26So Paul went to the Temple the next day with the other men. They had already started the purification ritual, so he publicly announced the date when their vows would end and sacrifices would be offered for each of them.
27The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him,28yelling, “Men of Israel, help us! This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws. He speaks against the Temple—and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles.d” 29(For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus,eand they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)
30The whole city was rocked by these accusations, and a great riot followed. Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the gates were closed behind him. 31As they were trying to kill him, word reached the commander of the Roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32He immediately called out his soldiers and officersf and ran down among the crowd. When the mob saw the commander and the troops coming, they stopped beating Paul.
33Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. 34Some shouted one thing and some another. Since he couldn’t find out the truth in all the uproar and confusion, he ordered that Paul be taken to the fortress. 35As Paul reached the stairs, the mob grew so violent the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him. 36And the crowd followed behind, shouting, “Kill him, kill him!”
Paul Speaks to the Crowd
37As Paul was about to be taken inside, he said to the commander, “May I have a word with you?”
“Do you know Greek?” the commander asked, surprised. 38“Aren’t you the Egyptian who led a rebellion some time ago and took 4,000 members of the Assassins out into the desert?”
39“No,” Paul replied, “I am a Jew and a citizen of Tarsus in Cilicia, which is an important city. Please, let me talk to these people.” 40The commander agreed, so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic.g
The Jewish people were VERY serious about their religion, and got upset VERY easily. When I read this I am personally warned about getting easily upset. The Jewish people nearly kill an innocent person and cause a riot because they got upset easily. They thought they were right, so why be calm and cautious?
How many times in my life have been sure I was right, thought I had every reason to be mad or upset…and I did a lot of harm through my righteous anger. In this example, and most of the occasions in my life when I got upset quickly, even being right doesn’t make getting upset the best thing to do. Assume the Jews were right about Paul, their rash actions and anger still brought in the Roman army and their brutality because of one small person. A little calm thinking would have made their results so much more effective.
But of course, the Jews weren’t right, and neither are we so many times when we are upset or angry. In my life, two wrongs don’t make a right, and when I get mad, it is usually my second wrong.
And getting upset quickly doesn’t show much faith either. If I have faith that God is really in control, why would things upset me so much? Wouldn’t I just calmly pray, listen, and do what he tells me to do (which may be nothing) and calmly trust God to do the rest?
Lord, help me to always stay calm by showing faith in you and resting in your peace.