In an attempt to lessen tensions in the Jerusalem Church, Paul followed the appeasement plan of James, the half-brother of the Lord. This plan failed. While Paul was on the temple grounds he was recognized and grabbed. The crowd was stirred to wrath against Paul on charges that he spoke against Judaism and the temple. These charges were not entirely true, but what was true was that Paul was guilty of Christianity: preaching that a soul is saved by the finished work of Christ on the Cross and not by any work of man, including circumcision, diet, or Sabbath keeping.
Paul vs. James
Paul and James shared the same beliefs about Jesus Christ, but they did not share methods of ministry. The two men had a history of conflict and uneasiness with each other. They also happened to be the only two people who Christ Himself saved after His resurrection. In this section, the two meet again. Paul has with him an entourage of Gentile believers from the various churches, and they are bearing monetary gifts to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. James and the pastors of Jerusalem are quick to get to what is making them uneasy with Paul – his teachings that the rituals of Moses are valueless for salvation. They want Paul to pay for the vows of four Jews at the temple to appease the Jews disturbed by his teachings. Not only was this outside of Paul’s principles and expensive, but it also brings about Paul’s arrest, and the appeasement failed, as they usually do.
Upper Level Christianity
Considering all the apostle Paul faced up to this point – the physical persecutions and hardships – without losing zeal for ministry, as evidenced by his willingness to face further persecutions and hardships which he is being assured by the Holy Spirit await him in Jerusalem. These warnings are not prohibitions, but a heads up to the man who would spread Christianity throughout the Roman empire. This is upper level Christianity.
The Undaunted Shepherd
In the mind of Paul and the leaders of the Ephesian church gathered with him, this is the last time that they will see Paul this side of heaven. They were likely wrong. Yes, Paul will be arrested and taken to Rome, but history points to his release; to die another day at the hand of Caesar. This is one of the magnificent passages of Scripture: Paul’s dedication to ministry, his undaunted labor as a shepherd under Christ, his warnings, and the mutual passion for each other between Paul the pastor and the Ephesian lovers of Jesus.
The Undaunted Servant
As Paul makes his way to Jerusalem by sea, he called for the pastors from the church in Ephesus to meet him at Miletus. To them, in that port city, he began one of the greatest reviews of ministry in the Bible: how he labored for the Gospel among them and taught the whole word of God to them in the assembly and individually; that more trouble awaited him in Jerusalem and was no reason for him to not go to Jerusalem, for he was an undaunted servant for Christ. Yet this was only one part of what he had to say to them, which we’ll get to in the next session.
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