when the seven days were almost completed, the jews from asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “men of israel, help! this is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. moreover, he even brought greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” for they had previously seen trophimus the ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that paul had brought him into the temple. [acts 21:27-29]


when the gospel is being preached, those who bear it will be persecuted, wherever it goes. Jesus promised this to us:

“behold, i am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the gentiles. when they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. but the one who endures to the end will be saved. when they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, i say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of israel before the Son of Man comes. [matthew 10:16-23]

what is happening to paul in this passage is simply a promise that was made him by the lips of his master, and the persecution is further evidence of God’s sovereign will:

beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. but rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. but let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. for it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? and

“if the righteous is scarcely saved,

    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.  [i peter 4:12-19]

in the passages in acts 21, paul is submitting to authority, laying aside his preferences and money and time and walking humbly before the church leaders in jerusalem, despite this, he is once again dragged, falsely accused, and slandered. despite all this, in many of his letters paul writes of rejoicing in his sufferings, knowing that he is doing it all for the glory of God. there is suffering everywhere all the time in this world–but how often do we suffer for what we say about Jesus? let us suffer, brothers and sisters, for the way we live our lives in accordance with his pleasing and perfect will, and by the proclamations we make about our King Jesus!

~ ce