Bowie Apostolic Church
Acts 21: Paul Arrested in Jerusalem
by From the Pastor's Desk on February 21st, 2013

A Zealous Mob

Acts 21:30 Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. 34 Some in the crowd were shouting 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. 35 And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, 36 for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!” 
On Paul’s way to Rome by way of Jerusalem, there were several confirmations of what awaited him. He knew that more hardship was coming and he was even mentally and spiritually prepared for martyrdom. There were several people that knew (just as much as Paul did) that this great apostle’s immediate future was not going to be pleasant. I wrote previously about perseverance and consistency. In the modern world, this usually means that you try until you succeed with the understanding that when you reach the point of success you stay there and don’t go back. “Going back” would seem like failure. In the case of ministry and especially within the context of Paul, this is not true.

First what Paul accomplished in ministry still remained without him. I have heard it said (I believe by T.F. Tenney, whom I’ve never met) that “A success without a successor is a failure.” Paul left men in charge that can take things further than what he left it. This is the ultimate humility, to risk your life to build something and then to let it go because it never belonged to you in the first place. 

Secondly, ministry has seasons of change. You cannot expect that success in ministry remains without struggle and trials any more than success in life remains without struggle and trial. We all have a ministry. We all are called. We have to understand that when God says transition is coming, you have to be willing to let go of how things were in the past and move forward. This is what Paul is doing. This is what we all must learn to do. We were bought with a price and everything we accomplish for and through God belongs to Him.

Of course, when he gets to Jerusalem, he is arrested. In this case, being arrested is what saved him. Before being formally taken into custody, he was seized by a mob of people. They accused him of teaching people of not having to follow the Law of Moses, and he was guilty as charged. It is easier to understand that in Jerusalem, people were zealous for the Law of Moses. To come against it was to come against their identity. There was such a commotion that when the tribunal heard about it, he immediately sent troops to break it up. The Roman province of Judea (although the Roman province is no more, Jerusalem is still there) was so known for uprisings and violence, that there were always troops around to quell such violence. When they got to Paul, the crowd was beating him. I imagine they were beating him severely. As it turns out, and we will see at least one more time in subsequent chapters of Acts, being arrested by the Romans offered protection. 

There was such a commotion that the Romans assumed Paul was a really dangerous person. Apparently, there was a recent uprising of 4,000 men that they saw as a great threat. Surely Paul must be the one. They knew he wasn’t when they heard him speak Greek. Once in custody, he asked to address the crowd. We will see what he says to them in the next chapter.


Posted in Acts, Bible 2013    Tagged with Paul, Jerusalem, arrested, mob, law of moses


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