“We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect and even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him. By examining him yourself you will be able to learn the truth about all these charges we are bringing against him.” The other Jews joined in the accusation, asserting these things were true. (Acts 24:5-9)
The Jewish entourage accused Paul of starting riots with hate speech, being a ringleader of the Nazarene sect, and desecrating the temple. Who starts a riot? The one who speaks or he who throws the first stone? Was there a Nazarene sect? The Christian sect was referred to as The Way. But Paul’s accusers use Nazarene, a negative term. Jerusalem Jews once asked concerning Jesus, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Then they accused Paul of desecrating the temple, a serious violation of Jewish law. The Romans allowed the Jews to enact a death sentence for violators. But the truth is if Paul had taken a Gentile into the holy part of the temple (which he didn’t), the Gentile would’ve been guilty, not Paul.
The Jews wanted to be God’s only chosen people. Since Paul wanted to include the Gentiles, they accused him.
Last week my Bible study leader accused me of being wrong for my religious beliefs concerning who is chosen by God to accept Jesus as their savior. It’s not a subject I would normally discuss but one taken from Romans 11. I believe God elects everyone based on the summation of the chapter, verse 32: “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” But many believe that the word, all, applies only to the elect.
I don’t think anyone can be 100% sure that their Bible interpretation is correct because no one knows the mind of God. But I know firsthand that pushing a belief on others creates ill feelings. If you feel you are part of God’s elect who can interpret everything in the Bible correctly, ask yourself: Is it more important to keep your friends or more important to be right?
Father, I praise You for the Bible and its lessons. Help me keep an open mind by knowing my wisdom is nowhere as great as God’s, not taking offense when someone accuses me, and letting disagreements drop because my relationship with friends and family is more important than my need to be right. Keep me and my loved ones safe and bind us closer to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.