A long passage which contains some notable events: firstly, the riot in Jerusalem. This city was a hotbed of zealots and ne'er do wells at certain times of the year and the Romans kept a close eye on developments. Fortunately for Paul, the Roman commander acted speedily to remove Paul from the rioting crowds or else he would have been killed. It must have been petrifying to be in the middle of a riot recognising that the people around you wanted you dead! And all because of a rumour. So Paul's willingness to compromise to appease the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem had led to disaster! The Jews who accused him were from Asia, so they would have known of his journeys and of the hate he inspired in them. They would also know Trophimus, who was from Ephesus and made their error. However, the entry of a Gentile into the Temple beyond the point they were allowed was considered so heinous that the Romans allowed the Jews to carry out the death penalty for this crime. Interestingly then, it was the unbiased justice of Rome which saved Paul's life. Nowhere else can we see more clearly the bravery of Paul. He is battered and bruised, fearing that death was to come, and having been rescued, he insists on speaking to the crowd, albeit from a much safer place. The incident the commander spoke about in response to hearing Paul's cultured voice and his eloquent use of Greek happened in AD54, but he soon realised that Paul was no assassin. Paul then proceeded to give his testimony which is the most unanswerable argument in the world. In it he stresses two things: 1. He stressed his identity. He was a Jew-Paul never forgot or denied that-and a man of Tarsus-a great city-and a disciple of Gamaliel and himself a Rabbi. 2. He stressed the difference between himself and his audience. The fundamental thing was that he worshipped Jesus Christ as Saviour of all the world and his audience saw God as the One who loved only Jews. Paul continued with his testimony, although Luke has produced a short summary of what he said. We know elsewhere, in Acts 9 and Galatians 1, that it was three years afterwards when Paul went up to Jerusalem, after his visit to Arabia and his witnessing in Damascus. Paul had great hopes for the Jewish people: surely, they would all be like him when they heard the Good News of the Gospel? Unfortunately, his hopes would be dashed repeatedly as the Jews proved to be his fiercest opponents.
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