Fanaticism and Devotedness
Acts 21:27-40
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…

It is impossible not to read these verses with a smile of contempt in view of the folly and guilt of fanaticism, and, at the same time, with a smile of satisfaction in view of the calmness and nobility of Christian zeal.


1. Its folly.

(1) In the first place, it employs a weapon with which it is easily matched. It has recourse to violence (ver. 31); but violence is a usage which others can easily adopt, and it may be with more effect (ver. 32). If religion calls in the aid of the sword, it is likely enough to find the sword directed, at the next turn of events, against itself.

(2) It uses a weapon which is not at all fitted to its hand. Physical force is not the appointed method for regenerating the world; "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal," but spiritual. The "kingdom not of this world" does not want its servants to "fight" with steel and gunpowder.

(3) It assails those who, if it would but consider, are its truest friends. Out of regard for the Law, these fanatical Jews "went about to kill" Paul. The multitude shouted "Away with him!" (ver. 36). But if they had known better they would, out of regard for the Law, have speeded Paul on his mission. For Judaism, pure and simple, would inevitably have perished; but Judaism, as surviving in the truths and institutions of Christianity, is destined to last as long as time itself, and to he universal in its range. Had they thought more and looked further, they would have honored him whom they were in such haste to kill.

2. Its guilt.

(1) It charges a man with a crime of which he is absolutely innocent (vers. 28, 29).

(2) It proceeds to punish without giving a chance of defending (vers. 30, 31).

(3) It denies to a man that which God has bestowed, and which it claims for itself - a right to his convictions.

(4) It dashes itself blindly and vehemently against the purposes of God. At this time it was striking at Christ's chosen ambassador, and, without exception, the most useful servant of God then living. At many times since then, it has stricken the men who represented the truth of Christ, and has done sore evil to the Church, and so to the world.

II. THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRISTIAN DEVOTEDNESS. How admirably the attitude of Paul contrasts with the movements of this excited, tumultuous, sanguinary mob! We admire

(1) his courage in placing himself in the position;

(2) his calmness throughout (vers. 37-39);

(3) his readiness (ver. 40) - he was prepared at any emergency to speak the needful word. We admire it because we are sure that it all rested upon

(4) his consecration to the cause, and his assurance of the presence of his Divine Master. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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,

WEB: When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him,

False Suppositions
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