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Acts 21:27-36, Paul Arrested in the Temple

Wednesday, May 2

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Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

 bath for ritual purification

After many travels to faraway lands, Paul has returned to Jerusalem, the home of the Jews. Like a game of telephone, much of what Paul had taught had been twisted and misunderstood, so by the time he returned, many Jews were enraged. They had heard that Paul was preaching that the Jews should not follow Jewish laws, not circumcise their children, and to forsake the teachings of Moses. This was a misinterpretation of Paul's recommendation that Gentiles not be required to follow Jewish laws in order to become Christians. Still, the Jews in Jerusalem were angry with him.

James, who received Paul upon his return from his travels, recommended that Paul engage in seven days of ceremonial purification to show that he had not forsaken Jewish ways. He obliged, but before he could even finish his seven days, Jews there threw him out of the temple and started to beat him. The tribune (a Roman official charged with protecting Roman interests) intervened, arrested Paul, and tried to get at the truth of what he had done. 

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 21:27-36

When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually 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 aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. While they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Immediately he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came, 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 shouted 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. When Paul came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!”