Sunday, October 11, 2020

Acts Study | Session 35 | 21:15-22:30

In today's study, find Paul arriving in Jerusalem where he gives an update on what God is doing among the Gentiles. He was also informed that some of the believing Jews were concerned that he was not teaching obedience to the Mosaic Law to the other Jews. A plan was put in place to show them that was not the case, but it ended with his arrest after Jews from Asia came and stirred up the people.

VERSES 15-17: And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem. (16)  There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge. (17)  And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. Paul finally arrives in Jerusalem where prophetically everything is going to go bad. The word carriages is just a way of saying baggage. 

VERSE 18-19: And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (19)  And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. Now Paul is giving an update to James and the elders who were present in regards to what God is doing among the Gentiles with Paul's grace ministry. Remember that they had already approved of the message at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 (Gal 2:6). 

VERSE 20: And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: This is a very interesting verse in that it records their response to Paul's update about what God is doing specifically among the Gentiles. In response, they say that God is also working among the Jews who are believing and are zealous of the law. This verse alone clearly demonstrates that there is an overlap of the Kingdom and Grace or Pauline Gospel. If there is only one gospel at this point, this would have been no reason to celebrate! 

VERSES 21-22: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (22)  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. More verses that clearly indicate that Paul was teaching a different gospel that did not require law-keeping. The posturing of the question, i.e. they vs. we, indicates that they did not believe that Paul was actually telling the Jews to forsake Moses, not to circumcise their children, or to stop walking after their customs. Obviously, Paul was not because he was still preaching the Kingdom to the Jews. And, of course, they want to hear it from Paul himself. 

VERSES 23-24: Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; (24)  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. Now they are going to initiate a plan that will demonstrate to the questioning Jews that Paul has not forsaken Moses and the Law. Remember that he has been trying to get back to Jerusalem to fulfill the vow, most likely Nazarite (Acts 18:18). They have four other men who are Jewish that had also made the same vow. The was a photo op of sorts. The fact that Paul went through with this was proof that he did believe that the nation was still under the Law. 

VERSE 25: As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Again, this verse proves that Paul was teaching another gospel to the Gentiles that did not require a keeping of the Law. They are making a reference back to the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:28-29). The more I study, the more confused I am that most in the church reject this! It is clearer and clearer to me every day without hesitation. There simply is no grounds to assume that there is only one gospel. 

VERSE 26: Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. Now we see Paul doing exactly what was suggested by his Jewish brethren that he publicly enter the temple with other Jews to demonstrate that he was not teaching that they were to forsake the Law of Moses. Again, we suspect that this was a Nazarite vow mentioned in Num 6. That means that he was sacrificing a lamb as a sin offering (Num 6:14). 

So, what about those who say that there is one gospel at this point? Making sacrifices in the temple hardly goes along with the Gospel of Grace! Why would Paul do this then? Because the Kingdom Gospel required it!

VERSES 27-28: And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him, (28)  Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. The seven days is a reference to the time required under the Nazarite vow in Num 6:9. However, Jews which were of Asia, most likely from the event in Acts 19:9. Their charges were that Paul teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. Understand that the context of their accusations are distinctly Jewish. 

Two things that are obvious, 1. they are confusing his message to the Gentiles as the same that he preached to the Jews. Not so. This accusation alone, at least in my opinion, proves that Paul preached two gospels. This should give a moment of pause to those who insist on "one gospel". If there is, then Paul is guilty of everything that he is being accused of! 2. The last charge that he brought Greeks into the temple was patently false as Luke will explain in the next verse.

VERSE 29: (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) They had apparently assumed that Paul had entered the temple with Trophimus an Ephesian. Again, this proves that these accusers were from Ephesus. 

VERSE 30: And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. Who needs facts!! Sounds like the morons that are running around today. 

The word moved means agitated. As a result that took Paul and drew him out of the temple. We need to do our own homework folks. "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see."

VERSE 31: And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Their motivations are clear in regards to what they intended to do with Paul exactly what they did with Stephen in Acts 7.

VERSES 32-33: Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. (33)  Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. Well, we now that Agabus was not a false prophet (Acts 21:10-11).

VERSES 34-38: And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. (35)  And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. (36)  For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. (37) And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? (38)  Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? Now Paul requests permission to speak to the chief captain who asked him if he could speak Greek. The question from the guard is more of an act of surprise because it is obvious that Paul asked the question in Greek. 

The captain apparently believed that Paul was an Egyptian who had stirred some people and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers. We are not told why the captain had made this assumption. However, Josephus gives some historical background when he said, "this Egyptian which strikingly accords with the statement here recorded by Luke...came from Egypt to Jerusalem, and said that he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go with him to the Mount of Olives. He said further that he would show them from thence how the walls of Jerusalem would fall down: and he promised them that he would procure for them an entrance through those walls when they were fallen down." He further says that “these he led roundabout from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place. But Felix, who was apprised of his movements, marched against him with the Roman soldiers, and defeated him, and killed 400 of them, and took 200 alive. But the Egyptian escaped himself out of the fight, but did not appear anymore.” And for some reason, this Roman captain believes that Paul was him. Most likely because Paul appeared to be stirring the people up as well. 

VERSES 39-40: But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. (40)  And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Paul then assures him that he is not the Egyptian and is instead a Roman citizen and asks permission to address the people. Remember that we talked about how Paul was uniquely Jewish and Roman. It was his trump card. 

Chapter 22

VERSES 1-3: Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you. (2)  (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) (3)  I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Pretty obvious that the guy who did the chapter divisions did not pay close attention to where the commas are. 

Paul is not getting ready to give a defense of himself to the council. The word for defense is apologia which means an answer in regards to the accusations that had been made against him by the Jews that he was teaching them to disregard the Law of Moses. 

Notice also that he spake to them in the Hebrew tongue. I believe he did this because it was their heart language. He points to his education and background as proof that he knows the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and is zealous toward God as ye all are this day.

VERSES 4-5: And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (5)  As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. Now in his defense, he points out just how zealous he was in how he persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.He even points out that the high priests are witnesses that he had received letters to go and bring them bound to Jerusalem to be punished. 

VERSES 6-16: And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. (7)  And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (8)  And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. (9)  And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. (10)  And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (11)  And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. (12)  And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, (13)  Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. (14)  And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. (15)  For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. (16)  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Now Paul just shared a bit of his testimony as to his conversion experience on the Damascus Road. Notice that he says in v.16 that Ananias told Paul that he needed to be baptized to wash away thy sins. This is clearly not a part of the Grace Gospel. However, there is nothing that Paul has said thus far that they would disagree with, but that is about to change. 

Verses 17-18: And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; (18)  And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. The event Paul speaks of here is jumping three years forward when Paul visited Jerusalem, disputed with the Grecians (Greek-speaking Jews), and they tried to kill him in Acts 9:26-29. Interestingly, and pertinent to Paul's defense at this point, he was preaching the Kingdom Gospel. Of course, he not received it at that point. 

VERSES 19-20: And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: (20)  And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. Again, Paul is attempting to show that he is one of them. 

VERSE 21: And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And...this is where he lost them. 

VERSES 22-23: And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live. (23) And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, Yep, he lost them right after the word Gentiles rolled off his tongue. Notice that the Jews began to cry out, tear off their clothes, and threw dust into the air. That is a lot of vitriol. To me, it is pretty obvious that at this point, they were planning on stoning him (Acts 7:58). As for throwing dirt, it was just a way for them to express their anger and indignation with Paul (2Sam 16:13). 

My question is why did they come unhinged at this point? My answer is that Paul was basically telling them that God had rejected them. No, God was not rejecting them. They were rejecting him and were losing their favored nation status. Today God does not see people as Jews or Gentiles, just believing and unbelieving. Today, Israel has no special status in the dispensation of grace. They will again someday in the Kingdom, but not now. 

I also believe that the Jewish leaders knew the prophecies that spoke of the Jews going to the Gentiles after the Kingdom was established, but did not realize that they had already rejected said Kingdom and God was going to do it another way: Paul. Understand that in the Old Testament, there are no prophecies about the Gentiles hearing the truth before Israel is restored. Again, these are the unsearchable riches of Christ that Paul said has been kept secret since the world began (Eph 3:8). 

VERSE 24: The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him. Of course, the Roman captain didn't know what to make of it, so he decided to force some answers out of Paul. 

VERSE 25: And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned? Oops, trump card played again!

VERSES 26-29: When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman. (27)  Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea. (28)  And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. (29)  Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. Unlike what is happening in our society right now, Rome respected citizenship and the rule of law. Paul was also quick to point out that his citizenship was not purchased like the captain's had been. 

VERSE 30: On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them. The next day, to know for sure what the Jews were accusing Paul of, he loosed him and put Paul before the chief priests and counsel. 

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