After the Purification
When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)
With these words, the riot begins. In reading them, we cannot but notice that what served as the catalyst to all that would follow was no misunderstanding, for what we have here is a bald faced lie, followed by a substantial misrepresentation. In fact, if you look closely, it isn’t an appeal based upon a religious difference, it is an appeal based upon national pride and cultural identity; no sir, this is no mere doctrinal dispute.
The crowd goes berserk, and Paul is beaten with intent to commit murder in cold blood.
The Roman commander on duty responds quickly and leads his soldiers into the fray. As one might expect of Romans, they quickly place Paul under arrest, and with great difficulty, they manage to get him out of the crowd’s grip. As they proceed away from the mob, Paul asks to be allowed to address the crowd, and remarkably, the commander agrees…
Luke records his words in 22:3-21; he tells the people of his birth and heritage as a Jew among Jews, of his training, and of his bloodthirsty pursuit of Christians. He tells of his mission to Damascus to persecute in that city, and of how the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road, telling them all about that experience and of his call to bring the good news to faraway places; the crowd remained silent up to this point, but Paul would never finish telling his story…
It would seem that there was a spirit in play on that fateful day, a spirit that was not at all a holy one. What happened next?
For that dear reader, we will have to wait until next time…