Acts 26:21

ESV For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.
NIV That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me.
NASB For these reasons some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to murder me.
CSB For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and were trying to kill me.
NLT Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me.
KJV For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
NKJV For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.

What does Acts 26:21 mean?

Paul finally comes to the meat of his defense. He is standing before King Agrippa II, Governor Festus, and the noted men of Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital of Judea and Samaria. Paul has already explained that the Sanhedrin disliked his belief in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6; 24:21; 26:6–8). Specifically, they abhor his claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Now, in a room filled with Gentiles, Paul adds that they hate his association with Gentiles.

About five years before, Paul had arrived in Ephesus on the western coast of the province of Asia in southwest modern-day Asia Minor. There, he planted a church and built it up for two years. From Ephesus, he spent several months visiting the churches he'd planted during previous trips along the coast of the Aegean Sea. Along the way, he picked up traveling companions: men chosen by their churches to deliver donations for the church in Jerusalem. One of these men was a Gentile from Ephesus named Trophimus (Acts 19:1—20:4).

When the group reached Jerusalem, the leadership of the church told Paul about swirling rumors. This gossip suggested he had taught Jewish Christians they did not need to circumcise their sons. To prove Paul's devotion to the Mosaic law, they asked him to help a group of men fulfill a vow. While Paul was in the temple, preparing for the resolution of the vow, Jews from Asia saw Paul and assumed he'd brought Trophimus with him. They incited a crowd to attack him and caused such a stir that Roman soldiers had to rescue Paul by arresting him (Acts 21:17–36).

Ever since Jesus called Paul to spread the offer of salvation to the Gentiles—despite his great concern for the Jews (Romans 9:3)—he has done so with great zeal and perspective. In every city he enters, he first teaches in the synagogue where Jews and God-fearing Gentiles meet. Invariably, the Jewish leaders will drive him out, and a few Jews and a great many Gentiles will follow him and establish a church. Pisidian Antioch gives a representative response to the message: "And when the Gentiles heard this [the offer of forgiveness through Jesus], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48).

Paul constantly defends Gentile Jesus-followers. When legalistic Jewish Christians from Jerusalem told Gentiles from Galatia, the district in central Turkey, and Syrian Antioch they needed to be circumcised, Paul acted quickly. He wrote to the Galatians, telling them the only reason the Jews tried to force circumcision on them was so they wouldn't lose their position in the synagogue (Galatians 6:12–13). Then he took the issue back to Jerusalem and gave evidence to the leaders of the church that Jesus saves without circumcision (Acts 15:1–21). Paul even confronted Peter when the apostle submitted to the legalistic Jews' shame for eating with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11–14).
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