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Thought for the Week

In-Valid Conclusions


November 21, 2019

Illustration by John McConahy

Scriptures to Read:

Acts 21:27-31

Acts 2L32-36

Acts 21:37-40

St. Matthew 7:1-5

St. Matthew 7:12

Acts 2:14 & 37-40

Acts 3:12 & 17-19

There is something more we should know about this passage of Scripture. It is true the population of Jerusalem swelled greatly during three special Feasts of the Jewish year: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. When these happened Rome increased their military presence. The "Peace of Rome" was strictly enforced. Those involved in any riot would suffer. The rioters themselves of course but also the political and military leaders who did not prevent the rioting would be punished.

The Castle (fortress) of Antonio was next door to the Temple. Soldiers were right on hand where the trouble would most likely arise. During this Feast of Pentecost, there were likely as many as 1,000 troops (soldiers) living in the barracks. We know that when the first signs of the attack on Paul appeared, the chief captain was alerted. We might call him a colonel or general. He quickly gathered centurions (we would likely call them captains), and soldiers (we would call them companies of soldiers) and went right to the trouble spot.

Paul was the focal spot of trouble so they converged on him. When the troops appeared, the rioters left off their attack on Paul. Paul was secured (We might call it being handcuffed (chained) to two soldiers and surrounded by a squad of (probably eight) soldiers. This was both to secure him and to keep him safe from his attackers. The chief captain asked (likely the crowd) who he was and what he had done. This resulted in a cacophony of answers. But nothing was made clear so the chief captain ordered Paul to be taken to the barracks.

The crowd became more menacing, requiring the soldiers to actually pick Paul up and carry him up one of the staircases leading to the barracks. The crowd increased their shouting and threatening. As they were ascending the stairs, Paul asked the chief captain if he could address the crowd. He asked in Greek, which amazed the captain who had assumed Paul was an Egyptian leader of assassins. Permission was granted. Paul stood on the stairs and raised his hands requesting silence so he could speak. The shouting stopped. Paul began speaking in Hebrew, (the formal language of the Jews) telling the people some of his history.

As he began to speak Hebrew, the silence of the crowd increased so it was easy for all to hear. The beginnings of his speech made it clear he was as much a formal, zealous Jew as any of them were. He spoke of his birth, his formal education as student of one of the leading teachers of the Law and his earnest desire to serve God. We will note in our reading of this Scriptural passage that: the people were wrong about Paul. The chief captain was wrong about Paul. Paul himself was wrong in his understanding of how he had exercised his faith in God.

We will pick up this portion of Scripture next time (Lord willing: D.V.) In the meanwhile, perhaps we should consider how we make our judgments of people. Next week we look at Thanksgiving: D.V.


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