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Volume 30 - Page 129 of 179 Index | Zoom | |
Paul's apprehension at Jerusalem.
pp. 105 - 108
The second half of the Acts devotes a great deal of space to an account of Paul's
apprehension and subsequent trials, culminating in his imprisonment for two years at
Rome. When the Apostle arrived at Jerusalem with the contribution for the poor saints
there, he was obliged to meet the charge made against him, that he taught all the Jews
that were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses. In order to refute this charge publicly, he
associates himself with some men who had taken upon themselves the Nazarite vow.
While thus engaged, he is recognized by some Jews from Asia, who raise the cry that he
has defiled the Holy Place by taking Trophimus into the sacred enclosure. The Romans
had given power to the Jews to inflict the death penalty for this act of sacrilege, and the
marble slab warning any intruder of the consequences of such an act may still be seen in
the British Museum. The last word in the Greek--Thanaton, "death"--can easily be
The following extract from Josephus' "War of the Jews" will show how serious was
the Apostle's position.
"Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and reproached John and his
party, and said to them, Have not you, vile creatures that you are, by our permission, put
up this partition wall before your sanctuary? Have not ye been allowed to put up the
pillars thereto belonging, at due distances, and on it engraved in Greek, and in your own
letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that wall? Have we not given
you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he was a Roman?" (Josephus B. J. 6: 2: 4).
Riots over this type of difficulty were a constant source of anxiety to the Roman
Governor. Under Cumanus, who preceded Felix, there had been a riot which had resulted
in the death of a thousand Jews. And so we read in Acts 21::
"All the city was moved, and the people ran together. And they took Paul and drew
him out of the Temple" (Acts 21: 30).
The tumult had by this time attracted the attention of the authorities, and the Temple
guard immediately closed the great gate that secured the inner shrine from profanation.
They then closed the other three gates, or, as Acts 21: 30 puts it: "And forthwith the
doors were shut."
Paul was now outside the sacred enclosure, and the mob was therefore free to shed his
blood without further defiling the Temple. From their stations on the roof of the
cloisters, however, the Roman guard had seen what was going on, and tidings were
conveyed to the Captain "that all Jerusalem was in an uproar". The Captain evidently did
not under-estimate the violence of the people, for we read that he "took soldiers and
centurions"--which means that several hundred soldiers were employed--and ran down
the steps connecting the castle with the court. And "when they saw the Chief Captain
and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul".