Good morning! We have observed the swift expansion of Christianity throughout the book of Acts, especially in the ministry to Gentiles conducted by the apostle Paul. Today in Acts 21-23, we start the final narrative of this book, concerning Paul’s last journey to Jerusalem and from there westward, ending in Rome.
Remember that yesterday Paul was out and about visiting churches and starting others. As he makes clear his intention of returning to Jerusalem, Paul receives several warnings that going back to Jerusalem wouldn’t be easy this time. The foreshadowing continues when the prophet Agabus describes Paul’s eventual binding at the hands of Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. When Paul does end up before the hostile crowd at the Jerusalem temple, he addresses them honestly and from his own experience. He retells his conversion story, with one minor difference. Earlier, when this occurrence was first narrated in Acts 9, Paul doesn’t describe an appearance of Jesus after his baptism sending him to the Gentiles. I tend to believe that “hindsight is 20/20”, and wonder if Paul “remembered” this vision because it fit so well with what became his mission after a while. But if the rest of Acts is any indication, it took far longer for clarity to develop about Paul’s unique focus on Gentile communities.
The great irony in these last chapters arises from the fact that Romans become the protectors of Paul. Once he identifies as a Roman citizen, they treat him with kid gloves. This comes in handy, because the Jewish leaders hasn’t much good to say about him. Defending himself before the Jewish council in Jerusalem, Paul diverts attention away from himself by calling for defense from the Pharisees, tapping into a years-old feud between Pharisees and Sadducees over whether there is a resurrection. When Paul is rescued yet again, some Jews prepare to take up arms against him, but their plot is found out. Paul evades their attempt on his life when he is sent to a greater Roman power, that of Felix the governor. We’ll pick the story up there tomorrow; for now, happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Acts 24-26. Thanks for reading!