“And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,” (Acts 21:27, AV)
When our children were young, we went to Disney World in Orlando Florida. While there, we went on a ride, “It’s a Small World,” where they repeatedly sang these lyrics, “It’s a small world after all.” I did not realize the extent of this truth until a later vacation when we traveled from our home in Savannah Georgia to San Antonio, Texas.
At that time, I was serving with the Gideons International in Savannah Georgia. One morning, I went down to the lobby for breakfast. While I was eating, I saw some familiar faces at one of the tables, three of my fellow Gideons from the Georgia area. They were passing through Texas on their way to a convention in Arizona when their car broke down. They chose the same hotel in which we were staying until their car was repaired. It is a small world. You just never know whom you will meet.
In this passage of Acts, Paul had arrived in Jerusalem and met with the elders. This was at the time of Pentecost, one of the seven annual Jewish feasts (Acts 20:16). For this feast, Jewish men from all over the known world gathered in Jerusalem. Some of these were from the Roman province of Asia.
The Jews from Asia who were in the city saw Paul in the Temple and brought false accusations against him, accusing him of preaching against the Scriptures. Their charges were, in fact, false (v28), for Paul did not preach against the Scriptures. However, Paul did differ from the Jews in that he preached that justification was not by works, but by grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). The accusations of these Jews stirred up the whole crowd of Jews gathered there. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the Temple and sought to kill him.
The commander Roman legion stationed near the Temple, hearing that there was an issue bringing confusion to Jerusalem, took control of the situation. They arrested Paul, and bound him in chains, and took him to their barracks.
This record indicates the effectiveness of Paul’s work in the province of Asia. His reputation was known throughout the province. Luke recorded that Paul preached there for two years and “that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10, AV). The magnitude of Paul’s work had a profound influence on Asia and his reputation preceded him to Jerusalem.
Wherever we go we have an opportunity for influence and to build a reputation. Concerning our witness for Christ, the magnitude of our witness is proportional to our influence and our reputation. This was the case for Paul. Some understood and received his message and some did not. While many of the Jews from Asia did not receive Paul’s message, their opposition to Paul is a testimony to the magnitude of his witness there.
We should consider the magnitude of our witness. In life, we will often travel on business, vacation, etc. On these journeys, we will meet people and have an opportunity to be a witness of God’s grace in our lives. This witness will be both in conduct and in speech. Our words and actions will build a reputation for who we are. We are children of the living God. Remember that it is a small world after all, and that you have a call to glorify God in both conduct and speech.