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…
Explain the points of view of the Judaizing party. Zeal for the purity of Mosaism can be commended. The binding character of Mosaic Law on all born Jews may be recognized. We cannot wonder that many of the Jews should regard Christianity as a reform of Judaism, rather than what such men as St. Paul saw it to be - the completion and perfection of Judaism. Regarding it as reformed Judaism, they would plead that its claims rested on all Gentiles who became Christian Jews. The first indications of the existence of this Judaizing party within the Christian community we find in Acts 15:1. Then the matter occasioned so much dispute that the advice of the apostolic council had to be sought. Their judgment was virtually against the Judaizing party, and this intensified their opposition, made them cling even more closely to their party prejudices, and led them to regard St. Paul more distinctly as the leader of the more liberal views which they hated. They followed the apostle everywhere; they tried to undermine his influence and destroy his work; and it even seems that they resolved not to rest until they had secured his death. They are striking examples of the worst phases of the sectarian spirit, which blinds to truth, hardens from conviction, destroys a man's tenderness, and makes cruelty and crime possible to him. Scarcely any evil force has exerted in history so baneful an influence as that of the party spirit. It was an ideal time which the poetical historian describes, "when none was for a party, but all were for the state." Still the sectarian and party spirit is the gravest trouble afflicting Christ's Church, and the most serious hindrance to the perfecting of Christ's kingdom. But we need to make a careful distinction between party spirit and party action. Sectional action may be an important element in working. More can be accomplished by sections devoting their attention to parts. But party spirit, which means jealous feeling separating the sections, is always bad, for those who feel the jealousy and for those who suffer from its schemes. Taking illustration from what is narrated of these Judaizing teachers, we notice that party prejudice -
I. BLINDS TO FACT AND TRUTH. If the party has a piece of truth, it is but a piece, and yet it often prevents the apprehension of any other related or higher truth. And even worse is its power to distort or deny facts. The party man will see or admit nothing that does not tell for his party. Show that St. Paul had facts and truths, but these opponents would give him no calm consideration. They really shouted him down, as did the excited Ephesians, who cried all day, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." If we find an unwillingness to admit facts or to calmly consider phases of truth presented for our consideration, then we may gravely fear lest we be giving place to party prejudices.
II. INVOLVES INJUSTICE. In dealing with individuals. For the partisan associates the holder of an objectionable theory with the theory, and is easily led to vent his annoyance at the theory upon the holder and propounder of it. The sectional and party spirit is at the root of all religious persecution. Men are not unjust when they contend for God's truth, but only when they contend for some ism of their own, which they persuade themselves is God's truth. Christ says to all who think of using external forces for him, "Pat up thy sword into its sheath."
III. PARTY PREJUDICES ARE MOST DIFFICULT TO REMOVE. Seen in the difficulty of correcting the mistakes on which sects now divide from each other. The "common ground" is little regarded, and the points of difference are unduly exaggerated, and men stand to their little peculiarities and special points as if the whole gospel gathered up into their side and piece of doctrine. And if any try to free them from their prejudice, and let in on them a little generous light, they only retire further in and hold their party sentiment tighter than ever. Surely the full warning of these Judaizers in St. Paul's time has not been sufficiently recognized in these days of a divided Church and unduly magnified theological and ecclesiastical differences. - B. T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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,