Question: Are we reconciling all men to Christ?
33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done.
34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks.
35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.
36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, “Away with him!”
In summary, Paul is rescued from the Jews by the Roman commander. However, Paul is chained. The Jews were violent toward Paul, so the soldiers carried Paul toward the barracks. The mob of Jews followed while crying out, Away with Him!
I must say, I have been stuck on this passage for sometime. I have had great difficulty making applications. Let’s face it, we just don’t suffer like this in the United States. When I get stuck, I usually turn to some of my favorite commentaries, but afterward I was still stuck. So I went to SermonAudio.com and typed in the passage. I found a good sermon from a Pastor in the UK who spoke about what Paul’s two chains represented. Well, I see where he was coming from, but I see Paul’s two chains as representing something different than he. But thanks to the Lord for using all these great resources to help me form my thoughts on this passage.
As most of us know, Paul being bound was foretold by Agabus earlier in Acts 21:11 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” In actual fulfilment of this prophecy, V30 the Jews lay hold on Paul and dragged him from the temple, and v 33 the Gentile commander took him and he was bound with two chains.
So what did the two chains represent?
In application, the two chains could signify dozens of things, or they may have no significance at all. As my mind contemplated the two chains, I believe they represented the Jews and the Gentiles. After all, why was Paul even in Jerusalem? Why was Paul so intent on going to Jerusalem even after receiving warning after warning? We know from other passages that Paul was bringing the offering from the Gentiles to help the poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem. We also know that several representatives from the Gentile churches accompanied Paul on this trip. Acts 20:4 And Sopater of Berea accompanied him to Asia—also Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. 5 These men, going ahead, waited for us at Troas.. It appears these men also accompanied Paul all the way to Jerusalem. Paul even asked for prayer that his service would be accepted in Jerusalem. Romans 15:30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,
31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints… I believe Paul’s driving goal in his visit was to unify the Christian Jews and Gentiles.
17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
And sing to Your name.”
10 And again he says:
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”
11 And again:
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Laud Him, all you peoples!”
12 And again, Isaiah says:
“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
11 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—12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 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 from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Jesus’ mission was to die for the sins of the Jews and the Gentiles that he may be our mediator to bring peace between God and man. Paul’s mission was to point both the Jews and the Gentiles to Christ that both groups may be one body.
Q. So what is our application? A. Are we reconciling all men to Christ?
Paul was a Jew, so he naturally spoke to the Jews. When he went to a new town, the first thing he did was go into the Jewish synagogue. Usually, some of the people in the synagogue would believe, but others would not believe. When Paul would get pushed out by the unbelievers, then he would focus his message to the Gentiles. Because of his background and mission, Paul had a unique ministry to both the Jews and the Gentiles. We also have a specific background and mission to reach those around us. Who else is going to do it? Paul can’t do it, your pastor can’t do it, it it our responsibility to go and teach all nations – starting with those in our realm of influence.
2 Corinthians 5
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
What should we expect when we tell others about Christ?
To show others that they need peace with God through Christ, the obvious question in their minds is, why do I need peace with God? Of course our answer is, because of our sin. And this is where our message offends others. People naturally don’t want to hear how they have offended the Almighty Holy God.
Last night I had the privilege to teach the Gospel to two teens at the residential center. It was interesting to see their reactions. I showed them how God told Adam, the day they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would die. I then showed them how they tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves, but God covered them with animal skins. I showed them how God had grace on Adam and Eve by allowing that animal to be killed that day instead of Adam and Eve. Again, the reactions were interesting. One teen thought it seemed more sinful to kill the animal than it was to disobey God regarding the tree. I must say I was a little surprised by his answer, but I showed him the doctrine of substitution. That animal died instead of Adam and Eve that day. The teen eventually understood. Then he asked, but why should we be judged because of Adam’s sin? Another great question, but then I asked him if he had ever sinned? He said yes. I said, then you will be judged for your own sins, not Adams. Then I taught them about Moses many laws. Adam broke one law. But Moses received hundreds and hundreds of laws from God. Surely the Israelites would break them as well. So again God allowed more substitutional animal sacrifices. I could now see that the teens perceived their sin problem with God. But I said, the good news is that the Son of God came, who John the Baptist called the Lamb of God, to solve our sin problem with God. I asked them, why do you think Jesus is called the Lamb of God? One teen said, because he was our sacrifice on the cross. Yes, they got it!!! I said, do you believe this? Do you trust him as your Sacrifice for your sins? They both said, yes. I said good, then at our next meeting we will talk about repentance toward God and being a follower of Christ. It will take time to see if their faith is a life changing living faith, or only an empty professing dead faith. For now, it appears their hearts are opening, but this is not the case with everyone.
Jesus preached I am the way, the truth, and the life, but in the end they rejected him and yelled out, Crucify him, crucify him!!!! Paul message was how The law was fulfilled in Christ, and how through Christ both the Jews and the Gentiles are being called to salvation through faith. But the Jews thought Paul was teaching against Moses’ Law, and in this passage they cried out, Away with him!!! When John the Baptist preached against Herodias’ sin of adultery, John’s head ended up on her platter. People don’t like change, and they don’t like to be confronted with their sin. When we confront others, we most likely will not be killed or imprisoned because of our ministry of reconciling others to God, but if they reject the message, they will also do away with us. They will avoid us. They will not want to be around us.
2 Timothy 3:12 (NKJV) 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.