Summary: the measure of man as viewed in the light of his suffering
THE MEASURE OF A MAN Acts 21:27-40
In looking at this passage tonight, I was more prone to call it the measure of the man than I was to say this is the arrest of Paul. It is the arrest of Paul, but it is the measure of the man who is seen in the midst of the circumstance that interests me.
I may never get arrested. I may never have to face what Paul did, but I need to learn the lessons of humility that he exemplified, and so that’s how it speaks to me.
From verse 27 on, Paul is a prisoner. His days as a free man are up, and from here on he’s a prisoner in various places.
Paul finds himself in an unusual situation
How can one give a positive testimony in a negative situation?.
Now, I suppose that every Christian is faced at times with the dilemma of how to give a positive testimony in a negative situation.
How do you give a positive testimony in a negative situation? Well, I think a good way to learn how is to watch a man who did it.
Rather than just listen to precepts about it, which we could recite to you from 1 Peter, I want you to see a man who did that very thing with his life.
Most Christian’s testimonies are given in church, or in a group of Christians where we get up and tell everybody who knows the Lord how wonderful the Lord is. And we all say, "Yes, he’s so wonderful."
But as we come to the Apostle Paul, we see a man who knew how to take a negative situation and make it into a positive testimony. Now, if we saw in chapter 20 his courage, and in chapter 21 the first 15 verses or so, his humility. Now we are going to see his boldness.
I think, just to add a footnote, as a prisoner from here on out, we ought to get some idea of how Paul viewed his imprisonment. And just to give you a point of reference at which you can make contact, I would call your attention to Ephesians chapter 3, and verse 1. Paul says, “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.”
Paul never viewed his situation as anything other than God authored. He never viewed his imprisonment as an imprisonment of men. He doesn’t say, "I write unto you, Paul, a prisoner of Rome." He’s always a prisoner of Jesus Christ. It was Christ who brought him into such predicaments.
He never saw himself as a prisoner of men. He saw himself only as a prisoner of the will of Jesus Christ. And so consequently, his imprisonment represented nothing but a new ministry. It didn’t mean the end of anything. It meant the beginning of something new.
As we move toward verse 27 of Acts 21, we are reminded that Paul has arrived in Jerusalem. He has tried to accommodate the Jewish Christians. The Jewish Christians there in Jerusalem had heard that he was against everything that had been the ceremony and tradition of Jewish life, and that wasn’t true.
He is met by a mob, who in a frenzy try to murder the Apostle Paul, and they haven’t got the foggiest idea what they’re doing, or why they’re doing it.
I. The ATTACK of the mob
We see that beginning in verse 27.
A. The culprits in the attack
Some Jews who were from Asia,
when they saw Paul in the temple, they saw their opportunity.
When they saw him in the temple, they stirred up all the people.
Lies can move people to action quicker than truth oftentimes.
IT IS ALWAYS EASIER TO ROUSE MEN TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RELIGION THAN TO LIVE BY IT.
The culprits in the attacks were religious people, in fact, very religious people.
B. The charges in the attack
Well, that’s a fairly broad indictment
that they brought against Paul "Teacheth all men everywhere." And notice the accusation, "against the people." First accusation he is anti-Semitic. Now, that would be a little difficult to really accuse an individual of being anti-Semitic when he’s a Jew.
Then they said, "and the Law." He’s anti-Moses. He’s anti-biblical. And then to sum it up, "And this place.”
The accusations were general, however, and they really couldn’t do much to the guy for that. So they came up with a specific in verse 28. And further, this is really what he’s done that’s bad: he brought Greeks into the temple and polluted the holy place. Now that’s a very strong accusation.
How do they know he did that? Well, verse 29 says, “For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.”