Have you ever been misunderstood? You could say something and there would be someone who turns it around and/or makes it sound the way they want it to for whatever reason. The point remains that what is retold is not accurate and the party to whom they told it is left with misinformation. Judgments are made… sentenced, hung and found guilty without ever finding the truth.
Read Acts 21:15-25. Paul finally made it back to Jerusalem in time for the Jewish festival! Can you imagine his excitement! He had traveled so many places, ran into some very difficult situations, but now he was at his home base. He was welcomed warmly but with mixed reviews.
- “Paul met acceptance. “When we reached Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us gladly” (vs. 17) What a sigh of relief must have come when Paul and his associates were greeted with warmth and approval by the believers in Jerusalem. They glorified God (vs. 20). Notice that they did not praise Paul. Unfortunately acceptance was not the only response Paul met.
- Paul met apprehension. After hearing Paul’s wonderful news, James and the elders had good news of their own, and a little bad news.
- How many thousands of Jews there are who have believed (vs. 20)
- All of them are zealous for the law … But they have been informed that you … (tell) them not to live according to our customs (vs. 20-21) (1)
Can you imagine what Paul was thinking… that he had been telling them “not” to live according to our customs! James had been preaching to the Jews and Paul had been preaching to the Gentiles.
“Paul expected opposition from unbelievers, but to be hit immediately in Jerusalem by the disapproval of fellow believers must have drained his energy and excitement. Furthermore, much of what they were saying about him wasn’t even accurate. He never told Jewish Christians not to circumcise their children. He told them not to insist that Gentile Christians circumcise theirs! He was trying to make the point that circumcision had nothing whatsoever to do with salvation.” (2)
“Have you ever thought, “I expected this kind of thing from unbelievers, but I wasn’t expecting this from my own fellow believers?” If so you are part of a large fraternity, with Paul as a charter member.” (3)
James and the elders insisted that Paul join four appointed men in purification rites… then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law (vs. 23-25) Paul did as requested.
Do you feel any empathy towards Paul?
(1-3) Paul, 90 Days in His Journey of Faith / Beth Moore / B & H Publishing