Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ominous foreshadowing -- Acts 21

For much of his ministry, Paul had pressed ever further towards the west. Suddenly, at the peak of his effectiveness, of his influence, Paul reverses course and heads back towards Jerusalem. One hypothesis holds that a split was developing that was undermining the heart of the gospel. Jewish Christians were sneering in disdain at their brethren from other nations, while at the same time they were being ostracized by their fellow Jewish Jews. Passionate nationalistic movements were picking up speed in Israel, which would soon lead them into a disastrous confrontation with Rome. Would Jewish Christians shackle their destinies to the fate of that national Israel which had crucified and rejected Jesus Christ? Or to their fellow Christians of other cultures, other nations? 

Or would they try to do both -- claim allegiance to Jesus, while coasting along with the easy cultural disdain towards the rest of the world? 

Into this mess comes Paul, with a tangible message. The Christians of other nations see themselves as one body with the Jewish Christians -- and have undertaken a major fund-raising effort to "put their money where their mouth is." Paul was bringing a large financial contribution with him to Israel, for the relief of the poor Jewish Christians.  And he is being forewarned -- this good deed will not go unpunished. One prophet acted out a parable:

Act 21:10 Oraya varışımızdan birkaç gün sonra Yahudiye'den Hagavos adlı bir peygamber geldi. 
Act 21:11 Bu adam bize yaklaşıp Pavlus'un kuşağını aldı, bununla kendi ellerini ayaklarını bağlayarak dedi ki, "Kutsal Ruh şöyle diyor: 'Yahudiler, bu kuşağın sahibini Yeruşalim'de böyle bağlayıp öteki uluslara teslim edecekler.'" 
Act 21:12 Bu sözleri duyunca hem bizler hem de oralılar Yeruşalim'e gitmemesi için Pavlus'a yalvardık. 
Act 21:13 Bunun üzerine Pavlus şöyle karşılık verdi: "Ne yapıyorsunuz, ne diye ağlayıp yüreğimi sızlatıyorsunuz? Ben Rab İsa'nın adı uğruna Yeruşalim'de yalnız bağlanmaya değil, ölmeye de hazırım." 
Act 21:14 Pavlus'u ikna edemeyince, "Rab'bin istediği olsun" diyerek sustuk. 

Let's look at a few words:

  • Kutsal Ruh şöyle diyor: -- The Holy / Spirit / thus / says:
  • Yahudiler, bu kuşağın sahibini Yeruşalim'de böyle bağlayıp -- The Jews, / this / belt / the one who owns / in Jerusalem / thus / will tie up
  • öteki uluslara teslim edecekler. -- other / nations / will surrender. 

Well, as it turns out, this prophet got all the details wrong. The Jews did not tie Paul up and hand him over to the Romans. Rather, they attempted to kill him on the street -- and the Romans saved his life from the mob. Still, he did indeed end up in Roman custody.

It's interesting to note how this gift was received in Jerusalem. The leaders gave token appreciation, but then went on to what was really on their minds: the need to kowtow to Jewish public opinion. Paul was invited to subsidize a costly Jewish ritual. It was while following this advice that he found himself in harm's way.

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