Citizens of Two Worlds

MEMORY SELECTION: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” —Proverbs 3:6

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 21:27-36; 25:11, 12

WE LEARN from the context of our present lesson that the Apostle Paul was returning to Jerusalem from his third missionary tour. He had spent much time and strength in proclaiming the message of truth in many parts of the ancient world. And, although he had been warned about possible trouble if he went to Jerusalem, he was very glad to see the brethren in that city again.

Several months before his arrival he acknowledged in his letter to the Romans—which was written from Corinth—that trouble might be expected in Jerusalem. In connection with this matter he told them: “Brothers, I beg of you, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love that the Spirit inspires, rally round me by praying to God for me; pray that I may be delivered from unbelievers in Judea, and also that my mission to Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints. Then, by God’s will, I shall gladly come to you and rest beside you.” (Rom. 15:30-32, Moffatt) It appears evident from this passage that Paul had hoped to visit the brethren in Rome once again, after having gone to Jerusalem. Here again he was thinking about the welfare of the brethren even when his own life was in danger.

Paul was not fearful of what man might do unto him but was intent only upon serving the truth. During the voyage to Jerusalem he went to Caesarea and spent several days in the home of Philip the evangelist. (Acts 21:8) The scriptural account reads: “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the [Holy Spirit], so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.”—vss. 10-12

Agabus had brought information concerning the danger that lay ahead. “Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (vs. 13) The brethren had tried to protect their beloved apostle from harm, but “when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem.”—vss. 14,15

One of the reasons Paul was anxious to go to Jerusalem was to give the brethren there the sum of money that had been collected from the various ecclesias he had visited. He had learned that there were many in Jerusalem who were suffering deprivation and want. When he made this matter known among the churches, many were glad to help their brethren who were in need.

After his arrival and meeting with the brethren in Jerusalem, Paul was caught in an unusual circumstance. Because of his preaching activities in connection with the Law Covenant (that the Law was now dead), he was advised by some of the elders that he should clarify his position among the Jews by going to the temple and associating himself with some of those who had taken the Nazarite vow. It was thought that by his so doing his influence would be strengthened and that he would be in less danger.

The scheme was short lived, however, as he was recognized by Jews who had seen him in Asia. An angry mob became incensed and sought his life. After beatings by the mob, he was rescued by Roman soldiers and taken away, and not without difficulty, as the mob pursued the soldiers who had chained him to themselves.

Amid the turmoil and hardship of the occasion, Paul did not set aside the main objective of his dedicated life. Even as he was being sped away by the soldiers, he asked the captain of the guard to allow him opportunity to speak. The request was granted, and he rose to explain to his audience some of those things they had heard wrongly about him.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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