Even when Paul tried to do the right thing by standing in solidarity with fellow Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, a riot ensued when some Jews from Asia stirred the crowd by spreading lies about what Paul had done. Being falsely accused and misunderstood puts you in a lose-lose situation. Chuck Swindoll is perceptive in his observation that the ‘great difficulty of being misunderstood is that the more you work at revealing facts in your favor, the guiltier you appear. Yet doing nothing seems to concede defeat.’ To live in precarious and difficult situations like this is extremely difficult, and is often accompanied by times of deep personal anguish. Paul was well aware of what he had and had not done, yet the actions of a few narrow-minded, vindictive people swayed public opinion against him. At this moment, instead of rising in defense of himself, Paul simply shared his personal story of when Jesus confronted him. When you feel pressed but know you’re following God’s leading, take comfort in trusting that God will give you the strength necessary and see you through the difficult times.
When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.” (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)
The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple, and immediately the gates were shut. While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar. He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd. When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with twochains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks.When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Get rid of him!”