act 21v18 26 Pauls Error and Gods Providence




Acts 21.18-26

Paul was tired of the isolation and suspicion he had for so many years experienced among his Jewish brethren. He could take the persecution from without. But the isolation and reproach he received from his brethren within the church must have been too much to bear. The old warrior knew that his warfare was about over (20:25), and he wanted to die in peace with his brethren. Therefore he committed perhaps the most lamentable evil of his life as a believer. He allowed James and the elders at Jerusalem to pressure him into going along with the observance of a legal ordinance, and offered a sacrifice of purification (v. 26).

                I know something of how he must have felt. For the past nineteen years hardly a week has passed without some legalist trying to persuade me that we must still keep the law. Sometimes I think, "What's the use? These peddlers of law will never see their error. Wouldn't it be better to give in and be at peace with them?" No! I am sure Paul regretted this action. It was after this that he wrote his strongest injunctions against the observance of the law in any form, in Galatians and Colossians. Besides the compromise did not appease the Jews at all (vv. 27-36). It is a vain thing to think we can please men and win their approval to the gospel by compromise, or by catering to their points of rebellion, no matter how insignificant those points may appear to be.

                Yet, God, in his wise and adorable providence, overruled even this sad event in Paul's life to accomplish his purpose. This too proved to be good for Paul, good for God's elect, and for the glory of God. Had Paul not gone to the temple that day he would not have been arrested, he would not have gone to Rome, he would not have written his blessed prison epistles, he would not have died as a martyr for Christ at Rome. Truly, God brings good out of evil! This experience was best for James and those Jewish believers at Jerusalem. They were now providentially forced to either forsake Paul, forsake the gospel, and forsake Christ, or forsake Judaism once and for all. Thank God, they forsook Judaism!