Read: Acts 21:17-26
His reception in Jerusalem is warm and friendly at first. The elders and James were glad to hear about Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles, but they also want Paul to be aware that many of the Jews who had come to the faith as well had been informed through erroneous sources that Paul was teaching others to turn away from Moses and to leave many of the cultural markers that were apart of their Jewish way of life. But, James and the elders knowing the pulse of the Jewish crowd, devise a plan to help Paul return to the good graces of his Jewish Christian brethren. This plan was to accompany four men to the temple, pay for the temple sacrifices and undergo a week long purification ceremony. Before any of you go wait a minute, I thought Paul was free in Christ and didn’t have to observe the Law. Let us be clear, that for Gentiles this business about circumcision and obeying the Law of Moses was a hindrance to salvation by grace. But, for Jews, the Law was a way of life. Paul was raised a Jew, trained under a very educated Jewish teacher, became a follower of the Jewish Messiah, and so therefore was not completely free of his Jewish roots. When Paul ministered to the Gentiles, he would have been more laid back in various Jewish scruples due to the Gentiles difference in upbringing and cultural experience. Paul himself would say in 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23, “19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” Paul’s purpose in all of this was to win as many people to Christ as possible. Paul was not living a duplicitous life. Paul was not pretending to be Jewish one day and then a Gentile the next. Paul was a Christian saved by grace wanting all men to come to the same realization of the love of God that he had.
So, today think about how you are living? I know I have asked that question before of you, but we would do well to take inventory of our lives every so often. What do other people see when they observe us. For Paul, it was clear what he wanted portrayed to Jews or Greeks, nothing but Jesus Christ. Can you say the same?