that you have come. “Here’s what we want you to do. We have four men here who have completed their vow.
Go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony, paying for them to have their heads ritually shaved. Then everyone will know that the rumours are all false and that you yourself observe the Jewish laws. “As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: They should abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”Acts 21:17-25
Luke’s division of time is interesting to say the least. The things he chooses to highlight and the things he leaves out are fascinating. Acts 21:17 to 24:23 cover a period of twelve days. The next four verses (Acts 24:24-27) cover a two year period and then Acts 15:1 to 28:7 cover approximately five months. Luke gives most attention to Paul’s arrest and trials (interrogations). Notice how that parallels the attention given in the Gospels to the Passion Week. Paul is received warmly by the church leaders in Jerusalem, but Luke makes no comment about Paul giving them the collection which he had been bringing to Jerusalem. They suggest that Paul accompanies them to the traditional presentation of the offering at the temple but his involvement there begins the events that Agabus predicted. Luke has telescoped all of those events together in a combined account spanning approximately two and a half years.
Take some time to look carefully at this segment before us before I go on to pull it apart. Again ask your questions and interact with the words Luke has passed on to us. Following that I intend to combine the remaining segments of chapter 21 with the whole of chapter 22 and highlight some of the features I drew attention to in Gem 1801. At the time I divided chapter 21, I made some general comments about the way Luke has presented this account to us along with some questions and comments I gave you to highlight what he has done. Note too what Robert Estienne has done with his division of it all. We will investigate those features in the following Gem.
That is enough for now. It is Anzac Day here in New Zealand when we remember our men and women who gave their lives for their country in war. A sober day on which it is fitting to reflect on the parallels between Paul and Christ and what they faced when being confronted with opposition, both ultimately giving their lives for the sake of following God’s will.
The greatest love that had ever been shown in all of history was shown by the greatest person ever through the greatest sacrifice ever as the greatest gift to the least deserving.John Piper
We are excited by trivia and bored by grandeur.John Piper
Lord change my heart because I am so superficial and unresponsive to the many wonders around me.Ian Vail
One of the greatest tragedies of the fall is that we get tired of familiar glories.Clyde Kilby
Forgiveness is not an occasional act: it is an attitude.Martin Luther King Jr
Forgiving your enemies doesn’t help them; it helps you.Anon
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.Dr. Seuss