Why didn't James come to Paul's rescue?
Acts 21:26-31 records the account of Paul's
arrest for ostensibly bringing a Gentile into the temple. In the account, the
Immediately after this in verse 29, Luke makes this interesting quasi-defense for Paul.
“For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.”
argument as it stands would have an impossible time holding up in court. It
would be absurd to suggest that simply having seen Paul with a Gentile in the
city would have been grounds on which to convict him of actually bringing that
Gentile into the temple. No one would make that argument. Jews and Gentiles
mingled outside the temple all the time. It should be apparent that there
must be more to the story here …and probably something that Luke would really
rather not reveal to us. Therefore, we are forced to read between the lines and
logically put the missing pieces of the puzzle together.
if Trophimus had gone into the temple and been caught, and Paul was responsible
for putting it in his mind to go there on his own, then we have a different
Trophimus was caught in the temple
is evident that Trophimus had indeed been caught in the temple. Here is the flow
Jews of Asia knew that Paul was responsible for Trophimus defiling the temple.
Some of them, having seen Trophimus and Paul together in the city would have
naturally jumped to the conclusion that Paul had actually accompanied Trophimus
into the temple. Thus the rumor began. Luke seized upon the error and tried to
cover for Paul by saying, “they supposed that Paul had brought”
Trophimus into the temple. But the
Asian Jews were none the less correct in accusing Paul of being responsible
for Trophimus defiling the temple.
Second: Paul was responsible for Trophimus being in the temple
Trophimus was an Ephesian and a friend of Paul is not in question. How Trophimus
came to believe he had some right to enter the temple on his own accord is what
tells the rest of the story. It could hardly be more obvious where Trophimus got
his presumptuous idea in light of what we know Paul had been teaching the
Ephesians. In his epistle to the Ephesians Paul had written these words:
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles
in the flesh--who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision
made in the flesh by hands--that at that time you were without Christ, being
aliens form the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of
promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus
you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. For he
himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the
middle wall of division 1
between us, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law
of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in himself one
new man form the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both
to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
And he came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were
near. For through him we both have access
by one Spirit to the Father. Now, Therefore, you are no
longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with
the saints and members of the household of God,
2 having been built on the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief
cornerstone in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a
holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built
together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.”
"the middle wall of division" is a direct reference to the wall in the
temple that separated the court of the Gentiles from the court of Israel.
2 "members of the household of God" is an indisputable reference to those who have the right to worship in the temple.
Trophimus boldly went where no Gentile was supposed to go! When he was caught
and interrogated, his immediate defense would naturally have been along the
“…but Paul said there is no
difference between Jew and Gentile anymore! He
said the wall of division in the temple is meaningless.
He said I now have access to the Father and am a fellow citizen and an
equal member with you in the household of God!”
try to imagine how that defense would have gone over with the priests!
scenario would perfectly explain several things:
Prior to this, James had confronted Paul concerning the
anti-Moses rumors that were going around about him and effectively made it known
to Paul that they had better not be true. James was the one who had sent Paul to
the temple in the first place, for the very purpose of giving him opportunity to
prove that the rumors were not true and that he continued to abide by the
Law. (see Acts 21:18-25) James could have easily calmed the crowd by explaining
everything and assuring the people that Paul had not brought a Gentile
into the temple if that were the case and it was all a simple misunderstanding.
But that wasn't the case. After Trophimus defiled the temple and tried to defend
himself with Paul's doctrine, it was all over for Paul. The Jews from
Return To Home Page Outline