We meet the mob today as they attempt to kill Paul. It’s not just a plot anymore but a full out assault on him.
The first thing I notice is that it was the Jews from Asia that started the trouble. It wasn’t the Jews from Jerusalem responding to gossip or rumors. It was the Jews he had debated during his travels. They had come for the holy days too.
Something else that caught my attention was that they waited until near the end of the seven days of Paul’s purification time before they acted. Why was that? Did Paul not enter the temple after his first visit until this day? Were they required to leave him be by the law during that time? They had obviously seen him in the town but did nothing to stir up trouble at that point. Why?
It looks like the Jews from Asia are the ones who grabbed Paul in the first place. Then they rallied the troops to their cause. The Jews of Jerusalem probably didn’t recognize Paul but the Jews from Asia had recent contact with him and knew him quite well.
At this point the old saying about those who assume popped into my head. “When you assume you make an ass out of u and me.” This is what these Jews did regarding Paul’s teachings and who he brought with him into the temple. Paul NEVER taught as they claimed and he adhered to the law with vigor. I think the last charge of bringing Greeks into the temple was the catalyst for the outrage of the town.
It was a good thing for Paul that they were making such a public uproar because it got the attention of “the tribune of the cohort.” The soldiers didn’t get involved until it was evident that the Jews were trying to kill Paul and only because it was causing such a ruckus in town. The people were in mob mentality!
The soldiers didn’t even have to “fire a shot” to get the crowd to stop. All they had to do was show up. Anyone under Roman rule knew how dangerous it was to ignore the soldiers. They tended to act first and ask questions later, which is exactly what they did in this case. They arrested Paul first THEN asked what was going on. Paul was at the center of the riot so he must have been the center of the problem. Removing him would quiet the crowd; hopefully.
The description of Paul being taken away makes me ask whether he was being carried over the soldier’s heads to keep him out of the reach of the crowd or if he was being carried because they had beaten him so badly he couldn’t walk. I’m inclined to think it was the first one because they were following the soldiers and still crying out for Paul’s blood.
Paul did nothing to earn this kind of behavior from his fellow Jews. He did everything the elders had instructed him to do to keep the people calm. Did he expect the elders’ plan to work? He knew he was in for trouble when he was on his way to Jerusalem. He was ready for it too. Did he think it would come in this form? Was he afraid at any point or was he detached and simply looking in on the goings on? Did he have peace in this moment? Was he praying during it all? We will see tomorrow that he seizes the opportunity to witness for Jesus even in this hour of abuse. He had courage and conviction if nothing else.
Father God I can’t imagine being in Paul’s shoes! Without You and Your Holy Spirit no one would have weathered that storm. Paul could because he KNEW You were right there with him. He KNEW You walked this road with him. He KNEW he was in the palm of Your hand. And he KNEW that, no matter what happened, he would be safe in Your arms; whether on earth or in Heaven at the end of this day. He was safe.
Thank You that I am safe in my storms too. Mine are not nearly so violent or volatile. THANK YOU FOR THAT! Help me remember Paul’s quiet endurance in the storm. You just reminded me of the peace in the middle of my storm that You gave me today. You provided it through the daily bible verse I get in my email; KLOVE’s encouraging word of the day. Thank You for that peace. The storm didn’t change but my attitude did. Most importantly my knowledge of where my hope lies and my redirection of my focus there changed. I was reminded to look to You instead of looking at my circumstances. Peter and the waves. Help me “walk on water” Father! Have no fear and focus on You!