Paul is in Jerusalem with the church there which is, uniquely, mostly made up of thousands of Jewish believers. He has told them of the Gentile mission, for which they glorified God. But they are not too happy that Paul has not being getting the Gentiles to follow the law (even though the Jerusalem council had sorted this issue years before). Paul reminds them of the council decision in v.25 and agrees to undergo some purification so he can enter the temple. Some commentators believe he is compromising. But in 1 Corinthians 9 Paul talks of being a Jew to the Jews to reach the Jews. He is passionate for the opportunity to reach more Jews for Jesus, so he undergoes purification, bringing us to today’s reading.
It all kicks off! The Jews see him in the temple and they are steamed – “Away with him” is not ‘get him out of the temple’, it is ‘kill him’. They accuse him of taking Trophimus past the “chel”, the dividing wall between the court of the Gentiles and the part of the temple that was open to ordinary Jews. Paul writes of that “dividing wall” of hostility being torn down in the letter to the Ephesians. The gospel has got rid of the divide, allowing both Jews and Gentiles who trust in Jesus access to the Father. Nevertheless this is a false charge, one they make up, just like they falsely charged Jesus.
The Roman soldiers rescue him and bind him to get some public order back. Once Paul has established he is not an Egyptian terrorist, he asks to speak to the crowd. Even when his life is in danger, Paul wants to preach the gospel! It’s an opportunity of a lifetime to preach about Jesus to Jews in Jerusalem. He speaks in Hebrew, to identify himself with them and not the Romans, and then he gives his testimony. Acts 22:1-5 describes his life before conversion. Verses 6-16 outline how he came to Christ and then verses 17-21 outline what he is doing. He’s a Jew, a follower of Jesus, who carried on praying in the temple, but has now been called to the Gentiles. That’s enough! ‘Away with Him’ they cry!
Our testimonies are powerful, they speak of what the Lord has done and what He can do again. Keep telling your testimony of how you became a Christian, of what the Lord has been doing in your life, of healings that you have received or been part of. They build faith in you and others for Him to do it again. Or to get totally wound up and want to kill you – but to live is Christ and to die is gain!
Be a people of testimonies so we can see God do it again and again!