July 20

Acts 21:15-40

Acts 21:15-17-When Paul left for Jerusalem, some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied him...taking him to the home of a man named Mnason, in Cyprus.  He then continued to Jerusalem where he was gladly received.

Acts 21:18-26-The next day they met with James and the elders.  Paul told them all that God had been doing among the Gentiles through his ministry.  They were concerned because the rumor was that Paul had told the Jews (in the places where he had traveled) that they did not have to keep the Jewish Law...and that the Jews in Jerusalem would attack him.  So, they told him to go with four other men to the Temple and purify themselves.  That way, when the Jews saw him they would realize that he had not forsaken their traditions.  Concerning the Gentiles that were accepting Christ, James and the elders recommended that they abstain:

1-from eating meat sacrificed to idols;

2-from eating blood (a practice associated with pagan religious rituals);

3.-from eating animals that had been strangled (killed in a method that was not according to Jewish tradition);

4.- and, from fornication (sexual sin).

All of these were activities that were associated with pagan religions of the Gentiles.

Acts 21:27-Paul did as suggested.  However, when the seven days of purification were just about over, some of the Jews from Asia (where Paul had been) saw him in the Temple.  They accused him of preaching against the Law and that he had brought Greeks (gentiles) into the Temple.  The crowd began to beat Paul, intending to kill him.  The commander of the Roman cohort heard that there was a riot in Jerusalem so he took soldiers and had Paul bound with chains.  When he asked what the commotion was about people kept shouting different charges against Paul…and he could not determine what the truth was.  So, he him brought into the barracks.  But, as he was about to go in Paul asked the centurion if he could ask a favor of him before going inside.  The centurion was surprised that Paul could speak Greek.  He had mistaken him for an Egyptian that had recently led a revolt.  Paul identified himself as a Jewish citizen of the city of Tarsus and asked if he might first speak to the Jewish mob that was following them.  The centurion gave him permission.  Paul addressed the crowd in Hebrew.

Prayer: Lord, Paul was attacked here for proclaiming the Gospel.  He was misunderstood.  And yet, he kept his focus on You.  Please help me to not allow the attacks of others to turn my attention away from You.  But instead, even as Paul did, to see it as an opportunity for the Gospel.

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