Bearing Witness in Jerusalem – Acts 21:27-23:11

By John Bellingham on February 9, 2014
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Bearing Witness in Jerusalem

 Acts 21:1-27- 23:11


– The closing chapters of Acts are very important in discerning Luke’s overarching purposes in writing this book

  1.  He wants to demonstrate that Christianity is the true expression of Biblical Judaism
  2.  He wants to show that Christianity is no political threat to Roman authority
  3.  He wants us to see continuity between Jesus’ ministry and the ministry of the Apostles
  4.  He wants us to see the unshakable Providence of God in all events that occur

– Today we will look at Paul’s arrest and his first defense before the Jews where Luke emphasizes the continuity between Christianity and Biblical Judaism


I.  Accused and Arrested (21:27-36)

1)    The Jewish Accusations

  • a.       Teaching against Jews/Jewish culture
  • b.       Turning against the Law of Moses
  • c.       Teaching against the Temple
  • d.       Bringing a Gentile into the Temple
  1. False in a strictly literal sense
  2. True in a broader theological sense!!     (cf. Eph 2:11-22)

2)    The Biblical Parallels

  • a.       Same accusations made against Jesus
  • b.       Same accusations made against Stephen
  1. Ironic twist that Saul the Pharisee has now switched places with Stephen
  2. Irony that Paul is ‘rescued’ from certain death by the Roman authorities

1.      Claudius Lysias mistakes Paul for an Egyptian assassin!! (sicarii)

2.      Paul is given an opportunity to speak publicly in his own defense


II. Defense Before the Jews (21:37- 23:10)

1)    Testimony in the Temple

  • a.      Christianity is not ‘anti-Jewish’
  1. Speaks in Aramaic
  2. Identifies with the Jewish crowd
  3. Identifies with their religious ‘zeal’
  4. Gives his ‘Jewish’ credentials
  5. Emphasizes the ministry of Ananias – “a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews” (v. 12)
  6. Prayer and vision was in the Temple
  • b.       Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism
  1. Proclaims Jesus of Nazareth as the risen and ascended Messiah
  2. Proclaims salvation for the Gentiles in accordance with the Old Testament

2)    Trial before the Sanhedrin

  • a.        Comparison and Contrast with Jesus
  1. Both appeared before the High Priest
  2. Jesus turns the other cheek, while Paul loses his temper for a moment
  • b.        Paul uses this opportunity to evangelize the Pharisees


III.  Divine Comfort (23:11)

1)    Encouragement

2)    Commendation

  • Paul’s suffering was for a purpose
  • Paul had fulfilled his mandate by testifying accurately to the truth about Jesus

3)    Motivation – onward to Rome!


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