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There’s a riot in the temple. How can that be important?

Is it possible that a riot in the Temple in Jerusalem can teach us something? Yes, let’s go see!

29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31 While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. Acts 21:29-31

What is going on here? Let’s add some context, Paul was visiting Jerusalem and meeting with the leaders of the Jewish Christians there. He was explaining how God was moving among the non-Jewish believers (i.e., the Gentiles). As a result, Paul was told to go to the temple and satisfy the Jewish law for certain things. But some of the people thought that Paul had brought a Gentile into the inner temple. Under the Jewish Law this is not allowed, and they were very serious about this. So much so that when they thought this happened, a riot occurred, and the Romans had to rescue Paul.

Now, the Romans did not care at all about the theological or philosophical view of the people they ruled. But they did not want any riots. The Romans wanted civil order so they could make money and expand their empire. What did they do? They put signs up all around the Temple telling non-Jews not to go in there. If they did, and survived, the Romans would kill them. They were serious!

How do we know they were this serious? Because examples of these signs were found in Jerusalem. You can read about this in a book by a man named F. F. Bruce called “The New Testament Documents, Are They Reliable?”. On pages 94 and 95. Or you can read Dr. Titus Kennedy’s book “Unearthing the Bible”, on pages 222 and 223. (Dr Kennedy’s book has pictures of the sign.)

What does this do for us? It tells us that the story Luke relates in the book of Acts fits into the culture of the time. That it is accurate and reliable. It tells us that Luke is not just repeating a story but recording history. This is evidence that the bible is true and accurate despite what many people say in popular media. The real “myth” is that the bible is not true.

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