“When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, ‘Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place. and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place; For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.”
The seven days were the days of purification of the vow Paul had taken. Paul had been coming into the temple each day to announce his compliance to the vow. Paul could have changed his mind at any time about what he was doing. Notice that Paul’s act of legalism did nothing to win over the Jewish religious crowd as suggested by the legalistic believers in the church of Jerusalem. His compromise accomplished absolutely nothing except divine discipline.
Lack of law and order, rioting, mob action, and mob violence are the things used to obscure the truth of the Gospel. The only thing that saved Paul’s life was the Roman Empire’s principles of law and order. The Romans would not tolerate rioting.
Paul wasn’t teaching against the Law, he was actually preaching the correct purpose of the Law, which was to point people to Christ. What they were accusing Paul of was not keeping their distorted understanding of the Law and their manmade traditions and customs. Trophimus was not in the temple. The Greek word for supposed is “nomizo,” which means they assumed. They had no facts. The facts were that Paul had not brought Trophimus into the temple, but they needed an excuse to kill him.
Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut.” The Greek word for provoked is “kineo,” from which we get the English words kinetic energy and means to stir into violent emotion. It means lack of law and order, a violent and emotional outbreak and it means to start a riot (the people rushed together). We also see the hypocrisy of religion - they start the riot but did not want any blood spilled in their temple, so they drag Paul outside.
“While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done.” When people destroy law and order they destroy their own freedom. Becoming part of a mob means the surrender of volition to that mob and becoming enslaved to that mob. A person has enslaved themselves the moment they get involved in a riot.
The Roman in charge was the garrison commander and he represented law and order. In fact, it was the Roman garrison that protected the freedom of Paul. Rome’s policy was law and order throughout the Empire. There was no thought of catering to the religious Jews, as in the case of Pontius Pilate; a riot was a riot regardless of who was involved and while religious leaders were behind this the commander moved right in to stop it. The presence of the military got their attention and stopped the riot. Three things should be obvious at this point: a) Paul was under divine discipline but not under the sin unto death. God still had a purpose for Paul; b) if God had not kept Paul alive there would be no books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc.; c) grace found a way to turn cursing into blessing.
The commander walked right up to the mob and the mob moved back and ceased beating Paul. The mob backed off leaving Paul between the mob and the Romans. This man was cool, brave, and stabilized and yet he was an unbeliever. He seized Paul but did not come to any assumptions at the moment. As soon as Paul was bound, the commander started to make an investigation. He was not jumping to any conclusion. He kept on trying to ascertain the facts and he hoped that he had finally seized a criminal called the Egyptian.
We might ask ourselves where the Jerusalem church was at during all of this. Well, the Jerusalem church apparently gave no help to Paul and he was now in the hands of the Romans whose emphasis on law and order fortunately would support him and protect him. The Jerusalem church did not protect Paul; the Roman Empire protected him. The contrast shows that the Jerusalem church was generally in carnality. Where law and order exists among unbelievers it is better to fall into their hands than to fall into the hands of out-of-fellowship Christians. Paul would have been beaten to death except for the rescue by Romans
It is obvious that an apostate and legalistic Jerusalem church had no influence or impact in this community. Whenever you find churches becoming apostate, departing from doctrine; and whenever you find them becoming legalistic, they have absolutely no influence within the community or the national entity. The church loses its impact when it loses its spiritual life. It is the Bible doctrine of the church and the spiritual life of the church that has impact upon the nation.
The greatest believer of the Church Age had come to the brethren in Jerusalem and had initially been welcomed. But they were nowhere to be found when Paul really needed them. It was obvious that these believers in Jerusalem where trying to please men and not God and were most likely afraid of the mob. Ignorance of doctrine and compromise had ruined the Jerusalem church. At that very moment many of them were being fed by the very money that Paul had brought.
“But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, ‘Away with him!’ As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, ‘May I say something to you?’ And he said, ‘Do you know Greek? Immediately the officer realizes that he was not going to get the truth from the crowd because they were all saying different things about what was going on. So he removed Paul and took him to the headquarters of the Roman cohort (the barracks). As Paul was being taken up the stairs the mob rushed him and the Romans. Apparently Paul could not move very fast because he had just been beaten by the religious crowd, so the Romans carried him up the stairs. Then Paul began to speak the Greek of the aristocracy to the commander and he was shocked.
Paul was a man who spoke like an aristocrat. Therefore this was not just some criminal the mob was beating up. The commander’s native language was Latin but he also understood Greek. So he was at least bi-lingual, as were all of the great Romans in that part of the world. Both of them were calm: Paul because he had the inner resources of doctrine and the commander because he represented the best in the Roman Empire.
“Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” This was a reference to a criminal called the Egyptian. The Egyptian had led a revolution in 54 AD. He had announced himself as a prophet because he knew that this was the only way to get the people to follow him. He knew that the Jews wanted to overthrow Rome and so he announced that he was a prophet who had come to deliver them. This meant that a lot of the religious Jews fell in with this gangster, which is typical of religion.
His organization was described as the Assassins. The organization had managed to arouse some thirty thousand people in Jerusalem who were part of a revolt. The Egyptian had called them together on the Mount of Olives and told them that when they prayed the walls of Jerusalem would fall. He stood up and prayed, and while he was doing so the Roman garrison came out and attacked them, killed four hundred, and took two hundred captives. And the rest of the gangster element that had started the revolt escaped and continued their operations for the next forty years.
“But Paul said, ‘I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.’” Paul said he was a Jew indicating that he was not the Egyptian they thought he might be. He was talking to the Roman officer who understood that Tarsus was a free city and that it was one of the great cities of the empire. This helped him determine that Paul was no ordinary Jew. I beg you, was actually a polite way of asking a question, showing respect for this Roman officer. Paul was calm under fire because he had a tremendous amount of Bible doctrine in his soul. The commander represented everything that was good in the Roman Empire which we can see because he was cool, relaxed and objective, and was making an investigation on the spot before he made his next decision. He was going to make his decision based on the facts of the case not the emotion of the crowd.
“When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying.” Paul now attempted to justify himself and his message to this riotous crowd by giving his personal testimony of his experience of salvation. It was an opportunity to present the Gospel to this crowd of Jews, but had no effect on them. Paul was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Greek word for Gospel is “euagelion,” which means good tidings or good news. God’s good news to mankind is called the Gospel. The Gospel is the communication of the doctrine pertaining to salvation. The doctrine of salvation is the best news humanity could receive. The Gospel is the doctrine pertaining to the Person and work of Christ on the Cross. The Gospel has always been available to every generation of every dispensation and those who are positive respond in faith. The pattern of faith is Abraham, according to Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:1-5.
The explanation of the Gospel is stated in I Corinthians 15:1-4. Paul was teaching a Greek audience in Corinth. He had to explain the doctrine of the Gospel to them because some of the Greeks who had accepted Christ as Savior were having trouble with a literal, physical, bodily resurrection. As we will see in Acts 23, Paul had a similar problem in Jerusalem with the religious Jews. For the Greeks it was a cultural problem, the idea being contrary to Greek culture. There was a conflict between their culture and the truth. This does not mean that these Corinthians were unsaved, but the benefit of their faith in Christ was eliminated during the time that they rejected the doctrine of resurrection, which is part of the Gospel.
Whatever parts of the Gospel believers reject after salvation through faith in Jesus Christ will limit their spiritual growth and understanding of God’s complete plan for them. In other words, you’re saved but not able to advance as a believer. By rejecting the Resurrection as a part of the Gospel, these believers in Corinth were missing the fantastic blessings of their own future when they would be resurrected at the Rapture of the Church. Furthermore, they were missing a point of grace, that resurrection is God’s victory. The greatest illustration of grace is that the time and manner of both our physical death and resurrection are strictly a matter of God’s sovereignty, and therefore are solely His victory. Failure to execute the protocol plan of God is always due to ignorance of doctrine. However, a person does not have to believe in the Resurrection for salvation, but they must believe in the Person and the work of Christ on the Cross, even though the Resurrection is a part of the Gospel. Therefore, understanding the doctrine of the Gospel helps believers appreciate their salvation, and gives them assurance of their salvation.