Acts 21:27-39 Video Devotional

“When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!” As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no obscure city. I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:27-39)

A nasty conflict is brewing. The Jewish leaders (which include believers in Christ) are becoming furious about two main things in Paul’s message. 1) Gentiles were allowed in and being made right with God, and 2) Paul was putting Jesus on the same level as God and proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. While there were many in the Jewish traditions that were open to Jesus and even were beginning to see Him for who He is, the public audacity Paul had to proclaim it the way he did (especially with his push to bring Gentiles into the inner-circle) was completely unacceptable and they had to figure out a way to “handle” it.

So, as he was preparing to celebrate Pentecost with his Jewish brothers, the leadership sprang into action. They had Paul arrested for the above mentioned “crimes” and got violent with him, leading to his arrest at the hands of the famed/feared Romans. They had done this before. Jesus intended to give His life as a ransom for many. Paul’s plan (in concordance with the Holy Spirit) was a bit different.

When the tribune had him and was leading him away, his questioning led to Paul telling him where he was from, which give the tribune a hint that Paul may be a Roman citizen. Upon that, the tribune was immediately much gentler and allowed Paul a chance to speak to the crowd. This was Paul’s plan; speaking to whatever audience would grant him a moment, and with the help of the Roman tribune, Paul had a captive audience.

Paul’s end goal never changed. His plan, efforts, and desires were always to speak the gospel to whomever would listen. He didn’t care if he was doing it in a coffee house, church, or in chains. And his willingness to preach Jesus no matter the situation led to some interesting locations. We all tend to find opportunities to do more of what we truly care for. What is your strongest desires? Does it have to do with sharing your faith? Or is that more of an “if I have to and the opportunity presents itself” kind of deal? God tends to open up more opportunities to those who truly desire it.