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The Arrest of Paul (Acts 21:27-36)

August 5, 2015

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates the transformative power of the Gospel. Pastor Duncanson illustrates the significance of suffering for Christ’s sake by comparing Paul’s abiding trust in the Lord to Jesus’ suffering in Gethsemane. The focus of this sermon is on how the Gospel transforms, tests, and teaches sinners to trust in the Living God despite difficult, yet temporary afflictions.

20140311-184658.jpgThe Gospel Transforms Sinners into Saints

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;ESV).

Pastor Duncanson emphasizes how the transformative power of the Gospel was demonstrated in Paul’s conversion from persecuting Christians to becoming a faithful follower of Christ. In fact, apart from the grace and mercy of Christ, Paul would have been a part of this angry mob, which sought to kill him (cf. Acts 6:8-15, 8:1). Much like Jesus, Paul was falsely accused and persecuted by the religious leaders in Jerusalem (cf. Luke 23).

The Gospel Tests Sinners with Tribulation

Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done (Acts 21:30-33; ESV).”

The Jews were not able to capture Paul in Ephesus, which was primarily comprised of Gentiles, whereas in Jerusalem they seized this opportunity by bringing false charges against him collectively. Pastor Duncanson extinguished any false ideas that Paul was suffering because of his past life as a persecutor. Instead, Paul was willing to suffer because he desired to follow in the footsteps of his Savior, while also fulfilling the prophecy he received before coming to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 20:22-23, 21:10-14).

The Gospel Teaches Sinners to Trust in God

Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed, crying out, Away with him (Acts 21:34-36; ESV).”

Not only does the Gospel transform sinners into saints and test them with tribulation, but the Gospel also teaches sinners to trust in the purposes and plans of God. How could Paul on the brink of death and in the midst of a hostile experience such as this, experience such peace and calmness (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6)? In the Gospel, Paul could face death without reserve knowing he was saved from the eternal wrath of God, since Christ bore his sins on the cross.

Do you see your suffering in light of the Gospel?

Paul was never more like Jesus, than when he suffered like Jesus (cf. 2 Timothy 2:11-13). It is in suffering for righteousness sake that Paul demonstrates for us that he had been transformed by the Gospel and was being conformed to the image of Christ. When we endure persecutions, tribulations, and even death for Christ’s sake, we demonstrate that we have been transformed by the power of the Gospel (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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