Acts 21:17-36 demonstrates to us once again the ongoing opposition which the presentation of the gospel aroused. Jewish opposition had been evident from the beginning of the book of Acts and has been a constant theme throughout:
The Sanhedrin imprisoned Peter and John and then all the apostles and forbade them with threats to teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:1-5:42)
Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7:54ff)
Jewish persecution of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1ff)
Jewish opposition to Paul (following his conversion) began with an attempt to lynch him in this section (Acts 21:27-36), continuing with a hysterical demand for his death (Acts 22:22-23) and concluding with the secret plot under oath of more than forty men to murder him. (Acts 23:12ff)
Paul seems to have regarded this opposition as inevitable (after all, Ananias was sent to him after his miraculous conversion with the message ‘I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’ (Acts 9:16)), so perhaps we should not be surprised by his later words to Timothy that ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim 3:12). Our attitudes tend to be very different. Paul’s message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus aroused much opposition, to the point of masses seeking to kill him. Ongoing opposition may not always be a sign that we are wrong, but rather a sign that we are doing something right. Paul was not deterred by opposition. As he wrote to the Corinthians, ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’ (2 Cor 4:8-9) This can be our testimony too.