Tuesday 23 August, 2016

Acts 21:27-36

27 The seven days of cleansing were almost over. Some Jews from Asia Minor saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and grabbed Paul. 28 “Fellow Israelites, help us!” they shouted. “This is the man who teaches everyone in all places against our people. He speaks against our law and against this holy place. Besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple. He has made this holy place ‘unclean.’ ” 29 They said this because they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul. They thought Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 The whole city was stirred up. People came running from all directions. They grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Right away the temple gates were shut. 31 The people were trying to kill Paul. But news reached the commander of the Roman troops. He heard that people were making trouble in the whole city of Jerusalem. 32 Right away he took some officers and soldiers with him. They ran down to the crowd. The people causing the trouble saw the commander and his soldiers. So they stopped beating Paul. 33 The commander came up and arrested Paul. He ordered him to be held with two chains. Then he asked who Paul was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another. But the commander couldn’t get the facts because of all the noise. So he ordered that Paul be taken into the fort. 35 Paul reached the steps. But then the mob became so wild that he had to be carried by the soldiers. 36 The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”

What strikes me in this passage is that the Roman authorities actually saved Paul’s life in this episode of Acts. By all accounts, Roman authorities in Paul’s time were not the nicest bunch, nor were they supporters of Christianity per se. But in this particular moment, God used the authorities to spare Paul’s life.

As soon as the commander and his troops arrived on the scene, Paul’s accusers stopped beating him.

Reading this passage, it is clear that God uses all people, at all levels of society, to fulfill his good purposes. Even the most unwitting people. And in this instance, these authority figures saved God’s servant, Paul, from probable death.

I am reminded that I need to be thankful, and prayerful, for all those in authority over me. I need to prayerful that people of good repute, and Godly character, would hold such positions.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

2 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    Here in this passage of scripture, we see a significant contrast.

    The Jewish leadership in Jerusalem had an agenda to take out the man at the top of the recently birthed Christian Church and they were willing to do anything to achieve their goals. Emotions are high and chaos ensues.

    The Roman authority, by contrast, is ordered and systematic. There are rules and balances, processes that need to be followed. Things are done slowly and in a considered way.

    But on deeper analysis, neither are truly principled. The Romans still arrest Paul, even though he is the victim. Later we see high officials wanting Paul to bribe them. We see their interest is in upholding order so they can hold on to power.

    In the world I see around me today, I often see that people assume that if a system is considered, equitable and systematic in the way that it deals with people, then it must be based on good principles. On the contrary, often there is hidden systematic discrimination and improper treatment and injustice veiled behind a curtain of structure.

    Lord, help me to be a person of principle, and to lead others in confronting injustice especially when the machinations of society move in the wrong direction

  2. Andrew says:

    Well done Rob.
    And what a profound comment Justin. It is easy to think that something that is orderly and part of the status quo is fair or just, but as you note, often not.

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