17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come.
Oh boy, here we go.
Paul has been warned by all kinds of people that Jerusalem would be dangerous for him. His team has now finally arrived in time for the Passover and they have the offering for all of the struggling Christians that live there.
The church in Jerusalem probably heard about some of the work of Paul as he traveled around. Plenty of people traveled from the various places that Paul visited to Jerusalem. There were 3 feasts a year that Jewish men were supposed to go to in the city, and with Paul gone for years, there were plenty of feasts for news to go back and forth.
Paul had good news for James and James had good news for Paul. Paul’s calling was to go to unreached places and tell the people about Jesus for the first time ever. James’ calling was to lead the church in Jerusalem as she grew in size and maturity. There was an endless supply of new people coming to Jerusalem, so new believers were joining the church rapidly.
The new believers in Jerusalem, however, weren’t pagan idol worshippers like Paul’s new converts. They were Jews that were zealous for the Law and wanting to grow by making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the Holy City. This meant that the church in Jerusalem was still struggling with the stuff that Paul got over in Acts 14–15. They were still all wrapped around the axle of observing the Law. I mean, they were coming to Jerusalem after all.
The bad part is that many of the folks have heard bits and pieces of what Paul taught throughout Galatia, but they don’t understand their freedom from the Law. They only heard the teaching of Paul through a slanderous filter.
James is now fearing for Paul’s life. Paul knew this would happen. He knew that in Jerusalem he would face trouble.
Fearlessly following exactly what God told him would happen. Paul listens to James, does not waiver in his faith in Jesus, and does what Obi-Wan Kenobi would do. He springs the trap.
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