What does Acts 21:29 mean?
ESV: For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
NIV: (They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple.)
NASB: For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they thought that Paul had brought him into the temple.
CSB: For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
NLT: (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)
KJV: (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
NKJV: (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)
Verse Commentary:
While Paul is at the temple trying to prove he is still faithful to Judaism, Jews from the province of Asia in modern-day Turkey see him. They have two concerns. First, they've heard rumors that while Paul is out teaching about Jesus of Nazareth, he's been telling Jews they should no longer follow the Mosaic law (Acts 21:28). Second, they've seen Paul in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus. Despite no evidence, this leads them to the conclusion that Paul has brought Trophimus into the temple.

Bringing a Gentile into the temple is against Roman law. In 1871, a carved stone sign was found in the wall of a Muslim school in Jerusalem's Old City that reads, "No foreigner may enter within the balustrade around the sanctuary and the enclosure. Whoever is caught, on himself shall he put blame for the death which will ensue." It is written in Greek and applies to Gentiles and unclean Jews. The Mishna describes the balustrade as a three-foot high wall. Josephus says it surrounded an internal courtyard around the altar and the Holy of Holies. It's unclear where exactly this wall ran or if there was a courtyard around the temple inside the Court of the Gentiles.

All to say, any Jew who defiles the temple could be executed according to both the Mosaic and Roman laws. It's unclear why the Asian Jews would think Paul is that foolish. They do, however, and incite the crowd to assault him until the Roman guards arrive and arrest him (Acts 21:30–36).

We don't know who first spread the story that Paul taught the Mosaic law no longer applied to Jews, but we do know the rumor infiltrated the church in Jerusalem (Acts 21:21), although apparently not in Tyre or Caesarea Maritima. Because Christians believed the lie, it spread to non-Christians, and Paul finds himself arrested by the Romans. Without question, some situations—particularly abuse or when civil law is broken—the church needs to notify proper authorities that a crime has been committed. In other cases, God gives the church the right to judge internally (1 Corinthians 6:1–8). Paul's Christian accusers had no right to publicly spread rumors that he encouraged Jews to break the Mosaic law when he was not there to defend himself.
Verse Context:
Acts 21:27–36 explains why Paul's public ministry takes a five-year hiatus. He has arrived in Jerusalem only to hear a rumor that he abandoned the Mosaic law. Seeking to prove otherwise, he is then slandered with a rumor that he brought a Gentile into the temple. Before the mob can kill him, the Roman tribune takes him into custody. He will face two years house arrest in Caesarea Maritima and two in Rome, broken up by a dangerous sea voyage that ends in a shipwreck. But he will also be able to share Jesus' story with audiences he never dreamed of. These include a king and Caesar's own household.
Chapter Summary:
In Acts 21, Paul returns to Judea from his third missionary journey and promptly gets arrested. He begins by visiting Philip in Caesarea Maritima. Church elders in Jerusalem ask Paul to help men fulfill a Nazirite vow, to dispel rumors he has apostatized his Jewishness. While doing so, Ephesian Jews accuse Paul of bringing one of his Gentile Ephesian companions into the temple. The Roman military tribune keeps the enraged crowd from tearing Paul limb from limb by arresting him.
Chapter Context:
Acts 21 fulfills the fears of many of Paul's friends. Throughout the last part of his third missionary journey the Holy Spirit has been telling him he will be arrested in Jerusalem (Acts 20:23–25). When Paul reacts to dire personal prophecy, the Jesus-followers in Caesarea Maritima try to stop him from going on (Acts 21:8–14). Through a complicated trail of rumors, lies, and wrong assumptions, things go according to the Holy Spirit's foreknowledge and Roman soldiers arrest Paul. He will face the next 5 years in custody in Caesarea and Rome, but he will spread Jesus' story the entire time (Acts 22—28).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 6/16/2024 1:58:06 AM
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