Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus—the Church—as it was written and recorded in the book of Acts by Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the twenty-fourth chapter of this New Testament book. “And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. And when he was called forth Tertullus began to accuse him, saying” (Acts 24:1-2).
“Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ring leader of the sect of the Nazarenes: who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee: by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him. And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so” (Acts 24:2-9).
“Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. And they neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city: neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult, who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day” (Acts 24:10-21).
“And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. And he commanded a centurion to keep Paull, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister to come unto him. And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith of Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound” (Acts 24:22-27).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the continuation of the trial and testimony of the apostle Paul. What’s more is that not only will you find the trial and testimony of the apostle Paul but you will find the trial and testimony taking place before rulers, kings, governors and the like. As you read the words which are presented in these chapters you will find that the apostle Paul didn’t merely stand trial and give testimony before and unto the Jews for he would also testify before chief captains of the guard, governors, rulers and kings alike. It is honestly quite remarkable when reading the words found in these chapters for within them we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul standing before those in authority and power giving an account of his stewardship. What’s more is that the apostle Paul would need to stand before the rulers within the land of Judaea and give an account of the work and ministry with which he moved throughout Judaea, Galilee and the regions round about that land. The apostle Paul would indeed give a testimony of the work which he had indeed engaged in among the Gentiles and how the Lord Jesus had sent and called him to preach the word and gospel among them. It is truly remarkable to read the words found in these chapters for as the apostle Paul stood before the rulers and leaders there in Jerusalem and also in Caesarea you will find him being called to give a testimony of the transformation he experienced on the road to Damascus and the testimony it would provide him within his life. THE TRIAL, THE TESTIMONY AND THE TESTIMONY! Oh it is incredibly powerful when you read these chapters and encounter the awesome truth surrounding the apostle Paul and the words which he would speak unto those to whom he would stand before.
The more I read the words which are found within these chapters the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the apostle Paul being seized by the Jewish mob within the city of Jerusalem. What we must needs recognize and understand is that the apostle Paul sought to arrive in Jerusalem around the time of the feast of Pentecost which would have all but guaranteed that Jews from the known world at that time would have made the journey unto the city for the feast. There is not a doubt in my mind the city of Jerusalem was indeed bustling with Jews from Judaea and Galilee as well as from Asia and the regions round about the promised inheritance of the people of God. It would be during this time of celebration we find the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Jerusalem and Jews from Asia being aware of his presence and rising up against him. There in the city of Jerusalem the Jews would not only seize and lay hold of the apostle Paul but would also set themselves in array against him to beat him. What’s more is that were it not for the intervention of the captain of the guard the Jews might have even succeeded in killing and putting the apostle Paul to death. That which we find in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament book is quite telling when you take the time to read the words contained therein for they bring us face to face with the tremendous and powerful truth surrounding the apostle Paul coming unto Jerusalem not knowing what would ultimately befall him but knowing that he would be bound by the Jews and then handed over to the Gentiles.
It is with all of this in mind I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament book. It is the words found in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament book we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful reality of the Jews who raised themselves up against the apostle Paul there in the city of Jerusalem. What we must needs recognize and understand is that the apostle Paul was no stranger to the resistance and revolt of the Jews for in virtually every city he journeyed and preached the gospel in during his missionary journeys you will find the Jews opposing themselves and inciting a mob and riot against him. Beginning with the apostle Paul preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus in Damascus after his conversion we find the Jews raising themselves up against him seeking to kill him. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how almost immediately after the apostle Paul was baptized, received the Holy Ghost and began preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus the Jews would begin to raise themselves up against him. In all reality the single greatest threat and opposition to the word and gospel which the apostle Paul preached would indeed be the Jews and his own countrymen. The apostle Paul would experience the greatest resistance toward and against the word and gospel he preached—not from the Gentiles but from the Jews who were his own fellow countrymen. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth and reality for when we seek to understand the greatest source of the opposition the apostle Paul would face and experience during his life in Christ we are brought face to face with that opposition coming directly from the Jews themselves. You cannot read the words surrounding the life of the apostle Paul in Christ and not be brought face to face with this incredible truth and how it directly impacted the life and ministry of the apostle Paul in Christ Jesus. With this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament book and the revolt, resistance and opposition of the Jews against the apostle Paul in the city of Jerusalem:
“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, 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. (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 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. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar, 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. 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. 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. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. 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? Art not thou that Egyptians, which before these days madest and uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? 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. And when he had given him license, 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” (Acts 21:27-40).
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this particular portion of Scripture for what would begin years earlier in Damascus would now come full circle in the city of Jerusalem with the revolt and resistance of the Jews. That which the apostle Paul had experienced in Damascus and that which he would experience in certain cities and places he journeyed he would now experience in full force and measure in the city of Jerusalem. In all reality it is quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider how at one point while the apostle Paul was still living as a Pharisee he would have been able to move freely among the Jews in the city of Jerusalem without any threat of revolt or resistance. When, however, the apostle Paul would be transformed from a Pharisee and persecutor unto a preacher of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus we find the greatest resistance coming from the Jews. Moreover the single greatest source of the revolt and resistance of the Jews was not necessarily the words which the apostle Paul preached but rather the apostle Paul preaching unto and among the Gentiles. Furthermore the Jews took great offense with the apostle Paul preaching the word and gospel unto the Gentiles and declaring unto them they had no need to be circumcised in order to experience the free gift of salvation in the Lord Jesus. This would be directly contrary to the truth and reality of the Jews themselves for the ultimate mark of being a Jew and a child of the seed of Abraham was the circumcision of one’s flesh. What’s more is that if you were one from another nation, people, land, culture, race and the like and you sought to make yourself a Jew you would need to commit yourself to being circumcised. That which the apostle Paul was speaking unto the Gentiles was that although circumcision was in fact needed to become a Jew it was not needed to receive the free gift of circumcision. In fact, it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia:
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenanat, yet if it be confirmed, nor man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:1-18).
When writing unto the churches which were in the region of Galatia the apostle Paul sought to correct their thinking for there were those who crept in among them who would sow a false gospel that they needed to be circumcised in order to receive the free gift of salvation as well as the promise of the Holy Spirit. That which the apostle Paul sought to contend with when writing the epistle unto the churches of Galatia is the false gospel which was being preached unto and among them causing them great confusion thinking they were justified by the law—and not only justified by the law but also that circumcision availed anything in the kingdom of heaven. In all reality this gospel which the apostle Paul preached was offensive and was an affront unto the Jews in every city whereunto he went for the apostle Paul preached that you could have salvation without and apart from circumcision. In fact, even when the apostle Peter would come unto the house of Cornelius a Roman centurion in Caesarea—not only was the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus preached unto Gentiles but so also were the Gentiles baptized in water and received the Holy Spirit. It would be the report of the apostle Peter entering in among the Gentiles that would initially be offensive to those in Jerusalem when he returned from Caesarea and gave an account of his ministry among the Gentiles. That which we find in the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is not only the first account of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached among the Gentiles but also the Gentiles receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit and being baptized without and apart from being circumcised. It would not be until after the apostle Peter rehearsed those things which had happened—the angelic visitation unto Cornelius in Caesarea and the vision which the Lord showed unto the apostle Peter in Joppa—those in Jerusalem would hold their peace and conclude that the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus not only came unto but was also for the Gentiles as well.
That which we find in the eleventh chapter of this New Testament book must be recognized and understood for the words found here bring us face to face with the tremendous truth that is found in the fifteenth chapter of this book as well. The words and language which is found in the fifteenth chapter of this book once more centers around the Gentiles hearing and receiving the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus—and not only hearing and receiving the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus but also doing so without and apart from the Law and without and apart from circumcision. In all reality I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are present in the fifteenth chapter for it helps to further understand the tremendous offense the Jews took with the gospel of the Lord Jesus and how the apostle Paul would both teach and preach that in Christ neither the Law nor circumcision avails anything. It is with this in mind I invite you to first consider the words found in the fourteenth chapter and then the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of this New Testament book:
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. And after they had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they sent went down into Attalia: and thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended by the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and ha gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples” (Acts 14:19-28).
“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised, after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:1-5).
“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which. Neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them” (Acts 15:6-12).
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things, known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read at the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:13-21).
The more I read the words which are found within these chapters the more I encounter and come face to face with the truth surrounding the offense of the Jews toward, with and against the gospel which the apostle Paul preached. In fact, if you consider the words which the apostle Paul preached in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the churches in Galatia, the words which the apostle Paul preached in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the saints at Philippi, as well as the words the apostle preached unto the Corinthian saints in the sixth chapter of each of the epistle written unto them you will clearly see how the gospel he preached would have seemed a great affront and offense unto the Jews. It is absolutely unmistakable when reading the words which are found in each of these four epistles the words the apostle Paul preached unto the Gentiles would have in all reality seemed contrary to the Jews. It is in the third chapter of the epistle which was written unto the churches in Galatia the apostle Paul emphatically preaches and defends the truth that it is absolutely impossible to be justified before the living God through the law. The apostle Paul would declare in the third chapter of this epistle that we are not justified by the law which Moses commanded but rather through faith in the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that when you come to the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints you will not only find the apostle Paul instructing the Gentile believers to beware of those of the concision but also emphatically declaring that in Christ circumcision availeth nothing for it is through and by faith in the Son of God as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” What’s more is that if you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the sixth chapter of each of the epistles written unto the Corinthian saints you will find the apostle Paul speaking of a new and different temple that was present in the midst of the earth—a temple that was not made with human hands but is spiritual in nature. When writing unto the saints which were in Corinth we find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring unto them that they were the temple of the Holy Spirit. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these epistles and how they would and could have been perceived as a great affront and offense unto the Jews in whatsoever city the apostle Paul traveled and preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus:
“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why comopellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But, if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteous come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:14-21).
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5).
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:1-14).
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? OR what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Pause for a moment and consider the incredible truth behind and surrounding the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto these Gentile congregations—words which he would have undoubtedly preached unto and among them in person. Within these four epistles—not only do we find the apostle Paul declaring that we are not justified in God by and through the Law but through faith in the Lord Jesus but the apostle Paul also declares that in Christ circumcision avails absolutely nothing. When writing and speaking unto the Gentiles the apostle Paul clearly emphasized that the law which was given unto and by Moses avails absolutely nothing when it comes to being justified in the sight of the living God. The apostle Paul preached that a man was justified by and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that not in and of himself nor through the law which Moses gave. As if this weren’t enough the apostle Paul would also declare unto the Gentiles that their bodies were the temple of the Holy Ghost and the temples of the living God. Oh please don’t miss the incredible importance of the words the apostle Paul preached here in these passages of Scripture for the apostle was speaking directly to three of the greatest facets of the Jewish faith and religion—the Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, the Law which was given unto Moses, and the rite of circumcision. For the Jews who heard the words the apostle Paul preached concerning believers being the temple of the Holy Spirit they would have seemed like a direct affront and assault on and against the Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. When the Jews heard the words the apostle Paul preached concerning a man being able to be justified in the sight of the living God by, through and according to the Law of Moses apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ it would have seemed the apostle Paul was preaching against the Law itself. Not only this but when the Jews heard the apostle Paul preach that circumcision of the flesh avails nothing in Christ it would have seemed the apostle Paul was even assaulting and attacking the right of circumcision which was first given unto Abraham and then commanded by Moses.
It is absolutely incredible to consider these three distinct truths found within these four epistles for the gospel which the apostle Paul preached unto the Gentiles would have seemed unto the Jews as blasphemy. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that even during the days of the apostle Paul the Jews took great offense to the idea and concept that Jesus was indeed Lord and was indeed the Christ. The Jews would have taken and did take great offense at the preaching of the apostle Paul because the apostle Paul emphatically preached and declared that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God—the very same declaration Simon called Peter made at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked the disciples who they said that He the Son of man was. What’s more is the apostle Paul preached Christ crucified—and not only Christ crucified but also Christ raised from death to life again on the third day. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely incredible it is for it calls and brings us face to face with the tremendous truth the apostle Paul preached a gospel unto the Gentiles which seemed to be contrary to everything the Jews in those cities and regions whereunto the apostle Paul preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus. The Jews would take great offense to the word and gospel the apostle Paul preached concerning Jesus being the Son of God and the Christ. As if this weren’t enough the apostle Paul would also preach a gospel that seemed to be contrary to the Law of Moses, the rite of circumcision and even the Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It is absolutely no wonder the Jews would have revolted against and resisted the apostle Paul and the gospel he preached for his words would have seemed like a direct affront and assault to the tenants of the Jewish faith.
When the apostle Paul came unto the city of Jerusalem after his previous missionary journeys you will find the Jews of Asia which saw him raising themselves up against him. Not only did the Jews which were present in the city of Jerusalem raise themselves up against the apostle Paul but they also incited a mob and riot against him. The very same thing the Jews had done in the cities whereunto the apostle Paul had preached—cities such as Thessalonica, Corinth, Berea, Iconium, Lystra and he like—would now be done in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It’s one thing for the Jews to raise themselves up in revolt against the apostle Paul in the various cities and regions he taught and preached the gospel among the Gentiles but now the apostle Paul was in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. What’s more is not only was the apostle Paul in the midst of the city of Jerusalem but the apostle Paul was also seen in the Temple. It would be after seven days of purification had passed the Jews would come upon the apostle Paul in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and would lay hold of him that they might put him to death and be rid of him. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that it almost seems as though the opposition and resistance the apostle Pau first experienced in the city of Damascus when the Jews sought to kill him and the same opposition and resistance the apostle Paul would experience in cities such as Corinth, Thessalonica, Berea and others was now seemingly following him unto the city of Jerusalem. Here in the very heart and center of Judaea and of the Jewish heritage and faith we find the persecution, the revolt and the opposition of the Jews coming to a head as they would not only come upon the apostle Paul but would also incite the crowd present in the midst of the city to gather themselves against the apostle Paul.
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts for not only did the Jews lay hands upon the apostle Paul and stir up the people against him but they also accused him of and according to the gospel which he preached among them. If you read the words which are found in the twenty-eighth verse of this chapter you will find them crying out with a loud voice unto the people against Paul accusing him of being that man who taught all men every where against the people, against the law, and against this place (the Temple). We must needs recognize and understand this particular truth of it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the dangers the apostle Paul faced there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Jews for the Jews not only raised themselves up against the apostle Paul but they also laid hands upon him and drew him out of the Temple. It would be outside the Temple there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the Jews would set upon Paul beating him and would have beaten him to death were it not for the captain of the band hearing a rumor and report of a possible riot and revolt of the Jews in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Oh it’s important to recognize and understand that Rome had no tolerance nor patience for revolts and riots in the cities within their dominion and authority and had centurions, bands, soldiers and the like present in the midst of the cities to quell and squash any potential revolt and riot which would rise up in the midst of the people. The captain of the band would hear of a possible revolt in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and of a man being seized and beaten by the Jews and he would come to the aid and rescue of the apostle Paul—not necessarily to rescue him but to prevent the Jews from rioting and revolting within the city.
The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture are absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about them for they bring us face to face with the opposition and resistance of the Jews toward the apostle Paul and the word and gospel he preached. For the Jews the apostle Paul seemed to preach and teach against the Temple of the Lord saying the Gentiles are the temple of the Holy Ghost. The Jews believed the apostle Paul to blaspheme and teach heresy for he would teach the Gentiles that circumcision did not avail anything in the sight and presence of the living God for one was not circumcised who was so of the flesh but of the heart. Moreover the Jews believed the apostle Paul blasphemed in the words he spoke for he would preach unto the Gentiles that they were not justified in the sight of God by and through the Law but through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jews in those cities the apostle Paul preached would indeed view the gospel the apostle Paul preached as being a direct affront and assault to the Law of Moses, the rite and commandment of circumcision and even the Temple of the living God which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. In all reality it is quite astonishing to read the words which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke concerning circumcision for the circumcision which was commanded of Moses pertained to the flesh. If there is one thing we must needs understand that if this circumcision of the flesh did in fact avail anything in the sight of the living God then it would mean we had something to glory and be confident in within our own flesh. If circumcision did in fact avail anything in the sight of the living God then it would mean that we would in fact have somewhat to glory in our flesh for our flesh could indeed present before the living God that which would please him. That which the apostle Paul preached was that we have absolutely nothing to glorify the living God in our flesh and that circumcision of the flesh availed nothing in the sight of the living God.
What we find within these chapters in the New Testament book of Acts bring us face to face with the apostle Paul being seized and beaten by the Jews who brought their revolt and resistance from the cities whereunto the apostle Paul had preached unto Jerusalem. The resistance, the revolt, the blasphemy and the opposition the apostle Paul experienced in the midst of the cities whereunto he preached would now follow him unto the very city of Jerusalem as the Jews of Asia would incite the people and crowd against the apostle Paul. Those Jews which had revolted against the apostle Paul in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would undoubtedly contain some of the same Jews which revolted against and resisted the apostle Paul in the various cities unto which he came and preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus. It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to this for it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous opposition the apostle Paul would face in the city of Jerusalem—not only for preaching the resurrection of the Lord Jesus but also seemingly preaching blasphemy against the Temple of the Lord, against the Law of Moses and against circumcision which was given through Moses. The Jews took great offense to the word and gospel which the apostle Paul preached for his gospel would seem to disannul the Law, the Temple and circumcision itself. The gospel the apostle preached was one that centered upon the free gift of grace from God alone and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember when writing unto the Roman saints the apostle Paul declared that whosoever confesses with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe with their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved. The gospel which the apostle Paul preached was a gospel that was entirely and altogether separate from and independent of the Law, the Temple and even circumcision itself.
If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that the word and gospel the apostle Paul preached unto the Gentiles would have seemed like an affront for the very things they believed to give them right standing in the sight of the living God was now seemingly coming under attack and assault. With this being said we must needs understand that even if it did in fact appear the tenants of the Jewish faith and heritage were coming under attack and assault they weren’t coming under such scrutiny and assault from the apostle Paul. It was not the apostle Paul who was seemingly preaching against the Law and even circumcision but it was the very gospel of the Lord Jesus. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that the same trouble the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of the people, the Sadducees and the Pharisees took with the words which Jesus preached during those three and a half years He walked among us as the living Word become flesh was the same trouble the Jews would have with the teaching of the apostle Paul. What would initially begin with the chief priests, the scribes, the elders and rulers of the people raising themselves up against the apostles in the city of Jerusalem because they not only preached the resurrection of the Lord Jesus but also that He was both Lord and Christ would entirely and altogether transition to the Jews themselves being raised up against the apostle Paul—and not only against the apostle Paul but also against the word and gospel he preached. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative we understand this for when we read these chapters found in the New Testament book of Acts we find that the revolt and resistance of the Jews would ultimately lead the apostle Paul to not only stand trial before the chief captain of the band and the Jews themselves but also give testimony of his transformation.
What I so absolutely love about the words which are found in this passage within the New Testament book of Acts is how the revolt and riot of the Jews against the apostle Paul actually afforded him the opportunity to not merely stand trial before the chief captain of the band but to give testimony of the grace of the Lord Jesus. As you read the words which are found in this portion of Scripture you will find that when the apostle Paul was present in the company of the captain of the guard he entreated him that he might speak unto the people there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Despite the fact the Jews had already laid their hands on and beaten him and would have indeed put him to death the apostle Paul still sought to speak unto them. This takes on an entirely new and different meaning when you think about and consider how the apostle Paul stood before the Jews there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and gave testimony of the grace of God which had been manifested within his life. What we must needs recognize and understand is the apostle Paul didn’t seem to be defending himself more than giving testimony and bearing witness unto the work of the Lord Jesus within his life. Upon reading the words which are found in the twenty-second chapter of this New Testament book you will encounter the apostle Paul giving testimony and bearing witness to the grace of God through the Lord Jesus within his life. Moreover the words which the apostle Paul had spoken unto those who were present in the city of Jerusalem was a testimony of transformation and how the Lord had taken he who previously persecuted and wreaked havoc upon and against the church and transformed him into a powerful preacher of the gospel. He who previously persecuted the church would now be the greatest champion and preacher of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Consider if you will the words the apostle Paul spoke unto the Jews there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem after obtaining leave from the chief captain of the band to address them:
“Men, brethren, and fathers, hea rye my defence which I made now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) 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. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. 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. 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. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 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, 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. 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. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that this Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was ian. Trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 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, and he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:1-21).
The words which we find here in this passage of Scripture are incredibly powerful when you truly take the time to read and consider them for they bring us face to face with the apostle Paul giving a testimony of the transformation which the Lord Jesus wrought in his life. He who once persecuted the church unto the death and dragged men and women out of their homes before committing them into prison had encountered the person of the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus and it would be there on the road where the beginning of his transformation would take place. The transformation would continue in the city of Damascus when a man by the name of Ananias was sent unto the apostle Paul by the Lord Jesus with the instruction to lay his hands on him that he might receive his sight and might preach the gospel unto the Gentiles. It would be told unto Ananias that which the apostle Paul would do and in part who and what the apostle would become during his life in Christ. That one who previously persecuted the followers of the way and did so unto the death while committing others unto prison had been faithfully preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. The underlying trouble which the apostle Paul faced came primarily from the Jews in the cities whereunto he journeyed for the Jews themselves would oppose, resist and rise up against the apostle Paul and against the word and message he preached. For the Jews they could not accept that Jesus of Nazareth was both Lord and Messiah nor that the living God had raised Him from the dead. Moreover for the Jews they viewed the apostle Paul as preaching heresy and blasphemy against the Law of Moses, against the Temple which stood in Jerusalem and against circumcision which was first given unto Abraham and later commanded by Moses.
We have a great need to recognize and understand the words which are presented before us in these chapters for the apostle Paul was seized by the Jews who would have beaten him to death were it not for the intervention of the chief captain of the guard. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider that a direct result of this persecution of the Jews would be the apostle Paul being able to stand before governors and rulers alike as he testified concerning the Lord Jesus. The words which the apostle Paul spoke were not merely concerning the transformation which took place in his own life but also of Jesus being both Lord and Christ and His being raised from death to life on the third day. It’s actually quite remarkable to read the words found in this passage for just as Stephen himself was brought before men in the city of Jerusalem and accused of heresy and blasphemy and just as the Lord Jesus Himself was brought before the religious council, Herod and Pontius Pilate to give testimony in the city of Jerusalem so also would the apostle Paul now give testimony of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would stand before the chief captain and all the people speaking the truth concerning the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus and would powerfully proclaim the transformation and encounter he had with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. It would be that encounter that would dramatically and radically alter the entire course and trajectory of his life from that day onward.
What would begin in the twenty-first chapter of this New Testament book with the apostle Paul being seized by the Jews and beaten before the chief captain of the band intervened would transition to the apostle Paul giving testimony before the chief captain and the people before ultimately being loosed from his bands and giving testimony before the chief priests and the entire religious council. The day after the apostle Paul gave testimony and bore witness before the Jews in the city of Jerusalem he would then be called to stand before the chief priests and the entire religious council that it might be ascertained as to why the Jews laid hold of him and if he had indeed committed any such crime or offense. It would be when standing before the chief priests and the religious council the apostle Paul would perceive that the council itself was divided between Pharisees and Sadducees and would speak of the resurrection of the dead. The apostle Paul would emphatically declare and proclaim that he was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee who for the hope and resurrection of the dead was called in question. It would be this statement that would cause a great dissension to arise between the Pharisees and Sadducees and the multitude itself was divided as the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit. It is truly incredible to read the words found in this portion of Scripture and find the apostle Paul standing before the chief captain of the band, the Jews themselves, the chief priests and the religious council, the Pharisees and the Sadducees and even the governor Felix and giving testimony of the word and grace of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul would bear witness and give testimony of the Lord Jesus within his life and how the Lord Jesus was indeed crucified and put to death before being raised from death to life on the third day.
As I bring this writing to a close it is absolutely astonishing and remarkable to read the words which Luke presented in these chapters and how the apostle Paul would stand before rulers and leaders in this natural world and give testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. That which the Lord Jesus had spoken unto Ananias all those years before and that which the apostle Paul knew and understood concerning his bearing testimony and giving witness before kings and governors and rulers would now begin to come pass. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the fact that in order to bring this to pass the apostle Paul would walk through affliction and persecution of the Jews in order for it to come pass. The Lord Jesus revealed all those years earlier the apostle Paul indeed stand before kings, governors, rulers and leaders that he might give testimony of the Lord Jesus and that which brought it to pass would be his journey unto the city of Jerusalem. It would be there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem the apostle Paul stand before both Jews and Gentiles alike before ultimately being brought unto Caesarea where he would stand before the governor Felix. In the twenty-fourth chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostle Paul being brought unto Caesarea where he would spend two years appearing before Felix who would gladly hear the word which he spoke concerning the Lord Jesus. Of course we know from Scripture that Felix supposed that Paul would give money to secure his release, however, the apostle Paul was not only willing to be bound but also give his life on the altar of preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul was indeed willing to be bound knowing the word and testimony of the Lord Jesus was not bound and that it would be through those bonds he would be able to preach the gospel unto those whom he otherwise would not have an audience with.
Perhaps the single greatest question is whether or not we are willing to lay down our lives on the altar of sacrifice and service for the sake of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul was not only willing to be bound but also to give his life on the altar of sacrifice and service that the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus might be proclaimed. The apostle Paul knew and understood that bonds, chains and afflictions abided him in whatever city he journeyed to and Jerusalem was absolutely no exception. It would be in the city of Jerusalem where the apostle Paul would not only be bound but would also be delivered unto the Gentiles just as his Lord had been years earlier. In all reality the apostle Paul was not only presenting his body as a living sacrifice but was also walking in the same footsteps the Lord Jesus walked while on the earth. The Lord Jesus did not save His life but willingly and voluntarily offered it up unto death and even death upon the cross. The apostle Paul had absolutely no interest nor any desire to save his life in this world or in his generation but willingly and voluntarily present it unto the living God. We as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are truly willing to present our bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to try and save our lives in this life or whether we are willing to lay it down upon the altar of our sacrifice that our lives might be holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God. Oh that we would be men and women who are deliberate and intentional in our willingness to surrender our lives fully and completely before and unto the Lord Jesus to be used for His glory and honor and as He desires and sees fit for us.